A dawn karakia this morning marked the resumption of work for the country's largest transport infrastructure job as thousands of workers returned to other Auckland sites across the city.
Sean Sweeney, chief executive of Auckland's $4.4 billion City Rail Link, said kaumātua gathered in the city's CBD to bless the resumption of work at that project.
"Around 750 workers will be back on CRL sites immediately under alert level 3 with a gradual return to around the 850 working under normal conditions," he said today.
Office-based support teams would continue to work from home during the current alert level 3 but the Mt Eden, Karangahape, Aotea and Britomart sites were now reopened.
"We're an important part of the New Zealand economy with our big workforce and our big spend locally on construction materials so we're keen to get cracking again. That's good news for Auckland and good news for New Zealand," Sweeney said.
Enhanced health and safety protocols developed by the wider construction industry and endorsed by Worksafe New Zealand are operating: physical distancing, health monitoring, enhanced cleaning, segregation between different work crews and wearing masks.
"Our restart's immediate priority will be the welfare of our workers and the communities around us. Those protocols worked very well for us before, and they will again help with a safe, successful and quick restart for us," Sweeney said.
Consents have been issued for around 19,000 new Auckland homes and those sites have been shut down since August 17. Nationally, around $26b of construction work is on, with much of that in Auckland.
Meanwhile, all NZ Living's workers who returned to their residential sites in Auckland today have been at least partially vaccinated.
Shane Brealey, a director of that business, said: "Our 24 staff are 100 per cent vaccinated with at least first dose and subcontractors are currently sitting at about 70 per cent and climbing."
NZ Living workers couldn't wait to return, Brealey said. But work wouldn't be able to be completed at the speed of alert level 1.
"At level 3, my guess is that we operate at about 80 per cent efficiency given the additional safety measures that are needed," he said, referring to housing projects at Northcote and Point England.
One NZ Living project at Northcote with 27 apartments was completed just before lockdown last month, he said.
"Settlements were suspended during level 4 so thankfully we will be able to let people into these new homes in a few days," Brealey said today.
No building work except emergency work had been able to take place since 11.59pm on August 17.
Peter Reidy, Fletcher Construction chief executive, said big jobs like the $877 million Ara Tūhono Puhoi to Warkworth motorway and $335m repairs to the NZ International Convention Centre were due to restart today.
Rick Herd, chief executive of national builder Naylor Love, said that the business had staff back on its 15 Auckland sites managed by about 120 people. "We have to work hard to minimise people working in close proximity, this can be a logistical nightmare to maintain productivity but it can be done."
Sites were generally well secured but weather damage is an issue in some cases.
Workers on the big Auckland retirement village jobs are back too.
Ryman Healthcare Auckland sites at Miriam Corban (Lincoln Rd), Murray Halberg (Lynfield), Keith Park (Hobsonville), the site in Takapuna on what was the old fire station fronting Lake Pupuke and William Sanders (Devonport) are resuming today.
Andrew Moore of Victoria Park-headquartered CMP Construction said that company had six big Auckland projects including Risland Albany, Laurenson Business Park, Tidal Rd warehouse, Sonata, Victoria Lane and The Arches. The Tidal Rd warehouse was an essential project so work continued under alert level 4.
Workers were expected today to be back on all those CMP jobs.
But one challenge many of the sites will be facing is the materials shortage.