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Tapping into the Chinese solution


A high-level delegation to China is looking at how Chinese companies can help New Zealand develop its infrastructure.

The delegation, comprising senior engineers from nine major New Zealand companies, is being led by Babbage Consultants business development manager Warren Hill, who has worked and lived in China for 20 years.

The trip comes as the New Zealand Government starts considering long-term projects and public-private partnerships to develop infrastructure, and amid growing interest in tapping into the expertise and finance available in the Asian giant.

“We know Chinese companies can do the work but our industry has got to get an understanding of what those companies can offer us,” he said.

“We also have to help Chinese suppliers understand we have standards and labour laws in this country that they have to meet.

“But there is enough opportunity in New Zealand to keep some big Chinese companies busy here for years.”

The delegation, comprising senior engineers from major companies including Beca, Aurecon, Auckland Transport and Transpower will visit Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai between May 31 and June 7, and will focus on transport, energy and infrastructure and land development.

“We have opportunities in New Zealand in infrastructure and things like medium-to-high-rise buildings – such as hotels – but we don’t have enough contractors,” Warren said.

“Look, China could solve the Auckland transport problem – they have the expertise. The Shanghai metro, for example, is one of the best in the world. China also has huge expertise in sustainable and green energy. They’re becoming world leaders in this field and they’re working to replace their coal-fired generation with wind power and biomass generation.

“There are so many opportunities for New Zealand to investigate.”

The delegation will visit industrial giants including Baosteel in Shanghai, and Beijing-based power transmission company State Grid, reported to be the largest utility company in the world. 

Also in the delegation is an engineer from the University of Canterbury College of Engineering, and the group will visit the renowned Tongji University College of Civil Engineering in Shanghai. The university, with its Research Institute of Structural Engineering and Disaster Prevention, has one of the largest shake table facilities in the world.

The trip has been organised by the New Zealand China Friendship Society to mark the 120th anniversary of the birth of Rewi Alley, the New Zealand-born educator, activist and social reformer who spent 60 years working in China and organised thousands of industrial co-operatives during the war against Japan, and pioneered technical training schools there.

Alley, who coined the phrase “Gung ho”, founded the society in 1958.

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