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Meet Helen Cook


The NZ Transport Agency’s Communications Advisor to the Waterview Connection Project.

Job description: 

It is my job to tell the world about the Waterview Connection:  exactly what we are building, why it is being built, how we are building it and how people will use it when it is finished. I do this by writing media releases that go to newspapers, television, radio and magazines throughout New Zealand; by helping journalists gather information for their own stories; through our project website; and through brochures, newsletters and signs.  Internal communication is also important at the Waterview Connection because we have about 800 workers spread over five work sites. I produce a weekly newsletter just to keep our own workers ‘up with the play’ on progress and happenings around the project. I also help produce posters and signs that promote safety, quality and the kinds of behaviours we need to become a really high performing team.

Work background: 

I started my career as a reporter for newspapers and magazines, which is how I developed my writing skills. I then went into public relations, working mainly on the communication and public consultation for big public projects while they were still in the planning stages. I wanted a chance to work on the actual construction of some of these projects, so joined the NZ Transport Agency. The Waterview Connection project is the third big roading project I have worked on and the second involving a tunnel.

Favourite part of job: 

I like everything about my job, particularly the people I come into contact with every day.

Least favourite part of job: 

There’s nothing I don’t like. Even presentations, which I used to hate, are fun to do when you are passionate about the project.

What I am working on now: 

Everything – there is never a start or a finish with the things I do.  I always have one or more newsletters on the go; the website always needs updating; there’s always someone wanting another poster and so it goes on.

A quick story about a job well done: 

I am a keen gardener and a year ago I initiated a community garden on the project. It started as one way we could contribute something positive to the community we are affecting by the construction. It has about a dozen regular gardeners and is proving its worth as a place people can come and learn how to grow their own vegetables, as well as make new friends.

A (humorous) story about a job that went badly and what you learned: 

The worst moment of my career was when there was no microphone for the prime minister when he came to open the last motorway project I worked on.  To make matters worse, it started to pour with rain the moment speeches began, drowning out their voices.


I have a diploma in journalism. Also, I am an accredited member of the Public Relations Institute of NZ and have certificates in public consultation, facilitation and various other aspects of my work.

Interests outside work: 

Mostly gardening. I have written a book for children on gardening called 'Get Growing'. And am hoping to write another when I retire next year.

Watch the video where Helen talks about her work.

Helen Cook is the NZ Transport Agency’s Communications Advisor to the Waterview Connection Project.