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Councillor provides update on growing NZ industry

lower hutt, wellington

Internationally, New Zealand punches well above its weight, whether it be in academia, entertainment or sports.  The same is true in trenchless technology.

New Zealand has always been a strong supporter of trenchless technology and with our culture to strive, we have set a number of world achievements, most recently and notably in direct pipe installations. 

Trenchless technology in NZ covers the full range of techniques and technologies from new installation horizontal directional drilling (HDD), micro tunnelling and its direct pipe hybrid to renewal techniques of pipe bursting and lining. We also have pipe ramming and auger boring capabilities in the country, albeit not as well promoted. 

Large diameter TBM tunnelling projects for both transport and water have now also been undertaken.

Trenchless technology is strong and growing in NZ. We enjoy, recognise, and appreciate the support we receive from the likes of such national institutions as WaterNZ as well as tertiary training institutions and the supply chain as a whole. 

That being said, and as much as, in some areas, trenchless technology is now mainstream, in other areas, it is still seen as a ‘last resort’ solution, not as a ‘first considered’. A lack of understanding knowledge, misinformation, inappropriate risk allocation and historical bias are reasons for this. This remains one of mine, and the industry as a whole, challenges.

The NZ government requirements to meet carbon emissions and general climate change requirements should make the consideration of trenchless technology and techniques a bigger driver. Whilst again disappointing, that this focus requires central govt. legislation, this is neither unusual nor specific to trenchless technology – this seems to be NZ’s way. Health and safety management was and still is, a similar central government legislative enabler to create change.  Higher levels of expectations from the public and minimizing disruption are other drivers toward more trenchless uptake by asset owners. 

So, what, as both an industry and individually, as well as myself as NZ ASTT Councillor, do we need to do to increase the uptake and successful use of trenchless technology? As this article goes to press, the ASTT has undertaken a survey of its membership asking these same questions. I am keen to understand where our NZ industry see we can add value and where more efforts and support is required.   

In the past two years, COVID-19 has been an international disruptor and as much as it has caused significant challenges it has also shown us and stimulated other benefits. One of those has been how we interact with our marketplace. Historically in NZ we have held face-to-face forums and bi-annual WaterNZ convention streams.  COVID-19 has promoted the value of webinars and other such remote learning opportunities. I am keen to support and pursue any and all opportunities and initiatives to promote the trenchless value and message.

I am very proud and honoured to have been the NZ Councillor for the past five plus years, since 2017, to continue to promote the value and successes of our industry.  I look forward to catching up with as many of you as I can during NZ Water conference in Christchurch in October. 

Kia ora me te pai, keep safe and well.

Blair Telfer, NZ ASTT Councillor.


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This article appeared in the October edition of Trenchless Australasia. Access the digital copy of the magazine here.

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