Otago Daily Times

CTV victims’ families still want closure


WELLINGTON: Families of the 115 people killed in the collapse of the CTV building during the 2011 Christchur­ch earthquake are bewildered at the length of time it is taking to investigat­e the man whose company designed it.

Engineerin­g New Zealand, formerly known as IPENZ, was first asked to investigat­e Alan Reay eight years ago, and some believed the organisati­on’s credibilit­y was on the line.

In 2012 a Royal Commission found that engineer David Harding made fundamenta­l errors in designing the illfated building and criticised his boss, Alan Reay, for handing sole responsibi­lity for the design over to somebody so inexperien­ced.

That same year, 54 family members and the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employ ment’s chief engineer each made complaints about both men to their profession­al body.

So began eight years of legal wrangling, with Dr Reay fighting every step of the way to prevent the organisati­on looking into him.

Harding quit his membership in 2014 but was still found to have breached the ethical code signed up to by engineers.

A year later Dr Reay also quit. In his case, IPENZ decided it had no jurisdicti­on to continue an inquiry into a nonmember.

In 2018, the High Court said it was wrong and the investigat­ion could proceed, but again Dr Reay fought back, taking his case to the Court of Appeal.

That court backed up the original decision and at the end of 2019, the body, now known as Engineerin­g New Zealand, restarted its inquiry into whether Dr Reay should face its disciplina­ry committee.

Maan Alkaisi lost his wife in the collapse and is a spokesman for the families behind the complaint.

He could not understand why, 12 months on, the body had still not decided what to do.

‘‘What message [is it] they are sending to young engineers when there is a case where a building collapsed, killing 115 people and after 10 years, it is still in the hands of Alan Reay and his lawyers to decide what Engineerin­g New Zealand [are] going to do. This is really outrageous.’’

Mr Alkaisi, who was a professor of electrical engineerin­g, noted that Dr Reay was still working as an engineer on large commercial projects, despite there being two outstandin­g complaints against him.

He said Engineerin­g New Zealand had lost all credibilit­y.

‘‘I have lots of engineers ringing me, some senior engineers, and they say that this organisati­on has proved they are dysfunctio­nal. I mean, they give the worst example. How [are] they going to chase any engineer with any conduct after this?’’

Engineerin­g New Zealand’s general manager Helen Davidson said the delays were not its fault.

‘‘These processes can take some time. And we’re really cognisant of the ongoing grief of the people who lost loved ones in the CTV building tragedy and their need to see this process come to a conclusion. So where matters are within our control, we’ll move as quickly as we can. There are aspects of the process that are not in our control, and that relates to the gathering of informatio­n from different sources.’’

Ms Davidson said there was no time limit for respondent­s to reply to the committee.

‘‘Our goal is to move this through as quickly as we can and use the levers that we have. So it will not be an indefinite process, but we need to make sure that it is a fair and robust one.’’

Through his lawyer, Dr Reay said as the matter was before Engineerin­g New Zealand’s investigat­ing committee, it was ‘‘not appropriat­e’’ to comment.

For the CTV families, the wait for justice continues. — RNZ

 ??  ?? Alan Reay during the Royal Com mission hearing in 2012.
Alan Reay during the Royal Com mission hearing in 2012.

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