Category Archives: Awards

Genesis Energy and Connell Contractors Celebrate Blessing of the Prestigious Toki Paraihe, Commemorating the Legacy of Kupe.

In an occasion celebrating the rich cultural heritage of Aotearoa, Genesis Energy, and Connell Contractors commemorated the blessing of the esteemed Toki Paraihe. The blessing, conducted by Mahana Toka of Waikato Tainui, marked a significant milestone in the journey of the prestigious national project award recently awarded to Connell Contractors at the CCNZ Construction Excellence Awards 2023.

Crafted from Kauri wood, the 2023 Toki Paraihe serves as a powerful symbol embodying the enduring legacy of Kupe, the legendary Maori navigator who embarked on the historic journey from Hawaiki to Aotearoa aboard the legendary waka, Tokimatawhaorua.

The Toki Paraihe not only embodies the remarkable saga of Kupe’s voyage but also encapsulates the essence of whakapapa, symbolising the profound interconnectedness of past, present, and future.

The blessing ceremony, graced by Connell Contractors owners Dave and Margo Connell and Lester Foxall, alongside Genesis Energy’s Bachir Ibrahim, exemplified the shared commitment towards fostering more meaningful relationships between project owners and contractors.

“We express our heartfelt gratitude to Waikato Tainui for their invaluable guidance and for the blessing of this Toki, signifying a powerful union of tradition and contemporary achievements,” expressed Dave Connell.

The event concluded with a pledge from both Genesis Energy and Connell Contractors to uphold the values enshrined within the Toki Paraihe, fostering a spirit of respect, collaboration, and continuous progress in all endeavours.

Connell reigns Supreme at Waikato Civil Contractors New Zealand Awards


Connell Contractors took home three significant awards at the Waikato Hynds Civil Contractors New Zealand (CCNZ) Construction Awards on Friday 11 August.

Connell’s work with Genesis Energy on the Poutu Intake and Tunnel Erosion Repair earned the team top place in the $1 – $5m projects category.

Connell also took home the Health and Safety award which is assessed across all project entries, and the overall Supreme Award.

The Poutu Intake and Tunnel Erosion Repair project took place in early 2023. Connell was engaged by Genesis Energy to carry out repairs on the Poutu intake in the Tongariro Hydro Scheme during a six-week shutdown in early 2023.

Connell CEO Lester Foxall said the team were humbled to be recognised for their effective, efficient, and safe work on this complex and challenging project.

“Working in a tunnel, protecting the environment, navigating challenging craneage requirements, and delivering to a short timeframe all added to the complexity of the project,” Lester said.

Lester said the project presented significant health and safety risks, including working at heights, confined space, water management, and isolated works.

“Much of the work was undertaken in the tunnel, which had limited lighting, difficult access, and water ingress. Every day our team navigated five storeys of scaffolding to access the work area.”

Lester said significant planning and preparation took place to ensure the team had mitigation measures for every possible scenario. They also invested heavily in training and safety equipment.

“As with all our projects, our strong health and safety performance is due to our excellent planning and preparation, and our overall culture of safety,” added Lester.

As well as the unique project requirements, the Auckland Anniversary weekend floods and Cyclone Gabrielle impacted the river and delayed some of the project timeframes.

Lester said despite the challenges, the project was delivered on time, to budget, and to a high quality, receiving recognition from the team at Genesis.

Genesis Energy Civil Engineer Bachir Ibrahim said “Connell’s site team showed the passion and commitment to get the job done within the requirements of Genesis Energy and its stakeholders. The team was collaborative when it came to coordinating with other contractors, which helped to get the job done on time and to budget.”

Connell has been announced as a finalist for the CCNZ Construction Excellence Awards, with awards to be presented during the CCNZ National Conference in September.

Founded in 1978, the CCNZ Hirepool Construction Excellence Awards represent the pinnacle achievements of New Zealand’s civil construction industry. Expert judges tour the nominated projects and assess comprehensive information provided by the entrants.

Connell’s own wins top industry award

Connell Contractors’ Taranaki Regional Manager, Fabian Bracken has been honoured at the recent Z Energy People Awards, receiving the 2022 Z People Emerging Leader Award.

The Z Energy Emerging Leader Award is given to people under the age of 30 who have innovated, impressed and made a difference to the industry, their peers and their employer. These people have excelled in their career and demonstrate a well-rounded character with exceptional leadership qualities.

Recognised for his natural ability to communicate, lead and motivate those in his team, Fabian is considered by those at Connell Contractors to be one of the best bits of recruiting the company has conducted.

“Fabian is one of those exceptional talents that comes along and excels at virtually all tasks he is given,” explains Connell CEO, Lester Foxall.

“He has earnt the respect of all his peers and clients because of his hard work and dedication to the industry. His skillsets extend far beyond just his practical knowledge on site. He has become a leader, a customer-centric manager and performs all his duties with pride and passion.

Fabian was presented his award at the annual Civil Contractors New Zealand (CCNZ) National Conference in Christchurch in front of hundreds of his peers and civil construction industry leaders.

Speaking about the award, Fabian says it’s nice to receive recognition for his work and commitment to Connell over the last five and half years.

“I’m appreciative of everything that the team at Connell have allowed me to do and achieve. Owners Lester Foxall and Dave and Margo Connell really trust their team, and myself, to lead my own way. They have given me the support over the years and for that I’m appreciative.”

Fabian began at Connell in 2015 and has since worked on some of the company’s largest and most demanding projects including the $7 million Kinleith Substation and the logistically challenging Turitea Windfarm project.

The Connell team’s trust in Fabian was demonstrated when the decision was made to back Fabian in starting up a regional office in his home region of Taranaki. He has been instrumental in making this region hugely successful and under his management, the company has set up a steel fabrication division in Taranaki to support Connell projects with bespoke components.

Lester adds, “Fabian’s all-round ability and knowledge is a key reason why our company is perceived to be a leading civil contractor in the power sector. Having worked on many high-value projects throughout New Zealand, Connell – and the industry in general – are lucky to have such a skilled and committed person as a future leader.”

Success for Connells at CCNZ Conference

Connell Contractors were big winners at the 2018 Civil Contractors New Zealand (CCNZ) Conference held at Hamilton’s Claudelands Events Centre on Friday August 3.

The progressive Hamilton-based company was recognised for their efforts in the training space, picking up a CCNZ / Connexis Company Training Development Award. The award recognises Connell Contractors’ dedication to building a strong team and the commitment to ongoing education and training opportunities for all their staff. CCNZ Past President and Connell Contractors Principal Dave Connell’s personal commitment to training extended to his own development when he became a Certified Civil Trades person earlier this year.

The company has 35 staff who are encouraged to complete training, whether it be an apprenticeship or CPD for the professional staff. “A third of our staff are currently in training as apprentices,” said Connell Contractors’ Principal, Dave Connell. “The Civil Trades qualifications our staff are working towards includes pipeline installation and maintenance, plant operation and structural concrete. All our Apprentices have NCEA level 3 or Tertiary study. We would not be able to attract them without offering a trade qualification.”

Alongside this, Connells has spent much time nationally promoting the Civil Trades, with the company fostering relationships with organisations such as the Southern Initiative to get young people into work.

Both Dave Connell and wife Margo were also recognised with individual awards for their contribution to the industry.

Dave Connell was made a Life Member of the Civil Contractors New Zealand organisation, which was in recognition of his work consolidating industry organisations and efforts in establishing the Civil Trades qualification. Margo Connell was also presented with a Service to Industry award for her contribution to CCNZ.

“This type of recognition is great and is a nice by-product of what we do,” explained Dave. “But it’s not why we’re here. We believe in employing skilled and talented people, giving them the training and support they need, then trusting them to get on and produce top quality work.

“That gives Margo and I immense satisfaction.”

“At Connell Contractors, we strongly believe in a culture of teamwork and training as our staff have been one of the main reasons for our on-going success,” said Margo Connell. “We put company culture alongside business strategy.

“I think we recognised earlier than most the need to embrace diversity in the workforce. This stemmed from our experience working in the Christchurch rebuild where there was high demand for experienced staff.”

Alongside Connells’ skilled and long-term workforce, the company has employed staff from a wide variety of nationalities. “These people bring new ideas, a willingness to learn and a contribution to the culture that makes Connell Contractors a great place to work,” explained Dave Connell.  “An important KPI for our foreign staff is to train young Kiwi’s.”

Connell Contractors operates throughout the North Island and is noted for working on projects with a degree of difficulty, or in high compliance environments, especially deep wet pipelines, marine work, shoring and dewatering, power reticulation and construction of multi-storey buildings in electrical switchyards.

Pictured below (left to right): Brian Warren (CCNZ President), Margo Connell and Dave Connell after Margo and Dave received their Service to Industry Award and CCNZ Life Membership respectively. Photo: CCNZ.