Run by committed volunteers, our technical groups advance specialist engineering, advocate and promote the interests and concerns of their members. We tap into their technical expertise to promote best practice in the different engineering disciplines and help the public understand complex engineering concepts and issues.


Technical groups


Biggest group


Smallest group (SMNZL)


Biggest growth (NZSOLD)



If I had to use a couple of words to describe the relationship between SESOC and Engineering New Zealand, I would say ‘mature’ and ‘respect’. Engineering New Zealand has a standing invite on our management committee. We have accepted that there will be things every now and again that aren’t completely aligned but we face that challenge in a mature way. We also consult one other. It has also been a fantastic asset for us to be able to call on Engineering New Zealand to seek advice from the professionals when the media approach us.

"Respect goes very deep for me. Susan Freeman-Greene did the keynote speech at our conference and it was really one of the most inspirational and world-class speeches I have ever seen."


Engineering New Zealand has been the lead agency on certain issues and we’ve played the supporting role, but equally, they’ve allowed us to be the lead when it was appropriate and they’ve played the supporting role.

Another thing I’ve really appreciated is Engineering New Zealand’s ability to drag us engineers out of the weeds and out of the details and to see the bigger picture. We often want to solve things to 20 decimal places when in fact two would be enough. So just having that sounding board in the background has been very rewarding.

One of the highlights of my role is working with a fantastic team of people on the SESOC management committee. It’s a lot of fun. We are approaching 1,900 members now, which is very close to our strategic goal of 2,000.

In the aftermath of the Kaikōura earthquake, we learned a lot in a very short period of time. The relative size of the country and the kindred spirit of the culture was such that we were able to disseminate key information and come together to do what’s right. It was a powerful experience.

We owe it to our profession and to society that when the chips are down, engineers have got the information and the answers; and we need to let the public know that in a way that doesn’t cause panic, and in a way that they can understand.

Paul is National Technical Director – Building Structures at WSP Opus.





In 2017, SESOC maintained and enhanced its working relationship with Engineering New Zealand and with other technical groups, including NZSEE and NZGS, and continued to develop its relationship with representatives from MBIE. Membership numbers are growing, and SESOC is now the largest engineering technical society in New Zealand with 1900 members. It also received expressions of interest for regional representation in Queenstown, Napier/Hastings, and Tauranga. The highlight of the year was the SESOC Conference, and planning is already underway for the next event, which will be held in 2019. There have been fewer SESOC seminars as more attention has been given to the impacts of the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes in recent years, but the Management Committee plans to organise a range of training and education offerings in 2018 and beyond. 2018 also marks the 30th anniversary of SESOC and it plans to undertake a number of initiatives that honour the work of the early members who founded the Society and made it a success.


To reflect the name change from IPENZ to Engineering New Zealand, the Group also changed its name – going from IPENZ Transportation Group to Transportation Group New Zealand. In 2017, the Group held its annual conference in Hamilton, which was a great success, and they had a very positive response to their choice of Hobbiton as a venue for the 3M awards and dinner. Throughout the year the Group had several constructive meetings with the Ministry of Transport and the NZ Transport Agency and it attended the Road Controlling Authorities Forum to offer feedback on the transportation industry. It also made a number of submissions on policy documents and local authority plan changes. The Transportation Group’s special interest groups – the NZ Modelling User Group (NZMugs) and the Trips Database Bureau (TDB) – held their annual conferences, and the Signals NZ User Group (SNUG) also held a conference and developed a new website. The TDB was also successful in working with counterparts in the UK and the US to secure access to trip data. The Group’s priority for 2018 is to update the rules, which have not been amended for over a decade, and to complete the rebranding, which includes a refresh of its website. To achieve a greater level of engagement and participation in activities, the Group is removing the requirement for members of the leadership to be competency-graded members of Engineering New Zealand.





NZSOLD enjoyed a year of increased diversity within its membership as well as through its engagement with other groups that have an interest in dam safety. It welcomed five new management committee representatives, three of whom represent its Young Professionals Group.  NZSOLD actively collaborated with regional councils, with one co-opted representative on its committee, and with the River Managers Forum. Engagement with government continued via participation in a ministerial technical working group on dam safety regulations. It also hosted a number of events, including a successful workshop on risk-informed decision-making, and a symposium/workshop on the performance of structures and organisational systems during emergency events. NZSOLD represented New Zealand at the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) in Prague and at the Australian National Committee on Large Dams (ANCOLD) conference in Hobart. In 2018, NZSOLD will continue its focus on member engagement, technical symposia and workshops, and New Zealand’s legislative environment as well as maintain its local and international links.


The 2017 year saw continued activity for the Sustainability Society in line with its vision of addressing critical sustainability issues through engagement with built environment professionals and sustainability advocates. The Society hosted a successful workshop series in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch on valuing sustainability through the integration of natural, social and cultural capital measures, and facilitated a webinar series that covered climate change adaptation and avoidance, waste, integrated water management, economics and investment and UN sustainable development goals. It partnered with the New Zealand Coastal Society for Climate Change Adaptation on the webinars series and provided judges for its new eCoast Sustainability Award. The Society also collaborated with the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment on an event centred on how climate change would affect Auckland and its built environment, and provided feedback on the Ministry for Environment’s climate change adaptation guidance. Other events included its “Green Drinks” social events in Auckland, Wellington and Kerikeri. The Society honoured the passing of a giant in New Zealand sustainability engineering with the loss of lifetime TSS member David Thom FEngNZ, a leader in developing approaches to engineering that considered the environment. He will be greatly missed.