More than just building learning spaces

Issue: Volume 101, Number 9

Posted: 21 July 2022
Reference #: 1HAV6C

While the successful completion of the two-storey building at Manurewa East School is reason enough for celebration, there is more to this school construction project that everyone can be proud of.

Manurewa East School officially opened their new building with a dawn blessing ceremony.

Manurewa East School officially opened their new building with a dawn blessing ceremony.

On 23 May, Manurewa East School officially opened a new school building with eight new learning spaces after a formal dawn blessing ceremony, paying homage to their ancestors, as well as to everyone who contributed to making the project possible.

The new building is named Te Puna o Te Reo Whiria which means, ‘the bubbling spring of intertwined language’.

“It is modern, vibrant and a wonderful space to grow the leaders for today and tomorrow,” says Manurewa East School principal Mary Takatainga.

“Our tamariki feel mana and are proud to be in this truly amazing learning space.”

This journey started 15 years ago for the school, and Mary pays special tribute to all those who came before her time as principal.

She says the builders, architects, designers, and the team from the Ministry all became part of the school whānau and together, they set about to continue on and complete the dream.

She adds that they were humbled to have their local kaumatua and kuia guide and support them along the journey to ensure tikanga and protocols were adhered to.

“It is of great importance for our kura to respect what we have and to build on that for the future and all that it may hold for our tamariki, whānau and community.”

In addition to giving students new, safe and fit for purpose learning spaces, this construction project also helped deliver substantial positive outcomes that benefit not only the local South Auckland community, but also the whole world.

Supporting local

The past couple of years have been tough for everyone, particularly for small local businesses that have struggled to stay afloat due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Covid-19 brought its challenges, however, it also allowed us to consider different ways of doing things and supporting each other through this journey. This is very evident in the way products and services were sourced locally where possible and local sub-contractors were given opportunities to display their talents and expertise,” says Mary.

Through the Manurewa East School construction project, the Ministry of Education was able to help boost South Auckland’s construction industry by encouraging main contractor, NZ Force Construction, to prioritise local businesses as sub-contractors. This resulted in 20 percent of the total project spend going local.

NZ Force Construction was also encouraged to consider giving Māori-owned and Pasifika-owned businesses a fair opportunity to work on this project. They worked with Amotai – Aotearoa New Zealand’s supplier diversity intermediary – who helped introduce them to several new suppliers to potentially work with.

“It is our understanding that the majority of the Manurewa East School population identifies as Māori or Pasifika, so it felt right to engage businesses from these communities and empower them to be part of the development,” says Rebecca Grbin, finance manager of NZ Force Construction.

Adding a focus on engaging local Māori and Pasifika sub-contractors to complete the project did not necessarily require much effort for Rebecca and her team.

“The only adjustment we had to do was cast our net a little wider, which we also found beneficial because expanding our supplier base is simply good business practice, particularly in the current market,” she says.

Many of the sub-contractors they’ve met through Amotai have now joined and diversified their company’s pool of suppliers. Among them is the proud Pasifika-owned business, Ideal Fitouts, who has worked on other NZ Force Construction projects since Manurewa East School’s completion.

“This has provided us opportunities to expand our business and create more jobs,” says Samuel Rikiau, managing director of Ideal Fitouts.

Mary adds the wider collaboration has taught them much about partnerships with their community.

“This opportunity brought about new learning and understanding in regards to working cooperatively to achieve a shared vision for our tamariki, whānau and community.”

Reducing waste and emissions

The construction and demolition industry is one of the largest waste-producing industries in New Zealand. Construction and demolition waste represents up to 50 percent of all waste generated nationwide.

To minimise unnecessary construction waste, Green Gorilla was enlisted to help manage on-site recycling throughout the duration of the project. Their report shows an overall 75 percent waste diversion rate.

Among the key contributors to the significant waste reduction is an effort to salvage and repurpose items that can still be reused or recycled.

“Of the roughly 250 tonnes of demolition material removed from Manurewa East School, Greenway – the demolition expert – achieved an impressive recovery rate of about 96 percent,” says Rebecca.

The Ministry of Education is responsible for the management of the state school property portfolio of around 2,100 schools across the country.

“As one of the biggest investors in construction in Aotearoa New Zealand, it is imperative that we do everything we can to divert items from going straight to the landfill. With a property portfolio as big as ours, even the slightest change to reduce our carbon footprint can make a significant impact in support of the global movement against climate change,” says Junior Ioane, the Ministry’s lead advisor broader outcomes.

Broader outcomes

The Broader Outcomes initiative is a New Zealand government-wide effort aimed at leveraging procurement activities to achieve wider public value.

It recognises that government procurement can and should be used to support wider social, economic, cultural and environmental outcomes that go beyond the immediate purchase of goods and services.

“As demonstrated by the remarkable achievements of the Manurewa East School project, the Ministry’s procurement activities can offer a unique opportunity for secondary outcomes that can benefit the wider community in more ways than one,” say Junior. 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 9:24 AM, 21 July 2022

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