Sunday, 31 July 2016

Engineering team - who came and went

For a long time I kept a list of who came and went from the Engineering team but post 2003 with the restructures this become increasingly difficult. Where possible I have which office they were in.

(HO is Head Office Wellington not to be confused with WN - Wellington Regional Office)

Name Commenced Departed Office
A E Forsyth Andrew 21/01/28 64/65 HO
B C Campbell Barnie 16/04/34 73/74 HO
R J Polaschek Ray 20/02/40 75/76 HO
S W Pierce Jim 4/09/47 71/72 HO
F Pope Flo 1948 1966 HO
M R Palmer Ross 30/01/50 75/76 HO
C M Clissold Carne 28/01/52 91/92 HM,HO
J E Sanderon Earl 1/02/54 73/74 DN, HO 
R C Wheeler 1/02/54 64/65 HO / CH
A G R Bullen Graham 31/01/55 69/70 HO,AK
J L Smith Jack 1/12/55 77/78 AK
J B Toomath John 14/01/57 10/09/99 HM,HO, New Ply ,CHCH
D C Andreassend David 19/05/58 68/69 HO
D H Kilgour 5/01/59 68/69 AK
J G Ellis 3/02/59 66/67 ?
M A Wesseldine Mike 18/01/60 66/67 HO.AK , CHCH
G H Hubbard 18/01/60 64/65 ?
R A Chapman Roger 16/01/61 72/73 HO
K C Nutsford Ken 23/01/62 66/67 AK
R M Morrell Roger 14/01/63 66/67 HO
A J Francis Tony 13/01/64 78/79 HO,CH
R A Gibson Bob 13/01/64 HO , AK , HO,CH,HO
W S Greenwood Bill Mid 80's 84/85 CH
H J Harris Howard 24/02/64 68/69 HO
W T Merryweather 27/10/64 68/69 ?
P L Atkinson Peter 1/02/65 68/69 HO,AK
J E Zelas John 1/02/65 66/67 HO
N G Rush Glen 2/02/65 67/68 AK
W R Pettersson Wayne 27/09/65 25/04/00 HO
J H R Youngman Jim 18/01/66 73/74 AK, HO
I S Grant 2/02/66 66/67
J E Williams John 15/12/66 80/81 HO, WN
J P Edgar John 24/01/67 2004 HO
M J York 3/02/67 68/69
G N Body Graham 24/04/67 77/78 AK
J G Gibson 5/02/68 68/69 ?
S H Robson Simon 5/02/68 11/01/01 HO, WN
N A Hendy Nick 26/02/68 1980 HO
C G Butler Colin 30/04/68 69/70 HO
M J Jackett Mike 13/01/69 28/07/00 HO, WN
B K Watson Barry 3/03/69 77/78 AK, HO
T D Ferry 10/06/69 69/70 ?
A M Hopkinson Alan 10/09/69 82/83 AK
R N Hovey Rosemary 31/03/70 72/73 HO
D G Houghton Don 18/01/71 85/86 AK
P R Kippenberger Peter 1/03/71 AK
S T Chesterfield Stan 14/04/71 78/79 HO, WN
W J Frith Bill 17/05/71 AK HO Res
C M Bishop Chris 1/02/72 24/07/98 HO,WN
G H Holland Geoff 10/02/72 Dec-15 CH
A J Janssen John 21/02/72 AK,CH,AK
T S C Harris Tyroll 4/09/72 73/74 AK
C Singh Cal 29/10/73 84/85 HO, AK
C L Hewitt Chris 3/12/73 Jun-16 HO, AK
R R Bean Richard 14/02/74 CH, HO
M R Blakeley Margret 4/03/74 77/78 HO.AK
P J Wood Trish 21/01/75 79/80 HO, WN
W F Osmers Wayne 17/02/75 2010 HO,CH
S J Southall Steve 3/03/75 78/79 AK
J F Keeling John 10/11/75 76/77 AK
D P Croft Dave 12/01/76 AK
R W R Wright Bob 19/01/76 31/05/96 CH
E M Travers Liz 2/02/76 79/80 HO
David J White Dave 6/09/76 889/89 AK
J S King James 25/08/77 2011 HO, WN, HO
T Hughes Tim 27/04/78 HO, CH
S Badger  Stuart 31/05/80 2005 HO to MOT 
P R Mohi Paul 22/02/79 90/91 AK, HO
D N Hutchinson Don 11/02/80 HO
E R Chadfield Evan 10/03/80 26/05/92 WN
A M Sergejew Anatole 21/04/80 88/89 AK, HO
G P Clark Gary 26/01/82 89/90 WN
P N Harrison Phil 14/02/83 88/89 AK
C J Keleher Chris 28/02/83 85/86 HO
J W Barnes John 1/03/83 88/89 HO, AK
K S Bell Kieth 10/12/84 88/89 AK
I Appleton  Ian 1985 19/02/10 HO
M M Palalagi Marina 20/02/85 2015 AK
G J Hunter Gary 16/09/85 21/04/93 CH
D Wong-Toi  David 21/01/86 12/07/91 HO
S C Parry Steve 24/03/86 22/07/94 CH
C C Goh 14/04/86 87/88 ?
P V Conroy Pat 12/05/86 88/89 WN
P Mullen Pam 12/05/86 WN
P J Lute Paul 16/06/86 87/88 WN
J J Garvitch John 26/06/86 WN, WGR
V Vencatachellum Vadi 1/07/86 87/88 AK
M J Noone Murray 9/07/86 17/11/95 AK
D G McCabe Dean 16/02/87 14/03/94 CH, AK
S Seshachalapathi Sonti 6/04/87 87/88 AK
J Gregg June 5/10/87 Sep-15 CH
Alan Dixon Alan 18/01/88 28/12/93 WN
S Sundakov Sarah 5/04/88 29/01/99 WN
J G Roos Han 9/05/88 25/07/93 AK
M I Swan Malcolm 16/05/88 18/02/94 CH, AK
S Dennison Sofia 9/01/89 Jun-15 AK
C L Kraus Collete 13/07/89 27/10/99 HO
C M Southorn Cathrine 25/09/89 5/09/97 CH, HO
J K Saddington Joanne 26/02/90 5/01/98 AK
M B Tse Mitchell 19/03/90 31/10/97 HO, AK
L M Killgour Lisa 4/03/91 30/11/94 AK
B P King Blair 27/01/92 18/12/95 HO
G B Bean Graham 13/04/92 13/09/96 AK
S M Tyler Susan 21/04/92 9/08/95 AK
K D Brough Karl 6/07/92 24/09/99 WN, AK, HM
A M Ferris Angie 2/09/92 12/04/96 AK
B A McSwigan Brian 25/01/93 AK
M J Doole Michael 10/01/94 ? WN
Y A Warnaar Yvonne 23/01/95 2010 CH
Z Andjic Zarko 15/05/95 30/04/99 CH
C D Barry Cherie 26/09/95 23/05/97 AK
P M Cleal Peter 24/01/96 ? HO
D B Kalasish Dom 4/03/96 ? HO
S A Boyle Shelly 9/05/96 18/10/96 AK
H Sigthorsson Haraldur 12/12/96 8/05/98 WN
B M Turner Blair 3/02/97 21/01/00 AK
L M Faga Loni 10/03/97 27/09/02 AK
L M Killgour Lisa 2/06/97 24/10/97 AK
B J Baker Ben 22/07/97 ?
L B Hammond Lyndon 23/09/97 ? WN, HO
B Jovanovic Branka 17/11/97 27/04/01 AK
C Urlich Cherie 27/04/98 ? AK. HM
S C Parry Steve 27/07/98 ? CH
J P Byfield Jeremy 26/08/98 1/03/06 WN, DN
J A Clark Jane 8/12/99 ? WN
R M Denton Robyn 20/12/99 ? HM
M J Russell Mike 10/04/00 2004 AK
W M Goold Warwick 10/07/00 2014 AK
C G Goble Colin 28/08/00 NP
N L Abram Natasha 4/09/00 2001 AK
A J M Lawson Andrew 23/01/01 27/07/01 WN
D J Curson David 7/02/01 ? WN , PN
P G Croft Peter 2/07/01 ? HO
S K Ong Sue Wen 13/09/01 1/06/02 Wn
C M Morrison Colin 23/10/01 WN
T A Selby Tim 12/11/01 2005 WN
S M Alexander Stuart 23/11/01 2012 WN
ML Janssen Linda 4/11/03 Dec-03 AK 
SF James Simon 14/01/02 ? HM
J Hayes Jeff Mar-02 Jun-02 WN 
L Bridson Lisa Sep-02 ? WN  
AW Edgar Andrew 1/08/02 ? HO
D Eyre David 11/11/02 2004 HO
J Castle Jamie 21/07/03 ? Wn
R Dempster Rosie 28/07/03 ? WN
I Duncan Ian 19/05/03 DN
T Lester Tiffany 15/12/03 ? PN
E Masters Eudessa May-16 WN 
L McAdams Leanne HM
J Oliver Justine ? DN 
D Scarlet David 1/06/03 CH
C Alberts  Charl 8/12/03 PN

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

NZ Transport Agency

In 2008  LTNZ merged with Transit - the State Highway builders and formed the NZ Transport Agency - NZTA.

Things bumped along for a time before the inevitable 'restructure" in which Doug Miller our manager was "positioned out" that is, nothing for him at NZTA. Doug wasn't afraid to speak up and pull chains that needed pulling and I did hear him say a few controversial things that might not have been popular but I did know he was well very respected around the regions. Whatever the reason the CAS team was once again a tiny piece of flotsam bobbing about looking for a new home.

The CAS group, sixteen of us, found ourselves placed in the Investment team a logical home as most of the Investments teams clients are one and the same as CAS end users - that is local bodies or their network managers - the consulting fraternity.

Not long before then the MoT had initiated a review of the CAS system as they had concerns about the split management, that so much knowledge rested in one head - Stuart Badger  (which despite a few attempts they had never been able to clone) as well as concerns about the ageing CAS platform, by that stage 12 years old. This work was commissioned to an external company (Maven) and their report set out a way forward with the end game being a CAS Replacement (CASR) product being in place in five years - 2015.  Along with a whole raft of other improvements like a user forum, distributed system knowledge, self reporting, less exposed to risk and an easy to use public facing interface for casual users along with all the innovation you could have expected to see in the preceding decade.

In early 2011 the then only newly appointed CAS Manager (tasked with bringing the CAS replacement to fruition as well as managing the existing team) completed a restructure that saw the Wellington team shrink by one with the loss of James King.
The team was rearranged into a "ProcessingTeam" managed by Geoff Holland from the Christchurch Office and an "Analysis" team of five, two in Wellington Colin Morrison and Narad Kunwar and three in Auckland Lynette Billings, Karyn Van Dam and Marina Palalagi being managed from Wellington by an external appointee who did not, as it worked out, stay long in the position.
I was made the teams Principal Advisor, without staff with the job of keeping an eye on the existing system, taking over the CAS user management and a stricter privacy based  "need to see" approach to the scanned original Police forms and helping the replacement team with my institutional CAS knowledge.

My full crew prior to the restructure - at one of our team days on the farm
Karyn, Jo , Lynette, Warwick, Me,  Marina and Sofia. 

The  real change however was the decision that the regional CAS teams, upon the delivery of the replacement product would be expected to relocate to Wellington.

There are certainly plus's and minus's to the centralisation argument, from the point of view of training, management, reduced costs, critical mass (especially if turnover is high) and continuity there are positives. On the flip side there is risk of placing a nationally important group in the one location overdue for the "big one".  The further risk for this team was a loss of connection with the regional safety fraternity including NZ Police and from the point of view of crash processing the loss of local knowledge important for crash locations, but to be fair the impact of the latter has been lessened over time with technologies such as Google street view. The final risk is losing institutional knowledge - especially with older team members less likely to be willing to relocate.

In mid 2014 a decision was made to bring forward some aspects of the planned centralisation of staff and the two remaining analysts in the Auckland team were given the opportunity to move to the Access and Use business group in Wellington along with their two counterparts in Wellington. The Auckland staff decided not to move to Wellington and of course the two Wellington people just changed floors and managers.

Me with some of my old crew when Lynette went over to the Highway team.

In late 2014 the Agency commissioned an IQA of the CAS Replacement Project  - an independent quality assurance, a good practice approach to make sure things are on track.
As a result of the IQA a decision was made to move CAS ownership and the delivery of CASR from the Investment team over to the Access and Use (A and U) business group as a more logical fit placing CAS alongside the two other large data bases at the agency.

By mid 2015 the remainder of the CAS team had moved to the A and U Analysis and Insights team. The previous Investment group CAS Manager and CASR project manager leaving shortly before.
The CAS Manager role was taken on by the Analysis and Insights Manager.

With the CAS Replacement delayed but still due for delivery mid 2016 and allowing for the brand new Wellington based team to get up to speed the regional CAS processing teams shut their doors finally in Christchurch in December 2015 with the departure of Geoff and Max Grey. June Gregg and Margaret Hardy having left the same office in September 2015. The remaining Auckland processing staff had left not long before.

Max and Geoffs' farewell in Dec 2015 along with Margaret and June who had left in September 2015

I was asked to stay on till June 2016 to help out the CAS  replacement team with UAT testing of the factor code changes deemed necessary for the replacement product but to be implemented initially in existing CAS. I also carried on looking after CAS users entrance and exit to the system as I'd done since 2011 - some 1000 plus users. I was moved to the Research and Evaluation team (R and E) towards the end of 2015 not long after their new manager Alex Brocklehurst was appointed.
I did a lot of CAS training in HQ as well as helping out my R and E colleagues with peer reviewing some of their CAS work. I updated a significant amount of the downloadable CAS help material using Adobe Acrobat Pro on behalf of the CASR Comms team.
I found the R and E team pleasant to work in full of very bright and quirky people reminiscent of my early years in Wellington. Probably a somewhat under-utilised group as an A and U only resource rather than pan-agency.

Skipping forward to mid 2016, CAS has not been replaced despite the initial high hopes by the CASR Governance group that the Agency could purchase a CoTs (commercial off the shelf) product and deliver it with a few tweaks.
I know from talking with colleagues outside the Agency that they are wondering what is happening with the project as the last communication on the subject was around seven months ago.
In fact one external user I was training shortly before I left was of the impression that the replacement had been quietly implemented in the way a lot of software is - in the background. I had to disappoint him by saying there were no new features.

Like my other regional colleagues I chose to stay in my original location for family reasons. I lived in Wellington between 1967 and 1976 and although much has changed for the better their climate hasn't nor have the earthquakes which I seem to feel every time I'd been there on business. Although compared to what I have felt on Christchurch they seriously need to "harden up".

The good thing is CAS is still running eighteen years after it was rolled out in 1998 testament to the outstanding work done by the vendor RTI (and their system maintenance up until 2012)  as well as the LTSA, LTNZ , MoT and finally NZTA teams that keep it functional. That has got to be a spectacular achievement.

Time will tell if the all new team can keep up the standard of excellence provided by all the teams having gone before and if the centralisation call was a good one.

On the flip side and how all over-budget block buster disaster movies should end Marina has a great job at Auckland Transport as their CAS god, Lynette is a Project Controller in the Auckland Highways team, Karyn is finally completing her Business degree, Sofia is tutoring students with excellent results, Warwick is caring for his dad, Jo is being a grandma.
Geoff, Margaret and June hung in there to retire post 65 with redundancy which you can tell from their faces in the picture above was a good thing - and being the Christchurch crew with two of their house totally written off and the others badly damaged- a well deserved bonus for keeping going through all the stress and disruption.

This essentially is my point in writing this blog - so the work of those regional Engineering / crash processing teams remains acknowledged somewhere because unaware to most the entire safety fraternity relies on this team doing its job well.

To be continued.......

Sunday, 10 July 2016

A very long piece I wrote for the IPENZ Transportation Groups newsletter "Roundabout" in 2006 on the demise of the engineering team

The end of a fine engineering dynasty …….

On Monday 3rd July 2006, with the implementation of the regional office restructuring at Land Transport NZ, came the symbolic end of a very fine traffic engineering dynasty.  This dynasty was born in 1928 when Andrew Forsyth is credited with being the first traffic and safety appointment within the government’s Transport Department.  At that time the Department was largely occupied with matters such as transport licensing and vehicle inspection issues.  

Things were moved slowly through the 30’s and 40’s, with only five appointments that I have been able to track down. One was Barney Campbell who later became the first Director of Land Transport.  Another, Jim Pierce, was appointed after the war in 1947.  Jim was very active in trying to bring some order to that still somewhat controversial subject of speed restrictions.  Shortly after that, in 1948, Florrie Pope started systematically looking after crash data for the entire country.  As part of this process, all the forms were photographed by the traffic engineering cadets.  Duplication enabled the data to be spread to our traffic engineering staff, who by the late 1950s were based in Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Christchurch and Dunedin.

During the 1950’s there were at least ten appointments, including names that will still be familiar to many of us - for example,  Ross Palmer (1950) , Carne Clissold (1952) , Earl Sanderson (1954) and John Toomath (1957).

Ross Palmer was the individual who really kicked things along in the Traffic Engineering Section, which by then was offering a free safety and design consulting service to the many small local bodies of the time.  Ross was the first qualified traffic engineer to be employed in the Transport Department.  He was instrumental in bringing many safety improvements to our roads, including running the Guinea Pig Highway project between Pukerua Bay and Sanson where many innovations like advisory speed signs and new road markings were tried.  I was recently looking at some 8mm movies that my Dad took in the 1950s and the highways of today are, by comparison, a marvel of delineation and signposting. Ross was also involved in the Palmerton North Safety City project.  It was during this project that, for the first time, Give Way signs were used at intersections, and it was from this project that the installation criteria for them was developed.    Ross also developed the speed limit warrant, which is still fundamentally the same today. Ross died aged 43, not long after I joined in the early 70’s. He may be gone, but his work is not forgotten.

During the 1950s and 60s the Traffic Engineering Section was responsible for a variety of regulatory functions. Managing speed limits was one of these.  Gazetting road weight limit classifications was another; there were many classes of roads up until the 1970s. The Section also looked after vehicle dimensions, weight limits, and who could forget to mention the bane of some of our lives – Service Station Standards.

Back then service stations were licenced and the Transport Department (and later MoT) managed to upgrade the general standard of service station design by objecting to sub-standard designs through the Motor Spirits Licensing Board. These standards were subsequently often embodied into district schemes, along with parking design standards and other traffic and safety elements.

The traffic signal warrant was also developed within the Transport Department during this time, in order to provide some useful guidance on when signals could be justified. However, the warrant was also used to justify the issue of an import licence for the signal equipment.

At least 28 appointments were made in the 1960s to locations around the country.  Many people started as cadets in Head Office and were then transferred to the regions.  Arrivals during that time included Tony Francis, Bob Gibson, Wayne Pettersson, John Edgar, Graham Body, Simon Robson, Nick Hendy (one of the people who got our crash system kicked off), Mike Jackett, Alan Hopkinson and Barry Watson.

In 1966 the Transport Department became the Ministry of Transport.  In the 1970’s the Section continued to expand with around 25 appointments including such familiar names as Don Houghton , Peter Kippenberger, Bill Frith, Chris Bishop , Stanley Chesterfield, Geoff Holland, Chris Hewitt, Richard Bean, Trish Wood, Wayne Osmers, David Croft, John Janssen, James King, Tim Hughes and Stuart Badger (the god of crash systems).

During this period, anybody with a slight bent for research may have found themselves dragged off to the newly formed Research Section under John Toomath. This group, originally part of the Ministry of Transport, was later moved to the LTSA.  Ironically, in the brave new world, it has been moved back to the Ministry of Transport.

During the 1970s, Wellington Region staff also detached themselves physically from Head Office on The Terrace and headed up to the other end of the town.

In 1976, when I was still a prisoner of Head Office, I can remember Barry Watson  (I think he was the Senior Traffic Engineer) getting landed with hundreds of ministerials (letters from the public to Ministers of Parliament) following the introduction of the “new” traffic regulations.  These regulations included the infamous Left Turn Rule. I still have a vision of him sitting behind piles of these ministerials, stroking his moustache, swearing, and then hurling one ‘frisbee style’ across the office, scything down pot plants as it spun in the general direction of the Research Section.

Both the Transport Department and the Ministry of Transport had a very strong commitment to training and staff development.  With the virtual absence of traffic and safety training in New Zealand, most staff took opportunities to study either in Australia, the USA or UK. Both organisations also ran annual (internal) Traffic Engineering Workshops with a very strong training flavour.  Nobody went without having to say something or contribute in some way.  

While the Workshops could be a little intimidating initially, I can still remember at my first one (third day on the job in 1973) being impressed by the many older and wise individuals. Of course in those days you could be an elderly Regional Engineer at thirty five!!

During the 1970s the MoT really started to lift the professional profile of the traffic group, with very strong support for the Transportation Group, the Traffic Management Workshops and Roundabout.  A lot of staff gave their time to the Workshop and also to ‘Roundabout’.  Much of the cost of these to activities was worn by the Ministry.

I found the Section at this time a particularly inclusive and pleasant workplace with many workplace habits that might have been innovative for their time, such as flexible working hours. Certainly the positive management styles of Carne Clissold and Wayne Pettersson in particular were things that has undoubtedly influenced my way of working with my own teams - although, thankfully, I avoided Carnes paper management style. This could be best characterised as ‘un-filed paper mountains’.  Others were not so lucky - note the paper mountain habits of Wayne Osmers, who was in Head Office the same time as I was.

The 1980s saw twenty nine appointments and the creation of technical assistants to look after the crash data. Names from the 1980s that will sound very familiar include Don Hutchinson, Anatole Sergejew, Marina Palalagi, Steve Parry, Pam Mullen, John Garvitch, June Gregg , David Wong-Toi, Alan Dixon , Catherine Southorn , Murray Noone, Ian Appleton and Sofia Dennison  

Local body amalgamation also allowed for some critical traffic and safety mass to develop inside local bodies during the 1980s.  This and the growth of specialist consultants saw less breadth in work for us, with a stronger safety focus and a withdrawal from hands-on design work . But then who would miss the freezing cold of the Huntly parking survey or the abject boredom that is a conflict study!  

One consequence of these changes was an increase in staff turnover, with the organisation no longer able to provide new people with the breadth of training it once could. As in many other formerly large government agencies, overseas study and large scale training was largely abandoned. It could be argued that we are starting to pay the price for this now.

The 1990s saw the Traffic Engineering and Research Sections incorporated into a new Land Transport Safety Authority in 1993, as well as twenty seven further appointments, including Brian McSwigan, Cherie Urlich, Yvonne Warnaar and Lyndon Hammond. It is interesting to note that only five of the twenty seven remain at Land Transport NZ.

Since the beginning of the new millennia it has been getting harder and harder to keep a track of people, with arrivals and departures happening faster than I can get them on my list.  This seems especially the case in our Wellington Regional office.  After long time Regional Engineer Mike Jackett left in 2000 the office has been having more and more difficulty retaining people in the buoyant Wellington job market.

Post 2000 arrivals that are still at Land Transport NZ are Warwick Goold, Colin Goble, Andrew Edgar, Ian Duncan, Eudesa Masters, Joanne Hedge, Justine Oliver , Alec Looney, Margaret Hardy and David Scarlet.
Those that just passed through included Peter Croft, Tim Selby and Mike Russell.

The engineering section has moved through four different organisations and has had a certain amount of “badge engineering”, at one time called Road and Traffic Standards which certainly was not my personal favourite.
By my calculations that makes a model that lasted 78 years, with at least 153 staff in total, and with much the same management model from the 1950s on.

In the words of Vince Martin “beat that”.

Chris Hewitt.

Land Transport NZ Auckland

A gathering ...

On the 22nd August 2010 Wayne Osmers one of our long time colleagues from the Christchurch office (and originally from HQ) died age 56.
I'd been in HQ with Wayne and I still have his Cream de Menthe cheese cake recipe in my very old and tattered flatting days  cook book, it isn't often a cheese cake is so alcoholic is burns on the way down.......

Cal Singh a very long time good buddy of Wayne's (them both having been in HQ together) and long having left the employment of the tax payer decided it would be a good thing to have a gathering of as many of the 1970 and 80's MoT engineers before it was "too late".

This was duly organised in 2011.

Back : Peter Kippenberger, Murray No-one, David White, David Croft, Anatole Sergejew

Front : Keith Bell , Phil Harrison, Steve Southall, Don Houghton, Chris Hewitt, Vadi Vencatachellum, Cal Singh

Land Transport New Zealand 2004 to 2008

In 2004 Land Transport NZ was formed when the LTSA merged with Transfund a small largely invisible agency with a budget in the billions tasked with co-funding local body roading and 100% funding the State Highway network.
Interestingly the LTSA brand was so strong that pretty much for the whole life of LTNZ it was referred to in the media and elsewhere as the LTSA. This was an irony since Transfund and it's management effectively took over the LTSA.
At the same time the Research team from LTSA got moved back to the MoT to bolster what had become a very small and under resourced Ministry. For CAS this was to prove to not be a good move as responsibility was split.

The merger saw the engineering team which had effectively survived more than three decades of reshapings, rebadging and reshufflings  get totally cannibalised to build the land transport program management side of the business. Some might say it was the rise of the bureaucrat in the funding area. Safety very definitely felt like the back seat of the bus.

CAS was placed in Doug Millers Performance Monitoring group with myself and Geoff Holland becoming Managers Performance Information, northern and southern respectively.
A third position was filled in Wellington for a time by Narbin Pradhan until he left to go to Australia - our loss.
After Nabin left James King filled in minus staff responsibilities.
The other two groups were Marianne McMillen and the Auditors and  Balt Gregorius and the Performance Measurement group.

Doug was an excellent manager and everyone liked and respected him, fair to say while we still got through the agenda I've never laughed so much during staff meetings.

Doug always made a point of coming in to say hello to my team in Auckland even if he wasn't actually in our building on business.

Geoff Holland looked after the South Island Road Safety Briefing Notes, I did the ones north of Taupo with Colin Morrison and James King kicking the rest for touch from Wellington. We continued to get them out the door on time for another four years. The three of us virtually driving the direction of road safety for the whole country in a very data driven, locally focused way.

Geoff and I with Simon Robson our former colleague of many years at the IPENZ conference in 2008 

Geoff, James and I met up in each others patches for regular "CAS at the coalface" meetings as we called them. Each one included a "field trip" to see first hand the issues faced by each region and it meant that if one of us was on leave cover from another region was better informed. Organisations can get very Wellington and HQ centric if you let them.

We worked well together as we all had similar backgrounds and knew each other so well we had some outstandingly robust discussions behind closed doors without anybody taking offence!!

James King (Wellington), Geoff Holland (Christchurch), Chris Hewitt (Auckland) 

With Doug's help I got two more people in my team, Lynette Billings and Karyn Van Dam. This let us finally get all the non-injury factor codes added to crashes and gave me some help with continuing to write the ever popular Briefing Notes. It also let us boost CAS training, liaise better with specialist groups at NZ Police eg the Serious Crash unit and generally get a little more into proactive data driven safety material.

Sofia Dennison and Lynette did most of the Police liaison delivering really informative sessions between Whangarei to Hamilton. The purpose here was to promote quality crash reports by showing Police how the data was actually used to reduce crashes. I ran similar sessions with the Police Intel staff which included CAS training.

Team "training" day at my place - an oft used venue for many years prior.
Lynette, Jo, me, Karyn, Marina (team leader), Warwick and Sofia

Doug also undertook a complete review of the CAS system, its productivity, the dispersed locations of the teams and the potential for the introduction of new technologies.
The conclusions were that productivity was good, the team placement was sound for strategic reasons and that there were opportunities for the Police to introduce new technologies for gathering data. As a result he funded (or co-funded) a trial of hand held ticketing devices in Southland. He also believed that the Agency was well placed to fully take over CAS management from the MoT.

Then followed yet another merger - with Transit the State Highway builder. 

Thursday, 7 July 2016


The Land Transport Safety Authority.

That people still often refer to the LTSA as if it still exists indicates how much positive influence that organisation had on safety and did it with a relatively small and nimble staff and no budget of substance.

The Auckland engineering office had one manager and usually four or five engineers with four technical assistants looking after crash data.

The Auckland Engineering team in 2003, Brian the teams manger photoshopped in !

The whole LTSA Engineering team in Rotorua  

Auckland team of 2000 at another gathering at my place 

Another gathering at my place with mum and dad in attendance 

Between 1995 and 1998 the LTSA developed the Crash Analysis System (CAS) with RTI in Auckland as the prime contractor. CAS was the Windows version (on steroids) of all previous systems and was a project that was on time, on budget, world leading and award winning.

Along with looking after Northland and then South Auckland (Manukau City, Papakura and Franklin Districts) in a far more advisory role I spent a lot of time working on CAS between between 1995 and 1998. For a time I was seconded to the Research team to focus entirely on built-in data entry validation checks.

Quote from the CAS Help system

"A major strength of CAS is the integration between crash queries, mapping, map based queries and reporting. This online help system will assist you to understand how each of these processes is done; so you can maximise the information and insight you gain from the system.
CAS was developed in the mid 90’s and introduced in 1998, and the Ministry of Transport and the NZ Trans[port Agency have continued to develop CAS since that time. It won the "Excellence in the Use of IT for Decision Management" Computerworld award in 2001.

CAS was developed by a team lead by Stuart Badger (LTSA/MoT Scientist) with Chris Hewitt, David Croft, Geoff Holland and Simon Robson (LTSA Traffic Engineers) in conjunction with Relational Technology International (RTI), Geni New Zealand and Critchlow Associates "

The build team from RTI with the core LTSA team 

The test team from LTSA 

Some of the CAS outputs 

The CAS build remains a career highlight for me not least of which was working with an excellent vendor and with a bunch of people who knew what they were doing and how the information was used and all rowing the boat in the same direction. In other words totally about facilitation.

In 2004 we took CAS external via the web to "approved" clients.  A small group of us trained about 450 individuals in how to use CAS in three hour sessions of around 12 at a time- of course at that stage even the idea of mapping was an unfamiliar concept for some.

At the same time the engineering team was making the most of CAS and began proactively producing safety assessments for every local body in New Zealand as well as providing one for each of Transit New Zealand's (the State Highway managers) regions. I can't remember who had the idea originally but they became the Authority's most popular and respected safety product evolving over more than a decade.

Gathering in the Wangarei sub-office

Back row : Linda Janssen, Sofia Dennison, Chris Hewitt, Warwick Goold, Brian McSwigan, Marina Palalagi,  David Croft
Front : Karen Sandoy (Whangarei sub office) Mike Russell and John Garvitch (Whangarei Sub office) 

I think most peoples experience of the LTSA was the same - it might have had its weaknesses but it was a good organisation to work for - a common goal and not a case where a bloated admin starts becoming the tail that wags the dog. Something I've seen over and over as public sector organisations grow.

Engineering and research team at LTSA

Some of the crew taken at a gathering in 2016
Loni Faga (1997 -2002), Chris Hewitt (1973 - 2016), Lynette Billings (2007 - 2014), Linda Janssen (2003) and Sofia Dennison (1989 - 2015)

Then began the mergers ......

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

1976 to 1992 Auckland

Came to Auckland in 1976 on transfer. Flatted with fellow workmate for a while before moving into top floor of lovely old house in Parnell for the princely sum of $50pw shared between three of us, it was of course exorbitant compared to what I had been paying in Wellington.  The stability of the flat and the pleasantness of my flatmates was a good base to really start enjoying my job which was entirely different from Wellington, as I had hoped. I was also biking everywhere having sold the rust bucket of a '65 850 Mini I had in Wellington.

Back then there were hundreds of local bodies (here are just over 70 now) and rather than them "going it alone" the MoT provided the smaller ones with a free traffic engineering service from its pool of expertise based in the three main centres.

I learnt a lot very fast especially from excellent trainers like Alan Hopkinson, not much he didn't know about intersection design and plenty else.

I can't remember exactly how big the Auckland team was but somewhere around ten of us.
We were based in what was known then as the Custom House (Customs and MaF were on the top floors), and a horrible dark, noisy, metal desks, lino (peeling) floored, insecure ( I was robbed twice by "stair dancers") hole that was.
That said it was all the incentive I needed to spend half my time in the field driving around in what were the wrecks of ex-patrol cars that became our office pool cars. Frayed seat belts, collapsed seats, questionable safety all round (by todays standards) - just the thing for the exuberant youth in the office to beat the last vestige of mileage out of.

I looked after "West" initially, that was New Lynn, Henderson, Glen Eden Boroughs and Waitemata County which collectively became Waitemata City in the first big round of local body amalgamations. A pretty big patch from the very urban to the very rural, an excellent area to look after with a bit of everything. I got to know the borough engineers very well, they were generous with me seeing I was so young - not that anyone was very old in the engineering world back then.  Some of my roundabout designs are still functioning to this day.

In 1980 the MoT sent me and one other staff member to Australia for four months of full time study at the University of NSW on full pay plus expenses and bonded us for two years. There wasn't any traffic engineering study of substance available in NZ back then. It was an awesome opportunity and one I very much doubt any public sector agency would offer these days. I learnt a lot from the really good and practically oriented staff.
As well as that I learnt rents were huge compared to Auckland, in summer Sydney was a lot hotter than NZ (45 some days), that it wasn't safe to walk through long grass and that their coffee was so much better than ours - we were instant and they were flat whites. They also had cafes - something at that time only found in the Orakei Garden Centre in Auckland.

After that I looked after Northland and I forget exactly the number of small local bodies up there, the smallest being Hikurangi Town District, although at some point it got whittled down to just the three big ones Far North, Kaipara and Whangarei Districts. Got to know one of the Engineers at Whangarei pretty well Wayne Davison (since passed away) really nice guy and good to work with.
Engineer at Kaipara was the same person I'd worked with in Glen Eden. Far North was a moving target and shifting sand of staff.

Northland was very different to West Auckland and the only way to deal with it was to gather a lot of  jobs of varying sizes, work out an efficient itinerary and go away for a week at a time, usually with two of us as many surveys required two people, mainly with Dave Croft and on occasion Anatole Sergejew or Mitchell Tse. We got $45 a day for accommodation and meals, beyond that, your problem. By all accounts happy times working in Northland a much bigger place than people realise and economically as diverse as its roading.

In 1985 we saw the first systematic crash reduction studies done NZ us having been introduced to them Barbara Sabey from the UK. I found myself on the first one in Auckland and was effectively seconded to the Ministry of Works for three months to teach their staff about analysing crash data.
I don't think the local office was that enthusiastic about this new fangled idea but it was thrashed along by one of the MoW HQ staff Roy Coddington  whose only weakness was the need to have a stand up argument with someone at the first black spot site of the day. I liked him he had passion and he really "got it", not withstanding he was a bit scary at times. A friend of mine working for Beca's later did an analysis of that study and found that the benefits of the study to be 28:1, that is for every dollar spent on the low cost remedial measures $28 dollars was returned to the tax payer in crash savings.

I don't have many pictures from that time but this is one from 1988 with most of the team at one of our annual training workshops.

At some point we moved offices to the Bledisoe Building in behind the Civic Theatre which was a huge improvement on the Custom House and for the first time (and as it transpired my last) I had my own office with opening windows and a huge tree right outside, love that oxygen.

We even had a "Computer room" yes indeed, the 8086 and dot matrix printer had arrived.

By then I had a team of four technical assistants under my wing.

Then along came the Land Transport Safety Authority and the demise of the much bigger MoT - all good things it transpired.