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News Release

Wellington company secures Indian quake contract

30 October 2001

Robinson Seismic has secured a contract worth over $ 1 million to supply 180 base isolation bearings and 120 sliding bearings to earthquake-proof the new 300-bed Bhuj hospital being built in India.

The original Bhuj District Hospital collapsed in the devastating earthquake in January this year, killing almost all the 185 patients and nurses.

Members of the Wellington-based Earthquake Engineering Technology Business Cluster worked with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Development Co-operation Division in Wellington, the NZ High Commission and Trade NZ in New Delhi on the details of the project.

Earthquake Engineering Cluster Chairman Dr David Hopkins says that Robinson Seismic's achievement is a great success for the Cluster. It was through MFAT and the Earthquake Engineering Cluster that the opportunity for Robinson Seismic was created.

Mayor Kerry Prendergast says earthquake technology developed in the Wellington region is already in use around the world

"This contract is building on and consolidating our existing successes and is proof that the cluster approach is the right way to go - without the Cluster this opportunity would not have existed."

"We set up the cluster groups to enable Wellington companies to work together to compete in a global economy."

"This is a great example of where something that was invented in Wellington can be used internationally to save lives in other countries that also face the threat of earthquakes."

This initiative was made possible by assistance announced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hon. Phil Goff, after he visited India soon after the earthquake. At that time Mr Goff announced a $150,000 project for earthquake technology assistance in addition to the $500,000 of emergency disaster relief gifted by New Zealand to aid agencies at the time of the earthquake.

Preliminary discussions for the new Bhuj Hospital were undertaken in New Delhi by Dr Richard Sharpe (director of earthquake engineering, Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner) who is currently assisting the Asian Development Bank in another earthquake engineering project there. He visited the Bhuj area with the joint World Bank/ADB assessment team soon after the earthquake.

In Wellington, consulting engineers Jason Milburn of Holmes Consulting Group, and Adam Thornton of Dunning Thorton Consultants are working through preliminary designs with the Indian design team, Uday Pattanayak, Architect of EFN Ribeiro Associates, New Delhi, and Structural Engineer Kamal Sabharwal. Construction of the hospital has recently commenced and will be completed in time for it to be opened on the second anniversary of the earthquake in January 2003.

The New Zealand Government's support through NZODA NZ has successfully facilitated the transfer of NZ technology to help mitigate the effects of earthquakes on the people of India and specifically improve the design of the Bhuj Hospital - an important community facility.

The base isolation bearings were invented in Wellington by Dr Bill Robinson. They are installed under several Wellington buildings including Parliament Buildings, Te Papa, and the new A&E Department at Wellington Hospital.

The New Zealand Earthquake Engineering Technology Business Cluster is one of the clusters promoted by the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency originally set-up by Wellington City Council. Members of the cluster are currently also actively seeking contracts with the Government of Turkey and the Municipality of Istanbul in earthquake disaster preparedness work arising from the 1999 earthquakes there.

For further information please contact:

Paul Willis,
Deputy Director,
Development Co-operation,
Phone 04 473 2188

NZ Earthquake Engineering Technology Cluster:
Cluster Chairman:
Dr David Hopkins,
Sinclair Knight Merz,
Phone 04 914 8418

Cluster Co Chair & Robinson Sesimic Ltd CEO:
Dr Bill Robinson,
Phone 04 569 7843

Cluster India Projects Director:
Richard Sharpe,
Phone 04 471 5506


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