A crisis of confidence in the engineering profession has led to the Hawke's Bay branch of the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) calling for tighter control of the industry.

Structural engineer David Harding faced an IPENZ inquiry into his work on the six-storey Canterbury Television (CTV) building.

It collapsed in the 2011 earthquake, killing 115 people.

He resigned from IPENZ, avoiding an order against him. He was employed as a building designer by Alan Reay Consultants. Director Alan Reay also resigned from IPENZ.


IPENZ's strongest sanction is the removal of members from its register. Fines are related to costs.

In a discussion paper for a recent visit to the branch from the organisation's vice-president and CEO, the branch called for an independent statutory body to define and regulate engineering practice involving risk to human life, public health and safety, environmental sustainability and community economic well-being.

It mooted protecting the status of the term engineer.

"The damage and collapse of the CTV building in the Christchurch earthquakes has demonstrated that the public expectations of the engineering profession could not be delivered by IPENZ, resulting in the evaporation of a large part of the goodwill and respect the profession and IPENZ gained in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes," the paper said.

Currently, anyone can call themselves an engineer and there is no compulsion for them to join IPENZ.

It runs registers for professional engineers, engineering technologists, engineering technicians and engineering geologists.

Only the term chartered professional engineer is protected by statute. Councils require building work to be signed off by a chartered engineer.

IPENZ Hawke's Bay branch chairman Arthur Budvietas said engineering disciplines such as mechanical and electrical did not need to be on a register.


"We want to raise the matter because if we are true professionals we should be looking at that sort of level of responsibility and accountability," he said.

The term engineer traditionally covered many trades such as fitters and turners and auto-mechanics, causing confusion.

"How do you go against several hundred years' tradition, in terms of the use of the name?"

Former Napier engineer Graeme Robinson faced an IPENZ public hearing last year following complaints on post-earthquake damage judgments made for EQC in Christchurch.

He was struck off the IPENZ register but successfully appealed its findings to the Chartered Professional Engineers Council, a legislated body overseeing IPENZ.