School looks forward to return of construction contractors

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Staff at the recently-completed Albany Junior High School in Auckland have just one issue with main contractor Multiplex Constructions — the state of the school’s trophy cabinet. The partnership that grew between the two organisations during the 17-month construction project led to a friendly soccer match, for a trophy donated by the school. 

Principal Mike Jackson says having supplied the school with a trophy cabinet to hold its only trophy at the time, Multiplex went ahead and cleaned out the cabinet! “We are now very keen to restore the trophy cabinet,” Mr Jackson says. New Zealand’s first purpose-built junior high school, Albany Junior School teaches Year 7 to 10 students for four years, rather than the two they would normally spend at intermediate school. 

Construction of the $50 million school was delayed by the bad weather of 2004, and in February this year Mr Jackson found himself in the unenviable position of opening the school for the first intake of 220 Year 7 students while work was still taking place. “I have to say, I was very nervous about having 11- year-old students alongside a major construction site for six months until the job was finished,” Mr Jackson says. 

“It was absolutely not an ideal situation. “But I was more than pleasantly surprised. Our students were safe and our staff were supported — we couldn’t have asked for a better environment. “Multiplex is an incredibly professional company and the willingness of their senior management team to listen and discuss issues with us, as well as the way they controlled their subcontractors, was outstanding,” Mr Jackson says. 

Multiplex Constructions (NZ) managing director Dan Ashby says everyone recognised that the circumstances had the potential to be a horror show. “We were trying to carry out a major construction project with 220 kids on site, and they were trying to run a school with a construction project taking place all around them,” he says. Goodwill “The goodwill from both sides meant that not only did the job get done but everyone came away as friends.” 

Mr Jackson adds that the inevitable minor defects since the completion of construction have been handled efficiently. “Nothing has interfered with teaching and learning at the school. Multiplex is very good at fitting in around the school day so classes aren’t disrupted, and all the health and safety requirements are met.” 

He says the Multiplex team was considered as much a part of the school as anyone else and, along with staff and students, was presented with commemorative badges at the school’s opening in February. The much-anticipated return soccer match is scheduled to take place late this month.