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GNS Science quake project wins top award at prestigious science awards - 11/11/2019

A multi-year GNS Science programme investigating the likelihood and impacts of large earthquakes in Wellington has won the Supreme Award at the 2019 Science New Zealand National Awards.

Called ‘It’s Our Fault’, the programme was selected for the top award by a panel of independent judges who assessed all 21 science awards in the annual Science New Zealand National Awards, which were presented at Parliament tonight.

 “I’m delighted It’s Our Fault has won this inaugural award – it’s a tribute to the team, who have worked tirelessly on a project that affects the very ground beneath our feet,” GNS Science Chief Executive Ian Simpson said.

 “GNS Science is part of a vibrant community of Crown Research Institutes and every day we’re all working towards the same goal: excellent science with maximum impact for New Zealand.


It’s Our Fault is a programme that stands on the shoulders of giants – drawing on the research GNS Science has been doing for more than 150 years

Ian Simpson


 “We work closely with our fellow CRIs and we know how good their science outputs are.

 “One of the judges said they felt comforted New Zealand has such amazing scientists working in diverse yet connected fields – praise doesn’t come much higher than that.”

 Science New Zealand’s annual awards are presented in three categories – each CRI has an award for Early Career Researcher, Lifetime Achievement Award, and Team Award.

 It’s Our Fault won the Team Award for GNS Science.

 “It’s Our Fault is a programme that stands on the shoulders of giants – drawing on the research GNS Science has been doing for more than 150 years,” Mr Simpson said.

 “But it’s also a thoroughly modern science programme – with an emphasis on collaboration and deep partnerships.

 “We thank our key partners in this programme - the Earthquake Commission, Wellington City Council, the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office, and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

 “We’re proud to stand alongside them, alongside the other CRIs – and the New Zealand science community.”

 At the same awards event, GNS Science hazard and risk management researcher Sally Potter won the Early Career award and groundwater scientist Paul White won the Lifetime Achievement award.

Award recpients

Ian Simpson, Russ Van Dissen, Caroline Holden, Delia Tamsin, Nicola Crauford



About Science New Zealand:
Science New Zealand represents the seven Crown Research Institutes, which collectively employ over 4000 people in science and technology research and its transfer into real-world applications. The CRI Act requires CRIs to undertake research of excellence which benefits New Zealand. They employ two-thirds of the nation’s publicly-funded science researchers in their fields, and businesses commission CRIs for 75% of external research and development work.

About It’s Our Fault:
Results of the It’s Our Fault programme are used in decision-making and policy-making at local and regional government levels to support Wellington region’s earthquake resilience. The programme’s main theme areas are earthquakes, tsunamis, liquefaction and landslide hazard and risk, social science, planning and policy research.

It collaborates with other Crown Research Institutes and universities and builds on learnings from recent earthquakes such as Kaikōura in 2016 and the Canterbury earthquake sequence in 2010 and 2011. 

Examples of its impact include increased resilience of Wellington’s water network, tsunami blue lines in coastal suburbs, modelling post-earthquake fire spread, and pioneering the development and use of site class maps to inform the Building Code. While the project has a focus on the Wellington region, its outputs have relevance to the whole of New Zealand.

Members of the It’s Our Fault Team at GNS Science:
Russ Van Dissen, Delia Strong, Caroline Holden, David Johnston, Chris Massey, William Power, Finn Scheele, Nicola Litchfield, Xiaoming Wang, Kate Clark, Wendy Saunders, Sarah Gunnel, Julia Becker, Sally Dellow, Russell Robinson, Rob Langridge, Anna Kaiser, Annemarie Christophersen, Nick Perrin, David Rhoades, Rafael Benites, Graeme McVerry, Bill Fry, Laura Wallace, Pilar Villamor, Jim Cousins, Andrew King, Ursula Cochran, and Hannah Brackley.