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NZSEE and ‘No.8 Wire Mentality’ Put New Zealand at Quake Forefront


New Zealand’s premier professional society for earthquake engineers – NZSEE (New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering) - will meet in Christchurch this year to confer on the theme “Reducing Risk – Raising Resilience”.


As its members - engineers, scientists and other professionals with an interest in quake resilience – ready themselves to discuss the future of earthquake engineering, we discover the impact NZSEE has made on the world since its formation in 1968.

New Zealand is known worldwide as a leader in earthquake resilience innovation. Much of this reputation can be attributed to developments and breakthroughs made by NZSEE members collaborating and extending their knowledge base.

The NZSEE has influenced attitudes and practices, pioneering technology which is now used in buildings and foundations the world over. Members come together for debates, workshops and investigative trips to international quake-affected cities. Their findings have led to re-evaluation of legislation and helped cities better plan for a major disaster.

Without the legacy from New Zealand’s 1960’s earthquake engineers and comprehensive building codes the NZSEE had influence on, it is predicted that most of Christchurch’s buildings would have been flattened in the high-intensity February 2011 quake – it was much stronger than these buildings were actually designed for.

Past President (2012/13) of the NZSEE, Stefano Pampanin explains some of the revolutions the NZSEE has brought to the world. “(insert his quote on specific examples developed in NZ through NZSEE that are being used in buildings overseas)”.

Dr. Rajesh Dhakal, Professor of Structural and Earthquake Engineering at UC is one of the faces who connects UC’s Quake Centre to the NZSEE through research with Quake Centre and his position on the NZSEE’s Management Committee (since 2010). He is also Editor of The Bulletin, NZSEE’s quarterly magazine for members. The two organisations work together to upskill their professional members, and they hold workshops and seminars to do this.

This year’s NZSEE (New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering) Annual Technical Conference is future focused – evolving lessons learned from the Christchurch quake five years ago into action points to reduce risk and increase community resilience to quake events.

It is held over three days - 1-3 April - at the Wigram Airforce Museum. Two related events are also on in Christchurch in the days preceding the Conference. The SPONSE (Seismic Performance of Non-Structural Elements) Workshop on 31 March will focus on how the performance of elements not crucial to the building’s core structure, like partition walls, can be improved in a quake. A special UC workshop entitled “Earthquakes, Injury Risk and Building Safety” will kick off the string on events on 30 March at their Ilam Campus.

Conference content will include presentations spanning the economic, engineering and social dimensions of heritage re-builds, other recent quakes (Nepal, Chile), case studies and advances in knowledge, research and practice. Two walking tours will also take place; one CBD-based which will focus on buildings, historic restoration juxtaposed with newly constructed, and the other around the Port Hills, focusing on the region’s ground foundations.

The lessons learned from Christchurch, the outcomes and new developments from this Conference and NZSEE’s work are of interest to international technical experts. They’re waiting for the next breakthrough from New Zealand engineers that they can apply to their worldwide construction projects – and NZSEE’s network is leading the way.











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