Past Events

Past NZ Rivers Group Events

Rivers & climate change: resilience, floods & tipping points

Date: May 26, 2021
Time: 12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location: Online

In their natural form, rivers are resilient, and as ‘messy’ rivers they are usually able to absorb and respond dynamically to a natural range of floods without changing form. However, this resilience is arguably under threat. Firstly, managed channels are often designed to resist change, which renders them potentially more vulnerable to disturbance by large floods that exceed design capacity. Secondly, predicted climate change is likely to see a phase-shift (upwards) in flood magnitude and frequency. Do New Zealand’s rivers have the capacity to adjust to forecast changes in flood magnitude and frequency: are they resilient in the face of predicted rapid global change?

To answer this question this webinar follows two threads. Firstly, we need to understand the scale of modification that has taken place in our river systems in recent decades, which we can achieve using an index of change (Natural Character Index), comparing what is observed today (post-management) with what might be expected (pre-management). Secondly, we need to understand the potential phase-shift in flood magnitude and frequency: how big will floods become? A palaeoflood archive is presented from the Whanganui River, which reveals a connection between very large floods and the El Nino Southern Oscillation signal in New Zealand. The potential impact of large storms on river channels can be devastating, exceeding even the natural capacity to adjust without changing form when tipping points are crossed. The prospect for significant future change in New Zealand’s riverscapes must be taken seriously by society. This paper argues there is a pressing need to make room for the river and manage for (much) bigger floods.

Ian is Professor in Physical Geography at Massey University in Palmerston North, where he co-directs the Innovative River Solutions group and has been based since 2003. His research in fluvial geomorphology provides an integrated understanding of river systems at multiple spatial and temporal scales. He has completed numerous projects for stakeholders in river management and worked in catchments throughout New Zealand, as well as the UK and Europe. Prior to arriving in New Zealand, Ian completed his PhD at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth in 1996, which was followed by a lectureship in Physical Geography at Northumbria University. He is passionate about educating students in NZ’s rivers and linking geomorphology with river management.

WEBINAR: The impact of exotic vegetation in braided rivers

Date: April 28, 2021
Time: 12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location: Online

River planform results from the complex interaction between flow, sediment transport and vegetation, and can evolve following a change in these controls. Richard and Gu from NIWA present a modelling approach for analysis of historic and future changes and present two contrasting case studies, the Waimakariri and Waitaki.


Date: March 24, 2021
Time: 12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location: Online

Join the Rivers Group for a presentation on ‘The evolution of river width design for gravel bed rivers in NZ’

Join Kyle Christensen as he demystifies some of the historical approaches of river corridor design through to more modern techniques incorporating a more sophisticated understanding of geomorphic processes and other values.

Picture a Scientist

Date: March 12, 2021
Time: 12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location: Tonkin + Taylor Tauranga, 1 Devenport Road, Tauranga, Bay of Plenty

Join us as we partner with Tonkin + Taylor and Engineering New Zealand for a viewing of ‘Fascinating and frightening examinations of bias’ followed by an empowering panel session.

The panel discussion will focus on positive action for increasing diversity in STEM and leadership. We’ll hear about what people and organisations have done to tackle inequality, and uplifting moments in careers where equality ‘barriers’ were overcome.

Picture a Scientist is a feature-length documentary film chronicling the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. A biologist, a chemist and a geologist lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, overcoming institutional discrimination, and years of subtle slights to revolutionize the culture of science.

2020 Conference -Weathering the Storm

Start date: December 1, 2020
End date: December 4, 2020
Time: 12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location: Invercargill
NZ Rivers Group Event

The New Zealand Hydrological Society,  New Zealand Rivers Group and Freshwater Sciences Society will be hosting a joint conference this year to be held in Invercargill | Waihōpai,  from 1 – 4 December 2020.

The conference theme is Weathering the Storm. This sets the scene for 3 days of oral and poster presentations, as well as some interesting Plenary Speakers, followed by a day of Field Trips. Conference papers covering all aspects of Hydrology and River System Management will be invited.

Further details will be available shortly via the conference website –

POSTPONED – Hydraulics in Water Engineering Conference

Start date: November 16, 2020
End date: November 19, 2020
Time: 12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location: Auckland

Considering ongoing travel restrictions with Australia, the decision has been made to postpone this conference. The conference will be rescheduled once there is more clarity around the trans-Tasman bubble arrangements. All 2020 registrations will be automatically transferred to when the conference will eventually take place.

We received a great response from our call of abstracts for HIWE 2020, the 14th Hydraulics in Water Engineering Conference – to be held in Auckland, New Zealand, from November 16-19, 2020 ( However, we have been inundated with requests for extensions from authors who might have missed the earlier announcements. We have extended the close of abstracts to Wednesday March 25.


This Conference covers all aspects of hydraulics in water engineering, including: River, Coastal and Marine Hydraulics; Hydraulic Structures; Three-Waters Hydraulics; Ecohydraulics; Infrastructure Hydraulics; Environmental Hydraulics and Climate Change; Hydraulics of Road Design; as well as Numerical, Field and Physical Hydraulic Methods. Read more here

Attention Massey Students

Date: September 25, 2020
Time: 12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location: AHB 1.35A, Massey University

Interested in floods and flood management? Interested in a free feed?

Combine the two at lunchtime (1-2 pm) Friday 25 September with the Rivers Group Stopbank Social, when we will chew down some serious pizza etc while chewing on a recently recorded webinar of Graeme Campbell (Manager, Flood Protection Department, Greater Wellington Regional Council) giving a presentation to the Rivers Group on ‘Beyond the Stopbanks’. Venue: AHB 1.35A

The event is sponsored by the Rivers Group: Student membership is free with no strings attached. If you can’t make this lunchtime session, join up and you will be able to access Graeme’s webinar in the members’ area online.

Please rsvp (for catering purposes if planning to attend) to my email: before noon on Weds 23 Sept. Please alert me to any dietary restrictions you may have.

WEBINAR: Building successful partnerships with academia

Date: August 28, 2020
Time: 12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location: Online

Effects of hydrological alterations induced by climate change, our improved understanding of ecosystem connectivity and increasing population densification in flood-prone areas require multidisciplinary and collaborative research approaches to ensure healthy water environments and resilient water systems. In this webinar, Heide Friedrich will outline the opportunities there are of working with Academia in the river space, and share her experiences on how academic education and industry requirements can be combined.

In the second half of the webinar, Diego Ravazzolo will talk about his academic research on instream wood transport dynamics in gravel-bed rivers. He will present how laboratory experiments and field surveys help to model risks associated with hazards, such as encountered during the recruitment and transport of instream wood.

Beyond the Stopbanks

Date: July 31, 2020
Time: 12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location: Online Event

Join the Rivers Group with their presentation on ‘Beyond the stopbanks: investment needs in flood risk management’ presented by Graeme Campbell – Convenor of the NZ River Managers Special Interest Group / Manager – Flood Protection Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Graeme will bring insights into his work with senior river managers around the country, and in the Wellington Region. The River Managers Group of which Graeme is the convenor, provides a forum for collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst the senior levels of regional councils.

Recently the group have been working to promote the case for increased central government coordination and involvement in all aspects of river management. Recent government announcements for cofounding of a range of ‘shovel ready’ projects are a start.

However, to meet the challenges of climate change, to improve river ecosystem health and water quality and provide better flood risk management to communities more is needed. The group is advocating for long term commitment and plan to helping regional councils raise the level of performance across range of fronts from investment in skills and training, to improved science and asset management practices. This presentation will provide insights on recent announcements as well as discussion on what the River Managers Groups long term goals are.

Postponed – River Practitioners Workshop 2020

Start date: June 16, 2020
End date: June 17, 2020
Time: 12:00 am - 12:00 am
Location: Massey University, Palmerston North


local events may be organised in place of this and we hope to hold this event in 2021.

New Zealand river managers and engineers are tasked with working in some of the most dynamic river systems in the world. Sudden and rapid changes in these channels can render control and modification structures redundant, threaten their integrity, or undo months of river control work.

In this workshop we will introduce the key processes driving river behaviour in New Zealand. Our premise is that understanding these processes is key to working with them, rather than against them. In turn, working with the dynamics of the river is critical for effective and sustainable river management, to reduce the risks of failure and loss of infrastructure and capital, and even improve the aesthetics and habitat of managed river reaches.

We invite participants to discuss particular issues and sites that they may be working with currently or expect to engage with in the future, to connect our theory with your practice. Problem-cases in particular are welcome to discuss in a BYO case study session. A full afternoon will be devoted to these discussions and sharing of practice, problems and solutions – the floor will be yours.

The workshop is facilitated by Professors Ian Fuller & Russell Death, Innovative River Solutions Group, School of Agriculture & Environment, Massey University.