Engineering Leadership Forum

Who are we:

The Engineering Leadership Forum comprises the Chief Executives of New Zealand’s professional engineering associations including: the Engineering NZ, the Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand, Water New Zealand, Civil Contractors New Zealand, the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (New Zealand Division), the Electricity Engineers’ Association, Concrete NZ, and the Institute of IT Professionals NZ. .These organisations represent well over 40,000 professional engineers.

What do we do:

The Engineering Leadership Forum normally meets once every two months. The meeting provides an opportunity for the CEO and senior executives of the member organisation to discuss current issues and where possible to coordinate activities and to assist one another. The Forum has progressively become more engaged in public policy as it affects the professional engineering community, and now routinely communicates its collective view on initiatives through meetings with officials and the completion of submissions on issue papers and proposed legislation.

Contacting ELF members:

Secretary: Richard Bentley,

ACE: Helen Davidson,  

Engineering NZ: Richard Templer,  

Electricity Engineers Association: Peter Berry,  

IPWEA: Murray Pugh,  

Concrete NZ: Rob Gaimster,

Civil Contractors NZ: Alan Pollard,

Royal Society: Professor Geoff Chase,   

IT Professionals: Victoria MacLennan

List of recent submissions:

Submission to the Ministry of Education on Tomorrow’s Schools, 7 April 2019

Submission to the Ministry of Education on the Reform of Vocational Education, 5 April 2019

Submission on the Productivity Commission’s Issues Report on Local Government Funding and Financing, Engineering Leadership Forum, 15 February 2019

Submission on the draft ‘National Disaster Resilience Strategy’, Engineering Leadership Forum, 5 December 2018

Submission on the creation of a new infrastructure body (IBody), Engineering Leadership Forum, 26 October 2018

Submission on the Zero Carbon Bill, Engineering Leadership Forum, 19 July 2018

Submission to Productivity Commission’s Draft Report ‘Low-emissions economy‘, 8 June 2018

Ministerial Review - Better Responses to Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies in New Zealand, Submission by the Engineering Leadership Forum, 7 July 2017

ELF Focus:

The Forum promotes the greater implementation of excellent engineering practice, and the ELF member organisations have extensive individual programmes to support this outcome. The ELF CEOs recognise that there are many aspects of evolving government and public policy that have issues and opportunities that are common across the ELF members and the professional engineering community generally, and where a united voice may be able to better influence outcomes. These include the following:

Government purchasing

Government agencies typically exclude novel or alternative proposals that might expose the Crown to increased risk. And despite the efforts of the Government’s Procurement Office, there is still a widespread view among firms that there has been minimal progress in IT and large construction projects. Here firms describe Government practice as always being to buy the cheapest, that innovation is precluded by requiring industry to repeat ‘yesterday’, and that project risk is transferred to the contractor wherever possible. ELF members have extensive experience in this area and the ELF continues to press for improvements wherever possible. 


New technologies, smart EVs, and especially battery performance has the potential to make domestic and commercial scale energy generation a commercial reality and to foreclose on the need for any new large-scale fossil fuel-based electricity generation.  However these are still hampered by the inflexibility of the electricity distribution system, and especially the forced imposition on customers of fixed electricity network and grid charges.  We seek changes in this sector, and we see this as an essential prerequisite to the transition to a low carbon economy.   

Low Carbon Economy

New Zealand’s professional engineers have the capability to undertake the research and development required to support industry’s transition to a low carbon economy. We believe that these developments would be best implemented under a centralised Government run transformational change programme .  Australia and the UK offer excellent examples of how to achieve this. Changes would be needed to the New Zealand science and innovation system to undertake the targeted technology development and innovation that the transition to a low-emissions economy would require.  New collaborations amongst businesses will also be needed at a sector by sector level to identify and agree on sector specific strategies, the technology development required, the transition pathways, funding and commercialisation processes.  We continue to work with Government on this programme.   


We have concerns about the fragmented ownership and oversight of the infrastructure sector, the lack of any centralised control of standards and technology implementation, and the dissipation of infrastructure management and operational skills in asset owning organisations especially amongst Local Government.   We seek a new focus on the implementation of good engineering practice, conformity of standards, and the implementation of modern asset management practice and delivery across the sector.  We are also concerned about the lack of policy initiatives and the ongoing low level of investment in building resilient infrastructure in water supply, sewage and stormwater systems, ports and harbour facilities, electricity distribution lines, and in non-structural building components.


The unsatisfactory situation with standards setting continues.  We continue to oppose the government’s collapse of Standards NZ into MBIE and the imposition of user pays standard setting on industry.  These changes continue to create significant problems for industry. NZ standards are not now being kept up to date, they are falling behind best international practice, and increasingly irrelevant as new technologies emerge.   Active standard re-setting is a fundamental prerequisite for innovation, investment and economic development, and this is recognised in for example Australia, the UK, and Canada, where Government and industry collaborate on extensive standard setting and standard development that is underpinned by extensive Government financial support.     

Building Act Reform

ELF members continue to actively work with Government in addressing the numerous deficiencies in the Building Act.

Occupational Regulation

New occupational regulation proposals for professional engineers will align NZ with international practice and they are generally supported by the ELF.

Vocational Education Training

We find the current vocational education system to be somewhat inflexible and not delivering the needs sought by the engineering industry. These outcomes result from the way the system is structured and funded. These lead to high volume, low cost programmes focusing on existing capability, and less on growing capability to reflect strategic skill needs and social priorities, or the development of smaller and potentially more critical skill programmes which are particularly important in specialist engineering fields. The current review of the Government’s role in and support of vocational education is of great relevance to the ELF.

Future of Work

We continue to be actively involved in and contributing to the Government’s Future of Work project.

Tomorrow’s Schools

We recognise that there are still systemic weaknesses in the delivery of basic science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in schools. This impacts on the readiness of school leavers for employment, and the effort required (often by employers) to ready employees for undertaking L3 and 4 qualifications in the engineering sector. The Tomorrow Schools proposals include the creation of a new network of hubs to provide support for school boards and principals.  Our proposal to the Tomorrow Schools review is that these initiatives could provide an opportunity to strengthen support for STEM teachers and education processes in both primary and secondary schools. 

Civil Defence

Professional engineers play key roles in response and recovery from disaster.  However recent disasters have demonstrated the need for more structured response practices.  The ELF has assisted bring these ideas together and inform new proposals for changes to the civil defence legislation, which we support. We remain concerned about the minimal requirements on utilities and local government low to implement risk reduction measures.

Climate Change

Professional engineers are extensively involved in strategy development and planning for climate change.  We continue to press for a more centrally coordinated response, and for mandated best practice engineering approaches to be required by the RMA – to avoid the repetitive costly litigation of these issues across 67 Territorial Local Authorities.