An innovative engineering solution which has helped the rebuilding of Christchurch after the 2011 earthquake has won national recognition.

Whangarei business Cook Costello was awarded the ACENZ Award of Excellence for its Sapper Project at the 2016 Innovate Awards.

Developed for client IAG New Zealand, the Sapper Project is a building foundation solution and costing model developed to enable private insurers to progress residential claims after the Canterbury earthquakes.

Damage to residential areas was significant and insurers struggled to find an effective way of combining the highly variable geotechnical, site and dwelling constraints presented by each property, says director Phil Cook.


Initially developed in Microsoft Excel, Sapper quickly evolved to a spatial database with web user interface.

The project was determined merit-worthy by the Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand (ACENZ) for great consultancy work, providing a custom-built solution to a client's complex and evolving needs.

Cook Costello software engineers Adrian Tonks and Raghu Koushik built Sapper. Following the success of the foundation solution, Sapper was then developed to accommodate a similar costing model for retaining wall assessments.

"This is where Sapper demonstrated its real value, as it enabled effective collaboration between engineers and quantity surveyors," Cook said.

"These two disciplines are able to co-ordinate and complete their individual assessment requirements, which Sapper combines and is thus able to generate comprehensive property reports of damage and remedial actions, including cost estimates, supporting site maps and photos.

"Collecting this data in Sapper creates a valuable and intuitive information resource for engineers, quantity surveyors and clients alike," he said.

Cook Costello is a multi-disciplinary engineering firm of engineers architects and surveyors that started in Whangarei 40 years ago and now has offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch with a total of 55 staff, 22 of which are in the Whangarei office.

Adrian Tonks and Raghu Koushik have also built Engin.Systems which is an ITC company providing software as service products.