4 December 2014

Initiated in 2005, the New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards are the premier awards for the engineering professionals of New Zealand. The awards categories recognise people, projects and products, with a Supreme Award for the best project and product. Leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship and young engineers are also recognised along with the use of leading edge technology.

This year Opus and Auckland Transport were nominated for and won the New Zealand Engineering Practice Award for Excellence in Community Engagement for their work on the AMETI Panmure Project.

This award recognises exceptional engineering activities that effectively engage with and empower community values, or an individual who has improved community understanding of engineering or facilitated a change in engineering practice in response to community needs.

The AMETI Transport project in Auckland's eastern suburbs is designed to reduce congestion, improve transport options and unlock economic potential in the area.  The community has had a tangible influence on the location, function and form of the project throughout the process.

Working closely with Auckland Transport, Opus sought comment on the issues, constraints and opportunities from a local perspective.  To achieve these aims, Opus developed its innovative Deliberative Feedback mechanism (DFM).  Operating in a similar way to a focus group, a select group of the community representatives was invited to attend the DFM workshops, including stakeholders, Iwi and the Local Board.  Important cultural and heritage values were identified that led to community participation in the project.  The results were the development of the Van Dammes Lagoon Environmental Management Plan, which aims to transform an existing reserve into a more valuable community asset, and the final roading solutions changing the focus of the community away from roading to optimise connections with other transport modes such as rail, buses, walking and cycling.

Over time, this process altered the community view of the project.  It’s now seen as a positive scheme for the people of Panmure, Mt Wellington and Glen Innes.  The consultation and engagement undertaken for the project is seen as providing balanced information and is a format which will be used on future projects to achieve the best social and environmental outcomes for communities.