The Earthquake Commission (EQC) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) have partnered to co-fund Dr Ken Elwood’s (pictured) appointment to the dual-agency chief engineer post.
“The purpose of this dual-agency position is to act as a key champion of resilience, but also bring in research that’s practical and beneficial to back policy that works,” said Dr Elwood, a University of Auckland engineering professor who pursued research in aid of earthquake risk reduction after experiencing the Christchurch earthquake in 2011.
He shared: “It was a life-changing experience in many different ways, and it has definitely impacted me as a researcher.”
Dr Elwood, whose top priorities include the Seismic Risk Work Programme, will be the link between researchers, policymakers, and engineers who have their respective areas of focus.
“Sometimes it’s like everyone is speaking another language and important things get lost in translation,” lamented the new chief engineer.
“A role like this can broker end-to-end knowledge sharing and collaboration from science to policy to practice, helping to produce practical standards and guidelines that improve building resilience in the real world.”
The key hire added: “It’s important to recognise that improving building resilience needs more than just best practice or minimum guidelines. I believe this position is a massive step towards that for the industry.”
The goal is to better position New Zealand’s construction environment for the future, with EQC and MBIE having a shared objective to increase the resilience of buildings in the country and reduce the impact of natural hazards.
Commenting on the appointment, EQC chief resilience officer Dr Jo Horrocks stated: “Developing constructive partnerships and enduring relationships will provide a far more collaborative approach to informing and driving risk-reduction activities in New Zealand.
“Through the work that Ken is doing, it is my hope that we will bring science, policy, and practice closer together to solve some of the key challenges facing New Zealand’s disaster resilience.”