One of the two companies bidding to lead Hawke's Bay's largest construction project held the first of two public meetings last night, to discuss the potential community opportunities from the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.
Leading European contractor Obrascon Huarte Lain (OHL) and Hawkins Infrastructure, New Zealand's largest privately owned construction company, joined forces to bid for the design and construction phase of the scheme in Central Hawke's Bay.
The other company bidding is Bouygues, which has teamed up with locals Opus International Consultants in Napier.
The first public meeting last night was held at the Waipawa Municipal Theatre and had a rural community focus. The other meeting will be construction industry focused. It will seek expressions of interest from contractors and will be held at the Havelock North Community Centre tonight.
OHL Hawkins bid manager Steve Livesay said the two meetings would introduce members of its team, show international examples of large water storage projects and outline employment opportunities for locals.
Waipukurau resident Greenville Christie asked at the meeting if a collective contract for those locally employed to work on the scheme would be implemented? Mr Livesay said it was likely that a collective contract would take place and negotiations would be held if the EPA approved the construction of the dam.
"We are dedicated to employing local sub-contractors. We don't bring an army of workers with us from Auckland. We want to employ locals, so money is injected back into the local economy," he said. "We are really excited about potential employees and finding out more about the skills and talents in the region."
The OHL Hawkins Joint venture expects to provide a workforce peaking at approximately 350 to be working on the project in Hawke's Bay.
He said discussions were already under way with local businesses for potential deals.
"There will be direct and indirect business opportunities for Central Hawke's Bay businesses, as well as training opportunities, which we are talking to EIT about."
"The potential for accommodation is also there. We will be looking to accommodate as many of the workers as possible in Central Hawke's Bay, rather than have them drive to Hastings or Napier every night."
One potential accommodation opportunity being discussed for workers is the use of the abandoned Waipukurau Hospital.
The approximately 40 people who turned out at the meeting last night were also promised a safe pipe infustructure and an increase in heavy trucks and materials would be kept to a minimum if the project received the green light.
"The OHL Hawkins Joint Venture strongly reflects a commitment to achieve a financially viable, minimal risk project, built to a high standard in a realistic timeframe, giving long-term value for money," said Mr Livesay.