Everyday our people showcase extraordinary efforts across the electricity energy sector to ensure health and safety remains at the forefront of their work. 

Some of these outstanding achievements were recently recognised at the 2023 Transpower STAR Awards. 

The STAR Awards - which stands for 'Safety Thanks and Recognition' - are held every two years, championing best practice and giving recognition to the people who build, operate and maintain New Zealand's National Grid. 

Ventia was incredibly proud to have four winners and two finalists at the event. Read their award-worthy stories below:   


Evan McKenzie - Frontline Leadership Award Winner

Picture: Evan McKenzie at the STAR Awards

Evan, Depot Supervisor - Transmission Lines Southern, was nominated for demonstrating outstanding commitment to health, safety and wellbeing in treacherous conditions. Evan started with Ventia as a trainee line Linesman, quickly working his up to leading hand, field supervisor and is currently the depot supervisor at Islington depot in Christchurch.  

No matter the size of the task, Evan takes the same diligent approach to safety across each job. His documentation is exemplary and an example of the meticulous way that he approaches a project. His practical approach to being a safety leader on the frontline is best demonstrated when he has been required to respond to major faults and incidents, ensuring his team executes their duties successfully and safely in critical situations.  

One such incident was when Evan and his team safely and efficiently responded to a fault on a line running from Canterbury to the West Coast. This was an extreme and high-risk environment to work in and Evan ensured that detailed risk assessments, methodologies and procedures were prepared and followed to keep everyone safe during the works. According to Transpower this was one of the toughest repairs the team has ever faced.  


Matt Spence - Future of Safety Award Finalist

Matt joined Ventia two years ago as a trainee Line Mechanic with no previous industry experience. He was nominated as a rising star and future safety thought leader. In a short amount of time, Matt has become an extremely valuable member of the team, and most importantly, a strong advocate for safety. For a young team member, his awareness and willingness to speak up is particularly noteworthy.  

One particular event showcases his exceptional qualities. After only six months on the job, Matt was in a crew working during the annual HVDC outage. His acute attention to detail came to the fore when he saw something at Oteranga Bay that didn't seem right. Matt's awareness and willingness to speak up on this day saved a significant amount of time, and enabled the repair of Transpower's most critical circuit to be completed much faster than it would otherwise have been.  

Now qualified as a Level 4 Line Mechanic, Matt has shown a brilliant aptitude for learning the complex functions that come with the role. He is known and respected for his quiet work ethic, walks the 'safety' talk, gives his best effort, and is certainly a future industry safety leader. 


Craig Moore - Thought Leadership & STAR Awards Sumpreme Awards Winner

Craig Moore is the epitome of an industry role model and safety thought leader and is highly respected by his team and customers. After 42 years on the job, Craig is an increasingly valuable and rare breed of person so vital to this industry.  

He combines extensive experience with expertise in multiple plant and equipment, his role as an industry trainer, technical procedure author and reviewer, and contagious passion for the job, to inspire everyone he works with. Above all is his unwavering commitment to safety. He is the Health and Safety Representative on large projects, the first phone call for emergency response assistance, and a sounding board to all involved in the industry from Transpower, engineering consultants, subcontractors, Grid Skills, and Ventia staff at all levels.  

Simply put, Craig is trusted by all and his commitment to health, safety and wellbeing is unparalleled. There are many examples of Craig's qualities in action, but ultimately, once the client knows Craig is on site or involved in some way, they feel an immediate sense of reassurance that all is in hand. 


Healthy Minds Program - Hauora Wellbeing Award Finalist

The Healthy Minds program is a Ventia designed and developed program, helping to raise awareness, reduce stigma and support those with mental health conditions across our business. It taps into the power of personal connections, through a mental health peer support network known as the Healthy Minds Champions.  

We currently have more than 190 Healthy Minds Champions across New Zealand and Australia whose role is to help build workplaces where people feel trusted, safe and comfortable seeking support if they need it. They connect people to Ventia's Healthy Minds program resources and promote mental health and wellbeing initiatives.  

Healthy Minds came about out of the identified need for a company-wide mental health plan which would holistically address the needs of the business and work systematically towards building a mentally healthy workplace. This program continues to bring about real cultural change.  

The senior leadership team are key program advocates role modelling behaviour for the rest of the organisation. Being a Healthy Minds Champion is seen as prestigious and valuable, and we maintain waitlists of employees interested in fulfilling this role. Our mental health events are the best attended in the company, and our social media posts centred on mental health achieve the high engagement levels.  


Cyclone Gabrielle response: Restoring power to Hawke's Bay safely (Downer Ltd, Omexom Ltd & Ventia Ltd*) - Team Safety Award Winners

In mid-February 2023, Cyclone Gabrielle struck New Zealand's North Island. The Hawke's Bay region was hit by high winds and catastrophic rain, resulting in severe flooding, widespread power outages and the declaration of a National Civil Defence Emergency as well as a National Grid Emergency by Transpower.  

Ventia's Regional Services Contract 4 (RSC 4) Team has responsibility for operating and maintaining Transpower assets in the Hawke's Bay. Their work in the aftermath, completed safely and in challenging conditions, played a critical role in restoring power and a sense of normality to the region. Working in trying conditions, the team restored power at Redclyffe and Whakatu substations, re-built a collapsed transmission tower and span across the Ngaruroro River, and identified and secured compromised transmission towers across the Hawke's Bay.  

Work was complicated further by communications outages and reduced access due to flooding, road damage, and bridges that had been washed away. Safety hurdles ranged from electrical risks and contaminated silt to the challenge of bringing a large group of people together at short notice to work in a high-pressure environment. Throughout the high-stakes 'response' phase of Transpower's grid emergency, the team maintained worker safety.  

Tensions were high in some areas of the Hawke's Bay so the team also needed to be conscious of conducting its work with empathy to locals and landowners who had suffered significant loss. Some local members of the RSC 4 Team also had families displaced, children unable to attend school and home life disrupted, so awareness of people's mental wellbeing required careful management. 

Working alongside Transpower, their efforts restored power to communities in need and led to safety process innovations that will strengthen Ventia's safety culture in future civil defence emergencies.