A brief history of the Society's formation - as told by Roger Estall, its first Chair

The Society was formed through the efforts of a group of mainly Wellington based people – predominantly working in the public sector with a common interest in managing risk – who initially came to together to discuss and share their common interests. By then of course, ‘risk management’ had been codified by the publication of AS/NZS 4360:1995 and was in the process of being updated with a 1999 version published during that year.

By late 1999, this group, which I had been invited to join mid year (probably as a result of the public profile of major reforms in the management of fire-related risk I’d been associated with as  Chair of the Fire Service Commission) sensed that there was a common interest in establishing a more formal entity. At a meeting on 13 December 1999 this continuously expanding group acknowledged this emerging view by forming an Establishment Group, chaired by Steve Thornton with about 30 people offering their assistance to do the work necessary for this next step. Following the discussion at that meeting, an Establishment Plan and timetable was developed aimed at achieving formal incorporation by November the following year.

Under the Establishment Plan three working groups were established which undertook their work in various ways such that by the end of May, there was a working draft of a constitution, an outline communication plan and some lists of potential activities that could be undertaken by the new entity.  The Establishment Group met at the beginning of June 2000 to discuss these outputs and the Minutes of the meeting of the Establishment Group on 1 June 2000 can be read hereIn hindsight, this is an excellent set of minutes as it provides real insight into the factors considered in relation to several features of the constitution and may indeed be of assistance to those involved in the Board’s present constitutional considerations.

This was very good progress and it led to the view that the original establishment timetable could be advanced with an inaugural meeting of prospective members being held in September rather than November as planned. My recollection is that Karen Price did some outstanding work to get the constitution finalised and the necessary forms and resolutions into a state that would be acceptable to the Registrar for Incorporated Societies.  Of course, once formally established, there had to be a mechanism by which the Society could operate prior to holding elections for the first management committee (until the Society was in existence of course, it couldn’t hold elections). Therefore one of the features of the Constitution was to allow for the establishment of an Interim Management Committee on the recommendation of the Establishment Board, with members drawn from Establishment Group.

Attached here is the document that includes:

  • the invitation to attend the Incorporation Meeting to be held at what was then the Environmental Risk Management Authority – an agency which had offered practical support for the Establishment Group. (It was essential to get sufficient people to attend and agree to enable the application for registration as a Society to be signed by 15 members.)
  • the Agenda including Notices of Motion and names and bios of the members of the Interim Management Committee

With Karen Price, I had been a member of the working group to develop the constitution and so I was asked to speak to the motion to adopt the Constitution (which had been earlier circulated as a draft for comment to all of those who had been involved in the establishment group with an opportunity to make suggestions). Attached here is a copy of my speech notes.

Dr Neil Britten nominated me as the Society’s first Chair. As will be seen from the notes about him in the 3rd attachment, Neil had been playing a formative role at MCDEM in relation to the early interest in the strengthening of infrastructure ‘Lifelines’ that had gained real traction after the 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake and had been an active member of the Society’s establishment phase activities.

Ed: A copy of the nomination form for Roger that was received from Dr Britten is attached. Roger went on to serve 3 terms as chair.