Concrete Cancer Cover-Up Expose Continues


Last year we started a series of posts exposing a cover-up in the $400m New Zealand concrete industry.

Industry insiders spoken to by WOBH, warned that dozens of new buildings could be under threat from a form of ‘concrete cancer’ that could end up costing millions of dollars over time.

This includes buildings like the new $40 million Ministry of Justice Manukau District Court, Fonterra’s $120 million factory in Waitoa and Yashili’s $250 million plant at Pokeno.

It all came about after concrete importer Drymix imported tens of thousands of tonnes of cement, which according to their own test samples, failed to meet recognised industry standards.

When murmurings about this issue first started, the industry association – The Cement and Concrete Association (CCANZ) first course of action was to hire a private investigator to try and find out who was talking.

Since then, sources in Wellington have been expressing concern that CCANZ had hitched their wagon to Drymix, and are not happy at how they are handling the unease within the construction and building sectors.

In December 2014 WOBH asked 5 questions to CCANZ seeking their response to the issues raised on this site. 

They replied on Christmas Eve, attaching a 128 page report by the NZ Ready Mix Concrete Association’s Plant Audit Committee Report ‘Imported Cement – Drymix’ dated 18 November 2014.

This report was based largely on an ‘independent’ report that was funded by none other than Drymix themselves.

CCANZ’s Information and Communication manager Adam Leach responded on behalf of CEO Rob Gaimster saying that “many of the questions you have asked are covered or explained in the attached reports”.

The key out-take by CAANZ was that “after several months of thorough independent evaluation and peer review it has been determined that no cement or concrete in breach of New Zealand standards has been sold in the market”.

How nice.

The Report CCANZ attached was interesting reading. So much so that it raised a yet more questions.

And in the interest of ensuring CAANZ can provide the government and MBIE with complete confidence that it’s new Manukau District Court won’t suffer from a reaction between the alkali and aggregate in the concrete (concrete cancer), WOBH has a number of additional questions for CCANZ, including;

  1. Is the Report being peer reviewed? If so, by whom.
  2. Why did Drymix hide the NZ test results and the Vietnam test results for 6 months?
  3. Why did Drymix delete the September 2013 test results off its website mid 2014?
  4. Have any core samples been taken from any of the jobs that were supplied cement by Drymix? What were the results? If no core samples have been taken, why not?
  5. Was testing by Drymix undertaken as a result of a request of the NZRMCA or CCANZ?

There are more questions being put to CCANZ.

Unpicking this mess takes time, but WOBH’s sunlight on this issue will continue until the questions are answered.


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  • peterwn

    Hopefully the property managers of the respective organisations are checking things out. The courthouse one is of concern to the taxpayer and so would be of public concern although the latter two are really ‘private’ matters except that farmer-shareholders would be concerned with the Fonterra one. In the first instance redress would be against the respective building contractors (if the nominal companies are still in business). If other Government buildings and works are also suspect, then it seems Cabinet should launch a ‘whole of government’ investigation into this. In the old days this would have been done by the Ministry of Works who had ongoing supervision over many government buildings and works including motorways and ‘red shield’ highways.

    • Mark

      Someone mention to me the other day that the new hamilton hospital car park building was full of cracks for some strange reason. Doh!

  • Just a thought …

    I built an outdoor fireplace, had it all plastered up, and was horrified to watch it crack and literally explode with cracks through the concrete blocks as wide as the ” grand canyon” . I could not work out for the life of me what was happening.

    After reading about this concrete cancer I realised that I had used ” instant concrete ‘ from Mitre 10 ,that is supplied by Drymix,to fill the concrete blocks.

    It now makes sense and I understand what is happening so thanks WOBH.

    Will now have to wait until the cracking stops so I can fix it and get it replastered…… Bugga ……

    Edit : sp

    • May stand corrected by someone with more concrete “nous” but pretty sure concrete blocks should not be filled with premix unless put through a mixer (or similar) first to ensure completely “wet”

      • Just a thought …

        Hmmm …. thanks , now hadn’t thought of that but the mix was pretty wet so that it would flow down through the blocks easily . I am however a bit of a weekend warrior so this would not be the first or last time that I get things wrong ……

        • Driftah

          Your issue will not be related to the topic. Concrete/Cement reaction is a complicated chemical process. Your issue is probably suitability of the materials and how you used them.