2023 ACE Awards winners

The ACE Awards celebrate Aotearoa New Zealand’s best consultants working in the built and natural environment and the exceptional mahi being done for communities here and overseas.  

The awards recognise the consultants who go above and beyond ‘business as usual’ to deliver projects and initiatives.  Our award entrants are often up against really complex challenges, like tight timeframes, small budgets or remote locations, so the results we’ve seen from this year’s entrants are truly remarkable.   

It’s the rigorous judging criteria that makes the ACE Awards stand out. Our judges are consultants at the top of their game, handpicked each year from the industry. As well as outstanding consulting services, they focus on technical expertise, sustainable value and client satisfaction.  

Projects are awarded gold, silver or merit based on the level of achievement, how much the project has exceeded expectations and whether it sets a new industry standard. Judges may also present special awards where there is a unique contribution to the industry or community.  

The 2023 ACE Awards were held on Thursday 21 September at the Dominion Museum Building in Wellington. 

Gold Award winners

Christ Church Cathedral stabilisation 

Consultant: Holmes and Naylor Love 
Client: Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement 

Christ Church Cathedral has high cultural and spiritual significance for its former role as the cathedral church of the Anglican diocese in Canterbury, for its civic role as a venue for important cultural events, and as the physical and metaphorical heart of Ōtautahi Christchurch.   

The devastating earthquakes of 2011 caused significant damage to this historic, much-loved Cathedral – a national icon in Aotearoa New Zealand. The west façade facing Cathedral Square collapsed, the tower was badly damaged and collapsed, and destruction was widespread throughout the building.   

In 2019, Holmes and Naylor Love were appointed to provide structural engineering and construction consultant services, for the project’s stabilisation phase.   

Stabilisation of the cathedral presented significant technical engineering, construction and health and safety challenges given the site constraints, biohazards and the badly damaged structure. At the same time the work had to preserve the historical character and facilitate the restoration phase.   

Holmes and Naylor Love are recognised for the expertise, commitment and a deep understanding of its structural challenges that had to be addressed to set up the cathedral for the project’s reinstatement phase.

Constellation Brands press building and front-end automation 

Consultant: Aurecon 
Client: Constellation Brands New Zealand 

Constellation Brands iconic Kim Crawford Winery in Blenheim needed a major processing capacity expansion to meet demand for its Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc wine worldwide. Achieving this required a step-change in production capacity with automation and future-proofing required and reliability risk reduced.    

Aurecon took on a high-risk project to completely reconstruct and automate the front-end processing capacity of a 30,000 tonne winery to 40,000 tonnes per year. Construction had to be undertaken between vintages. Working collaboratively with the client, suppliers and the construction team resulted in a successful project, on time and within budget. In the process the team improved the health and safety, environmental impact, working conditions, and process efficiency.   

Using a fast, nimble, hybrid design and construction process resulted in the new facilities being commissioned and ready for the 2022 harvest when the winery processed 42,000 tonnes of grapes through the new plant without any problems.   

Aurecon is recogised for outstanding client centric collaborative approach, its technical expertise and its management of risk.   


Lime Kiln failure and emergency repair 

Consultant: Index Engineering 
Client: Oji Fibre Solutions - Kinleith Mill



Oji Fibre Solutions is a leader in pulp, paper and packaging production in New Zealand. Index Engineering was engaged as lead mechanical engineer when the OjiFS Kinleith Lime Kiln failed. The lime kiln suffered a catastrophic failure: it overheated, refractory bricks burned and collapsed into the kiln, and the lime kiln carbon steel shell corkscrewed. The lower part of the kiln slumped downwards.  

There was enormous pressure from OjiFS management to resolve the kiln failure in a cost-effective and safe manner but within an urgent timeframe. Overseas advise indicated that the repair was likely to take months. Compounding the situation, the country was in the middle of its Covid response, meaning overseas experts from the kiln supplier could not be easily brought to New Zealand.   

Index Engineering is recognised for the leadership and co-ordination it provided, its technical expertise and guidance, responsiveness, commitment and its collaboration with the client, stakeholders and multiple personnel. It is a testament to its commitment and expertise that the repairs were completed in 3.5 weeks. Index is acknowledged for the excellence in delivery and execution of the consulting service. 


Northern Corridor Improvements project  

Consultant: Jacobs and WSP in alliance with Fulton Hogan, HEB Construction and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency   
Client: Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency 


The Northern Corridor Improvements (NCI) project delivers significant transport enhancements for the North Shore while improving efficiency and offering better access for multi-modal options. The Western Ring Route delivers a direct motorway connection between State Highway 1 and State Highway 18 to improve resilience for the movement of people and goods across the region. Better access to public transport has been achieved by extending the Northern Busway. The shared path provides 10km of low-carbon transport options for people on foot or bicycle.  

Features of the consulting experience include urban design that integrates social and cultural values, journey management solutions that improve the customer experience, construction staging strategy with a unique and first-of-its-kind ‘ghost busters’ concept, construction sequencing to minimise impact to commuter traffic and shared use path design for enhanced user experience.  

Jacobs and WSP are recognised for their innovation, technical excellence, and the consulting experience they have delivered for their client, stakeholders and community. The size and complexity of undertaking a project such as the NCI in an existing urban environment demonstrates the excellence in consulting required to successfully deliver the project while meeting the project objectives – a testament to Jacobs and WSP.  


St James Theatre and Ballet Building 

Consultant: Beca 
Client: Wellington City Council 


Wellington’s iconic 1912 St James Theatre and Ballet Building have been sympathetically strengthened and upgraded, bringing one of the region’s most important arts venues back into use, and revitalising Wellington’s Courtenay Place arts and entertainment heart.  

Deconstruction of the building uncovered numerous unwelcome discoveries from the 1990s seismic retrofit. Multiple times when the interface was exposed, the as-built construction was not as it was supposed to be, necessitating significant redesign and resequencing of the construction works programme. Heritage theatre buildings are notorious for their poor climate control systems, and the St James Theatre was no different presenting complex challenges for Beca’s HVAC team.   

Beca is recognised for the architectural sympathy within which the structural strengthening was undertaken, the delivery of an enhanced level of user comfort which is world leading, and the responsive, collaborative leadership it provided. It’s a testament to Beca’s commitment that the project was completed on time for opening night.  


Te Mato Vai – the Rarotonga water management project 

Consultant: GHD 
Client: Ministry of Finance and Economic Management, Government of the Cook Islands 


Te Mato Vai, the Rarotonga water management project, brings clean, treated water to the island for the first time and sets a foundation for the future development of water infrastructure across the whole of Rarotonga.   

Working closely with the first-ever tripartite agreement between the governments of the Cook Islands, New Zealand and the People’s Republic of China, GHD provided essential design, project management, communications and stakeholder engagement services for Te Mato Vai.    

The concept developed for the Rarotonga treatment plant design focused on providing a robust, long life, simple technology solution, aligned with current capacity and capability.    

The client trusted GHD and understood that GHD wanted to leave a legacy for the government and the community by using a core, locally based delivery team who were equipped with broad technical and project delivery experience. The success of the project is a testament to an enduring relationship that was developed and sustained over many years. GHD is recognised for the excellence of its engagement and consulting services.


Silver Award winners

Auckland Harbour Bridge emergency repairs 

Consultant: Beca 
Client: Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency 

The Auckland Harbour Bridge is one of New Zealand’s most critical transport links. On 18 September 2020, a freak 127km/hr wind gust caused two trucks travelling over the Auckland Harbour Bridge to topple over, causing critical structural damage to the historical truss bridge and a significant reduction in its capacity to carry vehicles. The four central lanes were immediately closed to ensure the safety of bridge users, leading to gridlock across Auckland’s motorway network. With more than 170,000 vehicles traversing the bridge each day, the economic and social impact required an urgent response.  

Waka Kotahi called upon its trusted advisors, Beca and the Auckland System Management alliance to get the bridge back into safe operation as soon as possible, anticipating a four-week programme and social disruption costs of $40 million.   

Beca leveraged its 25-year knowledge of the bridge, advanced design tools, and trusted, established relationships with the client and construction partners to help deliver the repairs quickly, reliably and accurately during limited night-time closures.  

Beca is recognised for its seamless collaboration in design, fabrication and installation which delivered an elegant, structurally-sound solution in 18 days. 


Kauri Dieback mitigation in Northland's walking tracks 

Consultant: Frame Group 
Client: Northland Regional Council 

An Aotearoa icon, kauri are among the world's mightiest trees, growing to over 50m tall, with trunk girths up to 16m, and living for more than 2,000 years. Kauri forests once covered 1.2 million hectares from the Far North of Northland to Te Kauri, near Kawhia and were common when the first people arrived around 1,000 years ago.  

Phytophthora agathidicida (PA) is a fungus-type pathogen which damages the tree’s root system. It reduces the tree’s ability to take water and nutrients from the soil and transport it throughout the plant.  

There is no known cure, but we can help reduce its spread by avoiding any movement of soil around the roots of trees. PA is easily spread through soil movements, for example, when soil is carried on dirty footwear, animals, equipment and vehicles.   

Frame Group is recognised for the leadership, collaboration and consultation undertaken in developing the National Kauri Dieback Track Infrastructure Guidelines, managing and delivering track upgrades and training and upskilling communities in best practice techniques for infrastructure maintenance and upgrading. 


Speeding up electrification – the ElectroNet transportable switchroom journey 

Consultant: ElectroNet 
Client: Transpower New Zealand 


Transpower’s Whakamana i Te Mauri Hiko report predicts an approximately 70% growth in annual electrical energy demand from now to 2050 as part of achieving New Zealand’s goal of net zero carbon. Significant additional electrical energy will be required for electrification of process heat, production of green hydrogen and the electrification of our transport fleet. Coupled with skill shortages, inflation and increasing capital costs, the need to speed up project delivery through innovation is more critical than ever.  

Transpower is facing significant challenges with commissioning projects associated with replacing 33,000 volt outdoor switchyards with indoor switchboards, within acceptable timeframes.    

To speed up these vital projects, ElectroNet lead a collaborative initiative with Transpower to develop a transportable switchroom, the Modular Switchroom Solution (MOSS). Delivering a solution required an “outside the box” approach which challenged how things were done.  

Electronet is recognised for working collaboratively with its client and key stakeholders, challenging the historical construction and delivery model to develop a modular solution that dramatically cuts site construction time.  


Wellington network operational readiness for Transmission Gully opening 

Consultant: Aurecon 
Client: Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency 

Te Aranui o Te Rangihaeata – Transmission Gully motorway (SH1) opened in March 2022 providing a safe, modern and reliable route in and out of Wellington.  

Originally conceived in the early 1900s, it aimed to transform the Wellington transport network by reducing the number of fatal and serious injury crashes, increasing economic benefits and providing a more reliable and safer journey.    

As construction neared completion, the Wellington transport network was about to experience a transformational change in transport connectivity. It was essential to ensure that the transport network was ready for transition and the wider network integration. Waka Kotahi appointed Aurecon to support with preparing the stakeholders and transport network users for this transition  

Aurecon is recognised for its ground-breaking development and delivery of a successful suite of services, including transport network performance assessments, stakeholder engagement, operational planning, and physical intervention procedures. 

Merit Award winners

Te Matatiki Toi Ora The Arts Centre—Observatory Hotel

Consultant: Holmes 
Client: The Arts Centre Trust  

The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora in Ōtautahi Christchurch is a cultural focal point of the city, recognised both nationally and internationally for its heritage significance. The 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquake sequence left every one of The Arts Centre's buildings structurally compromised, including the F Block, which was severely damaged.    

The restoration and strengthening of F Block was designed to house the boutique, luxury Observatory Hotel. The hotel brings a vital revenue stream for The Arts Centre, as well as bringing tourists onsite to experience the many attractions and entertainment options within the wider precinct.  

Holmes is recognised for its expertise and commitment to preserving the heritage of this building while facilitating its repurposing as a hotel, and its collaborative, can-do attitude which has made this possible. 


Te Ara Ki Uta Ki Tai – Glen Innes to Tāmaki Drive Shared Path 

Consultant: Stantec 
Client: Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport 

Te Ara Ki Uta Ki Tai (the path of land and sea) - the Glen Innes to Tāmaki Drive Shared Path is a 7km long, 4.5m wide, greenfield corridor for cyclists and pedestrians. The path completes a missing link in Auckland’s cycle network, connecting cycle routes in Auckland’s eastern suburbs to the CBD. It traverses the most challenging terrain of the route, including steep uncertain ground conditions and ecologically and culturally sensitive areas, and spans the North Island Main Trunk rail line.  

The project delivered by Stantec is a clean, elegant pathway that focuses on the needs of the local community as well as those of active travel commuters to deliver wider benefits. The design pays respect to the heritage of the route and celebrates the many unique elements of place.  

Stantec is recognised for its planning, route selection and delivery of this game changing asset. 

Sustainability Award winner

Kauri Dieback mitigation in Northland's walking tracks

Delivery team: Frame Group, Northland Regional Council, Ministry for Primary Industries and Department of Conservation  

An Aotearoa icon, kauri are among the world's mightiest trees. Kauri forests once covered 1.2 million hectares and were common when the first people arrived around 1,000 years ago. They are now under threat.

Kauri Dieback is a fungus-type pathogen which damages the tree’s root system, crippling the tree’s ability to take and transport water and nutrients throughout the plant.

There is no known cure and this fungus serves as a death sentence to this revered and iconic species. Its spread can be reduced by avoiding any movement of soil around the roots of trees, often spread on dirty footwear, animals, equipment and vehicles.

The Sustainability Award is given to Northland Regional Council, Ministry of Primary Industries, Department of Conservation and Frame Group in recognition of their initiatives, commitment and engagement with stakeholders to saving our kauri forests.

The collaboration between these organisations was key in establishing world leading guidance on the management and mitigation of Kauri Dieback.


Client Award winner

Constellation Brands

Project: Constellation Brands press building and front-end automation 
Consultant: Aurecon

Great consulting is not just about what you do but, and possibly more importantly, how you do it. Having solutions that meet your client’s requirements is obviously important, but working with your client to help achieve their broader business objectives creates longer term value.

Some of the most successful projects are the result of clients creating a collaborative working environment with their consultants and contractors to leverage on their collective skills.

Constellation Brands set their project up to succeed. They chose the most appropriate consultant for their project (exemplifying the benefits of Qualification Based Selection). They chose to involve the consultant team in their longer-term business objectives. They chose a working environment that was open, honest, and with a no-blame culture. They chose to work collaboratively with their consultants and contractors equitably sharing knowledge and risk.

Their procurement and management practices exemplified what it means to be a great client.


Emerging Leader Award winner

Victoria Mills, Beca 

Sponsor: Tonkin + Taylor

Victoria Mills

Victoria has more than nine years' experience in three waters engineering, specialising in stormwater design. As Associate Environmental Engineer and Water Team Leader based in Beca’s Tauranga office, she is currently leading major deliverables in the stormwater design for Takitimu Northern Link – one of the most significant infrastructure projects in the Bay of Plenty. She also leads a team of 13 professionals of various career levels in the local water team.

Victoria is an exceptional ‘all-rounder’ engineer. Not only can she undertake the grunty calculations, she can also co-ordinate, communicate, ideate, integrate, lead and inspire others with her enthusiasm and commitment. In stormwater engineering she demonstrates strong technical ability and a holistic approach to understanding the communities and environments affected by projects, and client drivers. Her thoughtful application of engineering solutions is evident in her volunteer work in the Cook Islands and her work seconded to Waimakariri District Council working in the community after damaging floods.

Overall, Victoria is an outstanding consulting engineer, team leader, mentor, ambassador, advocate for our industry and people, and role model for young engineers. She is empathetic and supportive towards her colleagues, an effective and impactful communicator, and is committed to improving outcomes for communities through her projects.


President's Award winner

Warner Cowin, Height  

Warner Cowin

The ACE New Zealand Board unanimously agreed to present the 2023 President’s Award to Warner Cowin, Founder and Chief Executive of Height, a values driven business operating within the infrastructure sector’s bidding and procurement space.

Warner is a thought leader, influencing the way government buyers operationalise broader outcomes and engage with Māori, and working with Māori and Pasifika businesses, preparing them to successfully bid and deliver government contracts.

His work with Te Puni Kokiri Capability Uplift to realise the potential of Māori businesses in the construction sector has been game-changing and is worthy of specific mention. This uplift programme supports Māori businesses predominantly in the construction sector to win contracts and be profitable and provide amazing customer experiences.

He is recognised for being a tireless leader and champion in our sector for many years now, providing significant sector leadership around social procurement and sustainable outcomes and uplifting Māori capability and businesses in our sector. Warner is a very worthy recipient of this award and we are delighted to recognise him for his outstanding service to the professional services sector and the communities we serve.


View and download photos from the 2023 ACE Awards Gala via Flickr.


Read the media release Aotearoa New Zealand’s best consultants revealed at 2023 ACE Awards

Sponsored by Beca    

A big thank you to Beca, the 2023 ACE Awards Gala sponsor. 


If you have any questions about the awards contact us at [email protected].