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Digital book

Engineering in changing times

Reminiscences of a New Zealand civil engineer

Graham Ramsay


Out of print
356 pages, paperback


Over a career spanning 50 years, Graham Ramsay experienced many changes in the civil engineering profession.

In 1966 engineers had a mainly technical role relying on simplified analyses, slide  rules, and manual drafting techniques. Fast forward to 2016 and advancing technology had revolutionised the profession, allowing more comprehensive and sophisticated investigations, testing and analyses. And computers also meant the arrival of word processing, computer-aided draughting and graphics, the internet and email.  In addition, changes in legislation and the expectations of society have meant that civil engineers are now expected to become involved in public consultation and consider the environmental impacts of projects.

This book describes a wide range of projects Graham was involved in with the Ministry of Works and Development between 1973 and 1988 and with Beca Consultants from 1988 to 2016. Using these projects,  he has shown how engineering has changed over those years and discusses ongoing challenges facing the profession and government to identify and provide appropriate, effective and reliable infrastructure.

Download a sampled chapter

Technical papers

At the time of printing, the technical papers referred to in the book are available from the links provided. Note: members of NZ Engineering can access papers for free from informit.org by logging in through the NZ Engineering website and navigating to the RMIT database.

By downloading the pdfs, the reader acknowledges it is for the purpose of private study and that papers will not otherwise be reproduced, stored, or transmitted without establishing and obtaining the prior written permission of the copyright holder.

  1. Huizing, J.B.S., Blakeley R.W.G., and Ramsay G. 1977. Falsework; NZ Engineering 32(1): p. 2-9. Available at informit.org

  2. Prendergast B.B. and Ramsay G. 1980. Design of Reinforced Earth for New Zealand Conditions. Proceedings of the 3rd Australia - New Zealand Conference on Geomechanics; Wellington 1980. p. 1-155 — 1-159. Available at infomit.org

  3. Ramsay G. 1980. Stabilisation of a Mudstone Derived Colluvium Slope. Proceedings of the 3rd Australia - New Zealand Conference on Geomechanics; Wellington 1980. p 2-107 - 2-114. Download

  4. Paterson B.R., Ramsay G and Jennings, D.N. 1988. Design and Construction Aspects of the Maniototo Scheme Paerau Diversion. Proceedings of the 5th Australia -New Zealand Conference on Geomechanics, Sydney, 1988. p. 591-596. Available at informit.org

  5. Jennings D.N., Bracegirdle A., Ramsay G. 1984. Highwall Design for a New Zealand Opencast Coal Mine. Proceedings of the 4th Australia -New Zealand Conference on Geomechanics, Perth, 1984. p. 641-646. Download

  6. Ramsay G. 1978. Liquefaction — Investigation, Recognition and Design, Unpublished paper prepared for a NZ National Society for Earthquake Engineering Discussion Group. Download

  7. Ramsay G. 1995.Ewen Bridge replacement —foundation design and construction. IPENZ Transactions vol 22 No I/CE November 1995. P. 9-16. Available at informit.org

  8. Ramsay G and Marshall T.O. 1995. Ewen Bridge replacement — pile grouting. IPENZ Transactions Vol 22 No I/CE November 1995. p. 1-8.   Available at informit.org

  9. Ramsay G. 1998. Otira Viaduct Project Slope Stability Considerations. Roading Geotechnics '98, New Zealand Geotechnical Society, Auckland, 1998. p. 229- 233. Download

  10. Ramsay G. 2000. Otira Valley Rock Avalanche. Landslides: In research, theory and practice: Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium on Landslides Cardiff, 2000. Vol 3, p. 1275-1280. Copy not provided.

  11. Ramsay G and Holyoake R.J. 2000. Geotechnical Aspects of the Otira Viaduct. Paper presented at the ISRM International symposium. Melbourne Australia. Paper number ISRM-lS-2000-375. © 2000 Taylor & Francis, London, UK. Used with permission. Download
  12. Ramsay G. 1998. Transmission Gully Motorway — Engineering Aspects. Proceedings of IPENZ Conference; Auckland 1998. Vol 3, p. 50-56. Available at informit.org

  13. Ramsay G., Stroud R.G.; and Rendall D.R. 1998. Transmission Gully Motorway — engineering and environmental aspects. 9th Conference REAAA, Wellington, May 1998. Vol 1, p. 300-306. Download
  14. Ramsay G. 1998. Presentation of Roading Projects in Public Consultation. Proceedings of IPENZ Conference; Auckland, 1998. Vol 4, p 177-182. Available at infomit.org

  15. Ramsay G. 2006. Delivering a roading project in an urban community. NZIHT & Transit NZ 8th Annual Conference, Transportation and the pursuit excellence, Auckland, 2006. p. 1-16. Download
  16. Ramsay G. 2010. Repair and Modification of New Zealand Railway Tunnels. CORE 2010 Conference on Railway Engineering Wellington, 2010. p. 255-266. Download

  17. Ramsay G.; Glynn Morris, T.; Pender M., and Griffiths M. 2011. Geotechnical Investigations of subsidence in the Wairakei-Tauhara Geothermal Field. New Zealand Geothermal Workshop 2011 Proceedings, Auckland. p. 1-8. Download
  18. Ramsay G. 1983. Monitoring the Performance of Dams and Canals. New Zealand Geomechanics Society, Proceedings of the Symposium Engineering for Dams and Canals; Alexandra 1983. p. Il 12.1-12.7 Available at informit.org
  19. Ramsay G. 1992. Theme Report on stabilisation and remedial works. Proceedings of the 6th International Symposium on landslides Christchurch 1992. p. 1747-1752. © 1992 Taylor & Francis, London, UK. Used with permission. Download

About the author

Graham Ramsay

Graham Ramsay was born in Papakura in 1948 and educated at Kings College, Otahuhu and the University of Auckland School of Engineering. After graduating in 1973 with a PhD, Graham joined the Ministry of Works and Development in Auckland. In 1975 he relocated with his wife, Virginia, to Wellington and settled in Paremata. In 1988 he moved to Beca Consultants, retiring in 2016.