Issue 105 - June 2023

The cost of Nature?

I want to start this by saying a huge thank you to all of those who have submitted pieces for this edition of the magazine, we all know the industry has been somewhat busy with the cyclone responses but without people giving up their time to write the papers and articles, we would not have a magazine for you to be reading right now.

In the last 15 years, the natural hazards landscape in New Zealand has changed…. or is it more a case that we have been reminded that risk is made up of likelihood and consequence? There is talk that we now have a “Cyclone Season” and with the seismic events that have happened over the last decade the insurance industry has been kept busy. New Zealand is well insured as a nation and the recent review of the Earthquake Commission Act 1993 has led to the new ‘Natural Hazards Insurance Act’ that passed into law in February earlier this year. Given this topic, we found several interesting articles in the archives discussing insurance of “landslips” and earthquake damage, and it is comforting to know that reviews of the Act have occurred periodically due to the evolving nature of the hazards faced by New Zealand; from the Earthquake and War Damage Act in 1944 with emphasis on the main risks at the time to the latest NHI Act reflecting the wider responsibility of the Commission. In this issue we have chosen two articles, one from the 70s and one from the 80s; will they intrigue you enough to pay more attention to the changes within the NHI Act and what it will mean for the industry.

In this issue we have a broad range of articles and papers, from all parts of the industry. We have included pieces from our two research scholarship recipients for this year outlining their upcoming project work, as well as the results of the student poster competition. This builds on the emerging focus within of our June editions where we are starting to report more on the interaction between academia and industry, which I know is a passion of our committee members Liam Wotherspoon and Rolando Orense. 

David Molnar from KiwiRail has written a fantastic feature summarising some of the damage that has been sustained to the KiwiRail network in the Hawkes Bay. For those of us who have been involved in this work already I think we have all been amazed (again) at the power of nature. I remember in the early days after the Christchurch earthquakes suddenly realising that those rockfall analysis models showing “wacky” results were actually correct as we saw the real life play out, likewise who would have believed that the metres river levels would rise would reach double figures. 

One could say it is a good time to be a Geo-Professional and whether it is just that we are understanding “likelihood” a little more, whether it is linked to climate change or something else, there is a lot of technical knowledge to be gained in learning from these events. And we should try not to forget the lessons learnt else nature will painfully keep reminding us. 

Camilla Gibbons

Issue 105 - June 2023, NZ Geomechanics News
Camilla Gibbons
Issue 105 - June 2023, NZ Geomechanics News

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