The Engineering New Zealand Otago Heritage Chapter is hosting the next Australasian Engineering Heritage Conference in Dunedin between Sunday 22 and Wednesday 25 November 2020, preceded by a 3-day pre-conference tour.

Date: 19 – 25 November 2020
Location: Dunedin

Check back here closer to the date for more information and to register.


The conference will focus on heritage engineering or technology which has endured, undergone development, restoration and repurposing to claim its place in the future. 

It’s a theme that aligns well with the story of our region. 

Situated at the remote southern end of New Zealand, Otago is bordered in the west by the Southern Alps and in the east by the Pacific Ocean. Abundant natural resources supported a population of Māori who were joined by small numbers of European sealers and whalers through the early 19th century. Scottish settlers founded the city of Dunedin in the 1840s, and in 1861, gold was discovered in Central Otago, fuelling a further influx of migrants, supercharging the region’s economy and creating a demand for engineering infrastructure which has not been seen since. Our distance from other manufacturing and industrial centres necessitated both local ingenuity and industrial capacity. 

Times change, but some things endure. Much of our past has a future. 

Three of New Zealand’s largest construction companies were incorporated in Dunedin; two of these well over 100 years ago. The entirely Dunedin-built steamer Earnslaw still plies Lake Wakatipu after 106 years of service. A vast network of water races built to provide water for gold now carry the water which irrigates much of the Central Otago farmland, while Dunedin City has just finished the overhaul of a 151-year-old water supply dam.

Dunedin’s economy is increasingly underpinned by its considerable ICT resource and even this has strong links to the past. A 105-year-old engineering company has become a world leader in assembly line and meat processing technology. Once a staging post for exported wool and grain or imported goods, the city’s repurposed warehouse precinct now houses companies creating real-time animations for globally televised sports events such as the America’s Cup or Masters golf, building fine instrumentation for the life sciences or creating genetics management software for farmers. 

The future of the past. This conference theme not only fits our region, it provides a platform for a wide range of papers across the full spectrum of engineering and technological endeavour in what promises to be an engaging and enlightening event.