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April 7

Vale Dr Peter Goldsmith

It is with sadness that we advise Peter Goldsmith (Managing Director 1987-2010 and Principal-Special Projects since then) passed away in the early hours of Saturday, 4th April 2020, at his home, after a brief battle with cancer. 

Peter obtained his NZCE qualification in 1970, and having worked as an engineer for a time, went back to study and obtained his Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Auckland in 1976.  Peter subsequently obtained his PhD in Engineering in 1980, with a thesis relating to piled foundation design.  Peter completed his PhD while working at Fraser Thomas.  Peter had a particular interest and expertise in geotechnical engineering and started the FTL geotechnical department in 1980.  He also became Managing Director of Fraser Thomas in 1987, a position he held until 2010, after which he continued working as a Principal – Special Projects.

Peter was an extremely competent and well-respected engineering practitioner, known for his uncompromising pursuit of quality and fierce intellect.  These attributes, in particular, were tested when Peter was involved in providing expert evidence for litigation cases.  Peter had a particular aptitude for litigation cases, and enjoyed pitting his skills against other highly skilled courtroom players.  It must be said, he didn’t lose many arguments.  Because of his skills in preparing and giving evidence in court cases, he was the preferred engineering expert for many high profile litigation lawyers.

Peter also developed Fraser Thomas’ waste management work and has been involved extensively in the consenting, design and ongoing development of multiple regional landfills within New Zealand. His knowledge and experience of modern sanitary landfill design, construction, operation and management, including liner design, leachate, stormwater, landfill gas management and capping was widely respected.

Peter’s contribution to engineering in New Zealand was recognised by IPENZ (now Engineering NZ) in 2001, when he was made a Fellow of IPENZ. He authored or co-authored 19 published papers on geotechnical topics.

Peter has also mentored many geotechnical and landfill engineers who have worked for Fraser Thomas over the years, including three who have gone on to become company directors. Peter’s work in these areas will be continued on by them.

Peter took a strong interest in Papua New Guinea, commencing with his work there when Fraser Thomas was engaged by the then North Solomons Provincial Government to manage upgrading, expansion and maintenance of the road and bridge network during the 1980s. It was a long term engagement that included extensive engineering design, construction supervision, training and also the development of standards appropriate to local conditions. The work ceased with the outbreak of the troubles sparked by land issues over the Bougainville copper mine, but the firm undertook further work in other parts of Papua New Guinea. Peter maintained the friendships that he formed during this time, hosting and being guardian for children of PNG families who came to study in New Zealand. Between 1998 and 2003, and between 2005 and 2007 Peter was chairman of the New Zealand Papua New Guinea Business Council and from 2010, was appointed Papua New Guinea Honorary Consul General by the Government of Papua New Guinea.

Peter is survived by his partner Lorraine, who is also part of the Fraser Thomas establishment, and his two daughters, Stephanie and Penelope.