Rotorua, New Zealand
In a time honoured tradition, the 14th ANZ Young Professionals symposium was held in Rotorua in November 2022. It was NZ’s turn to host and being the smaller of the nations and being the first international YGP event post covid, we were determined to deliver a good one.
Planning began in December 2021, a time when the borders were closed, vaccine mandates, gathering limits and lockdowns were very real things and made the event impossible under the rules at the time. It was really hard to get our heads around this and there was a lot of uncertainty that the event would go ahead, even 1 year in advance.
The committee included Sarah Barrett (Beca, Christchurch), Christoph Kraus (Beca, Wellington), Hannah Hadley (Terrane, Tauranga), Nima Taghipouran (WSP, Dunedin), Nicky Manche (WSP Golder, Brisbane) and myself (Helen Loach, WSP Nelson). We worked hard pulling together sponsors, mentors, abstracts, reviewing papers and organising dinners, field trip, logistics, speakers, program and all the bits in between. The committee worked exceptionally well together and throughout the process formed friendships and valuable connections. We were supported by the kind and patient guidance of Eleni Gkeli (NZGS chair) and we are thankful for her mentoring.
There were a total of 60 attendees from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.
The conference opened with a poolside welcome function with cocktails and nibbles at the Millenium Hotel. Delegates enjoyed meeting each other in a relaxed informal atmosphere. Ann Williams of Beca delivered a short Pepeha and speech to kick the event off. It was a great start to the next few days.
The next two days were filled with interesting and informative presentations on all things Geotechnics. These conferences are unique in that everyone going has to present a paper. This creates a level playing field and a supportive learning environment. The quality of the presentations and papers was very high and it was great to share knowledge across the tasman. At the end of each session, the mentors took the time to impart some of their wisdom, not always Geotech related onto the delegates. These quick insights were helpful and entertaining.
The NZGS and AGS jointly supported the attendance of 3 delegates from Fiji to attend the conference. It was great to hear how Geotech is done in another part of the world and we hope this is the start of a new pacific partnership.
Friday night was banquet dinner night! The group got on a bus to Te Puia, a venue showcasing the best Rotorua has to offer. The food was exquisite and we dined in a room overlooking the geysers followed by a walking tour of the geysers with some very enjoyable stories from our tour guide. Grant Maxwell of Stantec delivered an entertaining session on leadership. Prizes were awarded at the dinner and congratulations to our winners Jin Lee (Auckland Council) who won the NZGS Young Geoprofessionals Fellowship for best New Zealand Paper, Xue Li (Keller) who won the Don Douglas award for best Australian paper and Georgia Crisp (Engeo) who won the people’s choice award.
The field trip was lead by Brad Scott from GNS. The group enjoyed a relaxed and informative tour of local geothermal hot spots and volcanoes both new and old. We learnt to tell the difference between a mud pot and mud pool and the history of the volcanoes of the area.
Thanks to all delegates, mentors, sponsors, the AGS and NZGS and once again to the committee. This event was a huge success and it wouldn’t have happened without your support. Specific mention to our committee (already named) and mentors (Darren Paul (WSP Golder, Melbourne), Nia Levy (Fugro, Western Australia), Jen Smith (Tonkin and Taylor, Wellington) and Phil Robins (Beca, Palmerston North)).
For the record, the location of the next conference is guided by a popular vote from the delegates of the current conference. The next event is due to be held in Australia and the winning location was Fiji with 11 votes. Looks like we are heading for an island holiday!