The third annual Hays NAWIC Excellence Awards was held at the Aotea Centre in Auckland to celebrate role models for women in construction.

The awards recognise the remarkable achievements and effort made by women in the construction industry. Thanks to the projected 10 per cent annual growth rates till 2019 and the demand for 50,000 construction workers within the next five years, it is necessary to provide female construction workers with available career paths.

The Professional Woman of the Year Award went to Rachael Rush of Klein. Her dedication to tackle the complex nature of New Zealand’s healthcare and her passion to keep adding value to each project.

Verenae Maeder from Solid Earth Ltd won the Tradeswoman of the Year. She is the owner of the only commercial earth building business in the country. She also won the EBANZ Elizabeth Drupsteen Award for outstanding service for her contribution to earth building in NZ.

Her experience in Nelson has introduced her to mud brick homes, she described this as “love at first sight” when she entered the house. After pursuing her studies in architecture and build ecology, she purchased a mud brick operation in 2002 to start her business. She previously worked with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to set up earth building standards within the industry.

This year saw the Rising Star Award being picked up by joint winners. Steph McLeod of Stantec NZ Ltd and Vikki Stephens of Beca both received the honour. Steph started as a project manager and was later promoted to the commercial lead for water throughout New Zealand. Her sound communication skills to deliver projects on time and her strong desire to solve construction issues have made her the perfect candidate for the award. With deep expertise in mechanical engineering, Vikki took on complex projects, including Wellington Airport’s Control Tower.

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