Rotorua’s volcanic landscape proved the perfect location to bring together more than 800 public works professionals from 17 nations to attend the biggest IPWEA conference of all time.
The conference actually brought together three conferences – combining the conferences of IFME, IPWEA New Zealand and IPWEA into one event for the first time. The result? A veritable melting pot of nationalities and knowledge-sharing.
More than 176 papers were presented across eight streams, an increase on the number of streams held at previous conferences.
Entertainer and comedienne Michelle A’Court oversaw proceedings as Conference Emcee. Michele’s quick-fire banter entertained the crowds and she has been firmly welcomed as part of the IPWEA family.
Day one’s proceedings were officially opened with a traditional Maori ‘challenge’ and delegates came together to sing Pokarekare Ana. The rousing rendition of the traditional folk song proved to be a moving moment and great way to kick-off the event.
Outgoing IPWEA President Michael Kahler gave a rallying speech about the state of the public works sector, focusing on the role of technology and globalisation in shaping the industry in the coming years.
Encouraging women to enter and stay in the public works sector was also a particular challenge, he admitted – the disparity in pay between the sexes being one problem.
“Engineering is still seen as a career for brainy boys,” Kahler said.
President of Iceland Olafur Ragnar Grimsson gave a most impressive opening address via video.
In his speech he likened his nation to New Zealand, adding that “smallness is not necessarily a barrier to greatness”.
“We can achieve a sustainable world by sharing knowledge created in our various communities,” he said.
It is hard to top the President of Iceland, but other notable political keynotes included the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Hon. Bill English and the Mayor of Hastings, Lawrence Yule, who presented on the state of the local government sector in New Zealand.
English took the opportunity to advocate public-private partnerships.
However, it was not all business. Each night there was a different social event for delegates to attend. Sunday kicked off with a drinks night (with a touch of lounge singing), followed by the Happy Days, fifties-themed dinner on Monday and the lavish Gala Dinner on Tuesday.
The latter would not have been complete without the auction of the ‘Magic Tie’. This is where they auction off the tie worn by Kristen McKechie from Opus International Consultants to the 2005 Adelaide Conference where it was cut in half and magically put back together again.
The ‘Magic Tie’ has been framed and auctioned off at every IPWEA Conference Gala Dinner since Adelaide. After much bidding, the tie was sold to Bill Woodcock of Complete Urban who bought the tie for a whopping $4000 – a conference record. Congratulations Bill!
Delegates who attended will have spotted many people wearing bright yellow scarves. This was the WA contingent who were promoting the next IPWEA Conference which will be held in sunny Perth from 20-23 August 2017.
If this year’s event is anything to go by, it will be a great event. However, if you need more convincing here’s a video on what Perth has to offer.
IPWEA would like to again thank all its sponsors, speakers and delegates for making Rotorua a fantastic event. See you in Perth 2017.
Find out what you missed
reported live from the IPWEA 2015 conference in Rotorua from 7-11 June. To get a taster of what you missed (or to relive the conference) why not read some of the stories below, detailing some of the many breakout sessions from the event.