Bay of Plenty river rediversion and estuary enhancement wins Special ACE Award

A collaborative project to make Te Awa o Ngātoroirangi / Maketū Estuary healthier for people to swim and fish in has won a Special Award at the ACE Awards on Tuesday 22 February.  

The health of the estuary collapsed in the 1950s when the Kaituna River was diverted away from its natural outlet to be drained and turned into farmland. Ninety percent of wetlands were lost and populations of fish and shellfish plummeted, which came at a significant cost for tangata whenua.  

Engineering consultancy WSP was hired by Bay of Plenty Regional Council to restore the mauri of the estuary by increasing the volume of water from the Kaituna River, maximising the ecological and cultural benefits, limiting the economic cost and adverse environmental effects, and ensuring flood protection and access for boats. This was no small feat.  

Construction began in June 2018 and the project was completed in February 2020, on budget and five months ahead of schedule. The wetlands are now a thriving place for kaimoana and the fish are now the main source of protein for some locals.  

The ACE Awards judges recognised WSP for its consulting excellence in consenting and stakeholder engagement. The outstanding depth and extent of technical expertise in securing resource consents were critical to the success of the project. 

ACE New Zealand Chief Executive Helen Davidson said: “WSP really listened to the needs of the community, including local iwi and the coastguard, and adapted its solution based on feedback they received.  

“Council had been trying to fix the problem since the 1970s, with not much success. Now, because of WSP’s excellence in consultation, the council has a closer relationship with local iwi.”  

The Special Award recognises outstanding collaboration leading to exceptional outcomes between WSP, Beca, ICE Civil and Geo, DHI, Riverlake, Norconsult, Eco Nomos, Waterline, Discovery Marine, Cooney Lees Morgan, J Swap Contractors, Pacific 7, MAP Projects, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the local community and residents.     

About the ACE Awards  

The ACE Awards recognise consulting and engineering that achieves the highest level of innovation and excellence, and results in remarkable outcomes. The judging panel evaluates the submissions, conducts client interviews and tours project sites. This work is then reviewed by a group of peers, which makes the ACE Awards the pinnacle of achievement in the professional services consulting sector.  

These awards are the 2021 ACE Awards, originally scheduled to take place at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland in September 2021 but delayed because of COVID-19 restrictions. They took place online on Tuesday 22 February.     

For a full list of award winners and photos for use by media, please visit 


For further information contact:  

Suzie Hart   
Communications Manager  
ACE New Zealand 
[email protected] 


About ACE New Zealand  

ACE New Zealand is a firm-based member organisation representing more than 230 professional services firms, ranging from large global firms to employee-owned SMEs and sole traders.  

Our members deliver critical technology, construction, infrastructure and environmental solutions, providing the essential expertise needed to create remarkable outcomes for Aotearoa.  

We act as the collective voice for our members, providing a system-level perspective to their unique challenges. We invest in initiatives that benefit firms of all sizes and sit at a macro-level within the sector.