Isaac Construction

August 2021

Isaac Construction is unusual among quarry companies in having a conservation trust as its owner. The trust’s partnership with the Canterbury contracting company ensures nationally significant conservation of some of New Zealand’s rarest bird species.


Isaac Construction Limited is an independent, South Island based, quarrying and civil contracting company founded in 1950 by Sir Neil and Lady Isaac. It is owned by The Isaac Wildlife and Conservation Trust, a registered charity and the focus of this case study.

The Trust’s 1100 ha landholding is located at McLean’s Island, a substantial and complex site that includes residential, rural, commercial, industrial and quarrying. These operations collectively provide the income that allows the Trust to be entirely self-funding. Here too is located Isaac Construction’s head office and base of operations, which extend into greater Canterbury, the West Coast, Dunedin and Marlborough. Its activities include: quarrying, roading and other civil construction, transport, drainage, traffic management, services in contract management, engineering and fleet mechanical, and civil laboratories. The company employs around 350 FTEs, as well as a temporary workforce of 30-50 people.

Isaac Construction has as its motto: “Combining construction with conservation” and staff are motivated and inspired that their work also contributes towards the Trust’s achievements in conservation. This is an integral part of the company’s culture.

The Trust runs breeding programmes for several endangered endemic bird and other species. Under a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Conservation, the Trust currently has a captive breeding programme for five endangered bird species.

Native flora conservation is another vital role for the Trust. At present its efforts focus on native riparian plantings across the 1100 ha Isaac site. The Trust also assists other likeminded organisations with their planting programmes.