Association Spotlight

Ngā mihi nui kia koutou (Greetings to you all from New Zealand).

Many of us who have been involved on the ground floor of underground utility location, damage prevention, asset management, and subsurface geospatial survey and mapping anywhere around the world can, hopefully, agree on this one fact:

We need to come together as a national and global industry community to build a world class location sub-sector, to aid anyone working in and around service infrastructure.

Here in New Zealand, we are doing our best to do just that.

A handful of passionate individuals who were working in silos within the wider infrastructure sector came together a few years ago, and out of those humble beginnings Nulca NZ was established in 2019.

Set up to represent the utility location industry in New Zealand, Nulca was formed from a need to standardize practices and develop the skills of contractors, as well as endeavoring to build cross-industry partnerships to ensure a collective approach to common issues. We are big on keeping our people safe, our infrastructure sound, and our data accurate.

The association is modeled on the Australian and American chapters of Nulca, which have been running since 2004 and 1994, respectively. In choosing to adopt Nulca as our name, we join an international group of people dedicated to building a better and stronger utility locating industry.

We realized early on that the mountain we were climbing couldn’t be scaled well with only a handful of people, so we set out to engage and educate the wider sector of our existence, purpose, and lofty goals.

We pride ourselves on never being too big for our boots, while never being afraid to think outside the box – communicating and acting in full transparency, humility, and strategic clarity; bringing to light a realistic but innovative vision. All these elements have helped to solidify our value addition to the built environment and beyond.

We have also been vocal about the real challenges and barriers that face any well-meaning group trying to create a better space which ultimately impacts many others within the ecosystem. In short, we’ve called a spade a spade, and during our first meetings addressed bureaucracy, conflict of interest, protectionism, commercialism, ego, and all the issues that get in the way of true progress and creating an industry that empowers its people for the betterment of its purpose.

Our candor has seen a success in the uptake of Nulca NZ within the country, and although we have quite a bit of work ahead of us, we are onboarding partners at the right level to ensure we achieve our goals. Currently allied with players from central to local government, NGO’s, industry bodies, private businesses, suppliers, and education facilitators, we are doing well in realizing our collaboration and partnership strategic objective, with this being an ongoing initiative.

Nulca NZ has two primary working groups (made up of business, industry, and government volunteers from varying companies and entities around the country) Standards and Skills Development underway, with chairs recently appointed to each group, ensuring strategic leadership and tactical drive in these spaces.

Real change can only come about with collaboration, open conversation, and taking an active approach. Every meeting and workshop is finalized with executable short- and long-term actions, as delivery is a huge part of our ethos. We are walking our talk.

As we move forward, we want to further engage in conversation with industry bodies abroad, including the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Asia, South Africa, and Australia. International bodies are facing the exact same issues we are, have been working through solutions far longer than us, and we can learn a lot from those experiences. However, us Kiwis have a lot to offer on a global scale – we are smaller so have the space to research, collaborate, integrate, monitor, and innovate. We have the capability to perhaps do the things that larger countries take longer to accomplish.

Although we are all scaling different-size mountains with differing variables, it is essentially the same beast. Working together makes sense and we welcome input into our shared purpose and global community. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Ma te wa (Until next time)

Elle Archer is President of Nulca NZ. She can be reached at president@nulca.nz.

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