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Rotorua Wins Big at NZ Commercial Project Awards

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The newly built Red Stag Timber ‘Mega Mill’ has won the Gold Award and Best in Category, Industrial, at the 2017 New Zealand Commercial Project Awards. The Health & Science Centre at the Toi-Ohomai Institute of Technology has also won the Gold Award in the Education category.

Both projects are based Rotorua and the wins are indicative of a growth in the quality of projects being built in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato, says Peter McCawe, Regional Manager of Hawkins. “We have several other major projects currently underway in the region. It’s great to see such large-scale investment into provincial New Zealand.”

Southern Hemisphere’s Largest Timber Mill

Red Stag Timber engaged Hawkins to build them a purpose designed structure to house the largest timber mill in the Southern Hemisphere – a project valued at over $58M. Engineers Richard Spiers and Associates Limited partnered to deliver the massive timber structure, which is a feat of engineering and construction.

The Commercial Project Award judges noted that ‘Clever logistics have helped deliver this impressive production facility.’ Most the operating plant is located on the first floor, atop a grid of six-metre high concrete plinths. The laminated timber superstructure has 5000m2 of floor space and a 45-metre span, while the roof apex stands over 18m tall.

Hawkins Project Manager, Brian Pope, said, “The building cost and total budget cost have both come in on time and under budget and the technology adapted by Red Stag Timber Limited is the most advanced in New Zealand and Australia.”

The construction industry is moving towards’ using wood in larger and more complex jobs as technology is making it much easier, and less expensive, to get higher-pitched roofs, interesting roof lines, and overhangs on wood-frame buildings than steel-frame. The glue-laminated (glulam) used in this project can be manufactured to a variety of configurations, so it offers architects and designers artistic freedom without sacrificing structural requirements.

The trend towards green buildings is also apparent with the carbon footprint being 97% less than a similar sized sawmill that does not use carbon neutral electricity and thermal energy. This reduction is mostly due to utilising wood waste as the energy source for kiln drying timber, which ensures that both CO2 emissions and landfill disposal requirements are minimised.

Sawmill Manager, Steve Roberts, said “Red Stag have invested $60 million in this cutting edge new sawmill and we are pleased that Hawkins have been able to construct this mega building under some pretty tight constraints so that we can keep our specialist equipment secure. Winning Best in Category and Gold Awards is just the icing on the cake.”

Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

The Gold award winning multi-level Health and Science development is the newest edition to the Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology. It provides laboratories, lecture facilities, active learning classrooms, and simulation wards to improve clinical training. The layout and technological fit-out was designed by Darryl Church Architects to allow continual adaptation to current educational best-practice.

In keeping with the move towards timber construction, the building finishes contain a higher proportion of timber materials (plywood macrocarpa and detailed pine).

The 3-level Health and Science has already won other prestigious awards, including an Architectural Designers Award (ADNZ), Resene Colour Award and a New Zealand Architecture Award (NZIA). By all accounts, this exceptional building is functional, fit-for-purpose and a pleasure to work and learn in. Local industry and business groups use the facilities on a regular basis to host events and enjoy the positive environment.


The Centre is a prime example of the substantial investment that is being pumped into construction within the region. In fact, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology has developed a master plan where almost 80% of the old and outdated campus will be re-built over the next 20 years, transforming the 50-year-old campus into a modern and contemporary learning environment like no other.