Simon Collins: engineering a good story

It was a night for celebrating the builders of dams, hotels and slaughterhouses at the Engineering Excellence Awards on Thursday night. But good journalism was also rewarded, with the New Zealand Herald’s Simon Collins picking up the prize for excellence in engineering journalism.

Simon Collins
Simon Collins

Simon was the Herald’s science reporter for a number of years and led the field in his thorough coverage of science issues to the extent that scientists still ask us at the SMC to send material to Simon Collins. Simon is now covering social issues for the Herald and recently completed his third pre-election tour of the country to gauge public sentiment on politics.

The piece for which Simon won the award is published here. It is typical of Simon’s work – thorough, well-sourced, informative. To quote from the award handbook:

“Simon’s research investigated claims of falling standards in structural engineering in New Zealand. Rather than taking these claims at face value, Simon undertook lengthy research to check out each claim, studying the documents and interviewing a wide range of people in the industry.

“The article explained the commercial pressures engineers are now under because of the privatisation of the construction industry – the shift from the dominance of the Ministry of Works and council design teams to private developers. In each of the cases quoted, design faults were picked up before construction was completed, but the implication was that other problems might go unnoticed. The articles concluded that to protect public safety, councils and central government need to employ more engineers in building consent work and for random auditing of building consent processes.”

Well done Simon, congratulations on the well-deserved award (which comes with a couple of grand prize money).

Collins was nominated alongside Rod Vaughan of TV3’s 60 Minutes programme, and Mike White of North & South magazine.