Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Education feels fallout of Mainzeal crash

Waitangi Day marked the first anniversary of Mainzeal's fall.
Waitangi Day marked the first anniversary of Mainzeal's fall.

A $30 million cost blowout at the Manukau Institute of Technology's new campus building, caused by the collapse of Mainzeal Property and Construction, will deprive South Aucklanders of better educational facilities, an academic boss says.

Waitangi Day marked the first anniversary of Mainzeal's fall, which has led to the $95 million campus building job ballooning to an eye-watering $125 million, says MIT chief executive Dr Peter Brothers.

"Try sitting in my chair and digesting that. Mainzeal's collapse has significantly damaged the opportunities of South Aucklanders - well, really all Aucklanders," Brothers said, telling how plans for a $7.5 million new Pasifika Centre and a $10 million to $15 million engineering and trades centre were jeopardised.

"Future capital projects have been significantly curtailed. MIT had a 10-year capital spending plan and elements of that have been deferred while we deal with the shock of that price rise," he said.

Mainzeal's largest job, topped off a fortnight ago, is the new seven-level Hayman Park building, mainly for the Faculty of Business and Information Technology and to be used by about 5000 students and 120 staff. Hawkins Construction is finishing the building, due to be ready for this year's second semester.

Brothers blamed factors which he said would not have arisen if Mainzeal had finished the block.

"It's roughly a third because Mainzeal had significantly underbid on the project; a third remediation because the thing went into stasis for over six months and we had a significant amount of remediation work; and a third the cost of taking another 12 months to finish it," Brothers said.

The job was only half-finished when Mainzeal breached its banking facilities, every director resigned except one and boss Richard Yan called in the receivers, leaving a trail of desperate, unpaid subcontractors and many unfinished buildings.

The roof wasn't fully on the MIT complex above Auckland Transport's now operational Manukau Station when the receivership and liquidation was announced. A Hawkins spokeswoman said Mainzeal's demise hit the campus complex at the worst possible time: "The building structure was not complete and the roof was only partially complete."

Work was now on schedule for July completion, marking a big turnaround on the job which she and Brothers said had resulted in a successful collaboration.

"A first priority was to secure the facade and glazing, critical to enable weather-proofing to advance," the Hawkins spokeswoman said. "This was a very complex situation. King Facade, the subcontractor involved, was intertwined with Mainzeal and also went into receivership.

"At this point there were panels stored in various locations including substantial numbers on the wharf in Auckland requiring strict protocols for release [and] negotiations with the receiver to enable delivery to site.

"Then the focus shifted to securing the yet-to-be-procured manufactured panels made in China. At the same time, MIT continued negotiations to lease Mainzeal's crane so that weather-proofing could be carried out and all tendering documentation from the designers was reviewed with the drawing and specifications updated," she said.

MIT wanted to keep subcontractors so workers met as a group and formed a committee. Most of the subcontractors continued with Hawkins, the spokeswoman said.

"Restarting the contract required a new procurement process for MIT, which requested options be provided to complete the base build works with fitout to follow, or to integrate both.

"An agreed shortlist of contractors was compiled and a two-stage approach requested: stage one was the definition of the scope of management services plus commencement of critical weather-tightness activities; stage two was the balance of contract works to completion to deliver ... with certainty."

- NZ Herald

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