New Central Interceptor training centre opens


The TBM replica is unveiled. It is named after the first New Zealand woman to gain a university degree, Kate Edger.

The Central Interceptor – New Zealand’s biggest wastewater infrastructure project – reached another milestone today (17 July) with the opening of a custom-built training centre and a replica tunnel boring machine (TBM) next to the Māngere Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Mayor Phil Goff and other dignitaries unveiled the TBM replica, which is named after the first New Zealand woman to gain a university degree, Kate Edger. Three generations of Kate’s family were present at the ceremony.

Mayor Goff says the Central Interceptor is one of Auckland’s most significant infrastructure projects. “The Central Interceptor will help improve Auckland’s water quality and clean up our beaches by reducing wastewater overflows,” he said.

“It’s an important infrastructure investment that will increase the capacity of our wastewater system to deal with population growth, help protect our environment and ensure Aucklanders can enjoy clean and healthy beaches for generations to come.

“This new training centre demonstrates Watercare and the Ghella Abergeldie Joint Venture’s commitment to the safety of its people. Around the world, construction is over-represented in workplace accidents. It’s great to see Watercare and Ghella Abergeldie JV are prepared to innovate and set the standard when it comes to keeping their teams safe.

“Everyone has the right to finish work and return home safe to their families each night. This is a major step forward in making sure all workers receive the best possible training before they pick up their tools.”

Central Interceptor executive programme director Shayne Cunis says the training centre provides an immersive experience and is the first of its kind in New Zealand.

“The days of using powerpoint presentations for safety inductions are over. This training centre gives our staff and contractors the chance to get practical experience before they’re on site dealing with the risks that come with the job.

“Outside we have all sorts of equipment enabling our team to prepare for different scenarios, including pipes and manholes for rescue training, scaffold mock-ups and kits for simulating a chemical spill.”

Every staff member connected with the project undergoes a two-day training course at the centre. Anyone involved in tunnelling has further training related to changing the TBM’s cutterheads and entering the machine’s decompression chamber. This is essential, as at some places tunnelling will take place 110 metres underground.

The training centre is the brainchild of our head of health, safety and wellbeing Bronwyn Struthers. She recognised the importance of hands-on training opportunities when working in the oil an gas industry in Australia. Varying levels of education and the fact that English was not the first language for many new starters meant traditional classroom-based training methods were not sufficient to provide adequate training.

Cunis says the training centre is the first step in the creation of a positive team culture. “Everyone must do this course, so we have school leavers sitting next to senior construction managers with 30 years’ experience. Their different backgrounds and experiences all contribute to the safety narrative we’re trying to achieve here.

“Our induction courses are designed to not only offer plenty of practical experience, but to encourage everyone to voice their experiences so we can all learn from them. We’re after excellence – not just a technically-brilliant product but one that is achieved with the highest safety standards too.”

About 900 people have already attended the two-day safety induction course.

The real TBM is being assembled at a factory in Germany. It will be shipped to New Zealand at the end of the year.