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Outstanding Contribution awards

June 28, 2006

Environment Canterbury Outstanding Contribution awards

Two Cantabrians this week received outstanding contribution awards from Environment Canterbury, in recognition of their work spent managing Canterbury water resources.

Dr Bruce Hunt from the University of Canterbury received an award in recognition of the outstanding contribution he has made to the understanding of groundwater in Canterbury.

Through his teaching, project supervision and research Dr Hunt has made a significant contribution to the growing understanding of the behaviour of groundwater systems. Environment Canterbury chairman, Sir Kerry Burke said that the regional council had particularly benefited from Dr Hunt’s work and legacy.

The second award went to a former resource management planner with Environment Canterbury, Craig Mason, recognising his work towards the management of Canterbury’s land and water resources. Environment Canterbury deputy chairman, Cr Robert Johnston said Craig Mason’s contribution would remain embedded in the planning documents and projects he had led over his 36 years with Environment Canterbury and its predecessor, the North Canterbury Catchment Board.



In recognition of the outstanding contribution Bruce Hunt has made to the understanding of groundwater in Canterbury.

Bruce Hunt has taught and undertaken research on groundwater flow and fluid mechanics at the University of Canterbury for more than 30 years. With his undergraduate teaching and graduate research supervision he has made a large contribution to the development of New Zealand expertise in groundwater hydrology. Many of Bruce’s graduate students have tackled practical groundwater problems within the Region while others have undertaken research projects which have contributed to Environment Canterbury’s resource investigation programme.

Bruce’s interest in solving practical problems is strongly reflected in his prolific research work which is well known and respected internationally. Two thirds of his 75 journal papers involve the mathematics of groundwater flow and have often developed as a response to real problems facing New Zealand practitioners. These have covered a broad range of problems, for example:
- a Ministry of Works and Development study of the potential for contamination of the Heretaunga Plains groundwater stimulated a comprehensive set of solutions describing dispersion in groundwater flow,
- reservations about the adequacy of standard methods for analysing and predicting the impacts of groundwater pumping from leaky aquifers led to the development of new methods which are beginning to be routinely used in Canterbury,
- a need for improved techniques to analyse and predict the stream depletion effects of groundwater pumping has prompted the development of new solutions which have gained international recognition. A recent paper on a “Spring Depletion Solution” gained the 2005 American Society of Civil Engineers Journal of Hydrologic Engineering Best Paper Award. At the local scale, it’s notable that recent applications for groundwater takes near streams are increasingly likely to invoke the “Hunt” solution in the assessment of effects.

Despite the mathematical complexity of Bruce’s work, his teaching and writing has always been notable for its clarity, precision and rigour. Many of his students have appreciated his ability and patience in making complex ideas understandable. In recent years Bruce has provided many of his solutions in a form that allows them to be used within Excel speadsheets. This innovation has made the solutions accessible to a much wider range of users – many who may have been intimidated by partial differential equations have been able to apply and explore the solutions through the use of these software tools. These resources, along with supporting tutorial material, have been made freely available on the web and are finding a range of applications within Environment Canterbury and by consultants working in the region.

Through his teaching, project supervision and research Bruce has made a significant contribution to the growing understanding of the behaviour of groundwater systems. Environment Canterbury has particularly benefited from this outstanding contribution.


In recognition of the outstanding contribution Craig Mason has made to the management of Canterbury’s land and water resources in Canterbury.

Craig Mason commenced work with the former North Canterbury Catchment Board in 1969 as a new graduate from Lincoln College. His agricultural science background was utilised in soil conservation and, particularly in developing soil and water conservation plans. He negotiated a number of major land management changes to properties, such as Lochiel, Woodstock, Brooksdale and McDonald Downs, among others.

In the early 1980s, Craig was one of two North Canterbury Catchment Board planning staff who prepared one of the first catchment management plans in New Zealand, at a time when there were no other useful models and no guidance on how they should be prepared. This draft plan for the Rakaia River catchment was prepared under pressure to meet a very short deadline set by Central Government so as to provide a framework within which Ministry of Works and Development irrigation scheme proposals could be considered. That deadline was met.

Also in the early 1980s, Craig was a key player in groundbreaking computer modelling of the Ministry of Works and Development Central Plains irrigation scheme using real time data. This model allowed different flow regime options for the Rakaia to be tested against real-time river flow data and irrigation demands for different patterns of land use, and included quantification of economic impacts.

In the late 1980s, the Canterbury United Council was struggling with the land and water chapter of its Regional Scheme. The North Canterbury Catchment Board offered to take over its preparation and Craig became the lead planner. He successfully led this process through to making Section 3.1 of the Canterbury Regional Planning Scheme operative in 1990, including taking it through Planning Tribunal appeals. It was the only such statutory land and water document in New Zealand successfully prepared under the Town and Country Planning Act.

In the early 1990s, Craig had the vision to see that Canterbury would benefit from having a strategic water study that looked at water demand relative to its geographic and temporal availability, for both surface water and groundwater. He gained financial support for this study from district councils, research agencies and government departments, but the project did not proceed due to lack of support.

Craig has overseen the Resource Management Act Schedule 1 process for getting the Waimakariri River Regional Plan operative, has been project leader for the review of flow regimes on the Waipara and Hurunui Rivers, and played a major role in Environment Canterbury’s involvement in the Rangitata Water Conservation Order proceedings.

Craig has been one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Little River – Christchurch cycleway which, when completed, will become an asset to the regional community, and something that Environment Canterbury can share in the credit for. Craig has contributed a significant amount of his own time to this project.

Craig undertook a major review of the region’s aerial photography needs and set up a funding consortium of local government participants to undertake the capturing and reproduction of the imagery.

Craig has been loyal to the organisation and has consistently supported and promoted the organisation’s pursuit of sustainable resource management. He has gained the respect of staff, management, councillors and the community for his extensive knowledge about water resource management issues in Canterbury.

Craig’s outstanding contribution to the management of Canterbury’s land and water resources will remain embedded in the planning documents and projects he has led over his 36 years of continuous service with Environment Canterbury and its predecessor, the North Canterbury Catchment Board.


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