Don Hutchinson, Chris Carr, John de Pont honoured

In News8 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 17, 2023

At the conference dinner of the IRTENZ 18th International Conference this week, Don Hutchinson and current president Chris Carr we’re both bestowed with Life Membership of IRTENZ by past president Dom Kalasih. Don was also awarded the IRTENZ Outstanding Industry Service award.

Long serving member John de Pont was also recognised, following his retirement from the board of the International Forum for Heavy Vehicle Transport & Technology (HVTT) this year.

Don Hutchinson

Don Hutchinson is the NZ Transport Agency Principal Engineer – Technical Regulatory Team. He has been a member of IRTENZ since 1995.

Hutchinson commenced in a regulator role with the Ministry of Transport’s Traffic Engineering Branch back in 1980. He became interested in how to better manage the heavy vehicle fleet so that it was safe and productive. That lead to directing the size and mass of the fleet along with vehicle configurations. He was an early adopter of utilising Performance Based Standards (PBS) to benchmark new innovative vehicles against standard vehicles to introduce a range of policies and permit regimes along with new legislation with the Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Rule. This includes the recent HPMV scheme. He was responsible for introducing the Static Roll Threshold legislation to NZ, writing the Truck Loading Code, parts of the road code and myriads of heavy vehicle safety initiatives. At a mid- career point he moved into senior management roles and worked closely with the other Ministries and Ministers to improve the rule set for NZ vehicles.

Hutchinson has worked closely with a number of industry associations including Transporting NZ, National Road Carriers, Log Transport Safety Council, NZ Truck-Trailer Manufacturers Federation, Motor Industry Association, and of course IRTENZ. He tends to offer solutions rather than obstacles and in those 40 plus years has helped these groups achieve numerous industry initiatives across the line.

“Thank you all. It’s quite a surprise honestly, I wasn’t expecting this. I’m really honoured. IRTENZ is one of those groups that’s been a great asset of information. As a regulator you need to get a balance between doing the right thing and making a mistake and causing extra unnecessary compliance cost or perhaps an undue safety risk you haven’t contemplated. Being able to reach out to individuals makes a huge difference when you’re in the decision-making process. I’ve got a lot out of this group, so thank you very much, it’s appreciated,” said Don via Zoom link.

Chris Carr

Chris Carr is current president of IRTENZ and director of Carr & Haslam. He is the fifth generation in the business that began in Auckland in 1862 with a horse and cart.

Carr has always been one to speak his mind and lead by his actions volunteering a huge amount of his time to improve the road transport sector. In addition to being an active member of IRTENZ,  he has been on the Axle Weights and Loadings Advisory Group for more than thirty years, and he regularly attends the Ports of Auckland transport operator meetings group committee.

Carr has been a foundation member of the Northern Infrastructure Forum, which was set up specifically to ensure that Auckland progresses its strategic transport network as rapidly as possible and to keep pace with Auckland’s population and economic growth.

He was one of the key organisers of the successful 2008 truck protest – what would turn out to be a show of solidarity, cooperation and dedication within both the transport industry and the country. Carr was an inaugural member of the NZRTA Region 1 board prior to its merger with National Road Carriers and he was bestowed life membership of NRC in 2015.

In addition to the transport space Carr is also a board member of the Auckland Business Chamber, a past director and chairman of Rally NZ, has been involved in the New Zealand Scouts, and is a former a member of the Auckland Regional Land Transport Committee.

“It’s amazing to be recognised by your peers for something that’s quite important to me. The transport industry has fed me, my family and many others for a long time. Its only right that when somebody feeds you, you feed them back, and it’s been a pleasure for me to put back into the industry we support and work for. It’s an amazing industry full of amazing people – we do some incredible stuff and the company would not run without us. Thank you to the institute!” Carr said.

John de Pont

John is a mechanical engineer having graduated from the University of Auckland and achieving a PhD in engineering from Cambridge. The Department of Science and Industrial Research was New Zealand’s government science agency, and the closing down of its branch of heavy transport expertise led to John and Peter Bass establishing Transport Engineering Research New Zealand (TERNZ) in the late 1990s. TERNZ quickly became the preeminent independent private researcher and advisor on heavy transport safety and engineering in New Zealand.

De Pont has led many work and papers, including vehicle dynamics, pavement performance, vehicle suspension surface transport modal share, even the stability effect of dead hanging pigs. His expect advice has been important for heavy road transport in many other areas, including Road User Charges, and PBS would not have advanced in New Zealand or been as successful as it has were it not for his involvement.

De Pont’s diverse range of expertise in heavy vehicle engineering is unparalleled in New Zealand. He is an internationally recognised expert, an exceptionally good communicator, and has always been willing to share his knowledge, expertise and experience at national and international levels. He has also played a lead role in the OECD’s international infrastructure research projects. He has written and presented papers at all HVTT symposia, has held numerous roles in the association and was inducted onto the HVTT honour roll.

“The industry has given me as much as I’ve given it, it has been my career. I ended up in transport by accident, I was doing computer aided design and one of my colleagues had a large project looking at the effect of vehicle dynamics on pavement wear, and I was tasked with taking over his work in about 1987. HVTT1 followed that, then the OECD committee, so really I fell into it. But it’s been a great career,” De Pont said.