COVID-19 response

The Accord again brings industry and government together

Construction was better prepared to respond to COVID-19 disruptions during 2021 and the Accord was again able to bring industry and government together to ensure clear communication. The Accord Forum met weekly in the early stages of the lockdown that began on 17 August. This communication was especially important in supporting the government’s response to supply chain issues during the lockdown.

The Accord worked with partners including CHASNZ, Ministry of Health, District Health Boards and with MBIE's Building Systems Performance branch to support the COVID-19 response, with support for vaccination initiatives and communication to the sector.

Work facilitated by the Accord, including development of the COVID-19 Roadmap, has enabled a swift and considered response to how construction health and safety protocols could be applied to the traffic light COVID-19 Protection Framework.

MIQ places for construction sector

The Accord facilitated provision of 60 places per month for critical construction workers under MIQ group allocations between June 2021 and March 2022. Since June 2021 it has administered the application process, convening an industry panel to assess and prioritise the applications each month.

Industry awareness of the places was initially low and the Accord undertook some online marketing and participated in a webinar with ACENZ. From August to December 2021, 296 people have been supported to enter New Zealand through the allocation. With some incoming people sharing rooms the final number of allocated rooms was 226.

Of the 296 critical worker applications, over half support critical infrastructure including water, waste and wastewater and (19%) transport projects, including rail, road and port developments (33%).

There were 31% of general construction projects supported from a range of sectors including energy, health, corrections, education and local government projects such as recreation centres and others.

Manufacturing projects including construction for food production as well as to support building supply chain challenges, such as a gypsum plasterboard factory and concrete and steel precasting, were supported by 13% of critical workers.

The remaining allocation, 4% of critical workers, supported housing (including civil works) and other multiple needs.

Projects were valued at all levels from under $50 million through to critical multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects such as Tāmaki Makaurau's City Rail Link and Central Interceptor projects. Other regional projects of note include the Waimea Community Dam, and critical water upgrades and hospital builds.

Critical skills represented through this time ranged from architectural and technical design through to machine operation, engineering, tunnel boring machine mechanical works operation and supervision, operations and other specialist roles.

Supporting vaccination in the construction sector

The Accord is working with District Health Boards in low vaccination areas to support vaccination efforts in the sector by helping promote construction vaccination events. With CHASNZ and the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) we undertook a survey of the Canterbury construction sector to support the DHB in formulating vaccination policy for the sector.

A video posted on the Accord LinkedIn page has been viewed more than 60,000 times. It features Cainan, a formerly anti-vaccine construction worker who, from his hospital bed, urges people to "get vaxxed."

Supply chain issues

The Accord released research into current supply chain challenges facing the construction and infrastructure sector. Accord Ministers were briefed on the findings and feedback from the Accord Steering Group. Key actions are focused on better information and planning as well as connecting on the medium to longer term work that is led across agencies.

The Accord is assessing the feasibility of collating industry data to publish key building product lead- in times to the sector to inform product decisions and improved forward planning.

It continues to advise Ministers on supply chain issues and is working alongside industry and government agencies, including via the Interagency forum led by the Ministry of Transport.

  • MPI led discussions on potential collaborations
  • e.g. in bulk (non-container) shipping
  • MFAT is leading cross-agency work on Strengthening New Zealand’s Supply Chain Resilience
  • MBIE is leading guidance on product substitution information, raising awareness of alternative products and reducing reliance on constrained building products.
Last updated: 29 April 2022