The research team for the MBIE Endeavour program funded protect titled “Developing a Construction 4.0 transformation of Aotearoa New Zealand’s construction sector” recently had our first Wānanga.

This Wānanga was an opportunity for the whole research team to get together, along with the Co-Chairs of the Industry Advisory Group; Saul Roberts and Nicky Luis.

We held the Wānanga at the beautiful Te Māhurehure in Point Chevalier. We were fortunate to have Fleur Palmer (A/Prof at AUT and Theme Leader for Mātauranga Māori in Construction 4.0 in the project) as our Kai Karanga and Saul as our Whai Kōrero.

The new building facility at Te Mahurehure marae - Taumata o Kupe.

We received a beautiful welcome from our hosts. After the pōwhiri and kai, we allocated time for whakawhanaungatanga (introductions and connections) as it was the first opportunity for the team to meet kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face). We also welcomed our first research student into the team; Patricia Te Whatu (who is our first ever post-graduate HERA Whanake Scholarship recipient and will be supervised by Fleur at AUT).


Next up on the agenda was the “Mātauranga Māori theme wānanga – how to deliver Vision Mātauranga in the research programs/themes”. This was led by Fleur. Fleur gave us a high level overview of some ways that we could consider our research in a different context. She prompted us to consider how some of the engineering phenomena (e.g. seismic performance) could be considered in a te ao Māori context, including ngā atua (Māori Gods) that would be relevant in the research program. She also spoke to the importance of Māori engagement and participation in the research and our Vision Mātauranga commitments.


Next up was Prof Xun Xu (Prof at University of Auckland and Overarching Data Connectivity Standardisation Theme Leader in this research project). He provided an overview of the general requirements of data connectivity standardisation and how this would link the various research programs and themes.

After lunch, Prof Sarah McLaren (Prof at Massey University and Sustainable Future Theme Leader in this research project) led a third session on imbedding themes into the research programs. She overviewed the data requirements and opportunities/limitations of LCA studies. She urged the program leaders to engage with her on identifying the suitable case studies. The group also affirmed the need for end-user engagement in that process, including Māori.


Prof Kenneth Husted (Prof at University of Auckland and Construction 4.0 Technology Transfer Theme Leader in this project) spoke about the process he will be using to identify the best approach for tech transfer from within this project to the sector. He gave examples of novel practises to do this and emphasised the importance of the themes and programs to engage in the development and trialling of the process.


Last up in the theme wānanga was Prof Robert Amor (Prof at University of Auckland and Research Leader and Computing Technologies in Construction 4.0 Theme Leader in this research project). He emphasised the supporting role that he saw for this theme and the focus on sourcing and adapting suitable technologies that would be relevant. Robert also led a general discussion on the research program’s coordination. This included research integration and communication, scholarships, reporting and deliverables and planning for the next Wānanga (to be held 19 May).


Following the theme wānanga, Dr Troy Coyle (CEO of HERA and Impact Leader in this project) provided an update on impact co-ordination.


She gave an update on the creation of the Construction4.0hub, including a kaupapa Māori website in development. She also advised that HERA had received a lot of interest from applicants to join the Industry Advisory Group and that the applicants were very impressive and diverse (in terms of sectoral experience).


She also overviewed the contractual requirements relating to IP Management and Protection of Mātauranga Māori. She was really pleased to report that none of the parties had objected to the additional clauses that would reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations to protect Mātauranga Māori and allow the relevant kaitiaki to maintain control of this taonga.

A/Prof at AUT and Theme Leader for Mātauranga Māori in Construction 4.0, Fleur Palmer presenting on her research theme.

The final session of the day was led by Fleur and focused on Māori engagement. Fleur overviewed the plans to create a Māori Advisory Group and the requirement for all research participants to undertake Te Tiriti o Waitangi training (the first team-wide Te Tiriti o Waitangi Wānanga is scheduled for the 17 March).


A reflection on the wānanga

All in all, it was a very productive day. Our intention is that we will create a research family in this project, that is fully integrated and operating as one. Our research Theme Leaders challenged us all to ensure this happens. Saul also challenged us to think more meaningfully about the Mātauranga Māori interfaces. This project presents a once in a career opportunity for us to initiate significant change within the sector and this is also a responsibility that we hold.


None of us are taking that responsibility lightly and we are invigorated by the challenge.