For locals and holidaymakers alike, the Great Lake Walkway in Taupō has long been a popular recreation spot. Throughout the year the path is full of cyclists, runners, and walkers, enjoying the scenic views and swimming spots.
Over the past few months Camex Civil have been hard at work replacing 4km of the existing path with a wider, smoother surface which will accommodate a wider range of users and improve accessibility for all. The upgraded walkway is also intended to be used in the run leg of the Ironman 70.3 World Championships which it is hoped will be held in Taupō in 2022.
The walkway project, which has been well received by the community, has been led by site manager Shannan Bell, 28.
Shannan was an obvious choice to lead this high-profile $4 million project. She has a strong 11-year track record in the construction industry, including delivering the carpark upgrade in Roberts and Tūwharetoa Streets on time and within budget.
"My first job was driving 40-tonne trucks in Hamilton," says Shannan. "I was training to be an accountant at the time and was on a study break. I was given the opportunity to try out the truck, and just loved it. It was such an awesome experience. From that point on I knew I wanted to work in the industry."
However, a career in the traditionally male-dominated construction sector has not always been easy.
"In the early days it was pretty tough going — I really had to prove myself to the guys," says Shannan. "Some people would assume I'd been given a job because a family member had employed me, others would think I wasn't physically strong enough to get the job done."
Over time Shannan proved her worth by working hard, putting in the hours, and taking on new opportunities whenever she could.
"I've gained experience on lots of different heavy machinery and equipment and built up a good understanding of what's required on bigger projects. I love a challenge and I'm always happy to pitch in and do whatever needs to be done."
Despite the walkway upgrade shutting down for the alert level 4 lockdown, Shannan and her team are back on track to meet their timeline.
"It's about looking ahead at potential problems and keeping across the details. The lakefront area is on pumice soil, so it's very prone to erosion. This is a challenge from a design perspective, and we've had to adapt the plans to what we find on the ground."
Camex Civil has now opened a permanent base in Taupō with a focus on employing local people for local projects. Shannan has loved the opportunity to connect with those living along the walkway.
"I've made the effort to get to know many of the local residents who live near the path, and to hear any concerns or ideas they may have. It's about taking the time to listen and doing what we can to achieve a great outcome for everyone."
In the future Shannan would love to see more women in the industry.
"It can be pretty intimidating as a woman getting started in the sector, so I'm really happy to chat with anyone who needs some help. If you're a hard worker and up for a challenge. there are lots of opportunities."