Quake expert honoured

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 07:32 02/06/2014

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A seismic engineer who gave evidence to the royal commission has been made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Dr Nigel Priestley was a senior lecturer at the University of Canterbury before being "head-hunted" by the University of California San Diego. What he intended to be a three-year stint turned into 15 years.

Priestley said his biggest contribution to the field was in the best way to design structures for earthquake response.

Among buildings using the approach in the Christchurch rebuild was the Lyttelton Wharf.

Buildings in Christchurch "on the whole" stood up pretty well to the Canterbury earthquakes, "with some notable exceptions".

"The earthquake sequence was so intense in comparison with the designed levels. In other words, no-one expected that we would be subjected to such a very high seismic intensity."

Priestley gave evidence to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch earthquakes and was deputy chair of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's expert panel which investigated four CBD buildings of concern.

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- The Press

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