Peter R Wood

Citation on the award of NZSEE Fellow, April 2013

Peter Wood’s joint degree from University of Otago, and his Diploma from Imperial College London, in geology and geodetic surveying, gave him a strong background in all matters to do with tectonic ground deformation.

Peter joined the NZ Geological Survey, DSIR in 1972, and led it’s Earth Deformation Section from the mid 1980s to 1990. He coordinated the NZGS response to the 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake.

Involvement in the NZSEE learning from earthquakes missions, strongly influenced his understanding of earthquakes and their resultant effects; particularly the contrasts between the 1988 Spitak, Armenian, and the 1989 Loma Prieta, Californian earthquakes. He experienced the latter with the NZSEE team on their way home from Armenia; Peter was literally caught while shopping in a San Francisco basement store. The NZSEE team joined the Californian response and saw the first implementation of post-earthquake building triaging.

Peter recognised the value of sound geotechnical databases before many others, and worked in this area in relation to the Clyde Dam and the Lake Dunstan landslide remediation in the early 1990s.

He left GNS Science in 1997 to work with the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management to further his strong interest in seeing that hazard mitigation knowledge was actually used for community and economic benefit.

In March 2010 the Management Committee selected Peter as President of NZSEE. Then in September, the Canterbury earthquake sequence started with the Darfield Earthquake. From that point on Peter was not only deeply immersed in the MCDEM response to the earthquake sequence, but all the related demands on the Society.

Woody was instrumental with Dr Bruce Deam in setting up in September 2010 the physical Clearinghouse that provided the means for national and international visitors to Christchurch to exchange information, and which Bruce continues in 2014 as a forum for technical discussions. Woody also initiated the NZSEE Virtual Clearinghouse, a web resource started by Bruce Deam and further developed by Dr Quincy Ma. As President NZSEE, Woody also hosted various international ‘Learning from Earthquake’ missions. These contacts have developed into significant technical exchanges to enhance the knowledge of International earthquake engineering.

Woody was a major champion for the publication of the December 2010 and December 2011 NZSEE Bulletins which contain invaluable reports of findings from the 4th September 2010, and 22nd February earthquake, with details of progressive damage and effects from the after-shock sequence. He ensured that web access to these Bulletin’s papers was free via

Woody was deeply involved with identifying the lessons to be learnt from Christchurch, the city in which he was brought up, and working with a wide range of Local and Central Government agencies to ensure the ‘message got through’. This work continued through his Immediate Past Presidency, and beyond, despite stepping down from active participation in the Management Committee. His contribution is invaluable.