Quarry NZ 2017 Annual Conference

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle

QuarryNZ Volvo and CAT machines on the pier at Viaduct Harbour QuarryNZ
Anz centre The ANZ Centre was big enough to fit in some fairly hefty machinery Anz centre
ANZ conference A wide view of the ANZ centre ANZ conference
CAT stand Ardie Rankin (right), a veteran of 48 years, talks to a customer on the Gough CAT stand CAT stand

In a world-class venue with some eye-popping exhibitor stands, informative plenary sessions, fun and entertainment, has a conference to remember for years to come

Collectively known as the Quarry NZ Annual Conference, it is, in fact, the combined annual conferences of the Institute of Quarrying NZ Inc (IOQ) and the Aggregate and Quarry Association (AQA).

This year, the 49th Quarry Conference was held at the world-class ANZ Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland.

Although the weather was a little damp throughout the three-day event, the skies did remain clear enough for five busloads of delegates to take the Thursday afternoon off from the business end of the conference and pay a visit to the Stevenson Quarry at Drury in South Auckland.

However, the bleakness of the weather outside was more than compensated for inside by the bright and modern ANZ Events Centre where the merchant stands were abuzz with activity, as exhibitors and viewers enjoyed the obvious camaraderie present at the event.


Apart from the usual keynote speakers and plenary sessions that generally take place at industry conferences, along with the annual general meetings of both the AQA and the IOQ, this year, two hours were set aside on two days for workshops to deal with important issues such as legislation and leadership. The latter also covered drug detection and driving safety.


Upon asking a random group of attendees the question as to which workshop they found to be most helpful, there appeared to be as many different preferences as there were subjects covered, proving that the event organisers had got the mix of subject matter spot-on.

The Stevenson Quarry trip - a highlight 

Quarry -site

Aside from the much talked-about social events, one of the highlights of the conference was the Stevenson Quarry trip to the base of the Hunua Ranges, which required the use of five Pavlovich coaches to transport approximately 250 attendees out to the site.

The visit provided suppliers of larger pieces of quarrying machinery with enough space to exhibit their wares in a spacious environment, which wasn’t afforded at the ANZ Viaduct Centre.

Although it’s fair to say that several companies managed to get some decent-sized pieces of gear inside the building, there were also a couple of machines representing the CAT and Volvo brands parked on the pier as a nod to the purpose of the event.

Passengers on the tail-end coach were treated to a running commentary on local landmarks and current construction projects given by Murray Discombe, who is a part of the civil engineering team at Auckland engineering consultant company Fraser Thomas and a current IOQ Council member.

Murray’s commentary was of interest to out of towners and Aucklanders alike, as he covered points of interest such as the reason the road surface of the previous Newmarket Viaduct had been sealed in white (Calcined Bauxite) chip as opposed to the normal black plant mix asphalt.

He explained that the white surface attracted less heat, thus placing less stress on the expansion joints of the old viaduct that was opened in September 1966 but demolished in conjunction with the construction of its replacement structure.

Another point of interest was the feat of engineering currently taking place at Takanini, where widening of the motorway requires the construction of a combination of three bridges: one over the Papakura Stream, one over the main trunk railway line, and the other over Great South Road.

Stevenson -quarry

Several passengers commented on the strangeness of the fact that there is a lot of construction going on around the city that you generally pay little attention to and that Murray’s commentary drew your attention to the infrastructure work taking place that we all generally take for granted.

On arrival at the quarry, delegates were issued with high-vis vests, which they were allowed to keep, and hard hats that needed to be returned at the end of the visit but
were offered to visitors for purchase at a reduced rate.

Lunch was served and delegates were able to look around the plant and get up close and personal with displayed machinery and plant. Included in the visit was a trip down to the quarry floor to see the drilling, load/haul, crushing, and screening operation in full swing.

The Stevenson Group has been in the quarrying and mining business for more than 60 years and operates two quarries, the one visited at Drury and another at Huntly.

The two quarries produce more than three million tonnes of aggregate annually, supplying such projects as the Waikato Expressway and other infrastructure projects, including urban development in the Auckland and Waikato regions.

The trip back to Viaduct Basin at the end of the day’s activities was a drive through the northbound tunnel at Waterview, a first for many passengers.

Fun and entertainment

Happy -hour

Any quarrying and mining conference worth its salt has to have an element of fun and entertainment mixed in with the more serious side of the business, and the 2017 conference certainly was no exception to the rule.

At the end of the busy afternoon spent on the field visit to the Stevenson Quarry, as delegates exited the coaches.

Each person was issued with a kind of ‘uniform’ in the form of a black wig and headband, the purpose of which was to get everybody into party mode for the ‘Hard Rock Club’ happy hour sponsored by Wellington-based company Real Steel.

However, word on the street has it that the term ‘happy hour’ turned out to be somewhat of a misnomer as the ‘hour’ lasted a little longer than the mandatory 60 minutes suggested by its title. Well done, Real Steel.

Other noteworthy events were the Gough Cat Welcome Dinner with well-known sports commentator Phil Gifford as the guest speaker and the TransDiesel Awards Dinner with live music provided by the Gerry RDK Trio.

Each year, a prize is awarded to the best exhibitor stand in the form of the A J & R J Loader Sponsors Shield, which was won this year by Prime Pump.

For more information on the Institute of Quarrying NZ Inc awards page, visit ioqnz.co.nz.

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