PREQUAL definitions of Clients, Contractors, Sub Contractors and Sole Traders

    Different industry sectors can have slightly different meanings for these descriptors. PREQUAL Tōtika terminology also differs slightly to PREQUAL descriptions so for clarity both are listed below and can be used interchangeably. 

    For the purposes of the PREQUAL Tōtika prequalification process, the following definitions apply:

    • Client/Buyer

    You are a Client/Buyer if you engage others to carry out work for you.  A Client/Buyer may also be a contractor or even sub-contractor in some circumstances.

    Note: in the HSWA 2015 the Client is referred to as a PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking)

    • Contractor/Supplier

    You are a Contractor/Supplier if you are hired and paid by someone else (a Client) to carry out work for them. For PREQUAL and PREQUAL Tōtika prequalification purposes, “Contractor” or "Supplier" refers to organisations (including unincorporated partnerships) – not individuals – so the definition does not include sole traders engaging with a single Client on their own. 

    • Principal/Lead Contractor or Principal/Lead Designer

    You are a Principal/Lead Contractor or Designer if you are employed directly by the Client to control/manage the entire job or project from beginning to completion/commissioning the project.

    You, rather than the Client, provide all the health & safety management systems to be applied to the contracted work and sub-contractors.

    All other Contractors/Suppliers report to you and you set the requirements for what reporting is required by subcontractors, when and how they report. You will usually present a summary of this information to the Client as part of your reporting processes.

    • Sub-Contractor

    You are a sub-contractor if you are engaged by a Contractor/Supplier to help them complete work for a Client.  

    • Sole Trader

    You are a Sole Trader if you do not employ staff or engage other contractors and you contract independently, even if you are a limited liability registered company.


    Is this a one size fits all process?

    The short answer is no.  One of the issues identified with prequalification, that have been applied by Clients or Industry organisations to date in New Zealand, is that they ask for the same information and evidence from all Contractors.  This is regardless of the differing types of work Contractors do and the size of the Contractor organisation.

    The Tōtika process provides four categories of prequalification questionnaire reflecting the different size and complexity of Contractors.


    What are the Tōtika Contractor prequalification categories?

    In determining the correct category for your organisation, Tōtika takes the following criteria into account:

    • Company size
    • Contract tender values
    • Role in construction projects (Lead Designer or Principal Contractor)

    There are five Contractor prequalification categories.


    Contractor/Supplier Type

    Contractor/Supplier Activities

    Category S

    Individual who works independently

    Does not employ staff or engage other contractors, contracts independently, and works independently.

    Category 1

    Smaller sized, regular construction risk activity supplier

    Employs no more than 20 people;

    Does not take on contracts in excess of NZ$2.5million; and will not have a primary work activity defined in the Tōtika high or very high risk work activity list

    Category 2

    Medium sized or higher risk activity supplier

    Employs no more than 200 people;

    Does not take on contracts with value in excess of NZ$20 million; and will not engage in a primary work activity defined in the Tōtika very high risk work activity list

    Category 3

    Large sized or very high risk supplier

    Employs more than 200 people; and/or

    Takes on contracts with value in excess of NZ$20 million and/or has a primary work activity defined in the Tōtika very high risk work activity list

    Principal/lead contractors and principal/lead designers

    Suppliers who operate as lead or principal contractors or designers can be allocated to any category

    These suppliers must meet the supplementary requirements for lead/principal contractors/designers in addition to the relevant core requirements for their category


    What will it cost me to prequalify with PREQUAL Tōtika?

    Tōtika Prequalification costs vary for Contractor categories. 

    The following category costs apply.

    Contractor/Supplier Category


    Category S - Sole Trader - renew every two years

    $298 + GST

    Category 1 - renew every two years

    $598 + GST

    Category 2 - renew annually

    $999 + GST

    Category 3 - renew anually

    $1,499 + GST



    How long does my prequalification last for?

    The Tōtika scheme enables a report valid for 12 months, or for 24 months for Sole Traders or Category 1 Contractors.

    Need Urgent Assistance?

    We offer an Express Service two working day turnaround to enable you to meet your urgent deadlines. Call us on 0800 773 782 for more details.


    Who will be able to see my prequalification information?

    By prequalifying with PREQUAL Tōtika, you will be prequalified for all PREQUAL clients.

    In your “Manage Clients” page, just select the clients/buyers you currently or would like to work with. The client’s will receive notification of your interest and can accept the link if desired. Your information can only be viewed by clients that you have agreed to be linked to.

    The PREQUAL team is there to support you in co-ordinating who you wish to see your information. If a client wishes to use your services, we will check with you first. If you confirm that you would like to work for that client, we will then link you and your data to that client so that work can commence.


    How long do I have to submit my prequalification information?

    PREQUAL strongly recommend completing and submitting all information as soon as practically possible to ensure any evidential information does not become dated and negatively affect your final assessment outcome.

    Client organisations may also request, and directly communicate to you to complete the prequalification within a specific timeframe.

    In accordance with the standard prequalification terms and conditions;

    From registration and payment of your prequalification fee, you have 6 months to complete your submission. After that time, PREQUAL has the right to cancel your application along with any submitted information.


    How long will it take to have my prequalification information assessed?

    PREQUAL targets to provide your final assessment report within 20 working days of you submitting your prequalification material, including the 14 days allowed for resubmission.


    We offer an Express Service two working day assessment turnaround to enable you to meet your urgent deadlines. Call us on 0800 773 782 for more details


    Is there a pass or fail for this Tōtika prequalification?

    Unlike the PREQUAL prequalification, the Tōtika scheme has a 'meet standard' or 'does not meet standard' requirement.


    Who assesses my prequalification questionnaire?

    PREQUAL Assessors will carry out the assessment of your prequalification information. The PREQUAL Tōtika process will be overseen by senior health and safety professionals with significant experience in contractor management. 

    All PREQUAL Assessors are experienced health and safety practitioners, rigorously trained in the assessment tools and protocols. A continuous professional development programme is also in place to ensure all assessors stay abreast with current thinking in health and safety management.


    Do I need to save my prequalification as I work through it?

    No. Your prequalification answers will automatically be saved as you complete each question. There is no save button. As you add information you will see a green tick appear next to the question, showing your information has been successfully uploaded.


    Can I attach a file for an answer rather than fill out text boxes online?

    Most questions have requirements to attach files as evidence. Where a question asks you to describe something and provides a free text panel for you to type your answer in directly, there is also the opportunity to attach an existing file if that is easier and answers the question adequately.

    Files can be a maximum of 20MB and we recommend no symbols (& #) or punctuation (, !) is used in the file name as this can cause the uploaded file to become corrupted.


    Do I have an opportunity to resubmit evidence if I don't score well?

    Contractors/Suppliers in Category 1 – 3 will have one opportunity to resubmit evidence after submitting the initial prequalification information. Sole Traders do not have an opportunity to resubmit after submitting the initial prequalification information.


    How long do I have to resubmit evidence after initial assessment?

    You have 14 days to resubmit evidence as identified by your PREQUAL assessor. If you do not do so within this timeframe, your prequalification will be scored on the initial information provided.


    Why does the orange i remain and the percent completed not change when I resubmit evidence?

    When additional evidence is added to your application for resubmission, the orange i will not change to green ticks. This allows your assessor to identify which questions require re-assessing.


    How are my results presented to me?

    Once your prequalification has been assessed, you will receive a report that provides you an overall score, and breakdown of that score. In addition, we will provide comments on what you appear to be doing well and areas for improvement. 


    How is my prequalification questionnaire scored?

    Each of the questions you are asked to answer will be scored from 0 to 4.  This is purely to indicate whether your response showed good, average, basic, limited or no understanding of the topic it was addressing.


    How do I know my prequalification is being scored consistently with other contractors?

    PREQUAL Assessors have undergone rigorous testing and continuous improvement to ensure they promote the highest level of consistency between assessors. PREQUAL assessors work together which allows continuous discussion around interpretation or prequalification evidence. They also meet formally on a regular basis to discuss application of PREQUAL assessment tools.

    We also random select 5% of submissions for moderation by a second assessor, to ensure consistency of scoring and feedback.


    Is there a certificate provided on completion?

    Once your prequalification is completed, if you attain a 'meets Tōtika standard', you will be provided with a certificate which can be printed off and provides information on:

    • Contractor Category
    • Date of Assessment and Expiry Date
    • Main Business Area

    This certificate is the final page on your completed report.


    Does PREQUAL monitor my insurance coverage?

    PREQUAL will monitor the expiry of your insurance cover (as you present it to PREQUAL). 

    PREQUAL will notify your nominated key contact person (as defined in your registration details) when your insurance is about to expire. 

    We will also notify your Clients of this.


    Can I add information and attach documents to my completed report?

    Once your PREQUAL Tōtika application has been assessed and a report generated, no further information can be added to your prequalification report, apart from updating your insurances.

    For any additional information or evidence to be reflected in your prequalification, you would need to complete a new application. This is at your discretion and cost. 

    Please contact us on Freephone 0800 773 782 should you wish to complete a new prequalification prior to your current expiry date.