The Department of Conservation’s flood protection project at Milford Sound has scored a further coup with the announcement of a major award from the New Zealand Planning Institute.

Date:  23 May 2012

The Department of Conservation’s (DOC) flood protection project at Milford Sound has scored a further coup with the announcement of a major award from the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI).

DOC and URS NZ are recipients of the prestigious Rodney Davies Project Award for the Cleddau River Flood Protection Scheme. Completed and officially opened in November 2011 at a cost of $13.1 million, the project was applauded at the time for being ahead of time and under budget.

The NZPI Awards Panel were impressed with the project’s considerable environmental sensitivity and considered it was an excellent example of cooperation between several agencies in what is a challenging physical and legislative environment and an extremely important location for New Zealand tourism.

Accepting the award on behalf of the Department was Jessie Haanen, who led the project for DOC. DOC's Te Anau Area Manager, Reg Kemper, felt the award was a great achievement and an endorsement of the work of all those involved in the project. "We're extremely proud to receive this award. It's a fantastic acknowledgement of the collaborative nature of DOC's work in conservation and tourism," he said.

The Cleddau River Flood Protection Scheme was the culmination of several years of detailed investigations, planning and design with significant emphasis on the collaboration of multiple agencies, led by the Department of Conservation and assisted by URS New Zealand. Those involved in the project included the Southland District Council, Environment Southland, OPUS International, Downers and various sub-contractors, committees and stakeholders.

The project has significantly improved the safety and amenity of residents and businesses in Milford Sound / Piopiotahi while protecting infrastructure critical to the continued functioning of this significant tourist attraction.

In particular, the Awards Panel referred to the way the project had overcome a series of unique challenges, including:  the World Heritage and National Park status of the area; various multifaceted natural hazards; issues relating to when and how consenting, design and physical works would take place; and ensuring that normal life and tourist visits were able to continue during the construction phase without a reduction in the quality of their experience.

Begun as a stop-bank scheme to manage the flow of the Cleddau River away from the Milford area, the project needed significant modification when planners discovered a second source of potential flooding. A new approach was required to protect people, businesses, buildings and infrastructure. The dramatic solution required buildings in the Cleddau Village area of Milford to be temporarily relocated while the ground level was raised above flood level, and then returned.

Opened last November by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, the Cleddau River Flood Protection Scheme was declared a project of national significance because of the multi-million dollar contribution made by Milford Sound and Fiordland to the tourism industry. For DOC it is an example of tourism in balance with protection of the environment, and of the kind of collaboration at the core of DOC’s partnership approach.

The New Zealand Planning Institute Rodney Davies Project Award is made annually to recognise innovative and creative excellence in the undertaking and completion of a project involving a physical work or development.


Jessie Haanen, DOC Project Manager - Operations
Telephone: +64 4 471 3030

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