Our speaker on Tuesday was Peter Benfell, Chief Executive of the research arm of Opus International, seen here setting up his technical equipment with Phillip.
Peter has over 25 years’ experience in research and product development, working in both the private sector and in Crown Research Institutes. Prior to joining Opus in 2011, Peter was General Manager, Agriculture & Environment, at Research Ltd where he led a team of 300 research staff. He has managed large multi-disciplined research projects and played a leadership role in large research partnerships.
Peter and his family love the Wellington area and this led him to apply for and gain this appointment with Opus. While New Zealand is not a big investor in research, we are good in what we do. One reason for our lower level of research funding is that we are not involved with the enormous investment needed in medical drug development.
Opus is the child of the erstwhile Ministry of Works that created the roading and electrical network infrastructure throughout New Zealand. When a wave of privatisation occurred, the MofW was sold to Malaysian interests and was restructured and rebranded as Opus. It is now a growing organisation and is acquiring overseas businesses that have a similar culture and professional standards. Transport and road management is a major part of the Opus business along with building, energy, the environment and water.
The research arm is involved in applied research and laboratory services to support other arms of Opus. They are expected to make a profit from research from work that may be funded from private and government contracts. Peter highlighted some interesting projects that will enable the lifetime of road surfaces to be increased from 10 to 20 years by reduction of water permeability, and using old tyres to make surfacing material for cycleways. Other projects include wind tunnel testing of tall buildings, rumble strip effectiveness and wear limits, monitoring tall chimneys, remote monitoring of bridges and many more.
Peter’s enthusiasm and the broad nature of his talk solicited many questions, especially from the engineering interests in the club. Asked how he saw the future, he said that the amount of data being collected was doubling every four months and their ability to utilise this information would greatly extend their capability and, for example, allow traffic management over whole traffic corridors.
Visit by Emmy
Five years after spending her Rotary Exchange year with Plimmerton Rotary our French lass Emmy, seen here with two of her host 'Dads' at the time, is back for six weeks to revisit her hosts, the club and parts of New Zealand.
Success for Liam
We've just heard from Jenny Jackson that Liam Dalton, who delivered such a wonderful speech at the Primary School Leadership Awards, has been offered a 3-year scholarship to Auckland University which includes all his fees and an additional $5,000 a year. What great news! We hope that, with Jenny's help, we'll keep in close touch with him and his progress.
X-Games at Discovery School
Marty needs 35 helpers to help Discovery School with their X-games on Sunday 1 November. Contact Marty on 021 620 146.
Our new Gallery
Some of you may have visited the new Gallery already. Whether or not you have, do go there now and see the photos from the RYPEN Programme last weekend. David and Velma took the two students we sponsored from Porirua College and it's clear to see that all the participants had a great time.
Life Education Trust
Allan Nichols is inviting us to a special evening from 5.00-7.00 pm on Thursday 22 October in the Helen Smith Room at Pataka to meet their new educator, Kapa, view the new technology in their classroom and to have a special audience with Harold. Finger food will be provided and there will be a cash bar. If you'd like to accept his invitation, please get in touch with him direct or ring him on 021 491 838 by Monday 19 October.
Levin Club's 'Man Caves'
You'll remember that when the Gimbletts came to talk to us last month, Deb invited us up to Levin on Sunday 15 November from 10.00-4.30 pm to see what men have hidden away in their sheds. They have now sent us a poster levin_man_caves You can buy your tickets in advance. Everyone who buys a ticket goes in the draw to win the prize of 'being chauffeur driven around the Man Caves of your choice'. Make sure you give your phone number when you purchase your ticket so that they can ring you the night before if you've won!
Mana Zonta go to prison for Christmas
We've received an invitation from Mana Zonta to join them for a Christmas Concert at Aorhata Women's Prison. Their event is posted here. If you'd like to get hold of some tickets and make up a party to 'go behind the wire', you'll find all the details you need on their poster. arohata_xmas_concert