Building Nations - New Zealand’s premier infrastructure conference

Prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, speaking at Building Nations 2018.

Building Nations is one of the most significant events on Australasia’s infrastructure calendar. Attended by 800+ delegates, it is a key forum for discussing upcoming trends and challenges in the infrastructure sector.

With the theme of Building Regions, key topics at this year’s symposium will be:

  • Planning, funding and shaping regional growth 
  • Lifting the productivity of the infrastructure section
  • Regional connectivity
  • Water sector reform
  • Delivering affordable housing at scale.

The line-up of high-profile international speakers includes Sir Howard Bernstein, former chief executive of Manchester City Council, Andrew McNaughton, strategic advisor to HS2, Alan Sutherland, chief executive, Water Industry Commission for Scotland, Phil Twyford, NZ minister of transport, Shane Jones, NZ minister of infrastructure, Grant Robertson, Minister of Finance, Steve Chadwick, mayor of Rotorua and Jim Boult, mayor of Queenstown. The event also includes more than 12 networking events, including special events for women in infrastructure

Attending Building Nations is also an ideal way to start a New Zealand holiday. This year’s conference will be held in Rotorua, a leading tourist destination and the perfect gateway to exploring wider New Zealand. Delegates can also enjoy iconic Rotorua experiences at an industry networking day, where there are a range of complimentary activities available.

Not just a regional event, Building Nations is attended by delegates from the UK, Australia, China and Japan. Below, Sandra Valentine, director of Artichoke Partners, spoke about her experience attending the conference from the UK last year. 

Why did you attend Building Nations?

There are three reasons really. I do executive search here in the UK so for the last six years I have been trying to develop relationships in New Zealand with construction organisations who need to recruit people from the UK. It’s a great opportunity to meet people face to face who are all in the one room. 

Secondly, being seen to be there – showing that commitment to the market and also to hear what the challenges are in the market so that I have my finger on the pulse of what is going on. 

What value does this event offer to delegates from the UK?

I think there is enormous value. If you were looking to start business in New Zealand or are already doing business there, why wouldn’t you want to be there? It’s not only the speakers, you get really good visibility of the issues and have the chance to have those roundtable discussions and network over coffee during the breakout sessions.

Who attends the conference?

I got the impression it was quite senior level people – I saw all the faces I expected to see there. 

Why would you recommend that infrastructure leaders from the UK attend Building Nations?

It’s really about having your finger on the pulse of what matters at the moment and where the thinking is. Everyone is in the same room and there are a lot of networking opportunities with all the breakout sessions. That accessibility is really helpful. It’s also an incredibly professionally run event - I couldn’t fault it. And the quality of the speakers is excellent. I think there were six government ministers last year and hearing from them directly is enormously helpful. 

To find out more about Building Nations and to reserve tickets and accommodation, visit the website at

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