NZ Geomechanics News

Obituary – Dr. Peter Raymond Goldsmith

Fellow, NZ Institution of Professional Engineers – 2001.

Former Managing Director of Fraser Thomas Ltd, Consulting Engineers, Auckland (1987 – 2010); Officer (Major) in the NZ Army Territorial Force, 1966 – 1980; Trustee of the City of Manukau Education Trust (1999 – 2007), Honorary Consul General, Papua New Guinea
(2010 – 2020).

Born Nelson, November 22nd, 1944
Died Auckland, April 4th, 2020

Peter Goldsmith was a prominent Geotechnical Engineer in Auckland, where he managed the engineering consultancy Fraser Thomas for 23 years, took a strong personal interest in developing business links between New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, and was a well-known expert witness, engaged in multiple court cases and arbitrations, including international construction projects. Outside engineering, he was a long standing and valued trustee of the City of Manukau Educational Trust.

Peter hailed from Nelson, and began his engineering career there as a Draughting Cadet with the then NZ Electricity Department in 1962 and then the consulting firm Sanders and Lane, before moving to Wellington to complete an NZ Certificate in Civil Engineering in 1970. After a two year spell with Morrison Cooper & Partners, Consulting Engineers in Wellington, he moved to Auckland for full time study, obtaining a BE (1st Class

Hons/Civil) in 1976 and then a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering in 1980 with a thesis relating to piled foundation design.

Peter was an extremely competent and well respected engineering practitioner, known for his uncompromising pursuit of quality and fierce intellect. These attributes, in particular, were tested when Peter was involved in providing expert evidence for litigation cases. Peter had a particular aptitude for litigation cases, and enjoyed pitting his skills against other highly skilled courtroom players. It must be said, he didn’t lose many arguments. Because of his skills in preparing and giving evidence in court cases, he was the preferred engineering expert for many high profile litigation lawyers.

Peter put his engineering expertise to use in service with the NZ Territorial Army, commencing in 1966 and retiring in 1980 having been in command of 3rd Independent Field Squadron, Royal New Zealand Engineers with the rank of Major. He valued his time in the Territorial Army, and often made reference to what he had learned then.
Peter also practised with the  NZ Territorial Army and overseas, working in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Cambodia. His work in Papua New Guinea led to a strong interest in the development of the engineering profession in that country, and in addition to his engineering work, he played a prominent role
in developing bilateral trade between the two countries and later, from 2010, took on the role of Honorary Consul General for Papua New Guinea in Auckland, becoming a well known member of the Consular Corps in Auckland. He is remembered by Gregory Thwaite, Honorary Consul to the Republic of Panama, as an esteemed colleague both as a Consul and as a military veteran.

Between 1999 and 2007, Peter served as a trustee of the City of Manukau Education Trust (COMET), where he was alone in being an engineer, among a group of educators. Chief Executive Dr. Stuart Middleton described him as an outstanding representative of the business community on the Trust, well able to adapt to work with educators, and known for his clear views and gentle manner in which he put them across.

Besides his work in geotechnical engineering, Peter also developed Fraser Thomas’ waste management work and has been involved extensively in the consenting, design and ongoing development of multiple regional landfills within New Zealand. His knowledge and experience of modern sanitary landfill design, construction, operation and management, including liner design, leachate, stormwater, landfill gas management and capping was widely respected.

Peter’s contribution to engineering in New Zealand was recognised by IPENZ (now Engineering NZ) in 2001, when he was made a Fellow
of IPENZ. He authored or co-authored 19 published papers on geotechnical topics.

Peter has also mentored many geotechnical and landfill engineers who have worked for Fraser Thomas over the years, including three who have gone on to become company directors.

Peter is survived by his partner Lorraine, who is also part of the Fraser Thomas establishment, and his two daughters, Stephanie and Penelope.


NZ Geomechanics News
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 99 – June 2020
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