Winners of the second annual Hays NAWIC Excellence Awards have been hailed as “inspirational leaders who are passionate about changing the construction sector” during last night’s awards ceremony at Mac’s Function Centre in Wellington.

The awards celebrate the outstanding achievements women are making in New Zealand’s construction industry. With 10 percent yearly growth rates predicted through to 2019 it makes sense to encourage more women to work in construction and to highlight career paths available in this exciting sector.

Outstanding leadership and a commitment to putting people first saw Lynne Makepeace of Fletcher Construction and Karen Sanderson from Beca jointly win the Professional Woman of the Year Award. Lynne won the award for the construction category and Karen won the award for the professional category.

Recognised as an “incredibly effective leader”, Lynne leads a team of 180 to ensure that the Auckland’s $1.5B Waterview Connection project is completed on time, on budget and with zero harm to the team. Her high standards and outstanding team leadership skills inspired the judging team.

Karen’s innovative approach architecture and her commitment to “putting people first” earned praise from the judges. She set up Beca’s architectural team in Christchurch and is driven by a humanistic approach to architecture. Karen gives back to her industry by mentoring young architects.

Carmen Sutton from McIntosh Builders took out Tradeswoman of the Year for her strategic leadership and outstanding communications skills.

A home renovation project saw Carmen switch careers from truck driving to building houses and she has never looked back. She now leads sole-charge building projects while also training apprentices.

Vanessa Carswell of Warren and Mahoney and Gemma Collins of Fletcher Construction were named joint winners of the Outstanding Achievement in Design Award.

Vanessa employed innovative ideas to resolve complex design issues on the rebuild of the iconic Isaac Theatre Royal. Working in difficult conditions with limited power in Christchurch’s red zone proved no obstacle for Vanessa who re-engineered the theatre to expand the functional space by an additional 400m2.

Gemma, who manages a team of 35 building services engineers, is credited with playing a lead role in securing the Commercial Bay contract. The Auckland tower will be the tallest office building in New Zealand when completed.

Judges praised Gemma’s use of sustainable design solutions and her ongoing leadership in engineering throughout her 25-year career.

Described as “a role model for women in architecture”, Megan Rule of South Pacific Architecture won the Helen Tippet Award for actively promoting the participation of women in construction. Megan co-founded Women + Architecture and is actively involved in mentoring younger architects. She leads by example and has made a significant contribution to highlighting the career paths available to women in the construction industry.

The Excellence in Construction Administration Award went to Carolyn Pitman of Fletcher Construction. Described as the “go to guru” for policies and processes, Carolyn successfully deals with a wide range of subcontractors and plays a pivotal role in her team.

Vanessa Coxhead of Victoria University School of Architecture won the Apprentice and Student Award (professional category) for her entrepreneurial approach to architecture and her ability to showcase the values of architecture to the wider community.

Natalie Thornton of City Decorators won the Apprentice and Student Award (trades category) for her outstanding work as an apprentice painter.

A desire to create a better life for her family led Natalie to take up an apprenticeship. She is highly motivated and often has full responsibility for painting an entire house. Now in the final stages of her apprenticeship, Natalie is focused on eventually leading her own crew.

Highly commended awards and special merit awards were awarded to the following finalists:

Rula Alatia (Jasmax) – highly commended – Professional Woman of the Year (professional category)

Sarah McDonald (Fletcher Construction) – highly commended – Professional Woman of the Year (construction category)

Antonia Speight (Acuite) – special merit – Professional Woman of the Year

Flavia Wolf (Fletcher Construction) – special merit – Professional Woman of the Year

Nicola Thompson (Fletcher Construction) – special merit – Professional Woman of the Year

Mi’easha Saunders (Venture Developments Ltd) – highly commended – Tradeswoman of the Year

Sarah Bryant (Jasmax) – highly commended – Outstanding Achievement in Design

Deirdre Johns (EcoChill) – highly commended – Helen Tippett Award

Alex Cutler (NZ Green Building Council) – highly commended – Helen Tippett Award

Karin Cunningham (Plumbing World) – highly commended – Excellence in Construction Administration

Susy Pryde (Johnstone Construction) – highly commended – Excellence in Construction


Georgia Bartley (Victoria University School of Architecture) –highly commended – Apprentice and Student Award (professional)

Lydia Stewart (Aaron Stewart Builders) – highly commended – Apprentice and Student Award (trades)

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