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Christchurch Three Years On: Safety focus for Hawkins Construction

Safety took an unprecedented focus in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes.

Former mayor Bob Parker’s signature hi-vis jacket became a symbol of the immediate post-quake phase.

Nowadays, the bright yellow and orange clothing has become de rigueur for all tradespeople. And buildings are swathed in scaffolding and sometimes plastic before any work begins

Local safety and training initiatives were key aspects of the Canterbury rebuild for construction firm Hawkins.

Hawkins Group chief executive Geoff Hunt says the company was keen to commit to the Canterbury Rebuild Safety Charter in 2013, alongside construction, insurance and government leaders. 

Hawkins played a major role as part of the Canterbury Rebuild Senior Leaders’ Group in developing the charter and drafting of a firm “safety comes first” commitment.

Hawkins Construction South Island regional manager Steve Taw says that while the charter commitments are nothing new and what Hawkins already does on site, the charter supports safety throughout the industry.

A priority of the Canterbury rebuild is also providing temporary accommodation for those whose homes were damaged or destroyed during the earthquakes.

Four temporary accommodation villages have been set up in Kaiapoi, Rawhiti and Linwood by the government to help meet the demand for short-term rental housing.

Hawkins is working with MBIE to deliver 18 houses and 22 apartments at the Rangers Park village development in Linwood. 

The first 10 homes were officially opened in September 2013.

“Hawkins has plenty of experience with this type of work, having already built 84 homes in similar village-style precincts in Canterbury,” Mr Taw says.

Two apprentices who graduated through the He Toki ki te Rika (He Toki) programme are part of the Hawkins team working on the Rangers Park development.


He Toki is a Maori trades training initiative led by Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu in partnership with CPIT (Polytechnic) and Hawkins. 

Read: the rest of the Christchurch Three Years On feature stories here