Meet the members: CIWEM Aotearoa

CIWEM opened a formal New Zealand branch in autumn 2020, having had a membership presence in the country for some years, writes Jivir Viyakesparan. CIWEM Aotearoa branch aims to help New Zealanders and UK expats in the water and environmental industries to build and continue professional relationships with CIWEM.

Dave Ward formed a steering committe in 2004, when he joined the ICE New Zealand branch committee. He saw how active the New Zealand branch was and spotted an opportunity to grow CIWEM's presence in New Zealand.

Ward contacted Paul Horton, who was then at CIWEM headquarters, and suggested establishing a New Zealand branch. CIWEM gave him the mandate to establish a committee and organise member activities, registration pathways and grow the membership base, but we weren’t yet a branch.

When Peter Brooks came on board and took over from Ward, he kept conversations going with CIWEM head office and gathered more support from CIWEM members in New Zealand.

The evolution of the steering group members over the last two years means we now have representation across all major cities. Brooks becoming a trustee board member has really made CIWEM Aotearoa what it is today. I am now ambassador for New Zealand and Australia for CIWEM, managing communication and support from head office.

Last year saw New Zealand become an official CIWEM branch with a formal committee. Our current chair is Tom Porter.

The branch meets once a month and aims to connect members with local events around the country. It also helps them learn more about the recent memorandum of understanding with local organisations such as Water New Zealand.

This offers up opportunities for chartership to a much broader range of professionals, compared to other industry organisations, including C.Eng, CSci, C.WEM, and C.Env.

Being connected to like-minded professionals enables members to keep in touch with the latest developments in the industry and to share their knowledge and experience with others.

Coming up in 2021 CIWEM Aotearoa will hold the Waikato Panel Discussion, A climate and ecological emergency, in August and our second AGM in September.

This article introduces the CIWEM Aotearoa branch committee members. We asked each of them what challenges and opportunities lie ahead for New Zealand in water and environmental management, sustainability and climate change.


WSP water assets technical principal Jivir Viyakesparan, based in Hamilton (CIWEM ambassador New Zealand and Australia)

A civil engineer and CIWEM Fellow since 2002 Viyakesparan has been in Aotearoa since 2006, providing water supply network planning and capacity studies for many of the local government organisations.

What do you see as the greatest opportunities and challenges for CIWEM Aotearoa?

It will be interesting to see how a new water regulator in New Zealand and the Taumata Arowai water-services regulator work together with local government to ensure regulatory decisions on strategic investment better reflect the priorities of the whole of the Aotearoa. And whether the talented members of CIWEM and Water New Zealand are engaged to provide advice, especially with our globally connected network.

Auckland Council storm readiness delivery manager Healthy Waters, Infrastructure and Environmental Services Peter Brooks, based in Auckland (trustee)

Brooks leads a team of subject matter experts to meet the storm readiness delivery team’s accountabilities for example in the construction of and renewal of ponds, streams, and wetlands to minimise the impacts of severe weather events.

What do you see as the greatest opportunities and challenges for CIWEM Aotearoa?

The biggest challenge facing New Zealand in the water and environment industry is to solidify a plan of action to ensure a climate-resilient future, which should include insights and partners from all over the world. Time is running out, and this will ensure New Zealand and its Pacific neighbours are at the forefront of the most practical solutions that can be implemented both quickly and efficiently.

Gisborne District Council environmental monitoring and science manager Tom Porter, based on the east coast of North Island (branch chair)

Porter manages two teams at the council that monitor the health of the environment and develop plans to protect and improve the environment of the 8,000 sq km region of Tairawhiti/Gisborne.

“I enjoy the great surf and wine Gisborne has to offer, which means I sometimes don’t mind taking work home with me.” he reveals.

What do you see as the greatest opportunities and challenges for CIWEM Aotearoa?

Ensuring there is enough good-quality water to protect and enhance the environment, while providing for human use and economic growth, under the pressures of a growing population and climate change.

Last year’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management introduced the concept of Te mana o te Wai that prioritises the health of water above its use for humans. The policy statement requires councils and communities to work together to protect and improve their catchments. We hope this will lead to great collaborative mahi, or work.

WSP development infrastructure engineer Adnan Zameer, based in Auckland (committee member)

Zameer has played a leading role in delivering improvements to the UK's strategic road network and local road network. Based in Auckland to pursue his research and aspirations in the field of carbon sequestration, sustainable infrastructure, and climate change, his research has been selected as top ten in graduate studies (SGS) at the University of Auckland in 2020.

What do you see as the greatest opportunities and challenges for CIWEM Aotearoa?

Aotearoa's challenge is to minimise its climate-change impact by reducing the embodied carbon emission from construction materials – as per the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) report, 20 per cent of this carbon emission emanates from construction material and energy use in the building.

Also key is conserving the freshwater ecosystem by adopting water-sensitive urban design (WSD) in planning and adopting Te Ao Māori values and principles to foster better collaboration for Wāi (water) and natives of Tangāta Whenuā (people of the land).

Wavelength Water director/chartered water and environmental manager Ben Moore, based in Auckland (committee member)

Wavelength Water designs, builds and maintains water treatment systems across a range of different industries. With his background being in municipal water supply, Moore also leads the drinking water treatment division for the company.

What do you see as the greatest opportunities and challenges for CIWEM Aotearoa?

The value placed on the availability of drinking water has increased significantly in New Zealand, particularly Auckland, in recent times. Auckland is still recovering from a severe drought last year, and with the city still under a degree of water restriction, both local water suppliers and consumers have been investigating alternative water sources to maintain supply and increase resilience.

In addition to this the New Zealand government is working through a programme to reform local government three waters – drinking water, wastewater and stormwater – service delivery arrangements. It is an exciting time to be in the industry as there are significant challenges ahead in sourcing an adequate supply of water and then working to a higher standard of ensuring the water is safe to drink.

Aecom Three Waters planning and modelling lead Wioletta Gilfoyle, based in Hamilton (honorary secretary)

Gilfoyle emigrated to New Zealand in 2011, after spending seven years in the UK. Her professional experience covers water-resources engineering and three-waters hydraulic modelling and infrastructure planning with skills in concept design, flood-risk management, network-asset surveying and environmental awareness.

What do you see as the greatest opportunities and challenges for CIWEM Aotearoa?

New Zealand has made international commitments for climate change that require reductions in greenhouse gasses. With this is mind; the dairy-farming industry, which provides a significant contribution to the country’s economy, needs to implement beneficial management practices that support sustainability and ensure ecologically important areas such as wetlands and forests are not lost.

Greater Wellington Regional Council team leader hydrology Louise Algeo, based in Wellington (committee member for membership)

Algeo leads a team of environmental scientists, field hydrologists and data analysts supporting work across water-allocation policy, flood warning and flood-risk management, environmental regulation compliance, natural-resources management, and state of environment reporting across the Wellington region.

What do you see as the greatest opportunities and challenges for CIWEM Aotearoa?

Wellington is in the middle of a housing crisis, which has seen house prices double in the seven years I’ve lived here. Many of the homes that already exist are in places of water shortages or in flood-risk areas.

With the government enabling development to respond to one crisis, there is concern that we will increase destruction of our environment or place more people at risk.

Beca business director water Dan Stevens, based in Christchurch (committee member)

Since moving to New Zealand from the UK in 2003 Stevens has led infrastructure master-planning projects for several cities and districts across New Zealand as well as Australian water suppliers.

What do you see as the greatest opportunities and challenges for CIWEM Aotearoa?

Many of the water suppliers I work with are facing the combined challenges of significant growth and climate change. Competition for limited water resources is intensifying and we need to balance water for social and economic prosperity with the needs of the environment, while recognising and embracing cultural values.

Recently we have begun to appreciate that there are several risks that need to be managed simultaneously and business as usual asset management and planning will simply not meet these challenges. There is a need for a clear understanding of the inter-relationships and dependencies between strategies developed at national, regional and local levels, and water suppliers need to reflect this through long-term integrated master planning.

Water at WSP in New Zealand technical principal Liam Foster, based in Christchurch

Foster’s interests lie in urban drainage, flooding and climate adaptation and he works across several local and regional councils in Aotearoa.

What do you see as the greatest opportunities and challenges for CIWEM Aotearoa?

Alongside the current focus on the form and function of water entities, as part of the current water reform agenda, CIWEM members are supporting communities and clients to navigate new legislation resulting from the September 2020 release of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and to unpick the potential changes slated as part of the ongoing Resource Management Act reform.

All three of these are significant changes to the way we work across the country. They will influence the way we respond to years of underfunding in our water assets and meet the growing challenges of climate change, ecosystem degradation all set against an affordability crisis.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of The Environment. For all branch enquiries please email

Share this article

Become a member

Whether you are studying, actively looking to progress your career, or already extensively experienced, our membership will add value and recognition to your achievements. We can actively help you progress throughout your career.

Become a member

View our events

We organise a wide portfolio of UK and international thought leading events, providing an industry recognised forum for debate, CPD and sector networking. These events also support our policy work and inform key initiatives.

View our events