Our management committee comprises elected members, co-opted and appointed members, and ex-officio members representing past committees and our international societies.
Elected Committee Members
Each elected member is voted for by the full NZGS membership, and appointed at our AGM for a two year period.
Chair – Eleni Gkeli
Eleni is an Engineering Geologist, with 26 years of experience in the geotechnical profession. She has a BSc in Geology, an MSc in Rock Mechanics and Foundation Design and a further MSc in Tunnel Design and Construction. Eleni has experience in a variety of large infrastructure projects in Greece and in New Zealand.
Eleni’s experience in Greece primarily comes from the largest motorway project constructed in Europe in the 2000’s, the 670 km long Egnatia Motorway, where she had the opportunity to be involved in the design and construction of large-scale earthworks and structures such as bridges and tunnels. Eleni has been working in New Zealand since 2012, mainly for WSP (former Opus) and currently for Stantec as a Senior Principal Engineering Geologist and Geotechnical, Pavement and Structures lead in the Wellington office. Eleni has been involved in a variety of infrastructure projects in the transport, water and building sectors across New Zealand, including the design of new highway routes and maintenance of existing road networks, seismic upgrade and maintenance of bridge and tunnel structures, slope design and slope stabilisation works, assessment of slope stability related risk, etc. Eleni has been an elected member of the NZGS Management Committee since 2016 and has been assisting the Society in a variety of roles, mainly associated with training, organising events and the local geotechnical Symposium in 2021. She has also been the Treasurer and vice-Chair of the Society, before taking on the role of the Chair for the 2021 – 2023 term.
Vice-chair and Treasurer – Jen Smith
Jen is a geotechnical engineer based in Auckland, working mainly on projects in the land development and natural hazards sectors. Her recent projects include deep basements and high-rise building development in the Auckland CBD.
After graduating from the University of Manchester, she worked in the UK for 5 years before moving to Auckland in 2017 to join Tonkin & Taylor Ltd. Jen brings her UK experience into her project work with in New Zealand, aiming to share knowledge and provide a different perspective. Jen is a young engineer, committed to supporting recent graduates in the geotechnical field and facilitating their career development. She is also passionate about encouraging diversity and inclusion in the industry, specifically for female engineers and the LGBTQIA community. Jen is a Chartered Member of Engineering New Zealand, and is recognised as a Chartered Engineer by the Institution of Civil Engineers.
Rolly is an Associate Professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Auckland, and currently the Geomechanics Group Leader and Geomechanics Laboratory Manager.
He received his BSCE (cum laude) and MSCE degrees from the University of the Philippines and Doctor of Engineering degree from the University of Tokyo (Japan). Before joining the University of Auckland in 2007, he also served as instructor at the University of the Philippines and as Associate Professor at the University of Tokyo and Yamaguchi University (Japan). Moreover, while working with top-notched geotechnical consulting firms in Tokyo and Manila, he had worked on a variety of soil engineering projects in Japan, Singapore and the Philippines.
He is a registered professional engineer in the Philippines and in Oregon (United States). He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ).
Emilia is a chartered geotechnical engineer with over 12 years of experience covering various geotechnical and civil projects in New Zealand, Hong Kong and the UK. She has experience in working on complex problems, especially in the analysis, evaluation and design of liquefaction mitigation options and complex foundations. She also has broad knowledge and geotechnical experience in slope assessments, retaining walls assessment and design, including landfill design.
Sam is a chartered geotechnical engineer with over 16 years experience across the Pacific, New Zealand and Australia and is a team leader with Beca based in Christchurch. He has experience across a wide range of projects from optimising small house developments to major infrastructure projects and specialises in seismic design, soil-structure interaction and finite element/difference analysis for major retaining walls, seawalls, bridge abutments, slope stabilisation and foundations.
Sam is passionate about innovation and advancing the geotechnical industry in New Zealand and has been heavily involved with NZGS since 2015 across branch coordinator, technical development and YGP conference organisation roles. He joined the NZGS management committee in September 2022.
Outside of work Sam enjoys the outdoors with his snowboarding, mountain biking and big walks with his doggos, Bear (Old English Sheepdog) and Thundercub (Boxer/Border Collie cross).
Co-opted Committee Members
From time to time our committee needs support from specialists, and can co-opt these to the committee to fulfil specific roles. These include the lead co-editor of NZ Geomechanics News and the Young Geotechnical Professionals representative.
Nelson based Chartered Professional Geotechnical Engineer with experience in investigation, design, analysis and construction supervision of foundations for a wide range of commercial and civil infrastructure projects. Helen has strong skills in site investigation, ground model development and interpretation, liquefaction analysis and design. Specialised in shallow and deep foundations for bridges and buildings in challenging ground conditions.
Gabriele is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Canterbury in Civil & Natural Resources Engineering. He is the current co-editor of NZ Geomechanics News, led by Don Macfarlane.
His research interests include mainly, Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering and related problems (e.g. soil liquefaction and its remediation); constitutive modelling for geomaterials; development of advanced laboratory testing devices (triaxial tests with static local deformation and dynamic measurements; torsional shear tests from very small to large strain levels); geo-hazard reconnaissance and mitigation (e.g. 2015 Gorkha Nepal Earthquake; sinkholes in Pokhara Valley, Nepal); beneficial reuse/recycling of waste materials for sustainable geo-constructions; ground improvement techniques for granular soils.
Olivia is the Website Manager on the management committee. She works as a Geotechnical Engineer for CMW Geosciences in Auckland and has previously been based in the Tauranga region.
Olivia has a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Auckland as well as a Masters in Engineering Studies that was completed part time whilst working. She moved to Tauranga following her undergraduate degree and was exposed to the challenging soils in the Bay of Plenty region, including a particular focus on earthquake engineering and liquefaction analysis, consolidation of compressible soils and slope stability. She has worked on large infrastructure projects, such as the Tauranga Northern Link and the Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatu Tararua Highway projects, as well as large-scale land development works.
Appointed Committee Members
The Management Secretary is appointed by the Management Committee to provide administrative support to the committee, and is the first point of contact for enquiries and new members.
Teresa is our secretary, coordinator of all our efforts and the main reason we get anything finished.
Teresa is based in Auckland and lives up in the Waitakere Ranges
Ex-officio Committee Members
Our past chair stays on the committee as an ex-officio member to mentor their replacement and ensure continuity.
The NZGS committee is also supported by the Australasian Vice Presidents of the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM), the International Society for Engineering Geology and the Environment (IAEG) and the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE). Traditionally Australia and New Zealand have taken turns at each of these roles. When the Vice President is Australia based we appoint a local NZ representative to liaise with the VP and to represent the views of the international society at our committee meetings. You can find out more about each of the societies here.
Immediate Past Chair – Ross Roberts
Ross is an engineering geologist in Auckland, involved in projects ranging from geohazard studies to geotechnical design, construction and management.
He has twenty years’ experience in the management, planning and supervision of geotechnical and civil engineering projects, including leading teams of up to 20 engineers and managing multi-year consulting projects. He has worked for consultants and contractors in the UK, Indonesia, Australia and NZ on projects including major highway construction, railway asset management, water pipeline scheme assessments, landslide assessment and remediation, microtunneling and bridge foundation design and now works for Auckland Council as their in-house geotechnical specialist and Head of Engineering Resilience.
IAEG Australasian Vice President – Doug Johnson
Doug is our Australasian IAEG representative. He is the Managing Director for Tonkin & Taylor Group’s New Zealand operation, and has a background in geology having worked as an engineering geologist since 1984. He has worked on many large civil engineering, mining and quarry projects and his experience includes work throughout New Zealand, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and the South Pacific.
ISSMGE Australasian Vice President – Philip Robins
Philip has over 25 years’ international experience in geotechnical engineering, with wide ranging involvement across the infrastructure, buildings and industrial sectors in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and the USA. He is based in the Wellington, New Zealand, office of Beca Ltd, an Asia Pacific focused multi-disciplinary consultancy. Philip is a Technical Director in Beca’s Geotechnical Engineering group, where he has led single and multi-disciplinary teams on many large-scale, high profile and complex projects. Philip has mixed his geotechnical engineering skills with strong leadership in project delivery while developing key client relationships.
Philip was awarded a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) from the University of Natal, Durban in 1990 and a Master of Sciences in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of California, Davis in 2000. He is a Chartered Member of Engineering New Zealand and Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng) with Engineers Australia. Philip was Chair of the New Zealand Geotechnical Society from 2009 to 2010 and leads the Technical subcommittee for the upcoming NZGS Symposium 2020, to be held in Dunedin, New Zealan
ISRM Australasian Vice President – Paul Horrey
Paul is an engineering geology and rock mechanics specialist with 30 years of experience working predominantly in professional services consultancy. He is a Chartered Professional Engineer (Geotechnical) with the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand, and a Chartered Geologist with the Geological Society of London.
Some non-voting members may be invited to our committee meetings where appropriate, including the second NZ Geomechanics News co-editor
Don Macfarlane has worked as an applied engineering geologist for nearly 40 years and has accumulated some knowledge, a fair bit of wisdom and a few brickbats along the way. He is the current co-editor of NZ Geomechanics News.
His real interest is dams and associated issues (seismic hazard, slope instability) but any good geohazard affecting an engineering structure will do. These days he is a Technical Director with AECOM in Christchurch.