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Rob Merrifield

Rob Merrifield

Rob Merrifield comes from Canterbury originally, where he graduated from the University of Canterbury. He joined the Ministry of Works and Development in Gisborne at the end of 1962, where much of his work was involved in roading in that very difficult region. He worked in Wales and England for some ten years before returning to the Wairarapa. Still mostly working on roads and bridges, in private practice and in local government, he subsequently resumed work with MWD, moving to Roading Division in Wellington in 1982. Since that time Rob has mainly interfaced with local government in an advisory and technical audit role, concentrating on the maintenance of roads and bridges. He introduced the use of statistics as a tool  for the overview of trends in expenditure and road pavement condition, and for benchmarking between different authorities. Rob continues to work in this field part-time, for New Zealand Transport Agency.

Rob's interest in railways arose from having a railwayman father. Truly, the railroad ran through the middle of the house; shift work saw to that as it influenced the daily cycle of family life. He joined the New Zealand Railway & Locomotive Society in 1956, taking part in many aspects of its activities and writing a great many articles for its magazine as well as a stand-alone booklet on the Picton-Kaikoura railway. The combination of his professional interests in transport and geology comes together with his private interest in the history of the rail transport industry in his paper for presentation to this conference.

Paper: Centennial review of the North Island Main Trunk Railway: Geology of the West-Central North Island and its influence on transport development.

Abstract: This paper is an account of how the geology of the west-central North Island has affected the difficulty of finding the most favourable route for and the building of the North Island Main Trunk Railway. Some subsequent deviations have also been necessitated to some extent by continuing geological processes. Soft sedimentary rocks uplifted from the sea in the past 2 million years have poor competence as engineering materials. Combine this with the original dense forest cover on these rocks and the topography, the whole presented major riddles to builders of transport routes. Apparently easier routes on volcanic deposits to the east of this area proved to be even less attractive to route-finders. Implications of geological issues for the Railway are explored. In combination with the “long depression” of the 1880s, they caused progress to be slow until after 1900. Completion of the North Island Main Trunk Line forced the Railways’ management to reconsider its objectives, a necessary move towards integrating New Zealand’s several regional economies into one national economy.

Sir Neil Cossons
Paul Davies
David Dolan
Wayne Johnson
Euan McQueen
Robert McWilliam
Duncan Waterson
David Beauchamp
Trevor Butler
Matthew Churchward
Andrew Cleland
Rachael Egerton
John Fitzmaurice
Don Fraser
John Gibson
Owen Graham
David Hamilton
Bill Harvey
Peter Holmes
Kevin Jones
Paul Mahoney
Tom Williamson
Peter Lowe
Peter Marquis-Kyle
Gavin McLean
Rob Merrifield
Owen Peake
Miles Pierce
John Porter
Nigel Ridgway
Tony Silke
Jim Staton
Richard Venus
Ian Walsh
Daniel Woo
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