NZ Geomechanics News

Chair’s Corner


As some of you are no doubt aware, my term as the NZGS Chair comes to an end on 30 September 2019 and this will be my last “Chairs Corner” article.

I wish to thank all of the NZGS Management Committee for their hard work and support through my term as Chair, and, I look forward to helping Ross Roberts transition into this challenging but rewarding role by 01 October. I also extend my thanks to all NZGS members for entrusting me to be the Shepherd of your great organisation through the 2017 to 2019 period – it has been an honour.

The call for nominations to stand for election onto the NZGS National Management committee is scheduled to occur during June 2019. I strongly encourage all members who are passionate about their profession to submit a nomination. I am confident that, like me, they will find the experience rewarding. As always, please do not hesitate to contact the Editor of this publication, or any of the NZGS Management Committee, if you have any questions or comments regarding the articles which are published herein or the general operation of your technical society. Contact details for your management committee, the society secretary and the Editor are provided at the back of this magazine and on the NZGS website:

MBIE Public Consultation

I am sure most of you are aware that the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) launched their “Raising the bar for the building sector” public consultation program on 16 April.

Without doubt this is the most significant reform legislative program since the current Building Act was introduced in 2004. The proposed reforms will affect people, products and practices across the entire national building and construction sector. Full details of the proposed reform program can be downloaded from the MBIE website:

As outlined in the previous emails sent to all NZGS and Engineering New Zealand members on 18 April 2019, I respectfully and strongly recommend that all NZGS members review all of the information which is available on the above MBIE web page, discuss such information with your colleagues as appropriate, and, provide any feedback that you may have back to MBIE as quickly as possible if the deadline date has not yet passed. Even if the deadline date has passed, you should read and familiarise yourself with this information.

You can submit your feedback to MBIE via one of the following methods:

1) as an individual by completing the MBIE submission form and emailing it to “”, or, by filling out the online survey which is linked under the “How to make a submission” section at the bottom of the MBIE webpage (see above for the web address), and/or,
2) as part of a submission which is being compiled by a stakeholder group such as your employer.

At the time of writing this report the deadline date for all submissions was 5:00pm on Sunday 16 June 2019. However, please check the MBIE website as it is my sincere hope that MBIE will extend this deadline given the complexity and importance of the reforms which are currently proposed.

In summary, the key areas and objectives of the proposals currently outlined by MBIE are as follows:

Building products and methods:

  • clarify roles and responsibilities for building products and methods.
  • require manufacturers and suppliers to provide information about building products.
  • strengthen the framework for product certification, and,
  • make consenting easier for modern methods of construction.

Occupational regulation:

  • change the licensed building practitioners scheme to raise competence standards and broaden the definition of restricted building work.
  • introduce a new licensing scheme for engineers and restrict who can carry out safetycritical engineering work, and,
  • remove exemptions that allow unlicensed people to carry out sanitary plumbing, gas fitting and drain laying work.

Risk and liability

  • require a guarantee and insurance product for residential new builds and significant alterations, and allow homeowners to actively opt out of it, and,
  • leave the liability settings for building consent authorities unchanged.

Building levy

  • reduce the building levy from $2.01 including GST to $1.50 including GST (per $1,000).
  • standardise the building levy threshold at $20,444 including GST, and,
  • allow MBIE to spend funds raised by the building levy on broader stewardship of the building sector.

Offences, penalties and public notification

  • increase the maximum financial penalties.
  • set different maximum penalties for individuals and organisations.
  • extend the time enforcement agencies can lay a charge from six months to 12 months, and,
  • remove the requirement to publish key decisions in newspapers, information would still be published on publicly accessible websites and in the New Zealand Gazette.

Since the official launch of the public consultation period on 16 April 2019, and the release of the associated supporting documentation, the NZGS National Management Committee has worked in close collaboration with Engineering New Zealand (ENZ), the Structural Engineering Society of New Zealand Inc (SESOC) and the New Zealand Society of Seismic Engineering Inc (NZSEE) to ensure general alignment and agreement is achieved between these key sister organizations.
At the time of writing this article, ENZ had published a preliminary opinion which can be viewed at the following link:

Finally, the NZGS National Management Committee has developed a detailed submission to MBIE on the behalf of our society. A copy of this submission is available to view and download from the NZGS website


ISSMGE Australasian Vice President

During May 2019 I received the following poignant and heart-rending message from Gavin Alexander, the current ISSMGE Australasian vice-Present and past Chair of NZGS:

This report is brief, as I have to withdraw from all my professional activities to deal with an unexpected and serious health challenge. It has been a great honour and pleasure to have represented our Societies on the ISSMGE Board, and I am disappointed to have to withdraw from that role part way through.

The NZGS Management Committee will maintain respectful communications with Gavin through this difficult time and will support him whenever possible. We wish Gavin a speedy recovery, and, extend our warmest thoughts and love to him and his family.

The NZGS National Management Committee is currently working with the Australian Geomechanics Society to confirm and appoint a new ISSMGE Australasian vice-Present for the current term.

ISRM Australasian Vice President

In September, Stuart Read will complete his four-year term as the ISRM Australasian Vice President. Stuart has done a fantastic job in this role, having volunteered countless hours of his time in service to the ISRM affiliates in Australia and New Zealand, and to the wider NZGS membership.

I thank Stuart for his tireless support to our Society over many years and wish him all the best in his future (‘retirement’) endeavours!

Upcoming Society Events

Planning for several NZGS events, which are to be held during Q3 and Q4 of 2019, is well underway.
Further detail and updates on all upcoming events is available via the NZGS fortnightly email to members and our website (

Guidelines and Standards Publications

The Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering Guidelines Series – Finalisation Project

ENZ, supported by NZGS, has submitted a proposal to MBIE to complete a final round of public consultation and feedback, update, and, finalise each of the six design-focussed Geotechnical Engineering Guideline modules which have been published to date (Modules 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6).

Subject to acceptance of the current proposal by MBIE, this project is expected to commence during Q3 or Q4 2019 and take between twelve and eighteen months to complete. Details of the key dates for the overall project program will be published on the NZGS website. Further, confirmation of the closing dates for the submission of feedback for each module will be staggered and communicated to all members as part of our fortnightly email blasts, and, published on the NZGS website as appropriate.

In the meantime, all NZGS members should not hesitate to submit any feedback or suggestions they may have for improvement of the modules documents to NZGS and MBIE at their convenience.
All ongoing feedback on the Geotechnical Engineering Guideline modules should be sent via email to:

SESOC / NZGS Piling Specification

After careful consideration and consultation with SESOC, I am pleased to confirm that the Panel of Experts for the review and update of the Auckland Structural Group “Piling Specification” document has been confirmed as follows:
Panel Chair:
Anthony Fairclough NZGS, Christchurch

Geotechnical Engineering Panel Members:
Andrew Langbein                    Tonkin & Taylor Ltd, Auckland
Nicola Ridgley                          Beca, Auckland
Martin Larisch                         Golder, Waikanae
Andy Dodds                              Arup, Auckland

Construction and Supplier Panel Members:
Nick Warmby                          March Construction, Christchurch
Malcolm McWhannell           Brian Perry Civil, Auckland
James Harrison                      Fulton Hogan, Christchurch
Lian Ching Oh                         Firth Industries, Auckland

Structural Engineering Panel Members:

Michael Robinson                 Beca, Auckland
Rob Presland                         Holmes Consulting, Wellington
Ryan Clarke                          Dunning Thornton, Wellington
Tessa Beetham                     Aurecon, Wellington

As previously communicated, the above panel is to review, update as appropriate and reissue the Auckland Structural Group “Piling Specification” as a national document that is jointly published by SESOC and NZGS.

Report Closure

Please do not hesitate to contact me via email on or any other member of the NZGS Management Committee if you wish to discuss any issue which you believe is of direct relevance to our membership.

Your humble servant,

Tony Fairclough
NZGS Chair, 2017 – 2019


NZ Geomechanics News
Tony Fairclough
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 97 – June 2019
Society News

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