Infrastructure NZ Building Nations Symposium

Infrastructure NZ Building Nations Symposium

In August, I attended the Infrastructure New Zealand Building Nations Symposium with a number of people from Harrison Grierson. This included our Chief People and Communications, Karen West, who is a board member of INZ.

The two-day conference in Rotorua attracted more than 700 people and was focussed on regional growth and development. There were some meaty items on the agenda, including the challenges facing our water, housing and transport sectors.

The symposium opened with Minister Shane Jones announcing the new Infrastructure Commission board members - details are here. The formation of the commission and the appointment of its members are a huge step towards an independent advisory body helping to guide development and growth in New Zealand.

Three Harrison Grierson people played an active part in the conference programme.

I was part of a panel discussion on a subject that I’m passionate about – diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and more specifically in our industry. See my interview on this topic here.

Jonathan Chambers, an environmental engineer in our Three Waters Team, presented his view on the future of infrastructure in New Zealand as part of a millennial panel. Jonathan discussed water quality, housing affordability, and the importance of having diverse thought and a voice when it comes to the future of the industry.

Also on stage was Hayley Ellison*, introducing Alan Sutherland, Chief Executive of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, in the water sector reform session of the conference. Hayley asked some probing questions around our water quality and governance, and if we are staying true to our ‘clean, green and 100% pure’ image.

Key conference themes, after some reflection:

- The need for urgency and action. As a country we can easily get paralysed by over-analysis – we just need to get on with it. Delay has a real cost.

- Infrastructure is a social and economic enabler, not an end unto itself. The effects of its presence/absence have more impact than you’d think.

- Collaboration, trust and people-centricity are critical. Releasing the potential of people and communities is what infrastructure is about.

The conference left me feeling hopeful that we will see changes made as a result of the discussions. Read the full report from INZ here.

*Hayley Ellison joins Callaghan Innovation this month to lead the $75 million redevelopment of its headquarters in the Hutt Valley. A new Wellington Manager will be announced shortly.


Since becoming Managing Director in 2012, Glen Cornelius has been steering our 134-year old company through significant transformation and growth.

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