David Middleton

Citation on the award of Life Membership, March 2010

David Middleton has played a pivotal role in supporting activities that have developed an understanding of earthquakes and their effect on New Zealand society. Over the 17 years as General Manager and then Chief Executive of EQC, David has been at the forefront of providing guidance to, and encouragement for, research that will make a difference to New Zealand’s resilience, particularly in the areas of earthquake engineering and natural hazard mitigation.

David Middleton was born in London and came to New Zealand in 1972 after seven years in the Royal Navy. He embarked on a career in the insurance industry, commencing as a claims clerk with State Insurance and rising to become General Manager of BNZ Life insurance Company. As a consequence of his abilities, he was appointed General Manager of the Earthquake Commission (EQC) in 1993 to which he soon added an MBA with Distinction from Victoria University.

EQC is a Crown Agent that provides primary natural disaster insurance to homeowners in New Zealand, and manages a $5.6 billion fund. Under David Middleton’s stewardship EQC has recognised the beneficial effect that greater understanding of natural hazards and countervailing measures can have on the potential demand for reeconstruction covered by insurance after a natural disaster.

David has developed a wide knowledge of the technical aspects of disaster mitigation. He commissionsed engineers and scientists to create disaster models for New Zealand. He also commissioned and sponsored earthquake and disaster research, including studies by NZ engineers and scientists of impacts and affected communities abroad, and public disaster education and awareness campaigns at home. He fully appreciates the benefits of preplanning and mitigation strategies that are supported by EQC.

He has served on organizations such as the NZ Society for Earthquake Engineering, the Earthquake Engineering Business Cluster, the Hazards Advisory Committee of the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, and has contributed to World Bank projects and international task forces on disaster insurance programs. He has been a past Vice Chairman of Amnesty International NZ and is currently Chair of the World Forum of National Disaster Schemes.

He is a Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute and Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance.

David Middleton has made a significant contribution to the application of engineering technology and to community affairs within New Zealand over many years. It is most appropriate that he be recognised by the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering for the contribution he has made to the Society and to New Zealand.