Our Origins & The First 20 Years

NZCS – The Early Days

Extracted from Coastal News Issue#51 October 2012

By Terry Hume, John Duder and John Lumsden

The New Zealand Coastal Society was born in 1992 at a time of great organisational, policy and environmental change in New Zealand. The Resource Management Act 1991 had required councils to prepare coastal plans and take a much greater role in activities associated with the coastline which saw the need for improved coastal information and communication across disciplines to address consenting and environmental issues. Crown Research Institutes were formed taking over the roles of Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, some of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and parts of the New Zealand Meteorological Service.

In fact, the need for improved communication and interdisciplinary effort had been recognised earlier by the ‘coastal community’ and saw the 7th Australasian Conference on Coastal and Ocean Engineering being held in Christchurch in 1985 with Bob Morris as Chair. This was a first, for both New Zealand as a venue and the gathering with our Australian colleagues being termed Australasian. This gathering was closely followed by the formation of the New Zealand Ocean Waves Society in 1987 and then in 1991 the Canterbury Coastal Research Group.

December 1991 saw the very successful 10th Australasian Conference on Coastal and Ocean Engineering held in Auckland with John Duder as chair. Its ‘Climate for change’ theme not only focused on the effects of climate change but also on the increasing requirements to move to a multidisciplinary approach involving engineering, scientific, planning and resource management disciplines when addressing coastal problems. It was at this conference that a group of about 30 people met to explore the possibility of establishing a National Coastal Group relating to coasts and oceans. Present at the Auckland meeting chaired by Terry Hume were representatives of other coastal groups, including the Ocean Waves Society, the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society, and the Canterbury Coastal Research Group.

The inaugural meeting of a steering committee was held on 13 March 1992 when it was agreed the new group be known as the New Zealand Society for Coastal Sciences and Engineering. Things got off to a busy start underpinned by healthy profits from the 1991 conference, along with capable leadership by John Lumsden as Chair. Early on there was some investigation as to whether the society’s activities might be strengthened by becoming a chapter of American Shore & Beach International. This concept was abandoned in favour of joining with IPENZ and, in September 1992, the society achieved recognition as a Technical Group of IPENZ. It wasn’t long before IPENZ was seeking advice from the society, including opinion on the New Zealand coastal policy on sea-level rise.

The inaugural AGM of the society took place in Hamilton in February 1993. In 1994, the society’s membership was broadened and strengthened by a merger with the New Zealand Ocean Waves Society which also further strengthened the society’s financial position.

The first Coastal News was published in July 1993, featuring a report on the wide-ranging visits and lectures by the coastal engineer Professor Per Bruun and a message from Chair John Lumsden, in which he noted the timeliness of the society’s formation with the increased focus on coastal resources, wealth and pollution, and the challenge for sustainable management. The newsletter soon became established as the primary medium in fulfilling the society’s purpose in bringing together scientists and engineers and, not far behind, coastal planners.

In 1994 the society held the first of what would be many successful annual seminars and conferences. This was attended by about 100 members in Wellington with the theme of ‘The role of science and engineering in coastal planning.’ From this point in time, growth of membership to the society was rapid and by June 1995 it had 150 members and strong regional groups were being formed.

The society changed its name to the New Zealand Coastal Society in 1995 to reflect the name in common usage and better represent the interests of a growing number of members and potential members who were neither scientists nor engineers.

The society now has over 400 members and the rest, as they say, is history


Click the link below to view the keynote presentation from the 2012 NZCS annual conference that summarises the society's first 20 years.

The First 20 Years