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News Release from GNS Science

GNS Science helps to rebuild quake-hit Indonesian island

20 December 2006

Positively Wellington Business congratulates GNS Science on its contract win to provide reconstruction advisory services on Nias Island.

Nias, 150km off the west coast of Sumatera, was devastated by a magnitude 8.7 earthquake in March 2005, which left 839 dead and destroyed 13,000 houses. The earthquake came three months after the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami which left 122 dead and destroyed one of the island's port towns.

GNS Science engineering geologist Dick Beetham will advise on best practice for reconstruction and work with local communities to improve their disaster preparedness. While most New Zealanders will be celebrating with friends and family over the festive season he'll be helping the island community to rebuild itself.

"There's an enormous amount to do. One thousand kilometres of roading is being laid and tens of thousands of houses and buildings are being rebuilt," says Mr Beetham.

"It's a bit sad to be away from home at Christmas but I'm working with interesting, friendly people who are very appreciative of what we are doing. It also feels very relevant to New Zealand as I can see around me what would happen if we had a major earthquake."

The three-month contract is funded by the United Nations Development Programme.

GNS Science Business Development Manager - Natural Hazards, Noel Trustrum, said it was pleasing to win the contract. It followed extensive research by GNS Science and the Earthquake Engineering NZ and Natural Hazards NZ business clusters for opportunities to deploy skills and experience into the region.

"There is a good likelihood the contract will be extended and that further opportunities will be identified for cluster members as a result," said Dr Trustrum, who is also co-chair of the Natural Hazards New Zealand business cluster.

Natural Hazards NZ and Earthquake Engineering NZ are facilitated by Positively Wellington Business (PWB).

"Members of these clusters continue to score export wins both individually and collectively. They form a niche within professional services where the Wellington region can boast world-class skills and they provide a great example of how these skills can be taken to world markets," says PWB's Chief Executive Philip Lewin.

For further information please contact:

Noel Trustrum
Marketing Manager - Natural Hazards, GNS Science
+64 4 570 4690, M: +64 021 242 5287

Dick Beetham
Engineering Geologist, GNS Science
0062 813 98553689
(NB Dick can usually be contacted around midday New Zealand time)

Images from Nias Island are available from GNS science on request

Additional background information from Dick Beetham (130KB PDF)


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