Congratulations to all of the finalists, runners-up and winners from the NZ Building People Awards 2023

Below is a full list of winners followed by their citations in full.


Winners and Runners-up


Northern Region Winner – Anni Zhou
Central Region Winner – Daniel Merwyn
Southern Region Winner – Thomas Steel
National Winner – Anni Zhou

NZIOB Charitable Education Trust – EMERGING LEADER AWARD

Runner-up – Tyler Edwards
Winner – Gracen Luka


Runner-up – Caleb Kennedy
Winner – Morgan Poi


Runners-up – Leon Green and Aidan Suckling
Winner – George Russell

Carters – PROJECTS $25M – $50M AWARD

Runner-up – Matt Pattinson
Winner – Garyth Jones


Runner-up – Dylan Kane
Winner – Jeremy Earle


Runners-up – Christopher Staal and Farzam Farzadi
Winner – Jane Jujnovich


Runners-up – Vimal Kumar and Craig Watkins
Winner – Helen Moate


Runner-up – Risland Albany team: Rob Knight, Rene Lin, Matt Prumm, and Esther Wong
Winner – Te Pūtahi team: Sarah Daniel, Richard Ellis, Isaac Kawiti, Javier Sanz, and Mark Sheridan

GIB | Winstone Wallboards – SUPREME AWARD

Special Commendation – Gracen Luka
Winner – George Russell




Northern Region Winner and National Winner

Anni Zhou
Master of Construction – Digital Built Environment, Massey University, Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland


Anni Zhou is passionate about the use of digital construction methods. Her Master’s research project is entitled “Digital approach to track embodied carbon in building through life cycle assessment.” Anni works as a Professional Quantity Surveyor for Rider Levett Bucknall while she completes her studies at Massey University in Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland part-time.

Alongside work and her studies Anni also keeps up a range of interests including creating house models and miniatures such as her 1:12 scale Kauri furniture.

Anni’s ‘big idea’ in her video submission is “To improve collaboration in the building industry through multi-dimensional Building Information Modelling or BIM”.

Anni says “Construction professionals often argue about my interpretation versus your interpretation, but don’t pay enough attention to the facts. I want to use the data extracted from BIM models and other digital solutions to provide single source of truth, provide information both machine readable and human readable, to prevent disputes, reduce blame culture, and promote teamwork.”

Judges said of Anni’s submission: “Anni’s application and video was of a very high standard and showed the level of depth of understanding in her field. She didn’t just provide the problem but explained the solution too.”


Central Region Winner

Daniel Merwyn
NZ Certificate in Carpentry (Level 4), Toi-Ohomai, Rotorua


Daniel Merwyn is currently studying towards the Certificate in Carpentry (level 4) through Toi-Ohomai in Rotorua and is an apprentice at Wade Construction.

Daniel says he’s experienced significant personal growth over the past three years and barely recognizes the version of himself from that time, who lacked motivation and direction. He attributes this 180-degree shift to finally listening to his Mum’s wise words and through his job as an apprentice.

Daniel says he’s learnt a lot through his work including discipline, a high standard of quality, the importance of camaraderie, ownership, leadership and accepting help when he needs it. His philosophy has been shaped by his mother’s advice to him: life is fleeting, it is up to us to make the
most of it.

In Daniel’s video submission he suggests three ideas to change the building industry: introducing gamification of existing learning apps, making health and safety training a priority by bringing in mandatory training modules, and a tax back system to make purchasing tools more affordable for apprentices.

The judges said: “Daniel’s submission swept us off our feet with his witty anecdotes about the challenges he faced during his apprenticeship. His ingenious solutions for making things relevant to his generation had us nodding, laughing, and left us feeling thoroughly impressed.”


Southern Region Winner

Thomas Steel
Bachelor of Engineering with honours (Civil major, Structural minor), University of Canterbury, Ōtautahi |Christchurch


Thomas Steel completed a carpentry apprenticeship and worked his way to becoming a Site Manager before jumping back in to study Structural Engineering to gain a greater understanding of the ‘how ‘s and why’s’ of structures.

During his studies at the University of Canterbury in Ōtautahi |Christchurch Thomas has thrown himself into a range of opportunities including the ArchEngBuild Challenge, the 2023 He Tohu Pūpū Seismic Design Competition, and competing in the annual University of Canterbury bridge design awards.

In Thomas’ inventive video submission he proposed his ‘big idea’ of augmented reality glasses to interact with and view construction plans. He explains that while this technology is not available yet, paper plans are already on the way out and we need to embrace digital solutions to get everyone on the same page.

The judges explain what set Thomas’ entry apart: “Thomas’s technical ability and experience as a carpenter is evident in his approach and shows in his academic achievements to date. Being active in the industry through the ArchEngBuild challenge and other competitions, Thomas has displayed that he could be a future leader in innovation. He show’s self-awareness around wellbeing to ensure he can achieve his aspirations.”


NZIOB Charitable Education Trust – EMERGING LEADER AWARD


Tyler Edwards
Commercial Manager (Northern Region) – Canam Commercial, Tāmaki Makaurau |Auckland


As a Commercial Manager in Tāmaki Makaurau| Auckland, Tyler has a broad role which has expanded from earlier site management and Quantity Surveyor (QS) positions. He demonstrates exceptional leadership qualities, always going the extra mile and investing time in mentoring others. He continues to step up to embrace project needs and regional requirements, further extending into operational involvement and support. Tyler has initiated a number of local Hapu inputs within the $50M Whangarei Civic Centre project, leading to the development of mutual respect across the wide range of stakeholders involved.

Tyler says that he is recognised for being hard-working, grounded, genuine and authentic with a big picture focus. He believes that he is relatable and respectful of others’ needs partly due to his experience in various roles from builder, Site Manager, QS, Project Manager (PM) and now Commercial Manager.

Tyler’s referee Nick Jones from Airzone said “Tyler was awesome to deal with.” He was impressed at Tyler’s ability to lead and gain the respect of a team of people who were all older than him. Nick described Tyler to be fair, despite lots of confrontation and technical challenges. He was very helpful with everything, with lots of experience and confidence for his age. He said Tyler was always reasonable, collaborative, and relaxed in how he delivered the project message and requirements, that involved a diverse range of people challenges and risks.

The judges said “Tyler demonstrates a high level of personal initiative, inclusion of the team and community, mentorship, and strong future vision.”



Gracen Luka
Associate Development Manager – Fletcher Living, Tāmaki Makaurau| Auckland


Gracen Luka is an Associate Development Manager at Fletcher Living, currently leading a complex large-scale terrace super-lot project within the Three Kings Development in Tāmaki Makaurau| Auckland.

Progressing from a Project Management background and then broadening her role into Development Management, Gracen has a broad and well-balanced skill set. She has a proven ability to actively resolve challenges, building wide networks and bringing others along the journey with her inclusive style. Gracen creates a safe and nurturing work environment, identifying strengths and skills in others to excel and achieve project outcomes together.

Gracen is passionate about the construction and property industry, with a strong focus on health and wellbeing, alongside promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. She wants to ensure that housing has a strong social lens with a future focus on intergenerational living.

Gracen leads the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) working group at Fletcher Living. She has extensive involvement in the infrastructure sector and played a key role in establishing the Infrastructure New Zealand (INZ) Diversity Advisory Board to hold the INZ Board accountable for creating an inclusive and welcoming sector for all.

Fletcher Living’s General Manager Aidan Donnelly says that Gracen works with initiative – proactively and collaboratively across multiple parties. She relates well to all stakeholders, understanding and respecting their needs to enable best outcomes. Gracen is a great team member with loads of potential, who gives back to industry including supporting women in construction.

The judges said that Gracen was a ‘stand out’ amongst the finalists and is already an ‘influencer’ and leader within the New Zealand construction and property sector.




Caleb Kennedy – Savory Construction
Project: Whakakāinga Aurecon Head Office – Fit Out, Tāmaki Makaurau |Auckland


Caleb stands out for his leadership, communication, collaboration, inclusivity, and willingness to go above and beyond.
Caleb was recognised for his remarkable communication skills, displaying excellence in effectively conveying ideas and information. He demonstrated a strong understanding of delivering and prioritising many competing project tasks, the ability to navigate what’s urgent today and what’s urgent tomorrow; and showcased his ability to efficiently manage responsibilities.
One element of Caleb’s work that stood out in his entry was his commitment to ongoing collaboration with local Māori. During the project he collaborated closely with local Māori Iwi, consultants, and artists, recognizing the importance of their expertise and craftsmanship in bringing a central staircase to life. This level of care and collaboration set a high new standard for cultural sensitivity and excellence in construction projects for his organisation going forward.

The judges were impressed at the lengths Caleb went to in order to gain a thorough understanding of the project and how these were communicated to the team. His ‘all one team’ and ‘no finger pointing’ philosophy allowed the project’s challenges to be identified and resolved early in a collaborative manner which generated an exceptional project outcome.



Morgan Poi – Hawkins Limited
Project: Hawkes Bay Prison Staff Facilities, Te Matau-a-Māui | Hawkes Bay


Morgan stood out to the judges for his humility, empathetic leadership, positivity, and his commitment to people.

An example of what sets Morgan apart was in his response to the February 2023 flooding in Hawke’s Bay. With two members of the project team unreachable for two days post cyclone, Morgan ensured he was on site each morning should his colleagues show up. With the site having a backup generator, Morgan was quick to open up the site to subcontractors to utilise the facilities and power supply to charge their phones to attempt contact with their whānau.

Morgan’s referee has this to say: “Morgan’s exceptional communication skills played a vital role in ensuring the smooth progress of the project. His remarkable transparency in addressing on-site issues has been greatly appreciated, bringing a refreshing perspective to the team. Morgan’s positive attitude and ability to bring a smile and a sense of lightness to the project have made him an indispensable and cherished member of the team.”

The judges said “It is an absolute privilege to have Morgan Poi as the winner in this category. Morgan has had a clear impact on all stakeholders on the project, he leads from the trenches with empathy and understanding. Morgan showed heart-led and considered leadership traits in his interview and a commitment to mental health and wellbeing. All three judges shared the same experience from meeting Morgan – joy witnessing the future of our industry, and someone with that very special trait of uplifting others through their presence. Morgan will, without a doubt, leave the industry in a better place than he found it. Humble and unassuming, Morgan potentially doesn’t realise quite what a future he has ahead.”




Leon Green – Hawkins Limited
Project: Sir Howard Morrison Centre, Rotorua


Leon’s leadership during The Sir Howard Morrison Project in Rotorua showed dedication, collaboration, transparency and care.

The project was a particularly challenging restrengthening and reinstatement project of a Category 1 listed heritage building. It opened in 1940 and to bring it into the 2020’s it required a design that reflected the culture of the tangata whenua, Ngati Whakuae. Leon worked very closely with local cultural artists to bring this design vision to reality.

Leon stepped into the role of Project Manager “mid-flight” and changed the project culture that balanced, in his words, “relentless delivery” with care and support of the site-based team, including keeping an eye on the stress levels on site and insisting on regular mental health walks when pressure was building.

Leon’s referees consistently said he operated with openness and honesty and really drove the programme hard. He also showed a high level of trust in his team and encouraged them to back themselves with decision making and to see the direct benefits of that.

Leon was praised by others for his forward thinking and proactive approach to identify potential issues early and take steps to mitigate them. His dedication to the project and the client was evident even after the completion of the project.


Aidan Suckling – Naylor Love
Project: Christchurch Hospital New Energy Centre – Shell only, Ōtautahi |Christchurch


With notable “presence” Aidan was a cool head on a very demanding project and took all manner of technical and relational challenges in his stride. Referees noted that the constrained site was extremely well managed from a health and well-being standpoint, and Aidan’s approach was very much around focusing on collaboration to find technical solutions through Building Information Modelling (BIM), which also doubled as a key communication tool.

Aidan worked on developing the site team’s proficiency with BIM, which was a critical tool on this project. Team members began the project with no BIM experience and left with high level of digital competence thanks to Aidan’s mentorship.

The project Aidan was nominated for, the Christchurch Hospital Energy Centre, was incredibly technically complex. It required a very high degree and standard of collaboration between technical design consultants and two contractors, one of whom had a European parent with a workforce predominantly from another non-English speaking country.

Aidan found ways to communicate effectively and build rapport, including through humour, in spite of the language barrier.

Aidan was clearly respected and well-liked by key project members along with the rest of the team. References said his calm presence was infectious and supported a considered approach to problem solving under pressure and in a high-risk environment. They also said not only would they want to work with Aidan again but would actively ensure that he was included in future project teams.



George Russell – Wilson Commercial Limited
Project: Samoa High Commission, Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington


George led the Samoa High Commission project in Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington. It was constructed on a very constrained site, with a constrained budget requiring a fresh approach to design, methodology, buildability, and staging.

It was also of critical importance that the Samoan cultural narrative was woven through the project.
George took the time to get fully briefed on the reason why cultural design aspects of the project with the architect and then communicating these to the site team so that everyone on site understood, grew in knowledge, and could talk to these.

George went out of his way to ensure the Samoan High Commission was involved in every step, and actively set the tone at the top by adopting Samoan meeting customs, the Samoan flag, and the Samoan language into the project.

George has a calm demeanour and created a sense of ease on site – he engaged in a lot of informal discussions to build rapport among the team all of which reduce mental pressures.

George’s leadership, integrity, excellence in technical fundamentals and his open and honest approach to contracting were key highlights, so much so that one comment was that “George should be running a course for the contracting industry on how to approach a challenging project”.


Carters – PROJECTS $25M – $50M AWARD


Matt Pattinson – LT McGuinness
Project: Site 9, Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington


Matt is deliberate and purposeful in everything he does. From his leadership style to his approach to wellbeing and diversity, Matt stood out in a pool of successful nominees.

He refers to this job, the extremely compact ‘Site 9’ in the central city of Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington, as a baptism by fire. He certainly rose to the challenge with referees commenting that Matt “fought his own battles and did a good job on the project”. Matt stood out to the judges for his efforts to understand his own leadership style to then get the best out of others.

Incredibly, Matt learnt to speak Tagalog, to connect better with the high number of Filipino workers they had on site. Food was used to foster a positive work culture but again – going above and beyond – Filipino food was bought onto site and a particular workers religious dietary requirements were also catered for. This spoke to the genuine commitment towards diversity and inclusion fostered on this project.

Matt’s approach to maintain balance and wellbeing is also well considered and his advice is to “increase your intensity of family time during busy periods rather than reduce it. Make time and space for quality time with your family to counteract the intensity of work.”

The judges commend Matt on his efforts to connect the people to the project – and to each other.



Garyth Jones – NZ Strong Group Limited
Project: Auckland Zoo, South East Asia Precinct, Tāmaki Makaurau| Auckland


Strong leadership, tenacity and collaboration were required from Garyth Jones on the South East Asia Precinct project at Tāmaki Makaurau| Auckland Zoo – and he delivered.

Garyth bought artists and themers together with traditional construction partners to deliver a toe-to-toe animal interaction experience. Garyth had to employ serious negotiation skills to convince suppliers to manufacture something out of the ordinary, for example – sourcing ‘Tiger glass’ which as Garyth pointed out “you can’t just buy off the shelf”. When asked how he got people over their reluctance, he explained with his typically calm demeanour… “never accept ‘no’ the first time”.

This five-year project was managed by Garyth in a big picture way, building trust and resilience into his team to enable them to cope with the periods of intensity throughout the job.

It was very challenging to create a natural environment from a design to something that could be constructed, which a themer could then come in over the top of. Creating strong communication lines across the various parties was essential to making this happen. Garyth excelled at this and a number of the relationships formed on the job continue more than a year after the project was completed.

His referee said that Garyth’s exceptional leadership skills significantly contributed to the project’s success and that he is an invaluable asset to any construction project. Part of his success as a leader is clearly down to Garyth’s team player mentality, saying “we are only as good as our teams”.

Garyth is an incredible leader, with a unique ability to both be across the project in intimate detail and bring diverse teams together.




Dylan Kane – NZ Strong Group Limited
Project: CDC Data Centre – Hobsonville, Tāmaki Makaurau| Auckland


Dylan Kane was the Project Manager on the CDC Data Centre project in Hobsonville, Tāmaki Makaurau| Auckland. This was a particularly challenging project with demanding clients. Dylan treated his role as a ‘mini CEO of a $50 million company’ and showed empathy, experience and skills beyond his age.

The project itself was difficult particularly with regard to the high level of health and safety requirements imposed by an Australian client and required by an American end user. While the client had undertaken similar projects many times in Australia, our seismic legislation and covid requirements were very different from Australia and America putting a lot more pressure on the PM to perform.

Dylan shows empathy and care for his team. He is considered and seemed to have learnt a lot from working on this challenging project. His approach to the wellness of his team and sheltering his team from a demanding client and end users shows great maturity.

Dylan’s comment “if we don’t teach how to build well, we won’t build well” resonated with the judges and confirmed his commitment to training and looking after his team.

Dylan’s referee, who is highly respected in the industry, gave him a glowing review. He noted Dylan is “a rising star of the industry”, adding ‘I would love to have him on any major project.’



Jeremy Earle – Southbase Construction Ltd
Project: Wakatipu High School, Tahuna | Queenstown


Jeremy showed a high level of commitment while working on the Wakatipu High School project including moving his family to Tahuna | Queenstown to be close the work. His commitment to the project was impressive but it was the commitment he showed to his team that really stood out to the judges.

The judges said, “What impressed us most about Jeremy was his empathy for people, especially his team, his encouragement for diversity and making sure he selected a team that worked well with the client, and then appreciating that being a younger team he need to look after their wellness and ensure they did not feel isolated.”

Jeremy’s comment that resonated with the judges was “previously my greatest accomplishment has been seeing projects successfully completed but now it is seeing the teams I work with succeed. That makes me really proud.”

Jeremy was considered and level-headed with exemplary technical skills. He was conscious of what the project involved and not only had to deal with a failed façade subcontractor situation, an extremely difficult Public Private Partnership (PPP) contract and Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) process prior to entering into the contract, and also hand-picked a team of younger people from throughout New Zealand.

His technical experience is of a very high level and his ability to step in and learn a new area to resolve an issue is outstanding.

His referee said, “he put together a team that fitted the client” and “he would have no hesitation at all in working with Jeremy again”. Another referee said, ”there was not one glitch in operational continuity and the communication all round on this project was outstanding”.




Christopher Staal – EC8
Project: Pre-cutting of drywall using computerised cutting, delivered ready to install, Kirikiriroa | Hamilton


“How great would it be if all building materials arrived onsite, pre-cut, and ready to install? How much simpler would my job be?” It is from these questions that an idea arose in Christopher Staal’s mind and prototyped in his basement to increase productivity in the New Zealand construction industry.

The EC8 business’ innovation is a start-to-end process of simplifying wall lining installation. It includes a simple tool for measuring walls (including all cut-outs) that is linked to an application on the builder’s phone, that then optimises sheet orientation, and is then sent off-site to be cut by machine. The final product is delivered to site already cut out, with zero waste and ready for install.

As with any innovation, getting traction to get it off the ground has been a challenge. Christopher found and mentored students to join in his journey to bring this idea to fruition.

His solution focused approach led to one wallboard manufacturer to comment “I have never seen such dogged determination to work through issues as they arise. He is a roadblock remover.”

When Christopher reaches his ambitious outcome he will increase productivity in what is a stretched construction material delivery market while enabling the realisation of health, safety, environmental and wellbeing benefits.


Farzam Farzadi – Beca Ltd
Project: Helensville Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade, Tāmaki Makaurau| Auckland


There is no doubting that Farzam is a leader in his field of digital technology. What sets him apart is how he uses this to make things efficient and effective for the world, one stakeholder at a time.

His approach is educational which stems from an early age when his mother took him to class with her as she finished her high school degree. Farzam was inspired by his mother, which has contributed to his passion for supporting women in his field of work.

His drive to advance the industry is shown through those that he mentors, either within his team or industry. While modest himself, his pride comes from their learnings and successes.

With Farzam’s team and all the others that he mentors, he has found that the easiest way to get the best out of them is to empower them. Empower them to think for themselves. To challenge what is in front of them. To seek new ways to do things.

His colleagues say, “he has a passion and drive to do things and do them well.” His contagious personality infects all of those that work with him to do the same. With pillars like Farzam in the industry, the future will be a brighter, safer place.



Jane Jujnovich – Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities
Project: Te Mātāwai, Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland


From the outset of the Te Mātāwai project in Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland it became clear to Jane Jujnovich that there was an opportunity to make a change. Her vision was to change the way that things were always done and to use this opportunity to change the lives of all who have interacted with this project.

Her engagement with stakeholders, from Government, Iwi, local community including rough sleepers, meant that all in the process had a voice. Jane ensured that voice has been heard right through the design and delivery of the project and is staying on in the transition to ensure the voices are listened to.

Jane constantly challenged everyone to be different and to keep the end goal in mind. Her governance would ask “But Jane, what if it doesn’t work?” To which she would always reply “But what if it does?” This glass half full approach has driven change right through her organisation to focus on the greater social outcomes in everything they do, leading her to be described by her colleagues at Kāinga Ora as the “True North.”

Jane is a community builder. Her unrelenting determination to keep people as the focus of everything that she does has changed people’s lives. For this reason, Jane stood out above all other candidates.




Vimal Kumar – AECOM
Project: Sir Howard Morrison Centre, Rotorua


Vimal has a clear ability to develop and maintain relationships, notably when stepping into a project mid-way through which was clouded by many unresolved conflicts, such as the Sir Howard Morrison Centre in Rotorua. He is highly respected by both the client and contractor for being fair. His approach was to “never act as a postbox” – if he thought the clients’ ideas weren’t fair, he would challenge them.

In an industry which is known for being stressful and demanding, he worked with the team to ensure that people were not working seven days per week, instead working collaboratively to devise a solution which would support project outcomes without compromising individual’s wellbeing. This act of leadership demonstrates the importance of those with power and influence to use it to effect change in our industry.

His referees said of Vimal “he played it straight down the middle and looked after everyone” and he was a “pleasure to work with”.

The judges said Vimal was a well-rounded individual who will continue to be an asset to our industry. They were confident that he would achieve his vision of “leaving the world better than I found, [making sure that] projects have impact on people and communities, not just be a building standing there making money”.


Craig Watkins – TSA Management
Project: VOCO-HIE, Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland


Craig demonstrates a high level of all-round competence along with an openness to others’ ideas which makes him a well-rounded and successful leader. His experience of being on both contractor and consultant helped him to support the complex VOCO-HIE project, with an Australian based client and designers on both sides of the ditch through to success.

Craig seeks first to understand before being understood, by being committed to challenge thinking through asking questions, listening, and holding “genuine curiosity” for all involved. He didn’t force his own opinions and experience on others but rather used his exceptional communication skills to broker solutions and provide direction.

He understands that inclusion goes beyond categories and needs to include ensuring individuals not only have the opportunity to participate, but also feel comfortable doing so. Craig is a leader who is reflective and considered in his approach.

He is a champion for the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) to improve the use of other existing construction technologies. His vision for a construction industry is one that has less friction and is therefore more sustainable.

Craig was well respected by the team with referees saying he drove a positive culture within the project. One example of this was how Craig always says ‘thank you’ – so simple but obviously not the norm.



Helen Moate – The Building Intelligence Group
Project: Te Wao Nui, Wellington Childrens Hospital, Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington


Helen’s role on this project in Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington was unusual as she co-ordinated all parties and stakeholders to the project. This included donors, government, subject matter experts, contractors, architects and more.

Helen’s referee said she had to walk a fine line between all stakeholders and was effectively “the glue” in the project.

Helen not only took on this role in a very considered manner, but it was also her commitment to the wider construction industry that played an important aspect in his winning this award. Helen is a member of a number of building industry organisations and a mentor to many starting out in their careers.

She also has a very special commitment to mental health and physical disabilities and injected that into this project. During the project she addressed the differing abilities and challenges for those working on the site to make things easier for them.

In total Helen has spent almost five years working on this project which was a steep learning curve where she had to deal with many different and often conflicting roles. She is proud of what she achieved in bringing people together.

Helen is very clearly a people person with empathy and humanity at the core of everything she does and exceptional skills in management and leadership.

Helen was always aware of what was going on in people’s lives and worked to make sure they were supported on site and off. The judges said they we could see it wasn’t just about bringing people together for the sake of the project but also recognising the individual needs of the team members.




Rob Knight – Leuschke Architects, Rene Lin – Kingston Project Management, Matt Prumm – CMP Construction Ltd, Esther Wong – RLB
Project: Risland Albany, Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland


Rob, Rene, Matt and Esther led the Risland Albany project in Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland, a 12-storey, triple residential tower project, which is now home to 134 apartments.

The judges were impressed by the collaborative relationships between the project team, particularly for such an onerous contract, which required significant value management.

The project team consistently thought outside the box to reduce costs while maintaining quality. The judges noted that both language and cultural barriers had to be navigated to communicate design changes to the client, throughout the design and build phases.

The client praised the teamwork displayed by the project team, especially while navigating the Covid 19 disruptions, whereby delays to the supply of offshore materials and equipment required re-planning of site activities to maintain momentum. Despite all the challenges, the project finished five months ahead of programme, which is testament to the team’s collaborative effort and commitment.

The four individuals in the team had very different roles but their goals were the same. Matt pushed the boundaries with design and value engineering, Rob bought into those ideas and adapted the building’s design, Rene managed to sell the dream and stitch together a contract, and Esther backed it up with financial support and reassurance.

All four members of the team were strong and backed themselves while also treating each other and others in the project with respect.



Sarah Daniel – eCubed Building Workshop, Richard Ellis – Haydn & Rollett, Isaac Kawiti – Ignite Architects, Javier Sanz – Marshall Day Acoustics, Mark Sheridan – Precon
Project: Te Pūtahi, Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland


Te Pūtahi, gifted from Iwi Te Kawereau a Maki, meaning to join and intersect. This project involved constructing two world-class sound stages, at Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland Film Studios. The judges were impressed by the collaboration executed within the project team when managing the technical complexities of building such an acoustically critical pair of studios.

The team, made up of Sarah, Richard, Isaac, Javier and Mark fought multiple challenges on this project. They set out to not just deliver their project on time but deliver it in such a way that it met their client’s full and extensive unprecedented brief.

This was a challenging, unique, Greenstar driven project, one of the first of its type ever built. One particularly tricky aspect, for a space where acoustics were critical, was its location right near a railway line. The judges noted that this project evolved constantly as the team proactively researched, experimented and collaboratively learnt along every step of the way.

The client confirmed they had selected the best fit team for the project, and even commented that some thought their decisions were a bit left field. However, they proved to be the winning mix.

The five key team members got together informally once a week for an open forum to share ideas, spitball and release some stress. They commented “where we go, we go together as a team”.

This project was handed over two months earlier than originally planned, resulting in a total project initiation to complete time of a mere 22 months. All this despite tight lockdown restrictions imposed days before the project was due to commence construction.


GIB | Winstone Wallboards – SUPREME AWARD

Special Commendation

Gracen Luka
Associate Development Manager – Fletcher Living, Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland
Winner of the Emerging Leader Award


As the winner of the Emerging Leader Award, the category judges were impressed by Gracen saying she was a ‘stand out’ amongst the finalists and is already an ‘influencer’ and leader within the New Zealand construction and property sector. The Supreme Award judges agreed and asked to single out Gracen for an unprecedented Special Commendation.

Gracen is a passionate, dynamic, and genuine leader. She has a proven ability to actively resolve challenges, building wide networks and bringing others along the journey with her inclusive style. With a team approach, Gracen creates a safe and nurturing work environment, identifying strengths and skills in others to excel and achieve project outcomes together.



George Russell – Wilson Commercial Limited
Project: Samoa High Commission, Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington
Winner of the 10-25M project category


George stood out to the judges in an incredibly strong field for his holistic approach to the project and an impressive commitment to culture, collaboration, and respect.

Here’s what the judges had to say:

“George could be the General Manager of the company in the future, he’s a good leader, has been on the tools, and took everyone on the journey in a respectful manner. Steering from the move from Tier 1 contractor to a lower-level contractor is a challenge in itself, which he’s managed very well.”

“George showed a total approach to the project and the industry. He took into account and accommodated the cultural aspect of the client and took them on the journey. He focused on his team. as well as growing his company throughout the project.”

“I was impressed by the lengths George went to in order to fully understand the culturally significant elements of the project and ensure these weren’t compromised, whilst at the same time overseeing and driving a complete redesign of the works.”

“George showed a commitment to understanding the needs of their client, design professionals and own site team to deliver on many fronts including cultural, project and health and wellness. His continual improvement and collaboration mindset shone through.”