Structural Engineering Excellence Awards

At its biennial conference, on 22 June 2023, the Society presented 6 awards in recognition of outstanding achievement in the advancement of structural engineering design and construction.

At the Awards Function, SESOC President Nicholas Brooke said that the broad range and high quality of entries to this year’s awards gave the judges a challenging task, but demonstrated that New Zealand structural engineers continue to strive for, and achieve, excellence for their clients and for society.

The Supreme Award was won by Aurecon for the Auckland Chief Post Office.
The judges were impressed by all aspects of the project, including attention to heritage considerations, infrastructure planning, construction complexity, interactions with the public, and sustainable construction practices.

The Building Award was won by Holmes NZ LP for Te Pae, the Christchurch Convention Centre. The judging panel considered this project to be a clever structural execution of a particularly complex building with demanding constraints and delivered to a fast-track programme and were impressed with the professional, coordinated and forward-thinking project delivery.

The Infrastructure Award was won by Beca for Peka Peka to Otaki Expressway Project Bridges. This submission addressed a 13 km section of the new Kāpiti Expressway between Peka Peka and Ōtaki that incorporated seven precast concrete beam road bridges, two steel beam road bridges, two concrete underpasses, five concrete pedestrian bridges and several large culverts. Patterns on concrete fascia panels were developed through consultation with local iwi and community groups to provide cultural narratives, and exposed aggregate finishes are used to reduce graffiti.
Structural seismic design addressed complex geometry, high seismicity, and soft soils, and several accelerated bridge construction techniques were incorporated into the project.

The Structural Sustainablity Award was won by McConnell Dowell for the Old Māngere Bridge Replacement – Ngā Hau Māngere. McConnell Dowell is the first ever winner of the SESOC Structural Sustainability Award and is recognised for the delivery of a complex piece of infrastructure which also engaged sustainable design principles across material use, social engagement and environmental impacts. The new walking and cycling connection links the communities of Onehunga and Mangere bridge via the eye-catching outward inclining tied arch supported on V-shaped piers which seamlessly transition between the steel and concrete structures.

The Structural Heritage and Cultural Award was won by Holmes NZ LP for the Christ Church Cathedral Stabilisation. The judges were extremely impressed by the calibre of entries that required consideration in the heritage and culture category. Numerous entries had noteworthy aspects, with judges awarding commendations to:

  • Beca for the St James Theatre & Ballet Building
  • Holmes for the Observatory Hotel
  • Jacobs for the Auckland Zoo South East Asia Jungle Track, and
  • Jenson McArley for the HB Central Strengthening and Refurbishment

However, the winning entry stood out due to its unique technical challenges, high profile, and demanding health and safety scenario. The judges considered that the project demonstrated outstanding attention to detail and rigour, and was a model for approaching challenging engineering in a collaborative manner to draw on the strengths and expertise of all parties involved. The need to overcome immense health and safety challenges and unfavourable ground conditions presented significant challenges. The outcome of the project has secured one of New Zealand’s iconic structures for generations to come.

The Small Practice Award was won by Morrison Design for the Wellington Town Hall Main Auditorium Scaffold. This project was an elegant and innovative temporary works design that utilised standard scaffolding components to provide a clear spanning platform that enabled long term restoration work to be undertaken on the existing ceiling. The designers adapted an unproven overseas concept to provide a structure spanning the Wellington Town Hall Main Auditorium.
The judging panel determined that recognition is deserved by taking this idea and turning it into a robust yet economical structural design. The scaffold went beyond industry minimum requirements and exceeded the expectations of the client by making significant improvements to the construction programme.

New draft SESOC guidance on Grouted connections/Drossbach, GD1 & GD2 released

Draft copies of GD#1 (Existing building investigation and remediation) and GD#2 (new building specification and construction) are available for download at the links below.

GD#1 - Existing building investigation and remediation GD#2 - New Buildings - Specification/Construction/Assurance

These complement the previously published

GD#0 (Introduction, SESOC Journal v34n2p66), and
Draft GD#3 – Design Basis and Worked example

The Drossbach working group would welcome feedback on these draft papers over the next 6 months prior to finalisation of the papers.

The Management Committee would like to take this opportunity to thank the drossbach working group for their efforts in producing this valuable resource for structural engineers.


Advisory document on newly released National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM)

Today GNS Science has released the revised National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM). The Structural Engineering Society of New Zealand (SESOC), the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE) and the New Zealand Geotechnical Society (NZGS) have collaborated to publish an advisory document giving interim guidance to design professionals and their clients until such time as any future updates are made to the New Zealand Building Code.

SESOC, NZSEE and NZGS understand that the NSHM is the latest science that will be used to inform design requirements within the Building Code. It will take time for the new science to be evaluated and for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to consider how to incorporate the model into the Building Code. In the meantime, we want to provide our members advice on how to proceed in the time between the model being released and any future Building Code update. The National Seismic Hazard Model will inform design Standards and design actions, however it is not a design document and should not be treated as such.

The Interim Advice on the 2022 National Seismic Hazard Model Release advisory document we have published will assist building designers in their discussions around hazard information with their clients and help them to engage in conversations regarding structural options which may buffer against hazard uncertainty.

Earlier this year, the technical societies published the Earthquake Design for Uncertainty guidance providing good design principles that should be referred to alongside the new advice.

SESOC, NZSEE and NZGS are currently planning a seminar for members on both the Earthquake Design for Uncertainty and the Interim Advice for National Seismic Hazard Model. The seminar will be held in late October in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, with an online option available. Invitations will be sent by email to our members in the near future.   

You can read the Interim Advice on the 2022 National Seismic Hazard Model document here.

2022 NSHM Website (National Seismic Hazard Model – GNS Science | Te Pῡ Ao)

SESOC Sponsored Tickets to the AWEC Symposium

Advancing Women in Engineering and Construction (AWEC) 2022 Symposium

Reshaping the Industry through the collective voice of women

 4th November 2022, Aotea Centre, Auckland


The inaugural 2022 Advancing Women in Engineering & Construction (AWEC) symposium is an initiative to support the development and retention of women in the engineering sector and associated parts of the construction industry, supported by NZSEE and SESOC. Alongside civil and structural engineers in particular, the event is also intended to be open to architects, regulatory officials, project managers and others from technical professions related to engineering & construction.


The full-day schedule is focused around encouraging networking and collaboration throughout. Michelle Grant and Ceinwen McNeil are lined up as keynote speakers, who will set the tone for the event, followed by a series of workshops and then closing up with a panel of change makers. The Symposium has been designed with the intention of giving women the space to share their experiences and contribute their thinking to the initiatives needed to enable change. Full Symposium information is available on the website: or on the flyer


NZSEE and SESOC have committed to sponsoring up to 16 tickets for members to attend this important event. In addition to the ticket, there is also a grant available that can be used to support travel, accommodation, and childcare up to a total of $500 (including GST) per attendee. Preference will be given to members who have completed their education and are NZSEE and/or SESOC members.


If you would like to be considered for the fund, please complete the application form –  Applications will be open until Friday the 14th of October at 5pm.

You will need to coordinate your own bookings and keep your receipts to be reimbursed after the event.



New guidance released: Earthquake Design for Uncertainty

Managing uncertainty in earthquake engineering has always been a key challenge for New Zealand engineers and the theme of the recent NZSEE conference.  The uncertainty of earthquake demands has recently been given increased prominence due to the anticipated release of the new National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM) for New Zealand, later in 2022.

To assist engineers designing new buildings during this time of change, the collaborating technical societies of NZSEE, SESOC and NZGS have developed advice for engineers on recommended approaches an engineer can take to help ensure reliable performance from a building – regardless of the minimum design actions adopted.

This can be found on the NZSEE website [Rev. 1 August 2022].

Preliminary issue of SESOC Guidance on Grouted Connections/Drossbachs – ‘GD3 – Design Basis and Worked Examples’

The Drossbachs working group led by Barry Brown has produced a preliminary issue of the peer-reviewed Guidance Document 3 (GD3). This document is released to solicit SESOC membership feedback. You can download a copy of draft issue #9 HERE.

This document builds on the observation article:
Freeman, J. (2021) “Observed defects in Grouted Duct Precast Panel connections in NZ and the Potential performance implications” SESOC Journal, 34(2)p66
previously published in the SESOC journal.

Further GDs are currently under and will be released when appropriate. Please send written feedback via email to the executive officer.

Draft paper on Hollowcore Strongback retrofit

A robust new retrofit for hollow-core floors named the ‘strongback’ has recently been developed and tested as part of the ReCast Floors project. This draft paper contains detailed design guidance for this retrofit.

The authors (Frank Büker, Nic Brooke, Lucas Hogan, Ken Elwood, Des Bull and Tim Sullivan) welcome feedback ahead of the final publication of the paper.

An advance copy of the draft paper is available by clicking the link below:

[View Document]

Edit 31/5/2022: The document has now been superseded by the papers published in the SESOC special issue on the ReCast floor project [Link]

SESOC Emerging Structural Engineers Scholarship

Update 8th June 2020:

The 2020 SEAOC Convention in Maui will not be going ahead as planned due to the risk to health from Covid-19.  Instead, a scaled-back virtual convention that includes the normal, yearly business, and as well as some technical presentations will run. In light of this, SESOC has decided to not award the scholarship for 2020.  

We look forward to receiving your applications in 2021 to align with a successful SESOC Conference and SEAOC Convention for our Emerging Structural Engineering Network.


SESOC Management Committee – Call for Nominations

Dear Member,

The Structural Engineering Society New Zealand, SESOC, now represents over 2500 members and is the pre-eminent technical society for professional structural engineers throughout New Zealand. The Society collaborates with Engineering New Zealand, IStructE, SEAOC and other associated technical groups such as the Geotechnical, Concrete, Timber Design and Earthquake Engineering Societies.  SESOC regularly provides technical guidance and support to MBIE, Standards NZ, Engineering NZ and other organisations responsible for the production of technical literature and practice guidelines.  The Regional Structural Groups in Auckland, Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Wellington, Nelson/Marlborough, Christchurch, and Otago are affiliated with SESOC and run meetings throughout the year, with a variety of speakers and site visits to local projects. Other core activities of the Society are the publication of a well-respected half-yearly journal, running of practitioner-focused seminars on structural engineering topics, and a biannual conference.

The management of the society has been well served by the current and previous management committees. Committee members are expected to lead projects of relevance to the society and report on progress at the quarterly management meetings. Working on the management committee is a worthwhile and rewarding contribution to SESOC and to the structural engineering profession. Here is the opportunity to support your Society. The committee for 2020 will be announced at the AGM to be held in Christchurch on Thursday 27 February 2020.

If you wish to stand for election, please complete the self-nomination form at this link and return by post or email to be received no later than 4 pm on Thursday 30 January 2020 to:

John Snook

SESOC Executive Officer

PO Box 3839, Christchurch 8140


Note:   Each nomination is to be accompanied by a brief (one quarter page A4) biographical detail.

The Institution of Structural Engineers Affiliate Scheme

SESOC enjoys a close relationship with the Institution of Structural Engineers facilitated by the Memorandum of Understanding between our two organisations together with personal representation and communications.

Last year Ian Firth and Martin Powell, President and CEO of IStructE respectively, attended the SESOC conference in Wellington. As well as presenting at that conference they engaged in discussion with SESOC members and came away encouraged to further strengthen linkages not only at organisational level but also directly with our members.

Subsequent discussions with the SESOC Management Committee have resulted in the
attached special promotion to SESOC members, offering Affiliate Membership of the Institution of Structural Engineers. IStructE see this is an opportunity to be part of the worldwide network of Institution members in a way which does not create any conflict with
membership of SESOC.

IStructE say that beyond the membership aspect, this arrangement opens up information
about and access to the Institution’s growing digital offering and will allow a greater sharing of knowledge so that collectively, structural engineers around the world are better resourced in terms of networks, technical information and development opportunities.

This offer is direct from IStructE and is for members to consider and to make arrangements individually with the Institution.

Read more here or join today at