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Infrastructure New Zealand Excellence in Social Impact Award finalists demonstrate best practice in enabling lasting community and social outcomes

October 27, 2020


Infrastructure New Zealand has announced the finalists of the 2020 Excellence in Social Impact Award, sponsored by Downer, recognising infrastructure projects that have gone above and beyond to enable outstanding social, cultural and/or economic outcomes for our communities.

The finalists have shone a spotlight on best-practice in social impact and provide an exemplar to other organisations in what can be achieved, says Margaret Devlin Infrastructure NZ Board member and award judge, “Infrastructure New Zealand wants to normalise social impact in infrastructure projects. With the significant volume of projects coming to market to contribute to New Zealand’s economic recovery from Covid-19, we have a huge opportunity to make a meaningful difference for our communities.”

Infrastructure NZ Board member and Award judge Tracey Ryan said it was pleasing to see the broad range of impact initiatives underway across the sector, “That we had 19 strong entrants in this award is powerful evidence of the step change happening in the sector to use infrastructure projects as a lever for broader social, economic and cultural outcomes,” said Tracey.

The finalists are:

  • Hamilton City Council’s Te Awa River Path project, which repaired and restored a section of the Hamilton Cycle Trails while providing employment to 50 people who had lost jobs due to the Covid-19 crisis.
  • Watercare’s Central Interceptor is delivering a lasting legacy for Tāmaki Makarau and their workforce, by supporting social enterprise Make Give Live; establishing a Dig Deep literacy programme to help members of the workforce build reading and writing skills; establishing and funding the Morningside Urban Market Garden; developing a Mana Whenua laundry service; providing opportunities for Māori and Pasifika through a youth internship programme and creating the Wānanga Māreikura programme to empower wāhine Māori.
  • City Rail Link’s (CRL) Progressive Employment Programme supports Māori and Pasifika youth transition into work. CRL partnered with Lifewise, Rising Foundation and Te Ara Rangatahi to deliver a 19-week programme which helps rangatahi build skills and gain confidence in the workforce.
  • Auckland Transport and Makaurau marae demonstrated a step change in supplier diversity by tendering the Makaurau Marae Carpark project only to Māori and Pasifika businesses through He Waka Eke Noa.


Downer celebrates 150 years in New Zealand this year and has a strong history of social impact. EGM Strategy and Development, Duncan Kenderdine, says “Downer is focussed on building a stronger New Zealand and we see social impact as a key element of the way we do business. It was clear from the calibre of entries in the award that each would have a transformational impact on their local community. In a year with many challenges, it helps to share the load and keep our communities healthy and in meaningful employment.”

Award judge, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and award-winning social and sustainable procurement expert Alice Bray said the calibre of all entries was high, “My hope is that this award solidifies where our sector is going, inspires us to think bigger, and challenges us to partner together for impact.”

Peer Review judge Dr Seán Barnes, Director, Social Procurement, Akina Foundation said the award celebrates how far the sector has come and challenges us to continue, “Aotearoa is increasingly looking to use social procurement as a tool to deliver greater social and environmental outcomes through infrastructure spend, and the Infrastructure NZ Excellence in Social Impact Award is timely to showcase the success being achieved. The finalists demonstrate real leadership, the different ways impact can be achieved, and show us what is possible moving forward.”

The winner of the Infrastructure New Zealand Social Impact Award, sponsored by Downer will be announced at the ReBuilding Nations Gala Dinner on Wednesday 18 November.


For further information and comment contact Sarah Lang on 021 733 434