Issue 106 - December 2023

Society Branch Reports


The Auckland Branch has seen a relatively busy second half of 2023, with plenty of events for members to attend, from both local and international speakers. 

A standout evening talk for the branch was held in June, where UK travelling speaker Ian Webber (MD of Coffey Geotechnics Limited – A Tetra Tech Company) presented his talk titled Lessons Learnt from Failures and Litigation. This talk attracted the Branch’s largest ‘post-Covid times’ audience, with approximately 60 in-person attendees and 200-odd participants joining online. The talk was captivating and delved into the world of what happens when it doesn’t always go as intended – a fantastic talk from an engaging speaker. 

The branch has also held several other evening talks covering various topics of interest to the membership. Ross Roberts from Auckland Council presented his talk titled Future of Severely Affected Land – Geotechnical role in property risk categorisation, which was well attended and topical considering this year’s various severe weather events. To add to the 2023 international speaker line-up, Dr Partha Mishra and Dr Gaurav Tiwari (Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur) kindly did a roadshow presenting on The Ventilated Well Method (VWM) for Soft Soil Improvement and Underlying Mechanisms and Proof of Concept & Re-Sampling Reliability Methods for Stability Analysis of Rock Tunnels, respectively. Finally, and for something a little more interactive, the branch hosted Robert Hillier (Tonkin + Taylor), Tim Pervan (HEB) and Dave Sharp (Grouting Services) to hear about and receive feedback on the impending NZGS Ground Anchor Guidance document – this saw some good feedback from the floor and interactions between speakers and audience. 

For something a bit different, the Auckland members were also offered the opportunity to come together for a mid-winter social event, purely for the purpose of networking and sharing a few stories over food and drinks. This attracted several familiar and newer faces and was well-received by those who made the time to come along. As this will likely become a permanent fixture in the calendar, the branch would encourage more members to come along and be part of these “less-technical” focused evenings, as they really do allow members to simply talk and get to know one another.

As always, the branch extends gratitude to our consistent sponsors and those who have supported events in an ad-hoc manner through 2023. What we do ask of our members looking ahead though, is to make the effort to support presenters and the branch by turning up to events and engaging on the day. 2023 has certainly seen immense pressures on our profession that has reduced people’s capacity to attend out-of-work events, but it would be great to see you all back in the audience!

As this branch report hits the publishers, the Auckland Branch will be deep into organising and possibly hosting the annual NZGS Auckland Branch Christmas Symposium, which is typically well-attended.

ABOVE Auckland Branch members at the Ian Webber talk in June, hosted by Norman Disney & Young 

Bay of Plenty

We have had two new branch reps join us in the last 6 months – welcome Rhiannon and Matt! We have also had a couple of excellent presentations, one from Terry Boyle on Geotechnical Risk in the Network Management of Roading in June and we joined the Geoscience Society of New Zealand for this year’s Hochstetter Lecture, presented by Lorna Strachan titled ‘Kaikōura Earthquake – Tales from the Seafloor’ in September. In October we will have some short presentations from our Bay of Plenty Attendees to the ANZ Geomechanics 2023 Conference.

We are planning on having a Christmas networking event in December and next year there are several presentations pencilled in that will consider topics such as landslides, erosion and ground improvement. We always welcome additional ideas from our members for presentations or site visits so do get in touch!


The Taranaki Branch was newly established in October 2022 with the aim to facilitate an environment of shared learning for the local geotechnical professionals. We thank NZGS for their support in getting this branch off the ground and continued support as we grow as a region.

The Taranaki Branch kicked off with a first get together in December 2022. There was a great turnout at this event which included approximately 10 local geotechnical professionals and also representatives from Taranaki’s local Territorial Authorities Building and Development departments. It was an excellent opportunity to put faces to names and chat over food and drink. 

In July 2023, the Taranaki Branch hosted its first group learning discussion. The evening kicked off with drinks and nibbles before heading to the meeting room. The first presentation was provided by Mike Trigger of BCD Group Ltd, who presented on his experience and various challenges operating as an emergency Rapid Building Assessor in Napier following the Cyclone Gabrielle flooding event. Mike’s presentation was followed up by a brief discussion on the New Plymouth District Council Proposed District Plan rules and NPDC’s understanding and implementation of the rules. This discussion was kindly facilitated by Ché Hedges, the NPDC development control lead. The evening was attended by approximately 15 people, which was a great turnout for our small region.

At the time of writing this report, the Taranaki Branch are organising a group online viewing of the NZGS evening lecture presented by Professor George Gazetas on the February 2023 Earthquake in Turkey. We are certain that this lecture will provide some fascinating insights into the observed geotechnical and structural performance of structures. 

The Taranaki branch look forward to hosting more regular group meetings and learning events in 2024. 

Matthew Sullivan-Brown

ABOVE Taranaki Branch Mini Symposium

Hawkes Bay

The Hawkes Bay branch continues to meet regularly within the “Engineering Leadership Group” established to discuss issues encountered in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Topics covered during the year include Rapid Building Assessor training, Building Consent application guidance adopted by Hastings, Napier and CHB District councils, MBIE guidance on Natural Hazard provisions, regular updates on the Land Categorisation process and MBIE Extreme Weather Research projects.

A recent meeting aligned with the QuakeCore annual conference in Napier, allowing further interaction between researchers and local practitioners. Some excellent presentations by EQC, Gisborne Council and the University of Auckland demonstrated the breadth of input into cyclone response and the challenges faces by different stakeholders.

Further information available –

Tom Grace


It’s been a busy few months at the Wellington Branch, with lots of fantastic presentations and great courses. 

The branch activities in the second half of 2023 started with a presentation on Reinforced slopes and walls with site won and marginal fills which we co-hosted together with ICE. The talk was held at Beca, and was presented by Nicola Brusa and Sam Best. 

At the start of September, we hosted one of our most well-attended events yet; a 14th ANZ Geomechanics conference-themed evening with presentations from some of the lower North Island based members who submitted papers for the conference, and presentations which focused on Wellington. We organised this event to provide those lower North Island based members, who could not attend the conference, with a snapshot of the papers presented at the conference. Thanks to Doug Mason, Ioannis Antonopoulos, Philip Robins, Alexei Murashev, Brabhaharan Pathmanathan, Usama Fauzi, Eleni Gkeli and Christoph Kraus for presenting, and Stantec for hosting and sponsoring the evening. 

We also had the privilege of hosting this year’s NZGS AGM in September. The committee members provided a great overview of the NZGS’ initiatives and projects, new and previous committee members and the budget. The AGM was followed by a fantastic presentation from Merrick Taylor on Implementing performance-based design in earthquake geotechnical engineering practice. Thanks to Beca for hosting and sponsoring the AGM and presentation.

October was kicked off by a double presentation, hosted by Engineering NZ: Dr Partha Mishra presented on The Ventilated Well Method (VWM) for soft soil improvement: underlying mechanisms and proof of concept and Dr Gaurav Tiwari presented on Re-Sampling reliability methods for stability analysis of rock tunnels.

Later in October we hosted a presentation on the introduction to the NZGS ground anchor guidelines. The presentation covered key items in the document (including governance, anchor design, corrosion protection, construction, testing and monitoring) and was followed by a great discussion on the guidelines. We extend our thanks to Lars Schmidt and Brabhaharan Pathmanathan for their excellent introduction to the guideline, and to Beca and Halverson Civil for hosting and sponsoring the event.

October’s events were rounded out by the annual YGP mini symposium which was very well attended with 15 delegates. Thanks to Ella McArthur and Mitva Patel for organising the event.

In addition to the presentations, several short courses were available to our Wellington based members:

  • In June there was a two-day course on in-situ seismic investigation methods for site classification
  • In September there were two GIS courses (introductory and advanced) for geotechnical professionals, both run by Colin Mazengarb

We already have several events in the pipeline for the start of 2024, so keep an eye out for announcements in the newsletter. As always, if you would like to get involved with the local branch or have any ideas for presentations or events, please get in touch.

Christoph Kraus, Shirley Wang, Adam Smith

ABOVE NZGS Ground Anchor Guidance presentation to the Wellington branch.


The Christchurch branch has been pleased to host member events in June and October this year. In collaboration with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Australasia, we hosted Nicola Brusa and Sam Best of Tailor Engineering in June who presented a talk on reinforced slopes and walls with site won and marginal fills. The case studies included a major UK roading project where all site materials were used on site. The event attracted approximately 30 attendees. Thank you to Tailor Engineering who sponsored the refreshments for this engaging talk. 

In October, Sam Glue, Greg Saul, Ian McPherson, and Tim Farrant presented to 35 attendees on the NZGS Ground Anchor Guidance, which has been published for industry comment. The talk covered technical considerations related to the design, construction, and the demonstrating compliance of ground anchor systems. Thank you to WSP, who sponsored the event refreshments.

Also, in October the Canterbury branch reps (Rori Green and Tim Farrant) hosted Dr Partha Mishra and Dr Gaurav Tiwari of the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. The visit included a guided tour of the central business district, post-earthquake projects in the city, and completed rockfall work in the Port Hills.

The Christchurch branch farewelled Zach Frame as branch representative and we thank him for his efforts on organising branch activities.

Tim Farrant and Rori Green

ABOVE NZGS Ground Anchor Guidance presentation to the Christchurch branch


The Queenstown branch is back to life with Blake Hoare from the ENGEO Queenstown taking on the branch coordinator role. We are looking forward to the NZGS/SESOC Part 2 Seismic Soil-Structure Seminar to be presented by Professor Gazetas from the National Technical University of Athens. The seminar will be held at the ENGEO Queenstown office on 30 November 2023. We’re excited for what’s to come in 2024!

Blake Hoare


Everyone has been very busy in the last six months, so we have been finding it difficult to arrange any events/catch ups over the last six months. However, Otago University Geology Department has organized a few events that we have advertised through NZGS which has been great. We are looking at arranging some combined NZGS and Otago University events next year.

The current plan is to do an end of year event/catch up so if anyone is interested in presenting something interesting, they have been involved in, or have any interesting sites which visits can be arranged please let me know. In addition, we are also still looking for a co-branch coordinator, so if you are interested, please let NZGS and me know also.

Tim Plunket

Issue 106 - December 2023, NZ Geomechanics News
Issue 106 - December 2023, NZ Geomechanics News
New Zealand
Society News

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