Through strength in relationships, capability, teamwork and passion, we deliver high-performing, sustainable and reliable solutions for the modern world.
A conversation with Downer New Zealand CEO, Steve Killeen
Steve Killeen talks through how we achieve this, what makes us different, and our shared vision for the future.
What future impact does Downer hope to have on Aotearoa?
In many ways, I'd like our future impact on Aotearoa to echo the achievements and legacy we have in the past. So back in the day, we did things like build the hydro schemes, which are essential to a low carbon society as we move forward to the future. We want to work with an ecosystem of suppliers, customers and other partners, in order to provide an environment that delivers social and economic infrastructure that supports the country to be successful.
How is Downer different to other workplaces?
I would say a sense of humour. You hear a lot of laughter, whether it's in our offices or on our sites. That really talks to people that the fact they feel inclusive, the fact they feel part of a team and it talks to the relationships we have beyond the organisation. A lot of our relationships with (for example) our subcontractors have built up over the years. Everyone knows we work together and support the wider families and wider community that relate to the business.
DNZ operates so many different businesses, how do they all work together?
Downer works across a number of different businesses, and the question we're often asked is 'how do they all work together?' Firstly it's one big Whānau, so we do see ourselves as a family. Although big, it's still a family business in the way we include people and the way we look after them. In terms of our work, all of our businesses work through whole of life - we enable design, we build, we maintain and we operate. Very often that will require a collective effort. Although we have three different divisions, they're very closely related in the engineering and the partnering skills they bring. A lot of our projects will combine those skill sets across Transport, Utilities and Facilities.
Last 5 years have grown enormously, what does the next 5 years look like for Downer customers?
We've grown significantly over the last five years so that we can provide a service that meets the needs of Aotearoa and our customers. Looking forward over the next five years, we want to be part of a journey that deals with intergenerational change in infrastructure, that meets the needs of a growing country, that meets the needs of the infrastructure deficit that currently exists, and delivers that in a value for money format, innovates to meet the sustainability goals that are laid out for New Zealand to achieve, and which we need to make our fair commitment to as a country and as an organisation.
What motivates you/puts a smile on your face every day?
So when asked what motivates me? What puts a smile on my face? I think first and foremost, it's the people and some of those candid reactions. So when I asked a young Engineer recently why they work for Downer, they said it's "because I enjoy getting shit done." I think that to a certain degree that captures what we're about - getting things done, finding successful outcomes, and in many ways, contributing in a way that is bigger than any individual, that is bigger than the organisation and ultimately enabling society to thrive through great relationships.
Our Values & Pillars
Tuituia ngātahi matou ki te mana o te Whānau, te Manaaki te Kairangatira me te Ngākau Pono. Tuituia hei korowai tikanga tuku iho mo tatou.
Stitching us together as one are family and relationships, care & respect, excellence and integrity as our cloak of values.
Our Tikanga are the values by which we live and they guide the way in which we act and make decisions. They strike to the heart of our belief system, and we feel uncomfortable if we are not acting in alignment with these values or observe others breaching these foundations. Our Tikanga are reflected in our culture as an organisation and should be evident to all.
Our pillars are the foundations of our business. They underpin everything we do and are our framework of reference on how we operate our business.
O rite ki ngā rakau nui tupu ai te wao nui o Tāne ko te Kauri i whakawhiwhi
haumaru, ko te Rimu i whakawhiwhi taonga, ko te Tōtara i whakawhiwhi whanaungatanga,
ko te Kahikatea i whakawhiwhi whakaaro matakite. Ngā pou e wha i aumangea ai te
whakataukī “Mā te whanaungatanga ka angitū”.
Hui e! Taiki e!
The same as the great trees growing in the great forest of Tāne is the Kauri which connects us to Safety, the Rimu which connects us to Delivery, the Tōtara which connects us to Relationships and the Kahikatea which connects us to Thought Leadership. These are our four pillars upon which we build “Relationship creating success”. United and ready to move forward!
Building communities, relationships, and futures
Facilities, Utilities and Transport is what we do. We plan, build, maintain and operate, right through the life of our country’s infrastructure.
Operating for 150 years, we’re always on. Our history in Aotearoa began with the formation of the Public Works Department in 1870 and the New Zealand Post office in 1880. Our work involves maintaining and renewing vital infrastructure assets that support our communities, addresses infrastructure needs, enables economic growth and extends beyond the physical assets to the wellbeing of our people and communities.
We do this through the support of our highly capable, skilled and committed people and by engaging a network of trusted and long-term sub-contractors, suppliers and like-minded organisations and partners. Our 10,000 employees are looking after more than 170 locations across the country, from Kaitaia to Invercargill in more than 170 locations across the country.
Downer New Zealand Highlights 2021/2022
We are a leading provider of integrated asset management services in Aotearoa. It’s engaging and rewarding work, not least because of the diversity of people and projects we work with every day, up and down the country. These are just some of the numbers that illustrate the way we impact the communities where we operate.
locations around Aotearoa
road corridor maintenance contracts
in Gisborne, we repaired the Tokomaru Bay Bridge 10 days ahead of schedule in collaboration with our local contractors
piles laid / 20,000m in length for Downtown and America’s Cup Ports infrastructure
of roads maintained
vehicles per year will be provided with electricity through the construction of New Zealand’s largest windfarm
homes/businesses provided with energy
of electricity network maintained
Kiwis served with drinking water through >7,000kms of pipe network
Hawkins building projects
healthy lunches are made every day and delivered across 22 schools
reduction of driving events over the last five years
total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR)
interns joined our summer programme in 26 locations
training courses for our people
delivered through our Te Ara Whānake and Te Ara Maramatanga programmes per year
mental health first aid training to 321 people. This year we also signed a three-year sponsorship with the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
EV & hybrid
options now available for every vehicle category
transitioned to full electric and 35 to hybrid
Low carbon heating
electrification of tank heating across our bitumen production sites to replace diesel and gas heated systems
Our ambition is to build futures for our people, our clients, our communities and our environment. We value our people and our relationships. We consistently perform with excellence, and our words are matched by our actions. Our business is resilient, and we lead through change with a united team, diverse in capability.
We keep Aotearoa moving by delivering roading solutions to customers, and manufacturing and supplying products and services to create safe, efficient and reliable journeys.
Downer is proud of its long history providing local road maintenance and renewal services across Tāmaki Makaurau, and our strong collaborative partnership with Auckland Transport to deliver these essential services. A standout example of driving continuous improvement is the recent Resurfacing Project on Manukau Road, Epsom. Our collaborative approach unlocked a wide range of benefits for Auckland Transport customers; including, less disruption on the network, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, higher quality outcomes and productivity.
The Ōpaoa Bridge project, north of Blenheim, involved the repurposing of an old bridge and the construction of a new one to provide a better traffic connection for motorists travelling between Picton and Blenheim on State Highway 1. The state-of-the-art bridge design was awarded with a 2021 Heritage Award by Engineering New Zealand for delivering two bridges that combined safety and strength, represented the mana whenua of Wairau, and celebrated heritage values.
New Plymouth Infrastructure Partnership
Our New Plymouth Infrastructure team’s partnership with New Plymouth District Council delivers between $25-30M worth of infrastructure works across the district every year. This has involved renewing and replacing several kilometres of Three Waters infrastructure, which can be disruptive for road users. But the team’s road closure decision has meant we were able to reduce our delivery time by 50%, and the increase in work area resulted in $100,000 of reduced transport costs.
As a market leader in rail infrastructure, Downer provides whole-of-life expertise across Aotearoa’s rail network. We are proud to produce innovative and sustainable rail solutions for our customers and local communities.
Rail capability video
Trentham to Upper Hutt
Wellington’s Trentham to Upper Hutt rail works involved double-tracking of 2.7km between the Trentham and Upper Hutt train stations. Through the intentional creation of a collaborative, high-performing team; Downer, KiwiRail and Aurecon have achieved breakthrough innovations, which have provided game changing safety and productivity benefits for working in the rail corridor.
Wiri to Quay Park
Auckland’s Wiri to Quay Park is a $315 million dollar rail project made up of four construction packages, and one design package. The first package of work involves remodelling between Wiri and Westfield junctions to separate slow moving freight trains from faster commuter trains.
The ‘Third Main’ project is one of four parts of the Auckland Metro Rail Programme, which will create hundreds of jobs and support New Zealand businesses by predominantly using materials supplied by the local market.
City Rail Link
Auckland’s City Rail Link project is the largest transport infrastructure project ever undertaken in New Zealand. The project consists of a 3.45km twin-tunnel underground rail link, and the transformation of the downtown Britomart Transport Centre.
As a key member of the Link Alliance delivering these works, Downer has provided project management services, technical expertise, and our rail and civil delivery teams to better connect the Auckland rail network.
Streetscapes & Cycleways
Downer has a track record of delivering high quality, thoughtfully designed, and cost-effective cycleways and streetscapes for our clients and communities.
Auckland’s Downtown infrastructure programme is the largest concentrated urban transformation ever undertaken in New Zealand. In just two years, Downer, HEB and Soletanche Bachy delivered a $250 million dollar construction programme for Auckland Council, and transformed the waterfront and downtown area to create a more welcoming space for people.
Cobham Drive Bay Connection
The Cobham Drive Bay Connection is a $10M project that is a part of the government’s Urban Cycleways programme, and the Wellington City Cycleways programme. This award-winning project highlights our ability to deliver a high-profile community project focussing on environmental management, protection of people, excellence in engineering and collaborative contract management.
Our Facilities Greenspace team also collaborated with us to landscape this eye-catching new space for our capital city.
Tāmaki Drive project
Tāmaki Drive is a busy road corridor, with over 30,000 vehicles per day and is Auckland’s busiest route for cycling; averaging more than 1,500 trips per day.
At the beginning of the project Auckland Transport and Downer held a workshop where they identified priority sustainability areas, the list included greenhouse gas emissions, energy and materials used in construction and ecological enhancement. These sustainable initiatives resulted in a reduction of noise, traffic, air pollution, resource use, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Airports & Ports
Downer has a strong history of delivering airport infrastructure and surfacing projects, as well as sustainable and innovative marine, wharf and port infrastructure for our customers across Aotearoa.
The Queenstown Airport project was an upgrade in the airfield to resurface the aircraft parking area. We opted for an innovative and sustainable construction approach using TonerPave and beer bottle sand derived from crushed recycled beer bottles, in place of aggregate on the asphalt, to help preserve New Zealand’s natural non-renewable resources and support Queenstown Airport Corporation sustainability focus.
George Bolt Memorial Drive
The George Bolt Memorial Drive upgrade is a $9M component of the larger Auckland Limited Northern Network Transportation Project. The Super Weekend construction methodology, with its reduced plant transports and idle times, lowered the project’s emissions and reduced our carbon footprint, with fewer delivery shifts and less use of Temporary Traffic Management.
The 2016 Kaikōura earthquake damaged several areas of the port, including the infrastructure to move container cargo straight to port by rail. The restoration of the rail onto port facility has brought costs down, reduced carbon emissions from truck use, enhanced safety and created a more seamless transit of freight through a better track layout.
Our ambition is to become Aotearoa’s utilities provider of choice through continuing to deliver outstanding value for our customers, shareholders, team members and communities. We are committed to collaborating with our customers to keep the lights on, keep people connected and keep water flowing.
Water & Automation
We provide water services to a quarter of New Zealanders. We’re there for our customers across the full asset lifecycle; from concept development through to design, construction and commissioning.
For everything from irrigation schemes to water and wastewater treatment plants, our people deliver high performance water infrastructure. While our Automation team helps to drive the performance of our customer’s assets.
Western Bay of Plenty Three Waters
We are proud to partner with Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council to deliver essential three waters services across the region for the next 10 years. The partnership brings together people, knowledge and experience, as well as sharing resource capability to develop the best three waters solutions for the region. It has also created more than 90 exciting employment opportunities for the local community.
Building on our long-standing relationship with Watercare, part of Auckland Council, we entered a collaborative, 10-year partnership contract in 2021. We are working closely together to deliver Water and Wastewater reactive maintenance; and planned works, including meter replacement and pipe renewal programs. We have provided water services in the north Auckland region since 1991, and now provide water to more than 400,000 households in the area.
Tararua Alliance Radio Network
We partnered with Tararua District Council to build a digital radio network across New Zealand’s fourth largest roading network. The network gives people access to radio communications and is a vital part of building resilience, responding to emergencies and helping to keep people safe as they work in rural areas.
We design, build, install and maintain critical telecommunications networks. From cities to rural communities, from the Chatham Islands to Antarctica, our experts are delivering mobile and broadband coverage to keep communities connected. When a weather crisis hits, our people are always ready to ensure the network stays up and running.
Great Barrier Island Vodafone
Cell site upgrade
Data use in New Zealand is increasing by more than 40% every year, with more people relying on mobile networks to stay connected. The cell site tower on Kaikoura Island was one of the first off-grid cell site towers installed by Vodafone. We upgraded the cell site tower to help increase the capacity, speed, and coverage of connectivity on Great Barrier Island.
Chorus Field Services
Since 2000, we have been a leading service provider to Chorus, entrusted with the care and guardianship of its critical network infrastructure and customers. Until 2019, Downer was responsible for the design, construction, maintenance, installation, network rehabilitation, customer installation activity, logistics, and supply of Chorus’ copper, fibre, and radio networks.
Under the new Field Services Agreement, from April 2022 Downer will continue to provide services in the lower and upper South Island, Wellington, Eastern and Western North Island and Bay of Plenty.
Telco civil emergency response
In 2021, Canterbury’s one-in-100-year flood emergency required our Telco team to enact emergency response planning. When a large portion of road washed away on SH77 resulting in a loss of service, our team jumped into action.
On the 23 March 2022, a State of Emergency was declared in Gisborne, after the region experienced a significant amount of flooding that wiped out bridges, roads, and power, and many residents evacuated their homes. Collaboration with our Transport colleagues lead to a successful clean-up; and the Telco team worked tirelessly. Fifteen team members, including technicians from Gisborne, Napier and Whakatane, worked over three days to put in temporary communication poles and fibre and copper cables to reconnect the community to the communications network.
Our Energy team works with the biggest energy providers, building and maintaining an extensive network across the country.
We’re a leading streetlight installation and maintenance contractor, and one of the country’s most experienced providers in the renewable energy sectors.
Underwater marine cabling
in Pauanui Harbour
In 2020, Downer helped Powerco maintain their network through replacing a damaged 11KV marine cable joint underwater in the middle of the Pauanui harbour, running from the Tairua substation. The team worked through challenging weather conditions and tide patterns to complete the project to enhance energy supply in the local area.
When generation connects to the national grid at the Linton Substation, the
Turitea Wind Farm will be the largest wind farm in New Zealand and the first
large-scale addition since 2014. The windfarm will comprise of 50 3.6MW turbines
split between two 220kV-33kV substations. It is also believed to be the in the
top 5% of wind generation sites worldwide.
Once both zones (North and South) are complete, the wind farm will generate 470 GWh per annum – enough electricity to power 375, 000 electric vehicles every year.
Overhead line and powerpole replacement
Our Energy team replaced 70 power poles, 47 crossarms and 10.5 kms of new conductor (overhead line) across 135 sites along Rotoehu Road, Pongakawa, for our trusted client, Powerco. The poles supply electricity to around 44 Powerco customers in the local area.
The connecting of Downer, Hawkins and Spotless has made us the largest construction and facilities services partner in Aotearoa. Our ambition is to be the leading facilities provider, partner, and employer of choice, delivering positive outcomes for today’s communities and future generations. We are the team that can build, maintain and operate the country’s buildings and facilities.
Vertical Construction: Hawkins
Hawkins owes its name to Fred T. Hawkins; a builder and true entrepreneur. From small beginnings in Fred’s Hamilton garage, Hawkins has grown substantially in the past seventy years to become Aotearoa’s leading construction company.
Whether it’s a hospital, school, theatre, university, airport, hotel or office; Hawkins has always been there to help build this great nation and shape our skyline.
The last quarter of 2021 saw the opening of the Pinnacle Tower at the Cordis, Auckland. The new $124 million 17-storey tower is one of the largest hotel refurbishments in the country and connects to the existing hotel in an extensive refurbishment.
Zespri Head Office
As you drive towards the main streets of Mount Maunganui, it is hard to miss Zespri’s striking Head Office building. The multi-storey building spans 8,000m2, including an underground carpark and end-of-trip facilities. 5,000m2 of working space and meeting rooms are spread over three levels, with an internal atrium connecting staff and visitors.
The building has smart exterior façades which help reduce the need for temperature control, energy efficient occupant sensor lighting, solar panels on the roof, rainwater collection technology, and water-efficient plumbing fittings. Our team worked hard to reduce waste on this project, inspiring other sites to do the same.
Foodstuffs North Island Head Office
Hawkins was appointed to build the 9,000 sqm office building in Auckland following a competitive tender in 2019.
The award-winning, 6 Green Star rated, three-level building features a curved roof and includes a commercial test kitchen, mini supermarket, conference centre and training facilities. Large earth bunds rise from the ground to meet the four corners of the curved roof, creating stature in front of the huge warehouse behind.
Despite its size, the whole project took just over a year to build; a spectacular effort from the project team given the disruptions of COVID-19.
We provide fully integrated facilities services with a “whole of asset life” focus for clients that is essential to meeting the needs of the modern world. Our facilities services solutions meet the increasing demand for long term cost-efficient, and sustainable solutions.
ANZ Data Centre
We provide ANZ with 24/7 on-site operation of all engineering services at their two data centres, 365 days per year. This includes subcontractor management and supervision, and all maintenance activities. Our work covers a wide range of activities – from fault response to generator and fuel systems, running building process coolers and HVAC, BMS/CSMS systems, plus fire protection and suppression systems. We are specialists in managing this critical infrastructure in a technical environment.
As part of Wellington Hospital’s COVID-19 readiness programme, our AE Smith team worked alongside Capital & Coast DHB to design their new COVID-19 wards. By manufacturing both a filtration exhaust system and upgrading their oxygen lines, this huge project ensured the hospital and residents had a long-term solution throughout the pandemic, allowing the hospital to operate normally as well as in an emergency outbreak.
Ōhakea Defence Base
Ōhakea is an operational international airport working to strict procedures and timetables with approximately 1,000 NZDF staff onsite.
Our 50-strong Facilities team manage all electrical, HVAC, carpentry and plumbing maintenance. Not stopping there, we clean the interior and exterior of the buildings, sweep over 9km of runway and taxiway, ensure 1,200 specialised lightings stay operational, manage the three water treatments, and maintain the swimming pool complex!
In addition – since this facility is border-patrolled with full Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry facilities – our team maintains a vector control so unwanted foreign flora and fauna don’t make it into Aotearoa’s delicate ecosystems.
Spotless has been a leading provider of fully integrated services – including cleaning, catering and hospitality – for over 25 years. We have become the trusted partner of many public and private entities across the country, delivering essential cleaning services that create safe and immaculate environments for schools, hospitals, aged care facilities, courts, and more.
Otago Museum Cleaning team
The Spotless Otago Museum Team in Dunedin recently took home the ‘Retail and Hospitality over 15,000m2’ award at the Building Service Contractors of New Zealand (BSCNZ) Clean-Sweep Awards.
The team is responsible for cleaning all the glass, all hand railings, all the stainless steel, plus the floors on all three levels and all nine sets of toilets, every single day. We are proud of our work taking care of such an important public building, and proud to be considered by our client as an integral part of the museum team.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic our teams across the whole business have worked
tirelessly to support and protect our clients and our communities.
Since 2020, we have aimed to go the extra mile to manage the increase in cleaning required to ensure all workplaces remained safe and sanitary, delivering deep or ‘high touchpoint’ cleans.
We quickly implemented in-house training to meet these specific needs. One course is ‘Spotless Infectious Control Process and Bio-Cleaning’, another is ‘Fogging Training’. Bio-fogging for our customers – a specialised service requiring the wearing of full-body PPE including a suit, gloves, respiratory masks, safety glasses and shoes (which are removed and cleaned after every job), in order to deliver chemicals which disinfect indoor spaces and hard to reach places that are often missed or forgotten. Much of this specialised cleaning has now become ‘business as usual’ for Spotless.
Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment
Our Spotless team is a close-knit community of experienced cleaning professionals who take pride in providing clean and healthy work environments. As specialists in the industry in large scale commercial office cleaning, securing the MBIE national cleaning contract was an excellent fit for our Spotless team. This 3-year contract began in 2021, and we deliver comprehensive cleaning services for MBIE’s 21 corporate offices across Auckland and Wellington. The contract’s scale enabled us to bring 40 new personnel into the team, and since we know an engaged team provides results, we provide onsite training and support. Systematic Quality Assurance checks tailored to MBIE’s requirements are in place, and we always use environmentally sustainable cleaning methods, products, and recycling options.
The Spotless Hospitality business – which includes our Alliance and Epicure brands – is diverse; with contracts providing corporate hospitality, dining rooms, cafés and cafeterias, functions and boardrooms, retail food and beverage, plus stadia, venue management and event catering. With 60 years of food service experience, our amazing team specialises in the distinct needs of the education, business, healthcare, and retail sectors.
Catering for Schools and Hospitals
The Ministry of Education runs Ka Aro, Ka Ako – a programme to reduce food insecurity by providing access to free nutritious lunches in schools every day. With a bespoke production facility based in Auckland’s North Harbour stadium, our Alliance Healthy Lunches team create and distribute a wide variety of nutritious hot and cold lunches every day to more than 7,000 children across 22 schools.
We also provide a range of nutritious meals for patients and staff at DHBs around the country; with catering and cleaning contracts at Northland DHB and Rotorua Lakes DHB, and catering contracts at Capital Coast DHB, Mercy Ascot, Wakefield and Southern Cross Rotorua.
Our Alliance teams manage a range of cafes in locations all over New Zealand.
Our most recently opened cafe is Lilyworld Cafe, Garden Bar & Event Hub (which was built on the site of the iconic Big Day Out Lilyworld stage). It is the newest offering run by Epicure at Mt. Smart stadium, and boasts a massive garden bar, private function space and cafe. We will feature live entertainment along with sport on the big screen, happy hour and lots of stuff to keep the kids entertained.
We also run cafes such as Oviedo (the in-house cafe for the Department of Internal Affairs in Wellington), The Deli (at Downer’s Auckland head office), and Café Miko at the Botanical Gardens.
Stadiums & Events
Our Auckland-based Epicure team manage the Western Springs Outer Oval. Most recently, in January 2022, we delivered a huge event for Kiwi music favourite L.A.B. The team served over 15,000 attendees, with a team of 391, across 19 food vendors, the hospitality area and 90m of bar.
The team also manage a wide-range of events for Mt. Smart Stadium; with everything from smaller-scale intimate gigs at the newly opened Lilyworld, to huge, full-stadium concerts for the world’s best entertainment acts, plus major sporting events like the Vodafone Warriors home games.
Greenspace Management & Biosecurity
Our greenspace management services include: parks maintenance, reserves and sports fields,
landscape planting and maintenance, roadside vegetation, urban beautification, tree and
vegetation removal, painting, plus minor repairs.
We also offer exterior cleaning, spot cleaning (glass, walls, floors, toilets), gum and graffiti removal, litter, rubbish collection and removal, floor scrubbing/buffering/vacuuming, water blasting, and pest control services through our Excell business.
Cobham Drive, situated along the Wellington harbour, recently won the Best Public Works Project Over $5m category at the 2022 IPWEA New Zealand Awards. Our colleagues in Transport led the major works, with our Greenspace team carrying out the landscaping which enhanced this stunning gateway to Wellington city.
To do this, we purpose-built an onsite nursery to store and harden 37,000 eco-sourced plants, along with the reuse of rocks which provide structure and shelter for the vegetation including shrubs, low bushes, flaxes, and grass. All plant species were chosen with the harsh coastal environment in mind.
Excell has 25 years’ experience in biosecurity, pest, and predator control services that enable New Zealand’s biodiversity and primary production industries to flourish. They provide aquatic and land-based pest and weed management alongside pest and predator surveillance, mapping, and monitoring. Solutions are tailored for each specific ecosystem in urban backyards, rural landholdings, and lifestyle blocks. They are also part of a growing community of conservationists working towards a common goal for Aotearoa to be predator-free by 2050.
Hutt City Council
Parks and Reserves Maintenance
Our 18-strong Hutt City Greenspace team recently resecured a new 10-year contract with Hutt City Council to manage and maintain 300 parks, and it was our focus on broader social outcomes that set us apart.
The team will be working with local iwi to provide work experience for rangatahi, while creating educational stories for parks that hold cultural significance. We also have a dedicated Kaitiaki (custodian) of the Hutt foreshore: John Van Den Hoeven has worked for Downer for 17 years and helped reintroduce locally extinct and very rare plants to the area through our nursery at Percy Scenic Reserve.
People of Downer
No one achieves anything ground-breaking by doing the same. Different is more than just where you come from or what you look like.
Different is in the way you think, the actions you take and the unique perspective an individual can bring to the table.
We develop, build and maintain some of this country’s most iconic infrastructure that contributes to the way we all live and work. What makes the difference and shapes our success as a company is the melting pot of amazing people from all walks of life. Different strengths, skills and perspectives, all working together.
How we make a differenceRead more
We are guided by Sustainability Principles (Economic, Environment, Social, and Governance) and our Values. Through our values of whānau, manaaki, ngākau pono, and kairangatira, we will make a positive difference to Aotearoa and significantly reduce our negative impacts. Our goal is to grow sustainably, meaning we will create jobs, income, and opportunity for everyone linked to our success. We are committed to empowering our people, supporting our communities, protecting our environment, and innovating for a better tomorrow.
Empowering Our People
At Downer, people come first. We offer a wide range of opportunities for development and growth, and a multitude of support systems to ensure all our people are able to thrive.
Working alongside Te Puni Kōkiri, the Te Ara Whanake leadership programme is designed to
enhance Māori representation at all levels of the business. By encouraging the
career progression of our Māori employees, we provide the tools and techniques
to help shape influential leaders.
Te Ara Whanake is held in a marae setting with a focus on Māori tikanga (protocol). The programme provides our Māori leaders with an opportunity to embrace their heritage and improve their leadership style. Downer has won several awards for Diversity and Inclusion for our Māori Leadership programmes, including the Deloitte Top 200 Diversity and Inclusion award and the HRNZ Diversity and Inclusion award.
We also provide Te Ara Whanake Wāhine Toa – a leadership programme designed and specifically developed for the wāhine of Downer.
Downer's Stand In The Gap programme focuses on empowering our teams to speak up and take action, and to feel supported in doing so. Both on site and off, we want to create a working environment where everyone can thrive. Downer people look after each other, take a good look at every situation, and say “that doesn’t look right” when it matters. Safety and wellbeing isn’t just how we do business, it's who we are.
Guided by the Māori concept of te whare tapa whā, which describes wellbeing as
including physical, mental, spiritual and family health, we have implemented a
range of initiatives in recent years to change the conversation around mental
Downer is a ‘Gold Mental Health First Skilled Workplace’, recognised by Mental Health First Aid New Zealand, where a support network is available to everyone. Our Mental Health First Aid Officers are trained to offer help to anyone with concerns about their mental health. This complements more formal support, such as the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
We are also a partner to Mental Health New Zealand, who provide our people with tools and guidance on speaking about mental illness and mental health issues safely, accurately, and respectfully.
Downer can help kick-start careers in engineering through one of our talent
pipelines for emerging leaders. Our Summer Internships, Graduate Programme and
Cadetships each offer opportunities for to explore the breadth of our
organisation while being supported by experienced senior leaders.
We recognise the need to “grow our own”, and we have specialised strategic leadership programs, such as our Inspired Leadership Programmes (ILP) and our Women’s Leadership Programme (WILD), to develop future leaders. Our Learning & Development team works within the business to design and develop capabilities that align to the strategic success of Downer.
Supporting Our Communities
We work in diverse communities across the country, and acknowledge the special place that
Māori hold as Tangata Whenua in Aotearoa.
We are building a workforce that is reflective of our culture, and we are proud to run initiatives to uplift the people who make up those communities and help them succeed.
Downer designs, builds, maintains and operates important infrastructure and we
rely on our supply chain relationships to deliver successfully for our
customers. As an Aukōkiri member of Amotai, we hope to
demonstrate our commitment to supporting the diversification of our supply
Through Amotai, our people now have access to a register of businesses nationwide that are owned by Māori or Pasifika leaders which will help us to provide more opportunities to grow Māori and Pasifika businesses through projects across Aotearoa.
Downer Delights was an initiative introduced in December 2021 as an opportunity
for us to give back to our communities. Our people were encouraged to nominate a
good cause in need of some festive cheer. We selected 29 causes around Aotearoa
and shared $50,000 with them to brighten up their holiday season.
The positive uptake of the Christmas Campaign has led to Downer creating a new, year-round Community Fund in 2022 to provide support at the heart of our communities.
Te Whanake ki te Ora is for new employees who self-disclose they may be at risk
of drug and alcohol abuse and are supported to remain drug/alcohol free through
counselling, random drug tests, lifestyle workshops, a buddy system,
celebrations, and family/whanau involvement.
Te Ara Hou has been designed for participants, who have past convictions, whose criminal histories are barriers to employment and demonstrate that they are motivated by employment to better their life and the communities that they reside within. Downer acknowledges that whole of life support is necessary to support participants into sustainable employment.
The Downer Basics programme is designed to introduce Ministry of Social Development clients to the infrastructure sector. Potential employees are trained, mentored, and supported into full time employment opportunities and onto a career pathway.
Whakatipu Tētēkura is a programme for Māori school leavers at risk of becoming NEET’s, (not in education, employment, or training) and consists of a series of marae-based residential workshops, pastoral care and a supported career development pathway. The Downer Ready programmes provide employment and transition support for displaced workers to enter the infrastructure industry.
All the Downer Corporate Social Outcomes programmes have pastoral care attached via our In Work Success programme. It provides targeted support through the first year of employment.
Protecting Our Environment
Downer teams work hard to ensure we are environmentally conscious and considerate in all our activities, seeking to minimise or eliminate harm to the environment. We have strong and effective measures to drive this commitment to environmental responsibility through our business.
Downer is committed to reducing our contribution of greenhouse gases (GHG) to net zero by 2050. To fulfil this climate change commitment, we are actively developing solutions to reduce our energy consumption and emissions. To achieve our targets, our action plan includes:
- A decarbonisation road map for our fleet and fixed assets, which includes an ongoing programme to replace older vehicles with electrical vehicles and lighter, fuel-efficient plant. Electrification of tank heating across our bitumen production sites to replace diesel and gas heated systems. Once fully implemented, we’ll save 2200t.CO2/year
- By 2025, our electricity supply will be certified carbon zero energy
Our climate change commitments
Understanding the type of waste materials we encounter by doing business
means we can effectively look at how to reduce our waste, reduce our carbon
footprint, and redirect good materials for reuse. We have a huge range of
waste reduction innovations across the whole business.
Downer’s Road Science business collaborated with EnviroNZ to come up with Plas Mix – a raw shredded plastic that goes into asphalt. The first scale trial in 2018 consumed 500 kilograms of hard waste in 100 metres of road, equivalent of what 3,000 people would generate in plastic waste in one week. For Queenstown Airport’s asphalt, the Road Science team created a new low carbon asphalt, primarily made from waste printer toner and recycled glass.
Green Vision, an award-winning Downer business, is a provider of recycled aggregate, concrete, rock and asphalt products. Working alongside our infrastructure teams, including the City Rail Link Alliance, they find sustainable engineering solutions to significantly reduce the materials being sent to landfill.
Understand waste reduction and repurposing
We build new, future-proofed infrastructure, while maintaining and upgrading
existing infrastructure to mitigate deterioration. We also respond to
extreme weather events around the country that damage or cut off access to
this critical infrastructure.
Downer is often referred to as the ‘fifth emergency service’ due to our emergency response commitment and performance. Our Roading, Energy, Water and Telecommunications teams have an outstanding record of responding to storms, slips, earthquakes and flooding events, and these responses often last for many weeks. When our communities, often rural, need to be reconnected to essential utilities and roads, our local teams are working hard to get them back up and running.
Biodiversity is the variety and variability of our living organisms that drive earth’s ecosystems, and any disruptions can have harmful ripple effects. Downer’s impact on biodiversity varies based on the location and size of a given site, and the type of work being carried out. We work with our partners to mitigate potential negative impacts, and we contribute positively to biodiversity through the services that we deliver, particularly land management.
On a site-by-site basis, work is done to ensure appropriate protections are in place, especially in areas of high biodiversity value. On our Cobham Drive project in Wellington, as well as removing hazardous materials from the seabed, we also provided a safer habitat for the protection of little blue penguins.
And the Marshlands Road intersection and bridge upgrade was one of Christchurch’s most ecologically sensitive projects. Lizards (skinks), native climbing nettle, and the lamprey fish were all living within the project area so protection was a key priority throughout construction.
Innovating for a better tomorrow
Downer teams actively foster a spirit of innovation, guided by our diverse perspectives. Our history of shaping the country’s infrastructure means we recognise the need to continually adapt to the changing world, modernise our business and increase safety and productivity alongside our partners.
Road Safety Innovations
Road Science is committed to advancing the pavements industry through innovative engineering products and services. Working alongside the Transport business, we have made real advances in safety technology.
Tiny Mobile Robot is part of Downer’s strategy to increase safety and efficiency. Instead of spending days setting out road marking, the tiny robot can do it in 1.5 hours – 5-7 times faster than a human. The addition of robots is not to reduce our workforce, but to add opportunities for growth.
The Mobile Data Capture Unit is a high-tech mobile mapper (the only one of its kind in New Zealand) that can survey 50km per day from the safety of a vehicle, without the risk of staff being hit by passing traffic. This innovation won ‘Best initiative to address a work-related safety risk’ at the 2021 New Zealand Workplace Health & Safety Awards.
ConTech at Hawkins
Innovative, digital construction technology at Hawkins has seen the team make significant time and cost savings by using a dedicated server to automatically run BIM (Building Information Modelling) exports across multiple projects every night. BIM is the holistic process of creating and managing information for a built asset. It produces a digital representation of the asset across its lifecycle, from planning and design to construction and operations, and this innovation has now become ‘business as usual’ for our construction teams.
This technology is expanding out from use on 5 Hawkins projects to 8, and VDC/BIM manager time saved is approximately 5 hours per project, per week. Costs are saved by ensuring the latest model information is published every day, as opposed to once a week using previous processes, as costs are incurred on a building project when construction uses outdated information.
Machine Avoidance Technology
Our Transport team created a breakthrough safety innovation when working on the rail line between Trentham and Upper Hutt in Wellington, in collaboration with our client Kiwirail. It was KiwiRail’s first BIM enabled project and supported their focus on digital connectivity and innovation.
Our Machine Avoidance tool uses a “digital shield” to prevent machines from hitting hazards. Digital engineers send a 3D avoidance model to the machine’s computer to create virtual “no go” zones. Using GPS, the machine knows when it is close to the shield. If the machine touches the shield, it will shut down, and the operator cannot go further. This ensures the machine operates in accordance with any issued permit. This ground-breaking solution has kept workers safe and trains running, while providing great productivity benefits.
Automation for Utilities
Our Automation team create all technical solutions for Utilities business in-house Electrical, Instrumentation, Control and Automation (EICA), Operational Technology (OT), SCADA and communications, and software development. This means we can provide an all-inclusive offering to our customers.
Key innovations for the team include the development, alongside our Downer Australia team, of WaterDNA – Downer Group’s digital awareness and optimisation solution for water utility providers. This yechnology includes common solution accelerators for different stakeholders to dramatically reduce time-to-value. It achieves this by securely bringing together siloed operational, enterprise, and third-party environmental data to power conventional and AI-infused insights that drive meaningful decisions.