An Alternative Method to Vapour Sampling

4Sight is offering an alternative method of assessing soil vapour in a sub slab environment. It's a quick method (much faster than traditional soil bore methods) where holes are drilled into the slab being tested, vapour pins are placed in the holes, and a day later, the team comes back to extract a vapour sample. The sample is then analysed in a laboratory where the concentrations can be measured to determine whether they pose a risk to human health. Vapour Testing is something not many companies in New Zealand are currently offering, so get in touch if you would like one of our experts to assist you with your own property.

Resource management system – Just another review or is this the one?

We asked Orchid Atimalala our National Planning Manager to share some thoughts on the latest RMA review - check out what she had to say below:

The Resource Management Act (RMA) Stage 2 review and reforms are technical in nature and seek to re-set the RMA with planning practitioners at the core of the outcomes the Minister seeks. They are NOT all about housing affordability, as some media reports are suggesting.

It is understood that the Stage 2 review and reforms include (but are not limited to):

  • Clarification type amendments; and removal of complexities that have crept into the Act from previous iterations, rescinding a number of previously “helpful” amendments and building on evidence and jurisprudence of King Salmon and Davidson Family Trust cases.

  • Introducing new resource management concepts e.g. strengthening community and ecosystem resilience to climate change and natural hazards leading to restoration of natural environments where bottom lines may have been breached.

  • Spatial planning; building on the existing Urban Growth Agenda. Infrastructure is key to that, hence the “collaborative and integrative” approach with other legislation such as the Land Transport Management Act and the Local Government Act.

  • Setting national directions from a resource management systems point of view, building on current work across freshwater, climate change and urban development (again, not just housing!).

  • Up for consideration will be plan making (including coastal plans), consenting, funding tools, economic instruments, institutions (Ministry for the Environment, Department of Conservation, Environmental Protection Agency, Local Authority’s, Environment Court, Board of Inquiry and Panels), urban tree protection and climate change resilience (mitigation and adaptation), regimes for marine farming, open ocean aquaculture, Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement, aligning with the Climate Change response (Zero-Carbon) Amendment Act (when passed).

The Minister is relying on and will provide oversight of the Panel/Expert Advisory Group as a critical conduit of practitioner expertise for this review. 4Sight’s inputs into this Panel’s work will be important so we’re keeping it in our sights.

Any questions feel free to get in touch with Orchid Atimalala.

Is your home HomeFit?

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Why is our housing stock in such a poor state and how can we enhance existing dwellings to provide healthy homes and reduce the negative impacts on public health?

Respiratory disease accounts for 1 out of 8 hospital admissions in New Zealand, at an estimated annual cost of 5.5 billion dollars (Asthma Foundation). Environmental Health Indicators New Zealand (EHINZ) attributes this to occupants being subject to poor quality housing conditions, particularly damp, wet, cold and insufficiently insulated homes. In 2015, the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) conducted a nationwide house condition survey and identified visible mould in 56% of rental properties and 44% of owner-occupied homes (HCS – 2015).

There are many factors that have contributed to where we are today: building regulations for new and existing homes, the values we place on efficient and sustainable practises, industry-accepted alternatives and the daily habits and expectations of how we use and live in our homes.

The components that help make a healthy home are relatively straightforward:

  • Reduce heat loss through the introduction of insulation and improved air tightness of the building envelope. Minimise any gaps, holes or cracks where heat can be lost and draughts can occur. Use effective curtains and draught stopping techniques.

  • Control moisture. Moisture is produced through a range of daily activities, including human activity, cooking, showers and wet laundry inside. Moisture can enter the home through the building fabric, floorboards, walls and joinery.

  • Heating is necessary in winter in the majority of homes to keep homes at a healthy temperature. The World Health Organisation suggests a minimum indoor temperature of 18°C, and 20°C for children and the elderly.

  • Ventilation needs to be adequate to control the build-up of air pollutants, moisture and unhealthy temperatures. Balanced ventilation enables efficient heating, improved air quality and a comfortable home.

  • Energy efficiency is critical when considering all other factors as they are interconnected. Energy efficiency improvements can mean using LED or CFL light bulbs, installing adequate insulation, balanced ventilation to reduce the relative humidity which allows for more efficient heating and installing extraction fans or effective curtains. Probably the most important of all is to understand your energy bill and what your household energy consumption is.

Applying some of the above practices provides opportunity to make our homes just that little bit warmer, drier, healthier and more affordable. By making minor adjustments to our behaviour we can improve public health and our environment.

The New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) is a not for profit organisation that developed HomeFit in 2018 as a rating tool to improve existing homes in New Zealand. HomeFit was developed in collaboration with and for the NZ housing sector. HomeFit is an independently verified and third-party audited certification that provides two formal assessments: HomeFit standard and HomeFit PLUS. Both assessments cover a wide range of criteria and include a full report with photographs and tailored comments from assessors.

4Sight Consulting has qualified HomeFit Assessors with the expertise and understanding to undertake HomeFit Assessments on existing properties for tenants, homeowners, purchasers and property managers. If you wish to know more or get HomeFit certified, we’d love to hear from you.

4Sight Contact: Mark Ashforth (HomeFit Assessor)

If you would like to know how fit you think your home is, you can check out -


4Sight Acquires KTB Planning Consultants

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It is with great pleasure that we announce 4Sight Consulting has acquired KTB Planning Consultants as of 1 August 2019.

When we were approached by KTB - a planning consultancy based in Cambridge, New Zealand, we leapt at the chance, much like we did with the acquisition of Burton Planning Consultants in September of last year.

But naturally, we don’t make these decisions lightly. KTB Directors, Karl Baldwin and Katherine Davies, have established a top-quality planning consultancy servicing the Waikato region and beyond. They’re a company that prides themselves on sticking to their principles, having an inclusive culture where staff feel valued, and making sure their clients feel like they’re number one.

The KTB team will now join forces with our two Waikato based Ecologists - Hannah and Pete (with a third to join shortly) and will continue to be based in the current KTB Cambridge office. As for KTB’s directors, Karl and Katherine, they too have exciting times ahead, having recently moved and set up a new home in Gisborne.

Karl will be joining 4Sight as a Regional Manager and Principal Planning and Policy Consultant and will be initially sharing his time between Cambridge to support the transition, and Gisborne helping strengthen our current service offering in Tairāwhiti (Gisborne Region) and Hawkes Bay.

Katherine will also be joining the 4Sight team, but in a more limited capacity to allow her more time to follow her aspirations as a Health and Wellness Coach.

We are buzzing about the synergies this acquisition will bring and in particular significantly strengthening 4Sight’s planning and policy capacity in the Waikato region, offering more support and a wider range of services to existing clients, and working towards further growing our presence in the Gisborne and Hawkes Bay regions.

In the meantime, if you would like further information on the acquisition or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact our Managing Director, Aaron Andrew, personally.

For now, Nau mai, Haere mai!, Welcome to all, from the 4Sight family (and its newest additions). Let’s continue to work together to bring about balanced outcomes and the best solutions for land, people, and water.

The Risky Business of Electric Fishing

Electric fishing is a highly efficient method our Freshwater Ecologists use to survey streams and determine what fish species are in the water, but as you can tell by the name, it is a risky business. Imagine a high power voltage running through a stream, enough to electrocute you, and then someone tells you to get in. Yes, you are wearing protective gear, but one false move and you could do some serious damage, particularly if you haven’t had the necessary training to carry it out successfully. Which is why four members from the 4Sight Ecology team (Jade, Shannen, Ollie and Hannah) recently went on a NIWA run course to learn how to safely master the technique.

Taking place in Taupo, the course spanned two days and covered the theory and practical components of electric fishing, followed by an exam. So, with a lot of excitement and anticipation, the team packed up their protective rubber waders and headed down to Taupo to learn about the important health and safety risks associated with electric fishing, how best to mitigate these risks, and then adorned themselves in protective gear, strapped the machine onto their backs and got stuck into the fishing - under the expert guidance of their instructor Phil, of course.

Breaking it down, how it all works, is there needs to be a power source and a resistance connected by wire to start the process. In this case, an electric fishing machine (EFM) supplies the power source through a wand (anode) which is submerged under water in one section of the stream, and the water provides the resistance while the connected cables/earthing strap (cathode) help to conduct the electricity around the circuit. As a result, this conducts an electrical current through that specific reach of the stream and hence the need to be very careful not to touch the water and wear protective rubber gear when doing so!

This is where it gets technical, as the voltage the fish will receive is dependent on factors such as the fishes size, its distance from the EFM and its orientation to the electric field, so it requires some quick thinking from the Ecologists as to how to adjust the output settings of the EFM. The electrical current interferes with the fishes nervous system, causing their muscles to contract and ultimately swim towards the wand (anode) of the EFM. And as the Ecologists make their way down the stream, the ‘stunned’ fish are carefully collected in a net where they can then be measured and their species recorded before being released back into the water - once that reach of stream has been successfully fished.

Electric fishing makes for a very accurate, safe, and time effective way of surveying streams. The team were lucky enough to catch a couple of big fish on the day and found the course to be incredibly useful. So all in all, it was a very successful couple of days for the team and 4Sight now has a total of 6 qualified electric fishers - well done everyone!

If you’re interested in finding out more about our expertise and other methods of conducting ecological surveys, check out our Ecology team’s profiles here and in the meantime check out some pictures from the day below:

Proud Supporters of NZPI

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Here at 4Sight, we’ve built a reputation for providing expert planning and environmental services. We have been active participants of the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI) for over 10 years now, and after this long association, it is with great pleasure that we announce 4Sight has officially signed on as a Supporter of the NZPI.

As Supporters we are committed to encourage all our planners to become members, meet the continuous professional development demands of NZPI membership, and explore opportunities for 4Sight to assist the NZPI, and Papa Pounamu.

The NZPI annual conference is next week and a number of our team will be attending, you will also see our logo on the conference’s sustainable water bottles - see label above! So if you see one of the team, please feel free to come and say hi or if you want to find out more about 4Sight and what we do, we would love to have a chat with you. In the meantime, check out our Planning team’s profiles, visit our Careers page for job opportunities, or visit our Planning and Policy page to see our full list of services.

Stuck in the mud!

4Sight Consulting was recently engaged to undertake a fish relocation plan at a rural property in Dairy Flat, Auckland. A small section (50m) of farm drain and stock watering ponds needed to be dewatered and infilled, and although this small section of highly-modified habitat was ultimately lost, ecological input from the 4Sight team and an ecologically sensitive design early on in the project led to the creation of 220m of new stream channel with much improved habitat variability (pools, riffles, runs) and a 20m buffer of native riparian enhancement planting, with additional native replanting across the site. Here’s how the project panned out…

As mentioned, a stream diversion on the property meant that a large farm pond and short section of stream needed to be dewatered and infilled. But due to an unusually dry summer, the surrounding stream was largely dry, and therefore the farm pond provided the only permanent habitat for fish within this section of stream. And as a result, the pond was found to be teeming with eels - thank goodness the team aren’t squeamish!

As well as the large community of eels who had made the pond their home, the pond was also found to be filled with soft, silty mud and was unsafe for people to access. So instead of tackling the pond themselves, the 4Sight team worked closely with the project’s earthworks contractors as they progressively dewatered the pond. How does an earthworks company assist with such a delicate operation you ask? Using a long reach digger, that’s how.

The long reach digger operated by carefully scooping bank vegetation and sediment from the pond and then spreading it in a shallow layer along the nearby banks to enable the Ecology team to search for the fish by hand. The first bucket load produced a staggering number of eels, in which literally hundreds of eels (300+) of all sizes slithered off in all directions. But with so many eels trying to make a run for it, the team had to be quick off the mark, capturing all the eels before they could escape. They then had to do a final search through the mud to ensure that every last eel was caught and none were left behind.

The sheer number of eels being pulled from the pond continued to be astounding, and it quickly became clear that in order for the safe relocation of every eel to occur, the team needed reinforcements. Luckily, we are a multidisciplinary bunch here at 4Sight and because of the diverse range of experience available within our wider team, the Ecology team were able to call upon and bring in a larger field team to ensure that the fish captured, and subsequently relocated, happened as quickly as possible. Given the hot weather conditions, this was vitally important to minimise the stress on the native fish as well.

Over the next four days, more than 2,000 eels were recovered from the pond and regularly relocated to sections of the same stream, but downstream of the works site. The fish recovered were almost entirely shortfin eel (Anguilla australis), although small numbers of the increasingly rare longfin eel (A. dieffenbachii) were present too. The eels ranged in size from elvers (c. 70mm in length) to large adult eels (up to 1,000mm in length). But what was really exciting for the team was the fact that they were able to assist in removing an existing large fish barrier to reconnect the 94-hectare upstream catchment and stream habitat that was previously inaccessible to all but eels, as they are the hardiest climbers. Re-connecting these ecological corridors and improved fish passage throughout the catchment will in turn provide an opportunity for a more diverse range of native fish species to move into the area next spring / migration season - not just the eels. However, because the eels were only moved just downstream of the development area, the team anticipate to see them remain in the area too.

All in all, it was a very successful relocation and despite the heat and endless mud, the team managed to produce an outstanding result. Not only for the client, but for the native fish as well.

For more information on how our team could assist you, check out our Ecology team’s profiles or take a look at our Ecology page to see our full list of services. In the meantime, check out some of the great pictures captured from the day below:

Experiencing Marine Reserves 2019

4Sight’s Northland based Ecology Consultant, Oliver Bone, is a true eco-warrior. He lives and breathes Marine Biology, and as you would expect, he’s also an avid supporter of marine conservation and has been actively involved in an organisation called Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) for a number of years now.

You may have read our previous blog post on EMR (you can read it here), how it fits in with 4Sight’s values and what it’s all about, but for those of you who don’t know, it’s an organisation that epitomises our values of land, people, water and thriving into the future by promoting marine conservation through experiential learning, i.e. teaching schools and communities to love the ocean and its marine life by getting them to experience it for themselves.

As mentioned in our last EMR update, Oliver’s role with EMR is to coordinate and run community guided snorkel days, and so far he’s been involved in two free community snorkel days this season (summer 2018/2019).

Both days have been a huge success according to Oliver, with the first day being held at Reotahi Marine Reserve in Whangarei Harbour and the second at the picturesque Matai Bay in the far North. A whopping 180 people turned out on the first day at Whangarei Harbour, and an even bigger crowd (of what seemed to be the entire community) of 225+ individuals showed up at Matai Bay - truly incredible!

What’s also incredible, is how well the full no take rāhui implemented by the local hapu at Matai Bay has been taken on board by the community. Oliver was astounded by the amount of fish life in the bay and how well it’s thriving after just one year of protection which is exactly what we like to hear.

We could tell you a lot more about the inquisitive fish life, the enthusiasm and excitement Oliver has seen from kids and adults alike who’ve been involved, and the importance of protecting New Zealand’s beaches and marine life, but we’ll let these pictures taken by Lorna Doogan EMR tell the rest:

Keen to get involved or take part? There are plenty more EMR Snorkel Days planned this summer with the next one being held on 10th of February. However, some of the days do require bookings, so you’ll need to get in quick to secure a spot! Check out all of the upcoming days below if you’d like to go along (those with a B next to them require a booking) or head over to the EMR website for more details. Or if you’re interested in volunteering for EMR, you can sign up for Northland events here or Auckland events here.

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An update on PFAS

Last year we published a blog post introducing our capabilities to assess and manage PFAS (Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyl substances), and in that post we introduced you to what they are, why they are considered to be an ‘emerging contaminant of concern’, where the current focus for PFAS in New Zealand has been directed, and provided you with some guidelines around PFAS from the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) - you can read the full blog post here.

We also addressed how PFAS compounds are prevalent in our everyday lives. For example, many of you may not know that PFCs (Per-fluorinated chemicals), including PFOS (Perfluoroocane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), have been used in the production of commercially available products such as oil and water-resistant coatings on textiles and upholstery (i.e. carpets, leather, paints and inks), hydraulic fluids in some medical devices, Teflon products, colour printer / photo-copier parts, and some insecticides for a while now.

The main cause for concern is that PFCs are extremely water soluble and therefore persistent in the environment. Plus, their impact on humans is still being researched and understood, and there is a lack of long-term and consistent evidence demonstrating what the risks to humans might be.

However, in certain animals, research has shown that certain PFAS may affect their growth and behaviour development, impact female fertility, increase cholesterol, and affect the immune system. But as humans and animals process these chemicals differently, more research needs to be done to determine how humans might be impacted.

On the other hand, there have been conflicting reports as to whether PFAS even pose a risk to human health. For example, while there have been studies and legal action undertaken in the USA suggesting PFAS do pose a risk to human health; the Australian Department of Health has stated that while there is evidence to suggest a risk to animals and fauna, there is no clear evidence to suggest there are risks to human health. Although, this has been caveated by stating sufficient data of risk to human health does not yet exist due to bio-accumulation and latent periods from exposure.

Ongoing studies suggest bio-accumulation of PFAS in the body may pose a greater risk to human health than exposure through contact / ingestion with PFAS found in soil or groundwater. Thus, the focus of most research in PFAS is now directed toward biota sampling, particularly the accumulation of PFAS in flora and fauna which may subsequently enter the food chain (such as freshwater fish, eels and watercress).

Watercress growing in New Zealand

Watercress growing in New Zealand

Our understanding of PFAS is constantly evolving in this rapidly developing field as new research and guidelines from regulatory authorities around the world are published. In New Zealand, the response to PFAS has involved an all of government approach led by MfE, which has largely focused on the historical use of PFC containing fire-fighting foams at airports and defence bases that have leached into soil and groundwater (updates on the MfE response to PFAS and fire-fighting foam use are published on their website).

As part of the MfE response a Draft Sampling and Analysis of Per- and Poly-fluorinated Substances guideline was published for consultation in late-2018. The purpose of which is to provide New Zealand specific-guidance on the assessment of PFAS in the environment; as prior to the publication of this document, international guidance was used from both Australia and the USA, including the January 2018 Heads of the Environment Protection Agencies of Australia and New Zealand (HEPA) publication PFAS National Environment Management Plan (PFAS NEMP).

Improved local guidelines and a uniform approach to assessment has driven the development of improved laboratory analytical procedures, as many analytical laboratories are now capable of conducting PFC analysis in a range of media in New Zealand rather than looking to overseas laboratories.  The improvement in analytical techniques has allowed for parts per trillion level PFAS analysis and robust assessments as to whether a risk is or may be posed to human health and/or the environment to be undertaken.

While the focus within New Zealand, and internationally, when looking at PFAS has largely been to look at the use of water-soluble fire-fighting foams at large facilities, and their affect on groundwater, there has been a shift in this thinking. Many more sources of PFAS compounds are likely to exist. As listed above, PFAS compounds are in many every-day items; many of which will end up in landfill. As such, landfills, and water treatment plants are likely to be the next big focus for investigation for the presence of PFAS compounds, as well as large manufacturing facilities which operated in the 1970s – 1990s.

Since circa-2013 PFAS have been considered to be an emerging contaminant of concern; but with recent research suggesting persistence in the environment, and the current lack of understanding around its potential risks to human health, it can be concluded that PFAS is a contaminant of concern.

Here at 4Sight we are well placed to provide the most efficient investigation strategies in relation to PFAS, taking advantage of innovative cutting-edge technologies to provide the best project outcomes. 4Sight staff have conducted PFAS investigations at sites in both New Zealand and Australia, and are well versed in the intricate sampling protocols required for sampling potentially PFAS affected sites.

Given our strong respect for cultural and Māori values, including our links with iwi, we are also able to liaise and advise local iwi who may be affected by PFAS impacting waterways; how those impacts may affect traditional practices, and the appropriate management options available to them.

For more information on 4Sight’s PFAS investigation services, please get in touch with James Blackwell: or Nigel Mather:                    



That's a wrap 2018!

We can’t believe another year is over - time sure does fly when you’re having fun, but what a year it’s been! It’s definitely been a busy one. We’ve achieved milestones, we’ve encouraged our people to reach their potential, implemented balanced outcomes for our clients and worked towards, and will continue to work towards, becoming an industry leader in sustainable business practices.

Land, people, water and thriving into the future - these are our resolutions. Part of every action and conversation we have, and at the core of everything we do. They keep us bound to walking the talk. But it takes foresight to do this, and like previous years, at the start of 2018 we set goals that were inline with these resolutions to ensure we were living our values.

Land - This is our land. We preserve this environment for the next generation to live, work and thrive.

This year we became CEMARS re-certified, started the transition to an electric fleet, spoke at Ted X Tutakaka about the benefits of living roofs, became followers of the Take 3 For The Sea movement and our new 4Sight branded pens are biodegradable, that's right we can put 90% of the used pen materials in our compost! 

People - We believe in developing our people and our culture to grow together.

We hired 25 awesome new staff members, held 7 events and attended 9 conferences all over the country. We invested in a record breaking amount of staff development, acquired Burton Planning Consultants, our Touch Rugby team played their hearts out against Auckland's finest, and we traipsed through mud (not to mention survived the cold weather) at the Tough Guy and Girl Challenge.

Water - Our waters represent constant change. Our commitment is to ensure the quality of this precious resource.

We were heavily involved in the organisation of the New Zealand Coastal Society Annual Conference, we hosted the coastal erosion EIANZ Managed Retreat event, American Dr Steven Hughes from the Fulbright Specialist Program spoke at the Coastal Engineering Challenges in a Changing World Seminar held at 4Sight's Auckland office, and our involvement with Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) enabled our team to run free community events that allow the public to experience the benefits of marine reserves first hand.

Thriving into the future - Today we share our knowledge to educate and shape the future.

We joined forces with 60 other like-minded businesses and became signatories of the Climate Leaders Coalition, we supported Movember to help men in our communities thrive, we held a workshop to encourage women to make the most of their strengths in the workplace, we adorned ourselves in orange and got behind Shine's Light it Orange Day to stop domestic violence, and we volunteered at Hello Cafe to help young girls open their minds to science and engineering. 

All in all it’s been a fantastic year, and they say a picture paints a thousand words so here’s a few highlights:

As well as living our values, we’ve had our fair share of fun in 2018 and have documented it with some great photos. Actually there’s so many good photos (like the banner image we’ve used up the top featuring the 4Sight team out on the water at our Christmas party), we didn’t even know where to start in terms of sharing them! But the photos below are some of the best and mostly feature our talented team - the backbone of 4Sight Consulting. Together we’ve worked on some amazing projects, worked alongside brilliant people, shared our most exciting news e.g. new babies and weddings, met new people, welcomed new team members, laughed, travelled the country, shared our knowledge with one another and so much more. Thank you team for all your hard work this year, we couldn’t have done it without you. Bring on 2019!

EVS the way of the Future?

The task of getting petrol has become entrenched in our routines. Like getting groceries and paying bills, it’s something we can’t avoid and is a chore that we have had no choice but to undertake, until now.

Imagine getting to work, plugging your car in to charge and knowing you don’t have to stop and get petrol on your way home from work - sounds good right? Well what with the recent influx of affordable electric vehicles this futuristic vision of powering your car, like you would your iPhone, is now a reality.

We have been measuring our Carbon Footprint for over a decade and recognised one of our biggest contributors to our carbon emissions is our car travel. But how could we solve this? Electric vehicles were few and far between, not to mention somewhat costly. We encouraged (and still do encourage) carpooling, public transport and good old fashioned walking, but it’s not always the most practical solution especially when we have regular site visits, often with a lot of equipment, and meetings to attend where punctuality is paramount. We knew something needed to change and up until now, an electric fleet didn’t really seem possible. Oh how times have changed.

This year we purchased our first electric vehicle, an electric Volkswagen Golf:


Whatever preconceived notions you have about electric vehicles, throw them out the window because our electric VW has absolutely exceeded our expectations and it even looks like a normal car!

Have you ever been in an electric vehicle before? We’re sure you have, but firstly there’s the push start buttons, which we know are no longer a novelty, but they still seem like something out of The Jetsons, and then there’s the noise or lack of – this car is silent. Push the ignition and you do wonder is this thing on? But sure enough, put your foot on the accelerator and you are immediately propelled smoothly forward. Stopping at traffic lights or stopping in general is odd, where is the hum of the engine? Again, you ask yourself is this thing on? But then in contrast, jump back in a normal petrol car and you notice the noise and the ride doesn’t seem so smooth.

Needless to say we are advocates for electric vehicles and luckily, due to their increase in popularity, so is the rise in fast charging EV stations which makes life even easier for us. And now that we have our own certified carboNZero power supply, not only have we drastically reduced our carbon emissions by purchasing one, but we have also radically reduced our costs in petrol (the cost of charging an EV is equivalent to paying 30c per litre for petrol).

Transitioning to an electric fleet does not come without its challenges though, we’re only at 1 and still need our existing larger vehicles to carry equipment, visit construction sites, and go on off-road site visits. This will be our biggest challenge in the years to come, but we intend to work at it and we’ve made a start which can sometimes be the hardest part. It’s definitely a work in progress, but good things take time, as the saying goes. We’ll keep you posted!

In the meantime, if you’re interested in reading more about we’re doing to reduce our carbon emissions check out our environmental policy or view our profile page on the enviro-mark website to read our carbon emissions reports.

Judging The New Zealand Flower and Garden Show

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Last night was the gala opening night for the New Zealand Flower and Garden Show, the second Auckland based international flower and garden show since the Ellerslie International Flower Show.

There were plenty of stunning entries this year (take the above pictures for example), which our talented Principal Landscape Architect, Renèe Davies, had the pleasure of judging. Well done Renèe, we know that urban and landscape design is your passion, but we’re pretty sure it wouldn’t have been easy to judge so many fantastic entries.

We mentioned that Renèe was talented, but did we also mention that as an accredited member of the Garden Design Society of New Zealand, Renee also entered a planted pot of her own to the exhibition. Her pot named Ngahere (pictured below) is a showcase of the New Zealand forest ecosystem as a layered web of plants, fungi and animals. The detail and beauty found in our unique forest plants is showcased in Renèe’s piece with a palette of indigenous species that reflects the qualities of our forests - a mix of epiphytes, climbers, ferns and groundcovers. It is an incredibly powerful reflection of the diversity possible with a muted scheme of varied textures, shades of green and relationships and we think another well done is in order for Renèe!


The overall supreme winner of show this year was Jules Moore's zen garden described by judges as an absolute showstopper! You can watch the big reveal on TVNZ’s website.

The show will run for the rest of the week until the 2nd of December 2018 from 10am to 6pm daily. For more information on the show and ticketing, visit the New Zealand Flower and Garden Show website.

The very last Hundertwasser building

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The Hundertwasser Art Centre - the very last Hundertwasser building to be constructed in the world and a project that epitomises the blurring of discipline boundaries. It’s been an exciting journey for our Landscape team and has been an exceptional opportunity for them to showcase their unique blend of expertise and skills. And tomorrow, Zoë Avery, our Senior Planning, Landscape and Urban Design Consultant here at 4Sight, will be presenting at the NZIOB NC: Hundertwasser Art Centre Presentation.

With over 100 native and over 60,000 plants going into the living roof, Zoë will be discussing its afforestation, the landscaping itself, the opportunities and challenges it’s presented, and what creating this space means for Whangarei, Northland and New Zealand.

It will be a beautiful, tranquil space for locals, that celebrates and reflects the unique history, culture and landscape that is specific to Aotearoa, and we can’t wait to see the finished product.

If you’re in Northland and would like to hear Zoë speak, email Nerida Hawkins ( to secure your seat.

When: 5:00pm, Thursday, 29 November

Where: The Lecture Theatre at NorthTec

Cost: Free for NZIOB Members, koha for Non-Members

Speaking up about living roofs in New Zealand

Calling all avid Urban Planners, Designers and Architects! 4Sight’s talented Zoë Avery will be presenting her findings on the lack of living roofs in New Zealand at Auckland University’s School of Architecture and Planning tomorrow. Called the School Research Seminar Symposium, it’s a one day event featuring 14 speakers who will present their research conclusions and insights on Urban Planning, Urban Design, Architecture and Geography. The presentations will be split into three groups which are as follows:

  • The Geographical Scale – the scale of the built environment, its cities and beyond;

  • The Urban Scale – cities and/or spaces within cities; and

  • The Architectural Scale – cities and urban developments created by buildings and more.

Selecting existing living roofs from New Zealand and Europe, Zoë will be critically analysing their form and structure and discuss key barriers that have prevented the integration and prevalence of living roofs here in New Zealand. Ultimately providing conference goers advice on how to increase their popularity and realise their benefits.

Zoë Avery looks at Emporia Shopping Mall, Sweden

Zoë Avery looks at Emporia Shopping Mall, Sweden

For more information on the symposium and its speakers, head over to the Auckland University website.

For more information on Zoë and our team of expert Landscape and Urban Design consultants, visit our people page.   


2019 RMA Reforms


In an effort to produce a more industrious, inclusive and sustainable economy the government has proposed a number of reforms to the resource management system to take effect from 2019.

Its aim is to make the bill less complex, more understandable and to encourage the public to participate in the process. The changes will occur in two stages, with the first stage being a narrowly focused amendment to reverse some of the controversial changes made by the previous government in 2017 to reduce complexity, increase certainty and introduce a number of relatively simple changes to improve consenting, freshwater management, enforcement and Environment Court operations. Stage two will be a more comprehensive review of the current resource management system building on current work within this space, including areas such as urban development, climate change, freshwater management, urban tree protection, plan making timelines and reducing complexity.

The Stage One changes include:

  1. Remove preclusions on public notification and appeals for residential activities and subdivisions.

  2. Reinstate the presumption that subdivision requires resource consent unless expressly permitted.

  3. Reinstate the option for councils to require financial contributions to support development which was going to be repealed in 2022.

  4. Enable applicants to suspend the processing of their non-notified consents for up to 20 working days and enable consent authority to return the application if the applicant suspension extends beyond the 20 working days.

  5. Increase the time frame for lodging retrospective emergency works applications to 60 working days.

  6. Enable persons who are dissatisfied with a council’s notification decision to challenge this in the Environment Court rather than the judicial review process in the High Court and enable the Environment Court to make declarations in respect of these decisions including being able to set aside any part of the notification decision or direct a council to reconsider its notification decision.

  7. Clarify the legal status of deemed permitted marginal or temporary activities and deemed permitted boundary activities confirming they are lawfully established ways of breaching a plan rule.

  8. Enable the review of conditions of multiple resource consents concurrently e.g. on a catchment wide basis, as soon as a relevant regional rule is operative, to manage water quantity and quality.

  9. Strengthen tools for compliance, monitoring and enforcement including increasing maximum infringement fees and extend the statutory limitation for filing charges for various prosecutions.

  10. Enable the Environmental Protection Authority to take enforcement action.

It is anticipated the Stage One bill will be introduced to the House in December 2018, with implementation by mid-2019. The Stage Two review will commence in 2019.

For more information on the changes, visit the MfE website.

Tackling Climate Change 60 Kiwi Businesses at a Time


When it comes to tackling climate change it’s often hard to know where to start, it’s such a massive subject and it’s easy to get lost in all that it entails. Communication around it seems to come in ebbs and flows as well, and as a business we have always tried to maintain the ‘flows’, as sustainability, lowering our carbon emissions and reducing our carbon footprint have been long-term goals of ours. But we still ask ourselves what else can we do to make a difference, and even though we recently became re-certified as a CEMARS certified business and have been certified for 8 years now (read our blog post), it’s still a work in progress and it’s a constant, ever-evolving process for us.

However, it’s good to know we are not alone in this process, and in July of this year we signed up to the Climate Leaders Coalition with 60 other like-minded businesses. At the time, those of us who signed up made up 22% of New Zealand’s private sector GDP and approximately half of New Zealand’s gross emissions and in signing up, we each agreed to commit to measuring and reporting our greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to keep global warming within two degrees, as specified by the United Nations initiative the Paris Agreement

Representing a variety of sectors from across New Zealand, when we first signed up to the coalition there were 60 of us, but now it’s up to 70 members and is continuing to grow which is fantastic! It seems more and more of us are standing up and saying let’s make a change now so that our future generations can live in a world where they thrive. The challenge now is for all of us to stay committed, keep working at it and not let it fall to the wayside. It’s certainly something we intend to uphold and live by, we are even in the process of developing our 2050 plan founded on science based targets and due to be released in the new year. So let’s encourage others to do the same because if we protect and strengthen the realms of the land and water, they will sustain and strengthen the people  - toitu te marae a tane toitu te marae a tangaroa toitu te iwi.

For more pictures from the Climate Leaders Coalition launch or for more information on the coalition itself, visit their website. For more information on our resolutions and commitments to sustainability read our environmental policy.


NZ Coastal Society Annual Conference


The New Zealand Coastal Society is a New Zealand organisation that brings engineers, scientists, local bodies, iwi, planners, policymakers and anyone with an interest in our coastline together to learn and discuss better ways to manage the threats and opportunities that face our coasts and marine environment.

Every year they hold an annual conference that society members are invited to attend and we are thrilled to have a number of 4Sight staff representing us at the conference in Gisborne this year. Our own Sam Morgan has also been heavily involved as Co-chair for the event.

With presentations from key note speakers Dr Terry Hume, Dr Nicola Litchfield and Martin Bayley, this year’s conference focus is on ‘crossing the water’ or whiti i te wai which refers to Captain Cooks landing at Gisborne’s three rivers and the impact it had on the local people at the time and in the years that followed. It will look at the past and present and what the future looks like for the area, and in turn, should give conference goers a better understanding of all peoples connections to the land and waters of Tairawhiti.

Here at 4Sight we are continuing to build our skill set in the coastal management space to further contribute to coastal issues across the country. We are an enthusiastic team of experienced professionals including Ecologists, Coastal Scientists, Landscape Architects, and Planners who work alongside a range of external professionals to achieve the best outcomes for our coast. Check out our team of Planners and Ecologists to find out more about their areas of expertise.

Meet Movember Hero Xander Riekert

We have a lot of Mo heroes in our office this Movember, each with their own story, but as promised we want to introduce you to Xander Riekert and tell you a bit about his commitment to the cause.

You could say it was with great trepidation that Xander walked across the road to Maloney’s Barber last week to make one of the biggest changes to his appearance in years - shaving off his beard. Pictured below being escorted, supported (comforted even?) by one of 4Sight’s Directors, Mike Lindgreen, another avid supporter of Movember and Mo hero, it was no easy feat for him to say goodbye to that beard of his.


Once at the barber, it all became very real for Xander but hey, all in the name of the cause right? And we thought rather than explain the entire process to you, we would let you watch it for yourselves - check it out:

As the title of video suggests, this is commitment to the cause and Xander, like the rest of us here at 4Sight, are committed to generating awareness for men’s health this month - we’re walking the talk.

If you’d like to join us in supporting Movember, check out our Movember page for more information and to see how you can donate to the cause, every little bit counts!

Lights, camera, resource consent!

4Sight is famous! Not really… but our talented team at 4Sight has been helping some other big name talent recently.

Heard of the Kiwi novelist Eleanor Catton? Well the hype around her bestselling, Man-Booker prize winning novel, The Luminaries, has been rekindled with the announcement of a BBC six-part TV series to be filmed here in New Zealand, and we were engaged to help its producers secure an Auckland film location and attain resource consent.

With former Bond girl, Eva Green, playing the main character, and New Zealand actor, Marton Csokas, from The Lord of the Rings playing the leading male, the book is set on the rugged West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island during the 1860s gold rush. And although the film will not be filmed in the South Island, it’s thanks to the perseverance of our amazing team that the film received resource consent in a timely manner and the crew were able to commence filming in Central and West Auckland this November.

Well done team! Check out the article on the New Zealand Film Commission website for more information on the TV series.

It's officially mo' season!

Well it’s the second day of Movember (or November as it’s more formerly known to muggles or should we say mo’ggles) and it was full steam ahead yesterday (literally) to get it all underway. We have a number of Mo heroes in our office taking part this year, but there was one hero in particular, Xander Riekert, who went the whole hog by trimming, steaming and shaving his whole beard for the cause and for the first time in years – maybe you saw our Instagram or Facebook page? We will introduce you to him later, but firstly it’s important for us to explain why we support a cause like Movember.

Land. People. Water. It’s our tagline, our philosophy and at the heart of everything we do and true to that, the people here at 4Sight play a central role, not only in the actions we take, but in 4Sight’s identity. It’s paramount to us that we provide them with the support they need to thrive in our communities and we’re all about walking the talk too, so we are committed to it, it’s one of our key resolutions. With this in mind, it only seems right for us to support Movember, a cause that does just that by generating awareness and acting as a conversation starter for men’s health issues. And although it’s a fun and light-hearted way to get us talking about it, particularly when it comes to topics like mental health, prostate cancer and testicular cancer which are hard ones to bring up, at its core, the real message is for us to let the men in our lives know that it’s ok to ask for help or to act upon health concerns they have - this message is crucial. We intend to keep it at the forefront of everything we do this Movember, while having some fun along the way, but in the meantime we’d like to introduce you to some of our Mo heroes:

We will keep you posted on their journey throughout the month and if you’re keen to find out more or donate to the cause, check out our Movember page.

Don’t miss the next exciting blog installment where we will relive Xander’s journey to a smooth face at Maloney’s Barbershop!

4Sight Supports the Environmental Compliance Conference

4Sight is proud to be supporting the 2018 Environmental Compliance Conference with our very own Emma Comrie-Thomson serving on the Organising Committee again this year.

The conference comprises of two full days of practical learning, a field trip, an exhibition and workshops all with a focus on tactical solutions to compliance problems and opportunities in New Zealand.

This year’s conference has a line-up of great speakers including keynotes from Sir Peter Gluckman, Hon. Nanaia Mahuta and Judge David Kirkpatrick.  Conference goers can also choose which sessions they would like to attend as presentation topics will be organised into three streams.

The conference is to be held in Auckland from the 14th to the 16th of November 2018.

Check out the Environmental Compliance Conference website for more information:

CEMARS Re-Certification and Cake!

Alice Andrew, Caroline Attwooll and our CEMARS Account Manager Helene Pacalin

Alice Andrew, Caroline Attwooll and our CEMARS Account Manager Helene Pacalin

The Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme (or CEMARS) is something we have been a part of for the past 8 years and yesterday, we were re-certified as a CEMARS certified business.

CEMARS is a certification programme available in 17 countries that helps businesses measure their operation emissions e.g. business travel, electricity and vehicles, and then provides them with the tools and support necessary to reduce them. Companies are then regularly audited to ensure they are meeting best practice and continuing to reduce their emissions.

Lowering carbon emissions in the workplace is a full time commitment and we’ve been actively working towards reducing our carbon emissions since the birth of 4Sight. When we first started working on our carbon reduction plan, we did all the small stuff e.g. reminding staff to turn off the lights and minimising our waste by recycling and composting as much as we could, and then, once we joined CEMARS, we were able to begin quantifying the amount of emissions we were actually generating and identify efficiencies and cost savings.

We are still working towards reducing our carbon emissions and have even added an electric vehicle to our fleet, but we have remained a CEMARS certified business all these years, so we think we’re on the right track.

We are proud to be a part of it and we even got a congratulatory cake from CEMARS when they awarded us our certificate, and anyone who gives us a cake is alright in our book. But most importantly, anyone that helps us keep New Zealand cleaner, greener and more sustainable gets a big tick from us.

So we will continue to work on reducing our carbon emissions, not just in the workplace, but we intend to in our homes as well - what will you do?

For more information on our carbon reduction targets or if you’d like to view our carbon emissions reports, visit our profile page on the Enviro-Mark Solutions website or click here to see a summary of our CEMARS certification for 2017/2018.

New Beginnings 4Sight Acquires Burton Planning Consultants

When we first opened our doors in 2001, we had no idea we would be where we are today - growing at 24% for the last 4 years, our teams expanding, our areas of expertise increasing and our team constantly reaching new levels of excellence. But when we take a step backwards to reflect upon the last 17 years, we often ask ourselves how did we get here?

It’s no secret we strongly believe in our land, water and people, and when we take care of our land and water, our people thrive. But we’d like to take a moment to focus on our people. A team of 65 passionate individuals, who are constantly striving to achieve balanced outcomes for our clients and the environment, and without whom, we don’t think we’d be where we are or who we are today.

So, when the opportunity presented itself earlier this year to partner with more likeminded people, whose expertise and values were in line with our own, we leapt at the chance. And it’s with great pleasure that we announce a new stage in our business development with the acquisition of Burton Planning Consultants who will be officially joining the 4Sight team at the start of October 2018.

A close-knit team, whose director’s Karen Blair and David Le Marquand have worked together since 1995, they too specialise in planning and resource consent management and have over 30 years’ experience in the industry. But looking to expand the business and provide their staff with greater opportunities, without investing in the resources that such growth necessitates, they were at a crossroads as to where to next. And after evaluating their options, the one that resulted in the best outcome for them, their clients and their staff, was this one. Because as Dave and Karen have emphasised throughout this entire process, irrespective of how they feel or what they think, what really matters is the level and quality of service provided to their clients and the happiness and satisfaction of their staff.

A measured decision for both parties, they respected us, who we are, our work ethic and our views on sustainability. We respected their expertise, vast experience, how they dealt with their clients and most importantly, the fact that we were on the same page.

It’s a new beginning for Burton Planning Consultants who have told us they feel rejuvenated by the acquisition. And it may be a new beginning for them, but we are looking back, back to their huge amount of knowledge and experience and how invaluable this will be to our team. And with their extensive experience in the oil, gas and energy sectors, we are particularly excited by the prospect of possibly achieving a long-term goal of ours to become a key player in New Zealand’s sustainable energy evolution.

Next steps for us here at 4Sight – keep searching for the best people, because it’s the people that make us what we are and will ultimately make us the best in our industry. And who knows, maybe one day we will be able to solve not just New Zealand’s environmental issues, but the world’s from right here in New Zealand.

Auckland Waterfront Transformation Given the Green Light for 2021 America's Cup

Transforming Auckland’s Waterfront to be America’s Cup ready was given the go ahead on Tuesday by the Environment Court and we are particularly thrilled to have played a key part in the decision.

In late 2017, we were engaged by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, New Zealand Major Events (MBIE) and Panuku Development Auckland (Panuku) (the economic development arm of the Auckland Council) to peer review the proposed 36th America’s Cup Location Decision reports - prior to lodgement of the associated resource consent applications.

As the location for the proposed America’s Cup Village was on sites currently housing facilities for operating and storing hazardous substance tanks, 4Sight performed a gap analysis between the Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) reports and NZ’s adopted international best practice base line. We also undertook a desk-top evaluation of risk, based on the absence of control measures, rather than the controls and assumptions used in the projects QRA. In addition to this, we also carried out an environmental assessment and impact study which peer reviewed the supplied environmental assessment reports to ascertain assumptions, including risk profiling the severity and potential exposure to sources of harm to people and environment associated with land redevelopment. 4Sight then performed a semi-quantitative risk assessment, based on mandatory controls for the respective classes of dangerous goods and associated processing systems.

The work carried out by 4Sight, ultimately assisted in the streamlining of the design for this area of development and most importantly, minimised the risk of hazardous substances to the event.

EIANZ Managed Retreat Event 27 September


We’d like to invite you to the EIANZ’s Managed Retreat event held at 4Sight’s Auckland office on 27 September 2018.

A session on how climate change is increasing the risk of coastal hazards in New Zealand, our own Sam Morgan will be presenting along with Paul Klinac, the Team Manager for Coastal and Geotechnical Services at Auckland Council.

Both presenters will be discussing the concept of a ‘Managed Retreat’, its use in New Zealand, lessons learned from its use and how it will be used to reduce the risk of coastal hazards going forward.

If you’re interested in attending, please register by following the link below:

Time: 5-7pm

Date: Thursday, 27 September 2018

Where: 4Sight Consulting, 201 Victoria Street West, Auckland Central

Cost: EIANZ members - $10, EIANZ Student members - Free, Non-members - $15

RSVP: Register for the event by following the link above.


NOTE: Numbers are limited so please RSVP as soon as possible to ensure your seat

New Zealand - Cleaner, Greener and Lower in Emissions

Photo by Keren Bennett

Photo by Keren Bennett

It was with great pride that we became signatories of the Climate Leaders’ Coalition in July of this year, joining forces with 60 other like-minded businesses from across New Zealand to work towards changing behaviours in the workplace, and everyday life, in order to reach a collective goal of reducing New Zealand’s emissions and ultimately a cleaner, greener New Zealand. 

But is it possible for the rest of New Zealand and the New Zealand government to take action and change a long-standing mindset? To support a low emissions economy where people still prosper? The Productivity Commission thinks so.  Yesterday, they released their Low Emissions Economy Report outlining a number of recommendations as to how government can implement and possibly achieve just that - a lower emissions economy.  

According to the report, this is something that needs to happen sooner rather than later, and if we don’t move fast, New Zealand runs the risk of remaining in its current status quo – one that is not sustainable, and is costly to the government.  

The report found that there were three key actions that need to take place in order for us to attain a lower emissions economy: 

•    Stop burning fossil fuels and switch to electricity and other low emission energy sources. Here at 4Sight we quantify our emission intensity as we grow, and have already started transitioning our 4Sight fleet vehicles to electric ones. 

•    Undertake substantial levels of afforestation a.k.a plant more trees. An interesting (and slightly out-of-the-box) afforestation project we are currently working on is the Hundertwasser Arts Centre Living Roof. Click here to read more.

•    Make changes to the way we farm our land. We agree! We are mindful of this in the projects we are working on in the rural sector. 

So where to from here? The government needs to form a robust and thorough climate change framework, modify the current Emissions Trading Scheme and throw as many resources as they can into the development of lower emissions initiatives. There’s a lot to be done, considering New Zealand has also committed to its first “Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement to reduce its emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030” (according to the Low Emissions Economy Report).

We’re all for making it a reality though and if you’re interested in what we are doing to take action against climate change, check out our commitments page here.  We would also highly recommend you check out the Low Emissions Economy Report (all 620 pages of it!), or if you’re short on time, head over to the Productivity Commission website where there is an overview of the report, plus a video highlighting its crucial messages. If you’re interested in finding out more on the Climate Leaders Coalition, visit their website and see how you can become a member too. 

This is close to our hearts here at 4Sight, as we are founded on ensuring better outcomes for land, water and people, and it will take all of us to make this happen. Our final thoughts - if we sustain our land and water, our people will thrive. 

Living Roofs a growing phenomenon?

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Zoë Avery, our very own Senior Planning, Landscape and Urban Design Rockstar here at 4Sight, recently spoke to Idealog magazine about the growing phenomenon that is living roofs.  According to Zoë,  “Living roofs have not taken off in Aotearoa – yet!”, but she hopes that her work on the living roof for the Hundertwasser Art Centre and Wairau Māori Art Gallery in Whangarei will be a step in the right direction. 
With over 100 native and over 60,000 plants going into the living roof, its purpose is to not only create a beautiful, tranquil space for locals, but to celebrate and reflect the unique history, culture and landscape that is specific to Aotearoa. 
To read the full article and find out more about Zoë’s work with living roofs in New Zealand, click here.

To read more about our work on the Hundertwasser Art Centre and Wairau Māori Art Gallery, click here.

Driving the Sustainability Agenda

A sustainable future for NZ isn’t going to happen without business action, which is why we have been members of the Sustainable Business Council (SBC) for over a decade. Check out our manifesto - Working together for a better future: a partnership platform for business and government

We joined the SBC over a decade ago when we were only roughly one 7th of the size we are now so that we could help influence change and have our voice heard by government. 

Today there are over 86 members, including many of New Zealand’s largest businesses and together we represent more than a quarter of New Zealand’s private sector GDP - $66 billion collective turnover! 

The SBC members advocate for a better way of doing business. All members have made a commitment to the balanced pursuit of economic growth, environmental integrity and social progress within a business context, and to report on their progress. This includes measuring and reducing their carbon footprint and influencing the wider business community through their supply chains.

The manifesto outlines where we see opportunities for business to best collaborate with the next government, and why it is important to us.


Papa Pounamu Event 19 June

Tēnā koutou katoa,

Papa Pounamu and 4Sight would like to invite you to an evening presentation from Dr Jacob Otter about Improving the Assessment of Mana Whenua Cultural Values and Interests: An
Auckland Council Research project.

Auckland Council has been researching how mana whenua values and interests are
included and assessed in resource management and planning processes with a view to
improving the effectiveness of these assessments, and exploring the benefits such inclusion
has for Tāmaki. The presentation provides an overview of this research project, including its
co-governance arrangements; data collection with planners, mana whenua, and consultants;
interim findings; and potential outputs from the research.

Time: Presentation 6pm – 7pm (pre-drinks and nibbles start at 5:30pm)
Date: Tuesday, 19 June 2018
Where: 4Sight Consulting, 201 Victoria Street West, Auckland Central
RSVP: Please confirm your attendance by email to Sammy - or call 09 3030311

NOTE: Numbers are limited so please RSVP as soon as possible to ensure your seat

Shifting Sands

Image Source:

Image Source:

A 17m long schooner has been uncovered at the northern end of Muriwai Beach following a big swell event late last week and reasonably large tides early this week. As impressive as this erosion is and what it has uncovered, the point many of us wouldn't think about is the amount of sand that must have deposited here to cover the whole thing up. Those of us familiar with the NZ's northern west coast might be less surprised by this. 

NZ's west coast is one of the highest energy coasts in the world, regularly receiving large swell from strong low pressure systems that circulate across the Southern Ocean. The stretch of coast from Taranaki north is characterised by wide dissipative beaches with sand supplied from eroding cliffs, rivers and streams that empty the North Island Volcanic Plateau. This is thought to result in large pulses of sand that travel up the coast delivering sediment to the many vast stretches of beach and the bar features associated with harbours such as the Manukau and Kaipara.

This can lead to periods of extreme accretion and erosion along the coast with one of the best examples being the piece of shoreline between Whatipū and Karekare beaches west of Auckland. Roughly 100 years ago there was a rail line running across the base of a cliff that was regularly attacked by waves. This same piece of coast now sits behind a series of wetlands and dunes that extend out more than a kilometer in places.

Image Source:

Image Source:

This can lead to an array of unique management challenges which in reality may not be able to be addressed by more traditional means. One such example Sam Morgan was involved with was the retreat of infrastructure from the southern end of Muriwai Beach after an erosion phase of roughly 40-50 years. On the other end of the spectrum are the issues that arise from accretion at Piha Beach (10-15 km south of Muriwai) which has seen between 700,000 to 1 million cubic meters of sand deposited on the beach over the same time frame. This accretion has lead to dune management issues as the sand encroaching into carpark areas and blocking views for groups such as the Surf Life Saving Clubs. This has also resulted in small changes within the beach system such as the impoundment of lagoons and modifying stream direction, which lead to erosion threatening roading assets. 

Dealing with these issues requires bespoke management approaches, and in the case of Piha, you can read more about how we dealt with it here.

How it all went - Coastal Engineering Challenges in a Changing World

The Coastal Society event held last Thursday night in the 4Sight Offices was a great success. Thanks to Dr Steven Hughes from Colorado, who is visiting New Zealand as part of the Fulbright Specialist Program, in conjunction with the University of Auckland and NZ Coastal Society.

It was good to discuss the challenges around present-day coastal engineering, with other passionate professionals in the region. Dr Steven Hughes talk was videoed and live streamed, we will be adding a link a little later on.

The invisible challenges of urban ecological restoration projects

NZRA 2.png

A keen, engaged community.  A desire to restore their natural environment.  All of the components needed to deliver lasting and meaningful ecological and social outcomes?

We know that cities provide important biological, cultural and social values and function, despite their highly urbanised nature. They are a home we share with a wide variety of plants and animals. There is growing shift of community expectation, connection and action towards the restoration and enhancement of urban ecology to balance the impacts of past development and future growth.  

Community groups and stakeholders provide a key conduit to a wider-pool of community resource and knowledge, and can bring those additional benefits only gained by community-based projects where learning is enabled, knowledge is shared, and a community spirit and connection is grown. 

However, a lack of planning, coordination or on-going focus can lead to a loss of outcome or support. 

At this year’s New Zealand Recreational Association Conference, Senior Ecologist Tony Payne will be presenting a case study for Senior Planner Simon Karl's presentation, on the Orewa Estuary Te Ara Tahuna Community Restoration Plan. The plan was delivered for, and with the community, supported by the Auckland Council Biodiversity Team, Hibiscus and Bays Local Board and Forest and Bird.

From conception, the Plan was intended to develop lasting interactions between community groups and provide an easy to understand, and easy to implement, means of enhancing the 12km coastal margin surrounding the Orewa Estuary.

At our presentation, we will discuss our approach towards community liaison, delving into the ecological and social context of the area, and how we developed the plan, so the community could understand what ecological restoration and monitoring activities are needed, and importantly, their role in delivering them. 

Ultimately, the Plan reflects the local community’s interests, providing information, advice and the tools needed to deliver matauranga maori, animal pest control, environmental weed control, restoration planting, bird monitoring and mangrove management.

Drawing on recent project examples, Tony and Simon will explore several pitfalls and challenges associated with riparian ecological restoration works around our cities and discuss how these can be avoided or managed so that communities can continue to work together to achieve great things.


NZCS Auckland Regional Event - Coastal Engineering Challenges in a Changing World

NZCS Auckland Regional Event Image.jpg

As active people on an island nation, New Zealanders have a strong connection to the coast. It is a place we run, walk, fish, sail, swim, surf, paddle and simply enjoy the sense of freedom offered by the small space between the environment we are accustom to and the ocean. This leads to strong passions and opinions about how we all use and share this prized space. This passion contributes to the unique challenges in coastal management across all of New Zealand, with our differing opinions contributing to a continuing discourse on how best to manage this precious fringe. 

The 4Sight team is continuing to build its skill set in the coastal management space with the intent of being able to further contribute to these issues across the whole country. We are an enthusiastic team of experienced professionals including ecologists, coastal scientists and planners who work alongside a range of external professionals to achieve the best outcomes for our coast. Sam Morgan recently joined the 4Sight team with the intent on contributing and building the team further in the coastal management space. His commitment to this is reflected in his involvement with the New Zealand Coastal Society both regionally and nationally. 

Sam is currently organising a seminar to be held at the 4Sight Auckland office. Dr Steven Hughes is visiting New Zealand as part of the Fulbright Specialist Program, in conjunction with the University of Auckland. This seminar is also generously supported by the New Zealand Coastal Society, NZCS. This seminar first presents a few observations about present-day coastal engineering, and then focusses on four challenges that will be faced by the coastal engineering profession in the near future: (1) responding to climate change; (2) maintaining the knowledge base; (3) advocating for coastal engineering; and (4) learning from coastal engineering practitioners.  How we, as a community respond to these challenges, will define coastal engineering well into the future.  

When: 10th May 2018 - 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Location: 4Sight Consulting, 201 Victoria Street West, Auckland Central
RSVP:  by May the 4th.

TEDxTutukākā - Tapuwae: Footprints in Our Sand

Tutukaka iMG.PNG

Zoë Avery and Renée Davies were two inspiring speakers chosen to share their “great idea” to 100 delegates at the first TEDxTutukākā event held on 7 April.  The theme of the of the event was Tapuwae - Footprints in Our Sand.  Zoë and Renée spoke about designing living roofs to maximise benefits for the built environment, people and nature. Explaining a local example, Hundertwasser Art Centre and Wairau Maori Art Gallery, where they have had the privilege of working alongside a large and dedicated group of people to champion a living roof project in Whangarei.

TEDxTutukākā later posted on their Facebook page "My favourite bit was when...."  for the 2018 event, where a delegate Kirsty responded "For me, it was when Renee & Zoë put up their beautiful slide showing what Whangarei CBD COULD look like - with a green and vibrant heart - and there was a collective quiet 'Ooooo' from the audience and someone close to me said 'That's what we need'" and another delegate responding “Same Kirsty. What a beautiful vision these 2 have”.

The Hundertwasser project is a fantastic example of how a building and it’s living roof, designed in consideration of living urbanism, can add to the vibrancy and well-being of a local community.  Living Urbanism is a set of design principles that reflect the sensory connection between humans, the built environment and nature. Design outcomes aim is to make environments more permeable for people and wildlife.

TEDxTutukākā was a huge success, the kaupapa was followed through in every aspect, creating an amazing sense of community, driving to be zero-waste and accessible to the hearing impaired. The locally handmade, plastic-free, re-useable, goodie bags just reinforced the messages around living the values discussed during the day.

To find out more you can get in touch with Zoë Avery and Renée Davies

PFAS (Per- and Poly-fluroalkyl substances)


PFAS has again been in the news this week after it emerged that it had been found in fire-fighting foams still used and stored at Nelson Airport. But what exactly are PFAS…

PFAS are a large group of man-made chemical compounds that have both industrial and consumer uses. PFOS (Perfluoroocane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) are two compounds in the PFAS family that are of particular interest.

PFAS have been used around the world since the 1950s in the production of a wide range of products that resist heat, and in particular have been widely used around the world in the production of fire-fighting foams for quelling flammable liquid fires. For this reason, PFAS containing fire-fighting foams have been commonly used at airports, fire-fighter training facilities, Department of Defence facilities, and large industrial / manufacturing facilities. 
PFOS and PFOA compounds have also been used in the production of commercially available products such as: oil and water-resistant coatings on textiles and upholstery (carpets, leather, paints and inks), hydraulic fluids in some medical devices, Teflon products, colour printer / photo-copier parts, and some insecticides. 

When PFAS compounds were first developed and used in the 1950’s, they were considered relatively inert and non-hazardous. However, as more data has become available, our understanding of PFAS has improved. It is now understood that PFAS compounds (particularly PFOS and PFOA) are persistent in the environment (generally resistant to natural degradation processes), and bioaccumulate in the tissues of living organisms (including humans).

Due to such common use of PFAS containing products around the world, we are exposed to small amounts of some PFAS in everyday life, through food, dust, air and contact with products containing these compounds (including food wrappers and containers, clothing and electronics). Most people have small amounts of PFAS compounds in their systems, and at small levels is not known to cause a health risk.

Given the concern around PFAS is still relatively recent (e.g. the use of PFAS based fire-fighting foams has only been illegal in New Zealand since 2006), there remains a lack of certainty over the long-term risks to human health from significant exposure to PFAS.

In general, PFAS products have not been used as extensively in New Zealand as they have in other parts of the world. For instance, at a typical Defence site in Australia, it is estimated that 74,000 litres of PFOS/PFOA fire-fighting foam was used per year for 30-years (prior to being banned); in the same period, a typical Defence site in New Zealand is estimated to be approximately 1,000 litres per year.

Notwithstanding, PFAS compounds are considered to be a potential risk that should be considered alongside other more common contaminants of concern when developing conceptual site models at both preliminary site investigations (PSI), and details site investigations (DSI).

Given the prevalence of PFAS compounds in our everyday lives, and the relatively low thresholds at which accumulation in the environment triggers further assessment, additional protocols need to be implemented during the design and execution of site investigation / sampling activities to limit the potential for cross-contamination of samples and occurrence of ‘false positives’. Similarly, as PFAS compounds are very soluble, no detection of PFAS in soil samples at a Site is not necessarily an indication that groundwater has not been impacted by PFAS at the same site.

In the absence of specifically developed New Zealand guidance on PFAS investigation and assessment, practitioners have typically defaulted to the Western Australia Department of Environmental Regulation (WA DER) Interim Guideline on the Assessment and Management of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), February 2016 in accordance with the requirements of the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) Contaminated Land Management Guidelines No. 2 – Hierarchy and Application in New Zealand of Environmental Guideline Values, October 2011 (CLMG No.2).

However, in January 2018 the Heads of the Environment Protection Agencies of Australia and New Zealand (HEPA) released the PFAS National Environment Management Plan (PFAS NEMP). While this guidance has only, as yet been endorsed for use in Australia; given this document supersedes the WA DER guidance, this document will now likely become the primary reference for PFAS assessment in New Zealand.

As a rapidly developing field, our understanding of PFAS is constantly evolving as new research and guidelines from regulatory authorities around the world are published. Since circa-2013 PFAS have been considered to be an emerging contaminant of concern; but with recent research suggesting persistence in the environment, and as yet fully understood potential risks to human health; it can be concluded that PFAS has emerged as a contaminant of concern.

4Sight remain committed to providing the most efficient investigation strategies in relation to PFAS, taking advantage of innovative cutting-edge technologies to provide the best project outcomes. 4Sight staff have conducted PFAS investigations at Site in both New Zealand and Australia, and are well versed in the intricate sampling protocols required for sampling potentially PFAS affected sites.

For more information on 4Sight’s PFAS investigation services, please get in touch with James Blackwell:  or Nigel Mather:    

Water quality in Coromandel streams

During the summer 2017, 4Sight investigated the water quality in four Coromandel catchments for the Waikato Regional Council (WRC), to identify potential causes of contamination. The results of the study have helped WRC to better understand contaminant sources in the area, improving responses to coastal water quality issues and highlighting opportunities to reduce contamination in these streams. The full investigation has just been published. You can find it here

Experiencing Marine Reserves

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Imagine snorkelling amongst a dense kelp forest, surrounded by dozens of fascinating new life forms. A frenzy is created on top of the water. Someone has spotted a crayfish, and everyone is taking turns to dive under to get a glimpse of a cray crouching under a ledge. Students come up gasping for breath, but feel reassured by their adult buddy and bright yellow body board for time out. Some large snapper cruise past to see what the fuss is about. Gurgling sounds come from a snorkel, while an eagle ray rests on the sand below. The kids are easy to spot in their bright yellow & black wetsuits. The parents come in buzzing, and the kids madly tell their mates about how big the snapper they swam with was and how many different fish they saw. This is all normal conversation during an EMR programme.

Oliver Bone is an ocean enthusiast who joined the 4Sight marine ecology team in 2017. Oliver came to us as a proud supporter of the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust – Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) as one of the coordinators running community guided snorkel days for the past year.

EMR’s philosophy of experiential learning about marine conservation fit with the 4Sight values around Land, People and Water somewhat perfectly and we were thrilled to be able enhance our volunteer programme by keeping Oliver in this position to continue to provide support from a 4Sight staff member to the initiative. We are so lucky to have likeminded people on the team who help us achieve our vision.

What is EMR?

EMR (Experiencing Marine Reserves) is a national programme of experiential learning about marine conservation. EMR empowers schools and communities by providing the equipment and expertise for a hands-on learning experience in the ocean. The programme involves investigating marine biodiversity and local marine environments before venturing to a fully-protected marine reserve. After this experience, students are able to compare unprotected and protected areas and are supported to put their knowledge into action within the community. By working together as a nation towards understanding more about our marine environment, we can minimise our impacts upon it and conserve what we have for future generations.

Marine education is vital in achieving this goal. Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) provides quality first-hand marine education experiences and initiatives to schools and communities throughout New Zealand. The aim of the EMR programme is to raise awareness, understanding and involvement in marine conservation

EMR operates in 8 regions nationwide with a team of up to 30 coordinators. EMR has guided snorkel experiences for over 30,943 students in NZ marine reserves. EMR's programme outcomes:

  • Promotes education for sustainability & environmental enlightenment

  • Information transfer and opportunities for community development

  • Inspires action for the marine environment

  • Increased awareness, knowledge and involvement in marine conservation

  • Empowerment to make a difference in tomorrow’s management of the marine environment

  • Promotes youth leadership

  • Increased support for marine conservation

  • Hands on educational opportunities for ‘learning by doing’ learners

  • Participants learn about marine life

  • Promotes ethic of Kaitiakitanga

  • Embraces Māori culture

What is the role of an EMR Coordinator?

EMR coordinators offer guidance, direction and coordination to participants of EMR snorkel days. EMR coordinators prepare and fit all equipment required for the snorkel day. Once participants are fitted into their gear and ready to go coordinators deliver a briefing and educational talk to teach participants about the functioning of marine life and ensure a safe experience. Following this the coordinator provides hands on snorkel instruction and guides the participants through their snorkelling experience. Coordinators aim to leave participants with an increased appreciation and understanding of marine life and inspired about looking after our ocean for future generations.

Oliver joins Mark Poynter and Pamela in the Tutukaka office- 4Sight’s Marine Centre of Excellence.

Read more about The value of Marine Reserves

The Beauty of Permeability

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When asked about our professional challenges at a landscape congress, landscape architect Kathryn Gustafson commented that “We need to be more permeable – how we work with others, creating teams and collaborating.  Like diversity is good for the planet, diversity in our profession is good”.  In relation to the topic of ‘what landscape architecture is’ the idea of permeability being an ambition seems appropriate and timely.

At 4Sight our aim is to blur the boundaries between disciplines and inspire innovative design responses for land, people and water.  Our design outcomes aim to make environments more permeable for people and wildlife.  Landscape architecture touches all of us and permeates through all aspects of our lives.  What is missing from this all-pervading influence is a voice to de-mystify that relationship – the communication of landscape, to build visibility and ownership of the outcomes and the influence that good design has on the world.

As highlighted by Sim van der Ryn and Stuart Cowan in Ecological Design “We live in two interpenetrating worlds.  The first is the living world, which has been forged in an evolutionary crucible over a period of four billion years.  The second is the world of roads and cities, farms and artefacts, that people have been designing for themselves over the last few millennia.  The condition that threatens both worlds – unsustainability – results from a lack of integration between them”.

The new landscape team at 4Sight aims to showcase how landscape is a critical tool for sustainable development that supports and empowers local communities and deals with the idea of landscape as a whole space (rural, urban, wilderness, man-made, treasured and degraded) in order to give it strength.   Most importantly our goal is to honour the relationship that people have with landscape in an holistic and integrated way that goes beyond the compartmentalised nature of landscape so often presented.   

The work we’ve been doing to support the achievement of the living roof design for the last Hundertwasser building that is to be constructed in the world - the Hundertwasser and Wairau Maori Art Centre in Whangarei.  This is an example of what permeability can bring – nature and the built form coming together, art and culture integrating within the urban city form, leading to a thriving Whangarei.  The project epitomises the blurring of discipline boundaries and has been an exciting opportunity for the 4Sight landscape team to showcase their unique blend of expertise.

It is this notion of landscape permeating all things that holds the most power for our future, both as communities living within and professionals working with the environments that surround us.

We look forward to working on projects that raise the profile of and de-mystify landscape and to facilitate local shared visions on permeability.

4Sight Landscape Team:  Renée Davies, Zoë Avery and Sam Hendrikse


An ode to annual Sea Week


An ode to the annual Sea Week, what better place to spend a day snorkelling and diving at the Poor Knights?

The team from 4Sight did exactly that in early March and were fortunate to have perfect weather with clear visibility to view all the Poor Knights has to offer.

A perfect reminder of why as environmental professionals we are here. Helped in no small part by knowledgeable Yukon Dive staff out of Tutukaka, a great day was had by all.

Pizza and beer to finish the day left us wondering do we have to go home?


Soil vapour and ground gas - often forgotten risks

Soil vapour and ground gas are often the forgotten media in contaminated land investigation; as the contamination cannot be ‘seen’. However, when present, soil vapour and ground gas present one of the key risks posed to human health.

Soil vapours can be present in the sub-surface at many sites where volatile contaminants are, or have been, utilised (e.g. industrial and manufacturing facilities; petroleum retail and depot facilities; dry cleaners, and former gas works).

Ground gas (as methane and carbon dioxide), also commonly known as landfill gas (LFG) are formed from the degradation of organic matter, and are often associated with active and former landfills / waste disposal facilities; and in areas of organic rich soils (such as peat).

If soil vapour or ground gas are present beneath a site, intrusion into indoor air is the most likely pathway to pose a risk to human health. Using improved and reliable soil vapour and ground gas investigation technologies developed in the USA and Europe, we are able to assess whether soil vapour and/or ground gas is present in the sub-surface at concentrations that could pose a risk to human health. These investigation techniques can be partnered with indoor air monitoring to further assess actual risk poses by soil vapour and/or ground gas.

By utilising the most applicable and reliable investigation method for the site and project, we are able to provide cost effective and schedule efficient strategies tailored to the site and contaminant. The ‘no one size fits all’ approach, allows us to be dynamic in assessing actual risk. Rapidly assessing the risk posed to Site users assists decision makers in understanding whether measures to mitigate the risk are required (e.g. further investigation or remediation); or whether no imminent risk is present and attention and resources can be focused elsewhere.

We have experience in the collection of soil vapour samples utilising a number of technologies, including: traditional soil vapour bores, and sub-slab monitoring using the Cox Colvin & Associates Inc. Vapor Pin®. Soil vapour samples can typically be collected using either gas sampling bags (e.g. Tedlar®) or gas sampling cannisters (e.g. SUMMATM or SiloniteTM). Discrete passive soil vapour sampling techniques are also easily used to assess actual risk over a known period of time.

Sampling technique selection is based on the type of site, type of contamination and ultimate goals and objectives of the study. We have developed relationships and partnerships with New Zealand-based suppliers and laboratories who can provide required sampling equipment, and conduct required analysis in a timely and cost competitive manner.

We also have extensive experience in the assessment of ground gas (methane and carbon dioxide) affected sites, including the design and installation of gas monitoring infrastructure; surface emissions monitoring; and continuous monitoring strategies. Ground gas concentrations and flow are particularly influenced by atmospheric conditions, such as: temperature, rainfall and atmospheric pressure. Understanding the optimal timing of sampling and monitoring is key to obtaining useful data upon which to draw reliable conclusions.  

As a rapidly developing field, 4Sight remain committed to providing the most efficient investigation strategies, taking advantage of innovative cutting-edge technologies to provide the best project outcomes.

For more information on 4Sight’s Soil Vapour and Ground Gas investigation services, please get in touch with James Blackwell.

Dealing with asbestos is complicated – Don’t leave it to chance

Asbestos is officially recognised as the “number one killer” in the New Zealand workplace, according to WorkSafe New Zealand. New government guidelines require all property owners to undertake a registered asbestos survey by April 2018. 

Who is affected by the new requirements?

Buildings altered, refurbished or built from 1940 until the mid-1980s are likely to contain ACMs. Therefore, all landlords and ‘Persons Conducting a Business or an Undertaking’ (PCBUs), as defined by the Health and Safety at Work Act (2015), have responsibilities. These include:

  • Checking for the presence or absence of asbestos on your property;
  • Assessment of the risks from asbestos and Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs), and identifying suitable ways to control them; and
  • Development of an asbestos management plan to set out strategies to manage asbestos in the workplace.

Those affected include commercial landlords, government departments and agencies, local councils, utility and service providers, schools and early childhood education services, charities and any private land owners or business. 

What if a business or property owner doesn’t comply? 

If property owners (with commercial gain) don’t comply by April 2018, WorkSafe NZ will have the authority to issue fines or prosecute. 
How can 4sight consultants help? 
Our team of recognised professionals have extensive experience in identifying asbestos and other hazardous substances, assessing risk, identifying management strategies, and providing awareness and health and safety training.  

Our team are currently registered Asbestos Assessors and are qualified to manage all aspects of asbestos risks.

We pride ourselves on providing timely and cost-effective advice to our clients, while maintaining regulatory and environmental integrity. 

Our services include:

  • Testing, Surveying and Auditing (Management, demolition/refurbishment, Pre-works assessments);
  • Project management, scoping and advice;
  • Developing Asbestos Registers;
  • Asbestos Management Plans;
  • Review of Asbestos Removal Control Plans;
  • Monitoring and clearance assessments associated with asbestos removal; 
  • Soil investigations;
  • Asbestos Abatement and Management Methodologies;
  • Asbestos-related work oversight; and
  • Training around asbestos awareness and eliminating exposure to risks.

Get in touch with an expert. Meet Chrisco Oelofse

Planning for Land. People. Water


Here at 4Sight Consulting we seek to demonstrate sustainable and environmental excellence and leadership in our wide-ranging projects. 

Our philosophy is to deliver project teams based on a broad range of experience using planners, environmental scientists, and environmental engineers to ensure all aspects of project delivery are taken into account.



The 4Sight Planning and Policy team are working across New Zealand on a number of exciting development projects and policy initiatives.

This month Melissa Pearson our Senior Planning and Policy Consultant gives us insight into her role here at 4Sight and the varied projects she has on her plate.

We are always on the look out for planners to join the team. Our current needs are flexible, and may depend on what you can bring to the role.  Take a peek at our careers page for all our latest roles on offer.

Beach clean-up at Piha

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At the beginning of the 2017 year 4Sight made some resolutions. This is our land is about preserving this environment for the next generation to live, work and thrive. What better way than spending a day at the beach picking up rubbish, followed by a BBQ at Emma's house.

With the return to New Zealand of long-time Sustainable Coastlines supporter and world-renowned musician, Jack Johnson who played at Villa Maria on Sunday 10th December -  26 members of the 4Sight family joined 130 other volunteers in a beach clean-up at Piha beach to kick-off summer.

Together we helped remove 2,000 litres of litter from the coast!


Inspiring young New Zealanders with The Wonder Project



At the beginning of the 2017 year 4Sight made some resolutions. Thriving into the future is about sharing our knowledge to educate and shape a better future.

The Wonder Project, formerly known as Futureintech, is an Engineering New Zealand initiative that promotes the wide range of science, technology, and engineering careers to young New Zealanders by bringing people who are already working in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) based industries into classrooms.

Ambassadors share their work experiences and personal success stories to inspire young New Zealanders to explore these careers.

The goals of The Wonder Project are to:

  • Increase enrollments for tertiary study of science, technology, and engineering.

  • Raise the profile of careers in science, technology, and engineering.

  • Offer school students hands-on learning experiences to increase their interest.

  • Establish relationships between industry and education communities.

4Sight has been involved with The Wonder Project for over 10 years and has presented at Careers Expos, school assemblies, school open days, education conferences and helped with class projects. The programme is funded by Callaghan Innovation.

In recent years, 4Sight’s ambassadors have also facilitated the Hello Café series which aims to support young girls (10-13 year olds) to open their minds, create opportunities, and gain confidence to help those around them. Hello Café is based on a series of problem-solving workshops where the girls solve problems, contribute to their communities and find inspiration for our future.

4Sight is thrilled to share our knowledge in educating and shaping the future by providing on the ground ambassadors as well as working with The Wonder Project and Engineering New Zealand on the programmes strategic direction.


Picture perfect native bee on a native flower

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Tony was in the Waitakere Ranges, supervising vegetation clearance for a track upgrade, when he captured a snap of this cute little fellow, a Native Bee - Leioproctus, atop a native iris flower. The combo was just too stunning not to share. 

Most of the bees in New Zealand are introduced honeybees and bumblebees, brought here to pollinate crops. But amongst the 41 species found here, there are 28 little-known native bees. 

Leioproctus bees are the most commonly seen native bees of 18 species. They look similar to honeybees but are smaller. All are black except for the South Island species Leioproctus fulvescens, which is covered with dense orange-yellow hair.

Our native bees are pollinators, but unlike the long tongued introduced bees which can pollinate all kinds of introduced flowers the short-tongued native bees are generally better at pollinating native flowers.

This native iris flower is a Libertia. There are 3 species of the native Iris to look out for, in the Waitakere Ranges, this is easiest from late spring when they flower. 

Photograph and text by Tony Payne


Integrating Multiple Aquatic Values Conference

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Our fourth and final conference of the month was the Integrating Multiple Aquatic Values Conference, which was run in association with the International Society for River Science, Waikato River Authority, IPENZ/Water NZ Rivers Group and the New Zealand Freshwater Science Society.

The conference was hosted by the University of Waikato in Hamilton and was targeted towards professionals in the physical, natural and socio-economic sciences, as well as those who manage and create policy for the use of riverine resources and their aquatic environments.

Attendees had access to speaker presentations, exhibits, networking functions and field trips that showcased New Zealand’s unique river environment

4Sight Director Michael Lindgreen co-authored two papers.

Michael’s first paper was an overview of a framework for integrated stream management. Below is an excerpt from Michael’s presentation abstract:

“Watercourse Assessment Reports (WARs) are documents developed by Auckland Council to guide watercourse and stormwater network management in the context of a holistic strategic approach for managing stormwater effects on streams.

The WARs represent the most recent iteration in a series of program refinements towards developing a management methodology capable of achieving multiple objectives within realistic environmental, economic and social constraints…Michael’s paper explored the WAR approach, and an example of the outputs that can be used by infrastructure providers to deliver prioritised catchment-wide network maintenance.”

Michael left attendees to think about whether this approach to the assessment and management of streams should be adopted at a national level to improve the integrated management of watercourses across Council boundaries and improve the availability of stream data,

You can read the full abstract here (page 128).

The second paper Michael co-authored was about the Lower Waikato flood control infrastructure and drainage services and their effects on fish passage. Below is an excerpt from this abstract:

“The Waikato River and waterways were significantly modified in the 20th century through development of hydropower, installation of flood control infrastructure and land development for agriculture and other uses.

In recent years, the Waikato Regional Council Integrated Catchment Management Directorate (ICM) and partner institutions have instigated a number of initiatives across the region and in the Lower Waikato to address broader environmental objectives while continuing to serve flood and drainage levels of service…This paper summarises the current flood and drainage service and provides an overview of the initiatives to better accommodate environmental objectives into ICM’s asset management.”.

You can read the full abstract here (page 156).

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our whirlwind month of conferences! Thanks to all who have come up to speak with our presenters and given great feedback! If you’ve missed any of our previous conference summaries, you can check them out below:

▪  James, Blackwell, Terre Nicholson and Nigel Mather at WasteMINZ

▪  Emma Comrie-Thomson at the Environmental Compliance Conference

▪  Tony Payne at the NZ Coastal Society Conference


NZ Coastal Society Conference

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Week 3 of our jam packed conference schedule has kicked off in Tauranga at the New Zealand Coastal Society conference.

The New Zealand Coastal Society (NZCS) represent a wide range of disciplines, including coastal science, engineering, management and planning.

NZCS are a technical group which are employed in the engineering and environmental consulting sectors of local, regional and central government, as well as in research institutes and the tertiary education sector.

4Sight are very excited that our own Senior Ecology Consultant, Tony Payne, is set to give a talk. Tony’s presentation is titled: “Engaging and enabling a community to restore a prized costal asset.” - a topic that is of great importance to all of us here at 4Sight.

Tony will be drawing upon both his local and international field experience to discuss ways to increase community awareness and support for ecological restoration opportunities within urban environments.

Below is an excerpt from Tony’s presentation abstract:

“Community-based restoration projects are often driven by a few local individuals or a small residents group who are concerned about environmental degradation, and mostly involve small-scale localised efforts.

The small scale of the projects is rarely due to an absence of willingness, but rather a lack of funding, technical resources or ‘know-how’, coordination with wider stakeholders, or understanding of the drivers of degradation. However, with the involvement of local councils and local boards, NGO’s and schools, community-based restoration projects have the potential to enact ecosystem rehabilitation at catchment and landscape scales. “

You can read the full abstract here (skip to page 98).

If you’re at the conference this week make sure you look out for Tony’s presentation and have a chat afterwards.

Read about Tony’s diverse background on our website, or to find out more about Tony and the work he does for 4Sight, check out his vlog here.

Environmental Compliance Conference 2017


The 2017 Environmental Compliance Conference took place this week, bringing together local government officers to hear the views of experienced peers, exchange ideas, review industry best practice, learn from case studies and network with colleagues.

This was an interactive two-day conference, involving field trips, exhibitions and workshops focusing on practical and tactical solutions to compliance problems and opportunities in New Zealand.

We were very excited to have 4Sight Senior Environmental Management Consultant Emma Comrie-Thomson present at the conference, alongside Senior Associate Vicki Morrison-Shaw and Solicitor Rowan Ashton from Atkins Holm Majurey.

Emma’s presentation was titled: “You reap what you sow - How better conditions of consent can improve compliance outcomes” and was of particular interest to planners and enforcement officers.

An abstract summary of this presentation has been provided below:

“Quality conditions of consent are a fundamental aspect of ensuring good compliance outcomes – both in the sense that consent holders can better understand and therefore implement quality conditions, and because quality conditions are easier to enforce.

With conditions becoming increasingly elaborate and increased use of Augier conditions, it is important to ensure conditions remain clear, practical, and are enforceable.

In addition, the Resource Legislation Amendment Act 2017 has introduced changes to the requirements for conditions of resource consents which come into effect on 18 October 2017.”

The presentation covered:

  • The core requirements for legally valid conditions,
  • The effects of Court decisions and legislative amendments,
  • Augier conditions, what they are, when they are appropriate from compliance and perspective, and when they are not,
  • The relationships between types of conditions and compliance outcomes,
  • Examples of problematic conditions and how these can be amended to support improved compliance outcomes.

Find out more about Emma by checking out her profile on our website here.

WasteMINZ Conference 2017

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As New Zealand’s largest representative body of the water, resource recovery and contaminated land sectors, WasteMINZ acts as an authoritative voice to achieve ongoing and positive development in this industry.  

Every year, WasteMINZ host a conference to explore key themes affecting the New Zealand contaminated land community. This year’s conference will be held in Hamilton and centres around the theme of “Purpose, Progress and Potential”.

As part of the conference, three members of the 4Sight team will be presenting; James Blackwell, Terre Nicholson and Nigel Mather.

James’ presentation, titled “Passive and active soil vapour sampling – a complementary approach”, will discuss the benefits of adopting early passive and active soil vapour sampling techniques to assess sites with suspected contamination by volatile compounds in soil and groundwater. Drawing on his experience in Australia, James will detail a case study where complimentary soil vapour sampling techniques were used.

James is a fairly new addition to the 4Sight family, with over 11 years’ experience in environmental consulting and contaminated land management.

James has particular strengths in petroleum and chlorinated hydrocarbon assessment and subsequent remediation in soil, groundwater and soil vapour; in addition to having a broad understanding of the assessment requirements surrounding the rehabilitation and redevelopment of closed landfills.

We’re excited to have James represent us at this year’s conference and look forward to hearing his presentation. In the meantime, you can read more about James’ experience on our website.

Terre will be presenting information on moving from safety confusion to a safety culture under the new WorkSafe regulations. 

Anytime new regulations are introduced, there is confusion as to what’s required and what the costs will be. The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires a risk-based approach and a high degree of worker engagement, which represents a substantial change in implementing health and safety in the workplace.

Terre’s presentation draws on her work experiences which ranges from working as an underground labourer at a uranium mine, a project manager, and a technical resource for the team that developed the first safety case accepted by WorkSafe in New Zealand.  You can read more about that here.

Terre’s WasteMINZ presentation will be discussing some of the elements required to develop a safety culture that saves time and money in the long run.

Nigel is a Senior Land and Water Quality Consultant with 4Sight Consulting and has been an environment and health and safety professional for 15 years.

Nigel will be presenting a case study in association with Rowan Freeman (Environment Canterbury) on managing and disposing of asbestos-contaminated soil in Canterbury.

There are currently limited options for the disposal of asbestos-containing materials in the Canterbury region. This presentation sets out how assessment and disposal of asbestos-contaminated soils are addressed internationally, whether international guidance and practices can be adapted for use in the Canterbury Region (and wider New Zealand), and what the potential risks are with this approach.

For more information on the conference, visit the WasteMINZ website here.

The value of marine reserves


New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to embrace fully protected ‘no-take’ marine reserves. Established in 1977 the Cape Rodney to Okakari Point (Goat Island) Marine Reserve is our first, and probably most iconic. Today there are 44 fully protected marine reserves scattered around the mainland and our offshore islands. These predominantly cosy up to the coastline, providing protection for nearshore or shallow water environments. 

Fully protected marine reserves offer respite for marine organisms and environments against the impacts of fishing, both commercial and recreational. By removing these pressures, the populations of targeted species are given a chance to recover. Over time the ecosystems within marine reserves should theoretically revert back to a more ‘normal’ state - ones that would have existed prior to the intensification of fishing.

Having spent three years studying at the Leigh Marine Laboratory (on the doorstep of the Cape Rodney to Okakari Point Marine Reserve) I have seen first-hand the value of marine reserves.

From the conservation of important species and ecosystems through to the economic gains from eco-tourism the benefits are multi-spectral. They also provide important tools for helping us understand marine ecosystems and processes and the impacts that humans are having on our natural environment.

The benefits can also extend well beyond the boundaries of protection as demonstrated in a recent study by Marine Scientists at the University of Auckland. Within a 400 km2 area around the Cape Rodney to Okakari Point Marine Reserve, 10% of all juvenile snapper caught were the offspring of snapper persisting within the marine reserve boundaries. Given the marine reserve only accounts for 1.3% of the 400 km2 study area, snapper within the marine reserve are having a large effect on the wider snapper population.  

For more information on this study watch the video here.

Delivering the best outcomes for land, people and water

Delivering the best outcomes for land people and water demands both a depth and breadth of skills and a passion for getting the balance right. That's why we don't just look for talented people, we seek out experts who share our vision that the best approach is one that meets the needs of land, water and people.

This month we feature our Senior Ecology Consultant, Tony Payne talking about the role of an Ecology consultant and the varied projects he has on his plate.

If you're passionate about your career and want to make a real difference, take a peek at our careers page for all our latest roles on offer. Right now we are looking for an ecologist with at least 10 years’ experience, who has had a demonstrated focus on coastal and marine related projects.

Is this you? Apply now. 


Major Hazard Facility Support

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With the April 2018 deadline looming, 4Sight is helping our Major Hazard Facility (MHF) clients with moving toward compliance.  We have helped with emergency response planning, safety case documentation, major accident prevention policy (MAPP) documentation, qualitative and quantitative risk assessment, consequence modelling, and general health and safety compliance.

We use BREEZE and ALOHA to model consequences of MHF events, such as explosions and chemical releases.  We also use air and hydrological modelling programmes to map chemical plume dispersion.  We also facilitate HAZOP, Hazard ID, and qualitative risk assessment workshops, assist with worker and public engagement and provide support for meeting with regulatory and emergency response agencies.

For one MHF, we provided consequence modelling, which helped form the basis for the emergency plan we developed for the facility.  The plan was presented to the New Zealand Fire Service who stated that it was the most comprehensive and one of the best emergency response plans they had ever reviewed.  We also assisted the client with validating a no-cost solution to separation distances for hazardous substances, assisted with the Safety Case, developed plans and procedures, and assisted with consent compliance.  We also developed a Permit to Work system and provided training to workers and contractors. In addition, we worked with the client to develop reports provided to EPA and WorkSafe demonstrating that the facility could be operated safely.  

At another MHF, we have conducted bow tie and layers of protection analysis evaluations to identify the highest consequence potential outcomes and controls required to prevent or mitigate incidents.  We also conducted consequence modelling and assisted with their emergency response plan and a WorkSafe audit.

For a lower tier MHF, we provided consequence modelling and teamed with Olsson Fire & Risk to develop a fire study to demonstrate that the fire systems were adequate to meet regulatory criteria.

For more information about 4Sight's MHF support services, get in touch with Wouter Grimme:

NES for the Forestry Industry


4Sight is pleased to see the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry being released by the Government last week. Since late 2015, 4Sight has been working closely with the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry for the Environment to help refine the regulations and respond to issues raised in public consultation.


The regulations are by far the most comprehensive national environmental standards developed to date and are a result of a significant amount of work. Not only are the regulations expected to deliver certainty and efficiency benefits for the forestry sector, councils and other stakeholders, they are also expected to deliver improved environmental outcomes.


The regulations come into effect May 2018, and 4Sight is now assisting the Ministry for Primary Industries with the implementation phase to deliver guidance and training to councils, foresters and key stakeholders to ensure an effective rollout.

Contact us if you'd like to find out more about the work we have done

Our latest video blog is all about our people

Here’s a glimpse into what our Managing Director, Aaron Andrew, does and what he looks for in potential team members.

If you're passionate about your career and want to make a real difference, take a peek at our careers page for all our latest roles on offer. We are currently on the lookout for talented Ecologists, Planners and Administration support.

4Sight Resolutions

A resolution is only truly sustainable if it serves a bigger picture.

At the beginning of 2017, we decided it was time for the 4Sight team to make some resolutions. Sustainability is a journey, and for us it’s about always trying to find new ways to actually walk the talk, together as a team. So, we made resolutions around four key areas we are passionate about - land, people, water and preserving our world for future generations.  Now we are creating actions to demonstrate how we are living our values. Follow us on our journey as we live up to our promises #4sightresolutions 

This is our land. We preserve this environment for the next generation to live, work and thrive.

We believe in developing our people and our culture to grow together.

Our waters represent constant change. Our commitment is to ensure the quality of this precious resource.

Today we share our knowledge to educate and shape the future. 

It's the people

He aha te mea nui o te ao? 
What is the most important thing in the world?

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

Maori proverb

We know we are only as good as our people. During the year that was - 2017, together we grew, expanded, diversified, sprouted new shoots and had a lot of fun along the way.

We walked (round the bays), ran (Tuesday nights), dived (Poor Knights), stumbled through the mud (in the tough guy challenge), and danced up a storm (with a break-dancing rabbit).

We ate BBQs, lunchtime roasts, snapper sliders (with micro greens), birthday cakes, raw cakes, canapes and cocktails, and a number of things that were not what they seemed... 

We learned some te reo Maori, how to mihi, we laughed and we cried, shared mishaps and injuries, celebrated wins, survived five 40th's and welcomed new babies. 

We spent more money on staff training and conferences this year than ever before, and we hope to spend more again next year – this is why we grow, to build the right scale and expertise to create more opportunities for our people, and to get the chance to work on bigger, hairier, more interesting and challenging projects!

Tihei mauri ora!


An adventure earlier this year...

“What the fluoro pink speedo’s have I got myself into?” I thought as a splatter of muddy puddle water splashed up my back and a guy wearing only, and yes by only I mean only, fluoro pink speedos walked past me in the middle of a farm in remote west-Auckland on a drizzly wet grey day. Now you’re thinking what the heck has she gotten herself into?!

Well, I can tell you the splatter of mud up my back was really the last thing I needed to be worried about! In 30 minutes time, I was gingerly avoiding what I thought were the muddiest parts of the 6-km Tough Guy and Gal mud run this year. Within the hour, I’d given up all care for mud at all – laughing hysterically with other team members while submerged in it waist deep. Finally, all decency and care for all mud and water was gone and we hurled ourselves, down a mud slide on our backsides into a stream of freezing water. 

Sitting down later over a pint (or two), the crazy 4Sight team and their even crazier family members shared tales of helping hands, knocked heads, bruised shins, zapping wires, lost shoes, garment choices, winning runners and all the glories of thick, wet, cold mud! There were smiles and laughter a plenty. So team, what’s our next adventure together? 

Blogger - Monique Wheat, Multi-talented 4Sightian

Living Roof Urbanism


Our Senior Planning, Urban and Landscape Design Consultant Zoë Avery recently presented her research into how we can better integrate living roofs as urbanistic systems into our cities in light of urban population growth.  

The term ‘Living Roof Urbanism’ is a concept developed to assist living roof design that results in maximised benefits. Living roofs, when designed in a holistic manner can produce multi-functional benefits that significantly improve our urban environment. Living roof design currently does not successfully maximise these potential benefits, nor are they acknowledged widely.  Regularly, living roofs are designed for one benefit, for example stormwater attenuation or aesthetics. The resulting effect is a reduction in the perceived benefits and subsequently lower global uptake. 

Zoë explained her research to date of looking into a set of guidelines to achieve holistic living roof development enabling maximum benefits.  The current toolkits, models, policy incentives and case studies compartmentalise the benefits rather than considering living roofs as part of the landscape and another surface that can enhance our environment achieving a multitude of benefits. 

Following on from this 4sight has been working alongside Renee Davies, Dean of Unitec, to develop the Living Roof Guide for Whangarei – being the first living roof guide in New Zealand.

This guide will be launched in a few weeks and aims to showcase the multi-functional benefits and design considerations of these systems.  Living Roof benefits include stormwater attenuation, increased biodiversity, the ability to create more public spaces providing greater connection with nature, extending the roof life, increased marketability and profitability of the buildings to name a few.

We will share the Living Roof Guide in the coming weeks, however for more information on our Urban and Landscape Design service, view our latest projects.


Planning for the waves of change


Planning for me has always been centred around my passion and love for the ocean and the environment. 

I’ve surfed and immersed myself in the sea since the late 1980s and have a deep respect and understanding for the sensitivities of these environments. Choosing a career in environmental planning was a logical career choice.

Over the past 20 years, this career has taken me all around New Zealand and the United Kingdom where I’ve worked to achieve positive environmental outcomes while striving to uphold a high level of professional integrity with the projects I have  been involved with.

It’s this same passion for our environment and desire to achieve balanced results that underpins how 4Sight works and their principles of trust, integrity and respect are key to what attracted me to the company.

The planning profession is in a state of change and recent changes to the Resource Management Act are only just the start of what will be constant shifts in how we work, as central government issues more direction around development outcomes in urban environments and further changes in the freshwater management space.

This is the first time that 4Sight has established a South Island presence and I’m very proud to be charged with taking a lead role in expanding the brand and the high-quality services to our existing clients, as well as exploring opportunities to introduce our services to new clients.

The national economy is still showing positive signs of growth, with new development being advanced across the South Island’s key regions such as Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.  Otago, in particular, has shown very positive tourism growth, with Queenstown reflecting high levels of construction and development activity.  The local Dunedin economy is buzzing with a number of heritage renewal/earthquake strengthening projects currently underway in the city and with a number of new projects proposed, which is all very positive.

In the regional space, freshwater (both quality and quantity) and nutrient management will continue to be a central focus across the South Island for irrigation and farming interests as new planning regulations start to take effect.  This will undoubtedly keep us busy.

So here’s to the next chapter in the 4Sight story, which I’m glad to be a part of. 

To find about more on my expertise or to get in touch, view my profile.


Nigel Bryce

Dunedin Manager - Principal Planning and Policy Consultant