Two-stage build seen as chance to use NZ contractors

Construction of the new Dunedin Hospital in two stages may mean New Zealand contractors could build the facility.

Leighs Construction managing director Anthony Leighs said there was capacity in Dunedin to do work fast-tracked by the Government, and capacity in the South Island to build the whole facility.

Mr Leighs is a former chairman of the New Zealand Registered Master Builders’ Association and his company’s work in Dunedin includes the University of Otago Dental School and science precinct redevelopments.

He said it was "great" the work was to be done in stages, and would take longer.

"That will enable the right arrangements to be made, or parties to come together so that New Zealand companies can build this hospital.

"There’s no doubt in my mind there’s capability, largely within the South Island, to build the project."

His company would "most definitely" be interested in tendering for the project.

Naylor Love Dunedin director Ian McKie said he thought the majority of the 350 workers required would be available.

However, the period would be "reasonably busy for Dunedin".

"In 2020, we would expect the market to be getting busier with other projects."

Mr McKie said the work was something his company would be interested in considering.

"Certainly, we’d be disappointed if we weren’t involved in some way."

Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan, the chairman of the workforce development advisory group for the hospital build, said funding had been confirmed from the Government and local government sources for a fulltime worker for the group.

The group was organised earlier this year among industry players, government organisations and others to plan for the shortfall in skilled labour expected for the hospital build.

It would advertise before Christmas for an employee to co-ordinate the work, which would "progress with some urgency" considering yesterday’s news.

Mr McGowan said there was capacity in the construction industry for the 350 workers needed.

"I do think there is. I think there’s going to need to be some collaboration between potential contractors or subcontractors for some of that work."

Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker said the polytechnic had expanded its carpentry programmes, adding a fourth intake of 25 students to help meet the needs of the hospital rebuild.

The polytechnic was also continuing to expand its EduBits micro-credentials programme to help upskill the labour force, Mr Ker  said.

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