The forestry industry is one of the country’s largest commercial sectors, so New Zealand was an obvious choice for The 12th World Conference on Timber Engineering.

New Zealand has raised the bar. I had dozens if not hundreds of compliments during the conference.

Hugh Morris, a senior lecturer at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Timber has been a part of the New Zealand commercial and residential building landscape since before the turn of the 20th century. The forestry industry is one of the country’s largest commercial sectors, where industry sales within New Zealand are estimated at $11 billion each year, and export earnings reach $4.5 billion annually.

The strength and safety of timber has made it the number one choice for the rebuild of earthquake-damaged Christchurch, while timber will play a large part in the creation of new houses to cope with New Zealand’s growing population. So it’s no surprise timber engineers, manufacturers, designers, architects and academics from around the world descended on Auckland in July 2012 for The 12th World Conference on Timber Engineering.

Hosted by a steering committee from New Zealand and Australia and organised by Conference Innovators, the event featured a welcome function in the aviation display hall of the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT), a unique social history museum that charts New Zealand’s achievements since the 1800s.

The conference and exhibition was staged at SKYCITY Convention Centre in downtown Auckland, a purpose-built facility encompassing more than 5000m² of dedicated space, plus adjoining 5 and 4 star accommodation. In total 670 room nights were used across four providers.

WCTEPhoto.jpgA New Zealand themed gala dinner at SKYCITY wowed delegates with a Maori cultural performance by the Western Springs Kapa Haka group. International guests, some of whom travelled from as far afield as Canada, Japan, Sweden and Germany, were treated to a showcase of New Zealand’s natural beauty and unique Maori culture, and fresh locally inspired cuisine such as New Zealand seafood fritters with watercress pesto and roasted lemon mayonnaise.

Pre and post conference tours focused on topic-related site visits such as a guided tour of Auckland’s leafy suburbs where 130 years of timber use in the city’s houses was apparent, and a trip to Christchurch to review earthquake damage and restoration.

Eight tour options for partners took in:

  • a shopping spree in Auckland where world renowned designers such as Karen Walker and Trelise Cooper have flagship stores,
  • a tour of neighbouring Waiheke Island with its outstanding wineries, spectacular scenery and kilometres of white sand beaches,
  • a day trip to the world famous Waitomo limestone caves to see the shimmering lights of thousands of tiny glow worms,
  • a visit to a marae to learn Maori protocols and traditions including flax weaving and martial arts,
  • a cooking class for foodies and a trip to Rotorua to visit Te Puia with its boiling mud pools, hot springs and magnificent geysers.

NZ Wood chief executive officer Jane Arnott said the conference was vast and well organised.
“I have never known of one with so many different simultaneous sessions.”