NZ Geomechanics News

Update from the NZGS Committee

Thank you and Farewell to Past Committee Members

Tony Fairclough 

Tony Fairclough stepped down as a member of the NZGS National Management Committee (NMC) on 30 September 2021. Tony, who was elected to the NMC during the 2010 election process, has provided eleven years’ service to the NZGS including Treasurer for the 2015-2017 term and Chair for the 2017-2019 term. 

To date Tony has made a key contribution to countless NZGS events and projects including (but not limited to):

  • Convenor, 19th New Zealand Geotechnical Society Symposium, Queenstown.
  • Mentor and Judge, 10th ANZ Young Geotechnical Professionals Conference, Noosa, Queensland.
  • Panel Chairperson, “Pile Construction — Specification”.
  • Governance group and working group member, “New Zealand Ground Investigation Specification”.
  • Co-author, “Module 2: Site Investigation Guideline for Liquefaction Assessment of Residential and Commercial Buildings in New Zealand”.
  • Reviewer, “Module 5: Ground improvement of soils prone to liquefaction”.
  • Panel Chairperson, “Specification for Ground Improvement using Densified Rafts, Stabilised Crusts, Stone Columns & Driven Timber Poles for residential properties in Canterbury”.
  • Panel Member, “Seismic Engineering Geotechnical Design Module Finalisation Project”.
  • Panel Member, Standards Australia Committee Number CE-015, Review and update of AS 1726, “Geotechnical Site Investigations”. 
  • Panel Member, Standards New Zealand Committee, review and update of NZS4431, “Engineered Fill for Residential Developments”.

Tony will continue to steer the SESOC/NZGS piling specification project, and remain a panel member on the NZS4431 review and update project, until their completion in 2022. He will continue to provide ongoing service to the wider engineering profession in roles such as Board Member on the Chartered Professional Engineers Council (CPEC).

The NZGS wishes to thank Tony for his exceptional service over the past eleven years and we wish him every success in all of his future endeavours.


Sally Dellow

Haere rā

My time on the NZ Geotechnical Society Committee has ended after a brief two years. Less than six months into my time on the committee and Covid-19 struck. This turned plans and meetings and travel on their head. Learning to navigate new ways of working was challenging, planned visits to our shores were cancelled, and in-person meetings became less frequent. A highlight of my time on the committee was the Workshop in Queenstown and Symposium in Dunedin. Events that did go ahead and were well supported by the Society’s members – so a big thank you to everyone who attended and made those events such a success.

Last year I was successful in pursuing an opportunity to step up into a senior leadership role at GNS Science. This has limited the time available to me to contribute to the work of the NZ Geotechnical Society Committee and do it well. So, I made the decision to step away from the committee. I would like to thank my fellow committee members for their warm welcome and the pragmatic way the committee collectively dealt with the myriad of issues that arose in dealing with challenges we faced.  I wish the new committee all the best navigating a path through a changing world.

Sally Dellow

The NZGS wishes to thank Sally very much for her contribution over the last two years which have not been the easiest and good luck with your new role in GNS


Sally Hargraves

Sally has just stepped down off the NZGS committee after initially being elected in early 2015.  Over that time she created the role of Awards Officer and then continued in that role until 2018 when Roly Orense took over.  She has continued to assist in judging the Student Posters since.  She also created the role of Local Rep Coordinator and has been the main point of liaison between our local reps and the Management Committee over that period. Whilst the Modules were gradually finalised, Sally acted as liaison with MBIE and Engineering NZ to help roll out the training associated with the Modules.  More recently, she took over the role of organising visiting speakers, just in time for visits to dry up due to Covid, so has instead organised a number of online presentations.  Sally helped to develop the Body of Knowledge and Skills for engineering geologists and started to help develop the Slope Stability Module, amongst other day-to-day inputs that keep the society rolling.

Sally will hand over her role as visiting speaker coordinator and local rep liaison when she steps down, but will continue in several representative roles and on various projects including the update of NZS 4431, the update of NZS 3604 (specifically relating to foundations over liquefiable and expansive soils); development of subsoil guidance and development of a practice note regarding application of s72 of the Building Act.  As part of her work on NZS 3604, there will likely also need to be development of a practice note for investigation and assessment of expansive soils; as well as development of an Appendix to Module 4 with developed foundation options for various scenarios for use across the whole of NZ (based on the Canterbury Guidance).

Of her time on the committee Sally said she was pleased to have been able to assist and support the committee in all the work that it does, with a special emphasis on making sure members out of the three main centres were able to get equal benefit of membership and career support.  She looks forward to being to continue working alongside the committee on various projects going forward.

The NZGS wishes to thank Sally Hargraves for her dedicated service over the last six years and we look forward to continue working with you over the years to come.


The current NZGS Committee members

Over the next issues of the magazine we will be gradually introducing all of the current committee members.

Eleni Gkeli – Chair

Eleni Gkeli is a Senior Principal Engineering Geologist with over 25 years of experience in the geotechnical profession. Eleni’s experience comes from her involvement in large infrastructure projects in Greece and in New Zealand in the transport, building and water sectors. Eleni’s specialisation is Rock Engineering and Tunnelling, but her interests and experience also include site characterisation, slope stability, geotechnical risk assessment, natural hazards, earthworks, urban commercial and residential development etc. She is currently working with Stantec, and is based in Wellington. Eleni has been an elected member of the New Zealand Geotechnical Society since early 2016 and has held a variety of positions and roles, including coordination of international and distinguished speakers, training courses and workshops and the Treasurer and vice-Chair role. She was also the convenor of the 2021 Geotechnical Symposium in Dunedin. Eleni is currently the Chair of the New Zealand Geotechnical Society. 


Helen Hendrickson
Young GeoProfessionals Representative

Hi I’m Helen! I am a Geotechnical Engineer working for WSP in Nelson. Currently I am seconded to the Marlborough Flood Recovery Team. My role on the NZGS is basically to make sure our young members get the most out of the opportunities available to them. This means co-ordinating events and activities, helping out with projects for YGP’s and co-ordinating with our International Societies. In my spare time I love going hiking, making my own beer and exploring new places.


Rolly Orense
Committee Member

Rolly is an Associate Professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Auckland, and currently the Deputy Head of Department (Academic). Originally from the Philippines, he received his Doctor of Engineering degree from the University of Tokyo (Japan). Before coming to NZ in 2007, he served as Associate Professor at the University of Tokyo and Yamaguchi University and as Senior Engineer at Kiso-jiban Consultants and Chuo Kaihatsu Corporation, both Tokyo-based geotechnical consulting firms. He is a Chartered Member of Engineering New Zealand.

On his third (and last) term as a Management Committee member, he coordinates the various NZGS awards and the nominations of members for international awards. He also leads the planning and hosting of webinars for our members.  


Richard Justice
Committee Member

I’m a Principal Engineering Geologist with ENGEO based in Christchurch. I graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1995. I was initially employed with Pells Sullivan Meynink, based in Sydney.  After six years, I moved to URS, also in Sydney before moving with a young family to Wellington to be with Tonkin + Taylor. In 2008 I made the move to KiwiRail, to experience life on the client side for a while.  

In 2012, I helped set up the Wellington office of Geoscience NZ (now ENGEO), which I have been with since apart from a four-and-a-half-year stint working on the North Canterbury Transport and Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) project.  

My roles on the committee include acting as Coordinator for all the local NZGS branches, (taking over from Sally Hargreaves) and dusting off the Slope Stability Guidelines, which have been kicking around for a few years!  



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

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