Structural and civil engineering firm Kotahi hit the ground running when it opened its first North Island studio in Napier, having already completed stage one of Kaweka Hospital’s structural design. The project provided the perfect platform for senior structural engineer Aaron Kaijser to return home to Hawke’s Bay, after a decade of working in both the design consulting and construction space.
This included two years of postgraduate studies in the Netherlands and rebuild work in Christchurch where he first linked up with Kotahi, then named Structex. Projects such as the QEII Sport and Recreation centre, Lyttelton Port’s headquarters and multiple developments for Christchurch International Airport, were taken on during that time. After four years in the South Island and looking for a new challenge, the intrigue of returning to the Bay was too good to pass up.
“Hawke’s Bay is a vastly different place to the one I left as a teenager.I didn’t think returning in my early 30s was really on the cards given the traditionally limited opportunities in the regions. I’m happy to say that that thinking doesn’t hold up like it used to.”
Work aside, Aaron says that his American wife needed little convincing of moving to a warmer climate. While it might be a slight exaggeration to call the Hawke’s Bay climate “similar” to California, it is at least a step up from the cool South. While the idea of starting an office in Hawke’s Bay was his, Aaron says Kotahi’s leadership was open to the relocation. This was also about the time that he became a shareholder in the company.
“It reinforced the company’s guiding aspiration of seeing its people flourish, it aligned with Kotahi’s expertise in the wine sector and it coincided with a purple patch in the Hawke’s Bay economy as it was going from strength to strength, and continues to do so.” Aaron also identified an increasing complexity in new and existing builds, and the need for capable structural engineers as the impetus for growing an office in the bay — Kaweka Hospital being a prime example.
First published by The Profit. Click here to read the full article.