Former heavy vehicle Chartered Professional Engineer Peter Wastney, has been censured and fined for designing and certifying a towing connection that was not fit for purpose.

In August 2017, a failed towing connection resulted in a trailer separating from a truck while it was travelling at speed along the Kohatu-Kawatiri Highway to Nelson. No one was hurt although the consequences could have been serious.

At the time, Mr Wastney was one of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Heavy Vehicle Specialist Certifiers (HVSC).

An investigation by Engineering New Zealand found that the failure occurred due to metal fatigue because the design and construction of the towing connections was deficient. As such, the towing connections did not meet the required New Zealand Standard for heavy vehicle towing connections – drawbeams and drawbars, and should not have been certified.

Mr Wastney accepted the towing connection was not fit for purpose but provided no satisfactory explanation as to how and why these errors occurred.

A Disciplinary Committee convened by Engineering New Zealand found Mr Wastney had breached the Code of Ethical Conduct to the extent he acted negligently. They said Mr Wastney’s departure from the standards expected of a Chartered Professional Engineer was “at the higher end of the scale”.

The Disciplinary Committee supported the investigation’s findings that “A high level of trust is placed in HVSCs by Waka Kotahi and the public to ensure heavy vehicles do not present undue risk on the road.”

Mr Wastney was suspended as a Chartered Professional Engineer in May 2019 and later removed from the register, after failing to apply for continued registration.

The Disciplinary Committee ordered Mr Wastney be censured, and pay a fine and contribution towards the costs of the investigation, for a total of $8,260.

Read the Disciplinary Committee decision

Read the Investigating Committee decision

Notes to reporters

Engineering New Zealand is New Zealand's professional body for engineers, with more than 22,000 members. We represent – and regulate – our members. We also act as the Registration Authority for Chartered Professional Engineers. Previously known as IPENZ, on 1 October 2017 we introduced a new, more inclusive membership pathway and changed our name to better reflect what we do.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Lachlan McKenzie on 021 479 885.