2023 NZ Building People Awards - the winning people behind the projects


The NZ Building People Awards 2023 took place last Friday 18 August at a gala dinner at Te Pae in Ōtautahi | Christchurch. This was the construction industry’s chance to honour the people behind the projects.

The NZ Building People Awards is run by the NZ Institute of Building, and this was the Awards’ 30th year. The NZ Building People Awards celebrate people in the building and construction industry doing great things. They recognise people at all stages, places and scales – from the inspiring Next Generation already making a difference, to those working in major complex commercial construction projects on site and behind the scenes.

On the night, runners-up and winners were announced across nine categories along with a special commendation and a Supreme Winner to top the evening off. The Resene Next Gen Awards were also announced as part of the evening with three regional winners and one national winner - Anni Zhou from Massey University in Tamaki Makarau | Auckland took home the top prize of $3,000 in addition to $1,000 as a regional winner.

In her acceptance speech Anni issued a challenge to the industry to look to the future of incorporating digitalisation and Building Information Modelling (BIM) in particular into the design, build, delivery methodology - as a way to enable better cohesion and collaboration in construction projects.

George Russell from Wilson Commercial scooped the big prize on the night and was named the 2023 GIB Supreme Award winner. He was in the running for the Supreme award after winning the XLam Projects under $10 Million Award earlier in the evening.

George led the Samoa High Commission project in Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington. It was constructed on a very constrained site, with a tight budget requiring a fresh approach to design, methodology, buildability, and staging.

George took the time to get fully briefed on the reasons for cultural design aspects of the project with the architect and then communicating these to the site team so that everyone understood, grew in knowledge, and could talk to these. He went out of his way to ensure the Samoan High Commission was involved in every step, and actively set the tone at the top by adopting Samoan meeting customs, the Samoan flag, and the Samoan language into the project delivery.

George stood out to the judges in an incredibly strong field for his holistic approach to the project and an impressive commitment to culture, collaboration, and respect.


Along with the Supreme Award the judges also acknowledged Gracen Luka from Fletcher Living with an unprecedented Special Commendation.

As the winner of the Emerging Leader Award, Gracen took home the top prize of $5,000 from the NZ Institute of Building Charitable Education Trust, to further her professional development. The category judges were impressed by Gracen saying she was a ‘stand out’ amongst the finalists and is already an ‘influencer’ and leader within the New Zealand construction and property sector. The Supreme Award judges agreed and asked to single out Gracen for this ‘Special Commendation’.

Judges said: “Gracen is a passionate, dynamic, and genuine leader. She has a proven ability to actively resolve challenges, building wide networks and bringing others along the journey with her inclusive style. With a team approach, Gracen creates a safe and nurturing work environment, identifying strengths and skills in others to excel and achieve project outcomes together.”

Congratulations to George, Gracen and all the other winners on the night.

David Thomas -General Manager of Winstone Wallboards with Supreme Award winner George Russell.

David Thomas -General Manager of Winstone Wallboards with Gracen Luka

2023 NZ Building People Award winners


2023 Winners:
Resene NEXT GEN AWARD - Northern Region Winner – Anni Zhou, Central Region Winner – Daniel Merwyn, Southern Region Winner – Thomas Steel, National Winner – Anni Zhou
NZIOB Charitable Education Trust - EMERGING LEADER AWARD - Gracen Luka, Fletcher Living
Comfortech - PROJECTS UNDER $10 MILLION AWARD - Morgan Poi, Hawkins Limited
XLam - PROJECTS $10M - $25M AWARD - George Russell, Wilson Commercial Limited
Carters - PROJECTS $25M - $50M AWARD - Garyth Jones, NZ Strong Group Limited
BBD - PROJECTS OVER $50M AWARD - Jeremy Earle, Southbase Construction Ltd
James Hardie – INNOVATION AWARD - Jane Jujnovich, Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities
NAWIC - CONSULTANTS AWARD - Helen Moate, The Building Intelligence Group
Hays – COLLABORATION AWARD - Te Pūtahi team: Sarah Daniel - eCubed Building Workshop, Richard Ellis – Haydn & Rollett, Isaac Kawiti – Ignite Architects, Javier Sanz – Marshall Day Acoustics, Mark Sheridan – Precon

GIB | Winstone Wallboards – SUPREME AWARD
Special Commendation – Gracen Luka, Fletcher Living
Winner – George Russell, Wilson Commercial Limited


Read about all the runners-up and winners here.
See a full list of finalists here.
See photos from the night here.

Thank you to all our sponsors for their generous support

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