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Peter Smith

Citation on the award of Life Membership, April 2019

Peter Smith is conferred with Life Membership for his extensive contribution to professional practice and earthquake engineering in New Zealand.

Over Peter’s career as a consulting engineer he has participated in many facets of the profession; from identifying best practice for the design of timber structures and assessment of existing buildings, provided technical input into engineering standards committees, contributed to professional practice with the Consulting Engineers Advancement Society (CEAS) and the Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand (ACENZ), and leadership roles within various technical societies and on the Board of Engineering New Zealand. In 2002 Peter was awarded the MacLean Citation for his industry leadership and expertise in structural engineering and engineering practice.

His interest in timber engineering was demonstrated by his active involvement during the 1980s with the joint NZSEE and Timber Design Society study group on the Seismic Design of Timber Structures. The study group presented various recommendations, newsletters, and papers in the NZSEE Bulletin at that time. These studies assisted in bring the design of timber structures into the era of limit state design procedures.

Peter has served as the Chairman of the Seismic Retrofit Research Board for the combined Auckland University and Canterbury University, FRST Research project on Seismic Retrofit of Existing Buildings. The Board supported the Universities by identifying aspect of earthquake engineering practice that required ongoing research, and provided critical comment on current research.

Following the 2010-11 Canterbury Earthquake sequence Peter was engaged by the Royal Commission to provide independent specialist structural engineering advice, from a practicing engineering perspective, and has subsequently been on an Engineering Advisory Panels for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Peter was President of NZSEE at the time of the 2016 Kaikoura Earthquake. NZSEE worked with other technical societies, universities, GNS Science, local territorial authorities and central government to provide a mechanism to distribute technical information on the earthquake and its effects via ‘clearinghouse’ meetings. Peter was very much at the forefront of this process to provide insights and advice from his assessment of buildings; to the extent he became the public face for engineers, engaging with the media. He had a key role in convincing government to put in place a programme for the securing of unreinforced masonry parapets and facades in vulnerable precincts to mitigate the public hazard of a potential aftershock. This programme is now successfully completed.

Peter was awarded a ‘Distinguished Fellowship’ of Engineering New Zealand in 2018.

Peter Smith’s deep interest and expertise in the field of earthquake engineering, and the contribution he has made to the practice of engineering, the Society is very pleased to acknowledge Peter for his outstanding commitment to earthquake engineering in New Zealand through this award of Life Membership.