Taking the whole team with you on the asset management journey

David Adamson, CPEng, FIPENZ
Thames, New Zealand

On 15 September 2004 the American Public Works Association (APWA), the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA) and the Association of Local Government Engineering New Zealand (INGENIUM), signed our Inaugural Partnership Agreement. The purpose of this agreement is to facilitate the exchange of ideas, information, technology and management practices amongst our combined members.

IPWEA and INGENIUM have been working closely for many years including joining together to produce what we collectively consider to be a leading edge manual on asset management: our International Infrastructure Management Manual. We look forward to working closely with APWA under the new agreement.

The purpose of this article is to introduce New Zealand to the members of the APWA, focusing on asset management practises and the work of INGENIUM in recognising and promoting best practise.

New Zealand the Country
Former New Zealand Prime Minister, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, described New Zealand's environment in the following manner: "Sometimes it does us a power of good to remind ourselves that we live on two volcanic rocks where two tectonic plates meet, in a somewhat lonely stretch of windswept ocean just above the Roaring Forties. If you want drama, you've come to the right place."

While this statement was made in the context of emergency management, it is a good description of the natural challenges facing public works managers in New Zealand. Our small country experiences earthquakes, flooding, droughts, hurricanes, heavy snowfalls and the occasional cyclone, all of which need to be considered by the public works managers.

At just over 257,000 square kilometres (103,000 square miles), New Zealand is about the size of Nevada. Its population has just reached four million, with 50% living within 100 miles of Auckland (the largest city). New Zealand was first discovered and settled around 800 to 1000 A.D. by the people now known as the Maori. The Maori were principally farmers, hunters and gatherers who settled in the warmer northern parts of the country. Abel Tasman was the first European to sight the country in 1642. Captain James Cook arrived in 1769 and claimed New Zealand for England. In the following years Europeans began to use New Zealand as a base for whaling, sealing and trading. The European colonisation of New Zealand had begun, and in 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi gave England sovereignty over New Zealand.

The development of New Zealand's principal towns and cities dates from the mid-1800s. Much of the country's infrastructure has a full range of age classes, from brand new to worn out.

Government Structure
New Zealand has a single chamber parliament that makes its laws. The ruling party, or parties within the coalition system, is referred to as "The Government." Its principal funding mechanisms are taxes and duties. New Zealand also has a system of local government, comprising Regional Councils and Territorial Authorities. Regional Councils' business is focused on maintaining and enhancing environmental standards, while the Territorial Authorities are the service delivery and regulatory agencies.

Public Works Management and Funding
Except for roads, all services are fully funded locally, which creates a strong sense of community ownership of the asset and the levels of service. Almost all Councils contract out their physical works and the sector has increasingly been developing performance-based contracts.

Members of the Asset Management Family
Current legislation in New Zealand that governs local Councils emphasises the following key cornerstones:

  • Openness
  • Local decision making
  • Full funding of the loss of service potential (depreciation)
  • Sustainability
  • Community well-being
  • Accounting for the environmental, cultural, social and economic components of all activities
  • Full consultation

Principally due to legislation, the asset management team has had to create a family of interest groups who not only need to approve of what is being proposed but need to understand and endorse the long-term asset management process. This extended family group needs to include:

  • The affected community
  • The Office of the Auditor General
  • Iwi, the local Maori representatives
  • Environmental Interest groups
  • Regional Councils, the environment consenting agencies
  • The Elected Councillors
  • The residents and ratepayers

Achieving the Family Buy-in
Each Council in New Zealand has the freedom to achieve the appropriate outcomes in any manner it sees fit. The Local Government Act is enabling legislation that specifies outcomes rather than processes. This has established an environment where innovation can flourish—albeit sometimes at the risk of all Territorial Authorities reinventing the wheel.

INGENIUM has taken this opportunity to provide leadership and establish guidelines for Territorial Authorities to use so as to develop common threads around accepted and best practice solutions. The funding of these initiatives has been by subscription and sale of the final developed output such as manuals, DVDs and training seminars.

Several products have been further developed in conjunction with overseas partners.

One particular project that has been used to establish the buy-in from the politicians is the production of a professional video that compares the responsibility of managing infrastructural assets with that of owning a vintage car. The analogy of the car is a tangible idea that the politicians can easily identify with, including the concepts of maintenance, renewal and capital work. Depreciation and, in the case of the car, capital gain, are all concepts encapsulated.

Progressing the INGENIUM/APWA Relationship
As this new relationship is in its infancy, the short-term opportunities to exchange information need to surround existing events and publications. INGENIUM has recently appointed a full-time Executive staff member to adapt, promote and distribute existing publications into other countries including the USA and Canada. INGENIUM is currently planning an International Conference on Infrastructure Management to be held in New Zealand during October 2005. The conference will be preceded by a one-day asset management training seminar.

Exchange programmes linking with each organisation's annual conference is a possibility for the future. The exchange of views and ideas can never be underestimated in its contribution to the development of our profession, and I believe there will be some significant benefits to all parties from these opportunities.

David Adamson has been the President of INGENIUM since June 2003. He is currently the Chief Executive of Southland District Council. Adamson's engineering career in Local Government spans over 20 years. He is a Public Health specialist, but for the last 10 years has been in charge of the District with the largest network of roads in the country (5,000 kms/3,100 miles, 40% sealed). He is a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng), Fellow of the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (FIPENZ), and has been a member of the INGENIUM Executive since 1995. He can be reached at

Garcia receives ICMA award

Bernardo Garcia, Assistant County Administrator of Hillsborough County, Florida, is the recipient of the International City/County Management Association's (ICMA) 2004 International Award. Garcia, a former member of APWA's International Affairs Committee and the APWA/AMMAC (Asociacion de Municipios de Mexico) Task Force, was recognized for "promoting excellence in public works management at an international level, building a strong relationship with educators and government managers in Mexico, and encouraging the next generation of public works professionals to achieve levels of excellence in city administration and governance."

After meeting with representatives of AMMAC during the 1997 APWA Congress in Denver, Garcia hosted several planning meetings with elected officials and private sector leaders from throughout Mexico. He developed a written agreement through which APWA and AMMAC would share technical knowledge and public agency management practices. He also traveled to Mexico to learn more about public infrastructure in that country, as well as about the critical funding and institutional issues facing Mexican municipal, state, and federal governments.

In November 2002, Garcia's efforts paid off as Hillsborough County hosted the first conference in his International Public Works Exchange Series. Eight government leaders from the states of Veracruz, Mexico, and Baja, California, attended, along with administrators from the University of Veracruz. The second Exchange Series conference was held at the University of Veracruz in October 2003.

Garcia was Public Works Director for Hillsborough County prior to becoming Assistant County Administrator. He has been a regular attendee and presenter at the AMMAC Public Works Conferences in Mexico as part of APWA's delegation.

ICMA's International Award recognizes a local government and its chief administrator for furthering the cause of international understanding and cooperation by successfully adopting a program from another country; becoming actively involved in exchanges, sister-city activities, or educational/cultural activities with another country; or establishing a relationship with a local government from another country that resulted in innovative, concrete management improvements.

CZPWA and SPWA Spring Conferences
The Czech Republic Public Works Association (CZPWA) and the Slovak Public Works Association (SPWA) will hold their Spring Conferences in April 2005. The CZPWA conference will be held in Jicin, approximately 100 km northeast of Prague. The SPWA conference (location to be determined) will take place immediately prior to the CZPWA conference. Stay tuned to the February issue of the APWA Reporter and to the APWA website for more information.


New Year's Day celebrations around the world
New Year's Day celebrations are different all over the world. Using different calendars, the world's people have divided time into days, months, and years. Some calendars are based on the movement of the moon, others are based on the position of the sun, while others are based on both the sun and the moon. All over the world, there are special beliefs about the New Year.

Jewish New Year. The Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah. It is a holy time when people think of the things they have done wrong in the past, and they promise to do better in the future. Special services are held in synagogues, and an instrument called a Shofar, which is made from a ram's horn, is played. Children are given new clothes, and New Year loaves are baked and fruit is eaten to remind people of harvest time.

Muslim New Year. The Muslim calendar is based on the movements of the moon, so the date of the New Year is eleven days earlier each year. For example, in Iran the people celebrate New Year on March 21, and a few weeks before this date people put grains of wheat or barley in a little dish to grow. By the time of New Year, the grains have produced shoots, and this reminds the people of spring and a new year of life.

New Year in India. The Hindus of India don't celebrate New Year in the same way or at the same time. The people of West Bengal, in northern India, like to wear flowers at New Year, and they use flowers in the colors of pink, red, purple, or white. Women like to wear yellow, which is the color of spring. In Kerala, in southern India, mothers put food, flowers, and little gifts on a special tray. On New Year's morning, the children have to keep their eyes closed until they have been led to the tray. In central India, orange flags are flown from buildings on New Year's Day. In Gujarat, in western India, New Year is celebrated at the end of October, and it is celebrated at the same time as the Indian festival of Diwali. At the time of Diwali, small oil lights are lit all along the roofs of buildings. At New Year, Hindus think particularly of the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.

New Year in Vietnam. In Vietnam, the New Year is called Tet Nguyen Dan or Tet for short. It begins between January 21 and February 19, and the exact day changes from year to year. They believe that there is a god in every home, and at the New Year this god travels to heaven. There he will say how good or bad each member of the family has been in the past year.

New Year in Japan. In Japan, New Year is celebrated on January 1, but the Japanese also keep some beliefs from their Shinto religion. To keep out evil spirits, a rope of straw is hung across the front of their houses, and this stands for happiness and good luck. The moment the New Year begins, the Japanese people begin to laugh, and this is supposed to bring them good luck in the new year.

Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Year is celebrated sometime between January 17 and February 19, at the time of the new moon, and it is called Yuan Tan. It is celebrated by Chinese people all over the world, and street processions are an exciting part of their New Year. The Festival of Lanterns is the street processions, and thousands of lanterns are used to light the way for the New Year. The Chinese people believe that there are evil spirits around at New Year, so they let off firecrackers to frighten the spirits away. Sometimes they seal their windows and doors with paper to keep the evil spirits out.

New Year in the West. New Year's Day processions with decorated floats and bands are a part of New Year, and football is also played all over the United States on New Year's Day.

In Europe, New Year was often a time for superstition and fortune-telling, and in some parts of Switzerland and Austria, people dress up to celebrate Saint Sylvester's Eve. In AD 314, there was a Pope called Saint Sylvester, and people believed that he captured a terrible sea monster. It was thought that in the year 1000, this sea monster would escape and destroy the world, but since it didn't happen, the people were delighted. Since then, in parts of Austria and Switzerland, this story is remembered at New Year, and people dress up in fantastic costumes, and are called Sylvesterklauses.

In Greece, New Year's Day is also the Festival of Saint Basil. Saint Basil was famous for his kindness, and Greek children leave their shoes by the fire on New Year's Day with the hope that he will come and fill the shoes with gifts.

In Scotland, New Year is called Hogmanay, and in some villages barrels of tar are set alight and rolled through the streets. Thus, the old year is burned up and the new one allowed to enter.

Scottish people believe that the first person to enter your house in the New Year will bring good or bad luck, and it is very good luck if the visitor is a dark-haired man bringing a gift. This custom is called first-footing.

The song "Auld Lang Syne" is sung at midnight on New Year's Eve, and this custom is now celebrated all over the world.

Cultural Proverbs

"The afternoon knows what the morning never expected." - Swedish Proverb

"Better a mouse in the pot than no meat at all." - Romanian Proverb

"Don't open a shop unless you know how to smile." - Jewish Proverb

"Examine what is said, not him who speaks." - Arab Proverb