NZ Geomechanics News

Society Branch Reports


As expected, the Auckland Branch has had a tricky few months navigating another lockdown and then what seems to be never ending Covid-19 restrictions. As a result, the branch unfortunately had to cancel two long-awaited in-person events, which was a shame for our members. The first of these was the panel session “The role of the peer reviewer”, which we were expecting would have a great turnout – this required a last minute cancellation as the lockdown was announced that evening! The second was to be presented by Laurie Wesley with the topic “The behaviour of a soft clay in relation to embankment stability, on such clay”. Both of these talks will be revisited once there is some surety on when and how, in-person events can be held. 

On a more positive note, although the Auckland Branch had intended to support the post-NZGS AGM talk by Sjoerd Van Ballegooy in person, with a bit of notice this was able to be presented via an online platform. The talk about modelling the impacts of liquefaction on the New Zealand residential building portfolio was very well received, with hundreds of people tuning in. 

Looking forward, Ben, Jay and Sirini are planning a number of events to keep our members entertained and well-informed. As this update is being written we are only days away from facilitating John Wood’s presentation on cantilevered timber pole walls, which was recently also presented in published form in the Geomechanics News. Finally, the team made the call to play it safe and take the annual Christmas mini-symposium online – a first, with a novel approach… although this will have an Auckland centric focus, all of the NZGS members are welcome to contribute where relevant and take part in the webinars, which will be spaced weekly over the month
of December. 

Ben, Jay and Sirini


Branch Events

No local branch events have happened due to COVID restrictions.

Future Events

As COVID alert restrictions are reduced, we plan to undertake site visits to the Peacockes Bridge construction site and the Ruakura Inland port. Details about these site visits will be given when further information has been provided about our transition into the new traffic light system for alert levels.

We have several other events in planning and will be notifying branch members as soon as we have details and dates confirmed.

Bay of Plenty

The Bay of Plenty branch of NZGS has had a quiet few months. There have been a number of online presentations and the recent NZGS Climate Conference which we hope our members have taken the opportunity to attend. We now have a new branch of GSNZ (Geoscience Society of New Zealand) in Tauranga and are looking forward to collaborating with them to bring good quality geological and geotechnical presentations to the region. We are now planning for next year’s presentations and welcome any suggestions from our local members.

Hawkes Bay

Hawkes Bay Branch has been relatively quiet due to the covid lockdown, then dealing with the backlog in a busy local market as projects recommenced.  We continue to maintain close relationships with other technical branches and have heard that people have been taking advantage of the multitude of online conferences, presentations and shared sessions that have swept the globe. Our intention for next year is to get some more ‘real world’ events occurring to keep our local practitioners coordinated.


The Wellington branch hosted a joint event with SESOC ESE at Engineering New Zealand in early July. The talk was about collaboration between structural and geotechnical engineers, and was presented by Stuart Palmer (Tonkin & Taylor, technical director) and Hamish McKenzie (Holmes consulting, immediate past President of SESOC). The aim was to help structural and geotechnical engineers to understand why collaboration is important and how good collaboration can help solve complex engineering problems, such as soil-structure interaction. The speakers suggested the key is to keep communicating using the same “engineering language”, get geotechnical engineers involved at the beginning of the project and, wherever possible, implement the KISS techniques (keep it simple, stupid).

In late July the 2nd NZGS Young Professionals Symposium was successfully delivered by the Wellington branch. 11 delegates, 3 mentors (Eleni Gkeli, Ayoub Riman and Safia Moniz) and representatives from our two sponsors (Geotechnics Ltd and Redi-Rock International) attended this one-day symposium. The excellent presentations by the delegates showcased some of the interesting things people are working on, and it was also great for everyone to network with people across our industry. Congratulations again to Isabella Barbalich, Ribu Dhakal, and Joshua Lee for taking out the awards for best presentations. A special thank you goes out to our three mentors who shared their valuable experience and provided good feedback to all delegates, and also to our sponsors and our host Engineering New Zealand for making this event possible. 

We are currently planning the last NZGS Wellington Branch event for the year, which will be an online presentation by Chris Massey from GNS Science. More details will be provided in future NZGS emails. 

We are always on the lookout for interesting presentations / workshops to share. If you have any ideas please feel free to contact any of the local branch committee. 


It has been a quiet year for the Christchurch branch, due to various Covid restrictions resulting in cancelled presentations, and the lack of visiting international academics who often make up a number of our talks. However, we were lucky enough to still have the following events run successfully:

  • Separation of pumice from soil mixtures – Mark Stringer
  • Assistance with geotechnical talks for the Christchurch 10 years on event series. 
  • Combined SESOC and NZGS presentation: Structural and Geotechnical panel discussion which was well attended

We are looking forward to 2022 with hopefully more speakers and industry-led events, less presentations cancelling and more networking within the branch. We would like to work more closely with Canterbury University in the year ahead to foster the relationship between final year geotechnical & engineering geology students and industry. 

One event to look out for in the new year is a women’s networking lunch with informal presentations.


As with most branches, we haven’t been able to do much for our local members in the past six months or so. We had a presentation about the South Dunedin groundwater properties teed up, but had to postpone with the last lockdown. This is still on the cards and we expect to be hosting this in the new year, once we’re all vaccinated and restrictions ease up. As for other future events, we’re working on a couple ideas, and we will provide more details in due course. As always, we’d love it if our local members wanted to present to the branch, and we’d be more than happy to facilitate this – so please, get in touch with Hannah or Matt if you have something interesting to talk about!

NZ Geomechanics News
NZ Geomechanics News>Issue 102 - December 2021
New Zealand
Society News

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