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Local construction company awarded contract to rebuild EIT | Te Pūkenga Hawke’s Bay campus

November 14, 2023

EIT | Te Pūkenga Executive Director Glen Harkness (left) with Te Pūkenga Tumu Whenua ā-Rohe 2 | Executive Director, Region 2, Kieran Hewitson, Gemco Construction Forman Steve Price, Te Pūkenga National Property Director Jaala Jacobs and Te Pūkenga Deputy Chief Executive Officer Ako Delivery Gus Gilmore at the Hawke’s Bay campus in Taradale.

The rebuild of the EIT | Te Pūkenga Hawke’s Bay Campus is progressing well, with local construction company Gemco, who was awarded the main contract, making great progress to reopen a large amount of the campus in time for the start of the 2024 academic year.

Senior executive members from Te Pūkenga, which has its headquarters in Hamilton, recently visited the Hawke’s Bay campus  to view progress on the rebuild and to meet with contractors. They also met the local Student Support Team and leaders from EIT | Te Pūkenga.

Cyclone Gabrielle caused extensive damage to the Taradale site in February with up to 90 per cent of the ground-floor buildings – more than 500 rooms – being damaged by flood water and contaminated silt.

About 30% of the campus was able to be reopened for delivery to ākonga (learners) in time for the start of Semester 2 in July.

EIT | Te Pūkenga Executive Director Glen Harkness says it is great to have Gemco onboard as the main contractor, and to have the support of Te Pūkenga through a locally led, nationally supported approach. 

Gemco and EIT have a longstanding relationship.

Gemco Construction Forman Steve Price says it is fantastic to be able to rebuild the campus.

“We’ve had a long relationship with EIT. We’ve been here for 15 years with  many of the EIT building projects and we’re just really keen to keep going on track with the rebuild post cyclone.”

Te Pūkenga Deputy Chief Executive Officer Ako Delivery Gus Gilmore says it is fantastic to see the progress of the rebuild.

“By Semester One 2024, we plan to have 70 per cent of the campus open, with good provision in lease sites around Hawke’s Bay to deliver our full range of programmes.

“We’re back in business. We’re doing it a little bit differently, but we are committed to the region, committed to this campus, and we’re working closely with all of our partners to ensure vocational education in the region is well catered for as it has been in the past.”

He says the rebuild has provided the opportunity to enhance the campus for the future.

“Our National Property Director, Jaala Jacobs, is personally overseeing the development and the phasing, along with all of the team on the ground here, to make sure that we take the opportunity to innovate with our rebuild where we can, and to recognise the change in delivery of vocational education, which is a healthy mix between campus space and workplace learning.”

Glen says they are currently continuing largely with delivery as planned.

“A lot of hard work has gone in to get us to this point and we are pleased that several of our programmes requiring specialist facilities have been back on campus since July”.

The specialist spaces that have reopened account for about 30 per cent of the campus. They include vet nursing, nursing, viticulture & wine science, some creative disciplines, plumbing, automotive and mechanical engineering.

“Fortunately, most of the buildings used for specialist programmes had limited damage and were easier to repair. It was also hard to find specialist facilities to accommodate these programmes in the community, so it was a priority to get them back on campus.

Up to 45 temporary sites across Napier and Hastings  are currently operating to support teaching while the campus is being repaired in what Mr Harkness describes as “the  EIT | Te Pūkenga extended campus”.

“It means we can continue with our delivery as planned,” Mr Harkness says.