These individuals have made a significant contribution to the concrete industry and wider building and construction sector, as well as to the infrastructure of a New Zealand emerging as a modern and forward thinking nation during the second half of the 20th century.

Outlined below is a small selection of these trailblazers, who along with Bob Norman, Nigel Priestley, Bob Irwin, Lyall Holmes and several others will be acknowledged in a commemorative publication detailing the history, accomplishments and influence of the NZ Concrete Society.


Perhaps no other individual is more synonymous with the concrete industry in New Zealand than Sandy Cormack.

Wellington born, Sandy was an engineer who became chief executive of Certified Concrete Ltd from its establishment in 1938 until retiring in 1971. He moved to Auckland in 1940 where he remained based until he passed away in June 1985, aged 79.

Sandy was the person who introduced and developed ready mixed concrete to this part of the world, and was deeply committed to pioneering advances in precast / prestressed concrete. He also involved himself in numerous research projects and the formation of the various industry associations that still operate today.

Sandy had a principal role in setting-up the NZ Portland Cement Association (NZPCA) in 1948, and served on the board until 1978. Through his work in introducing quality control to concrete production he also served on many Standards committees.

Sandy was instrumental in establishing the NZ Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NZRMCA), and its plant classification scheme. He was involved with the establishment of the Prestressed Concrete Institute (later to become the Concrete Society), and was its first president. When the NZ Concrete Research Association was founded in 1972, he was chairman of its technical advisory committee and served on its board until 1985.

However, many believe Sandy’s greatest achievement was his influence almost 75 years ago in the creation of the first ready mixed concrete plant in Australasia at Grant Road, Wellington.

It was that project which launched high-tech concrete, and it was from there that the formidable drive and talents of Sandy Cormack were to provide leadership and service.


Renowned in New Zealand and internationally, Professor Bob Park was key in the creation of the seismic design method called capacity design, an important innovation with regard to reinforced concrete structures and a notable development in the history of earthquake resistance.

Born in Fiji, Bob came to New Zealand in 1951 and studied civil engineering at Canterbury University, where in 1956 he joined the academic staff. Then after 6 years overseas, during which time he completed his PhD at the University of Bristol, Bob returned to the University in 1965 where he spent the next 35-years.

Over the course of his career Bob won multiple awards for technical papers, contributed to numerous technical committees, and received honours from an array of professional bodies.

President of the NZ Concrete Society from 1975-76, Bob spent 28-years on Council. In 1995 he was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Highly respected as one of the most knowledgeable people within the field of concrete and earthquake resistance research, as well as an inspirational teacher, Bob passed away in November 2004.


David started his career in the United Kingdom in 1952 developing engineering experience in local government, contracting and consultancy before coming to New Zealand in 1974. Described as a “single-minded advocate for concrete” David spent close to 25-years at CCANZ, including in its previous guises of the NZ Portland Cement Association and the NZ Concrete Research Association. David was the NZ Concrete Society president from 1987-88.

Refer to any technical publication or Standard on concrete or concrete masonry produced since the mid-1970s and chances are David either wrote it or was a significant contributor. Tireless in his efforts to implement relevant research and deliver practical training David has prided himself on developing strong relationships across the construction sector and imparting independent advice.

Examples of David’s achievements include the introduction of daytime training for concrete construction workers, the development of the Certificate in Concrete Technology and Construction correspondence course, and an emphasis on durability research that led to a specific chapter on the subject in NZS 3101 Concrete Structures Standard. Although David retired from his role at CCANZ in 1999 he remains busy as a consultant.


NZ Concrete Society president from 1988-89, active within fib, and a staunch supporter of student research, the term “Innovator” is often used to describe Len McSaveney. In fact, a March 2002 issue of Concrete used the parlance of the day - “Change Insurgent” - to describe Len’s role as a promoter of new ideas and technology.

Graduating from Canterbury University in 1964 Len went to work for what is now Holmes Consulting Group. After a time travelling Len moved back to New Zealand in 1974 to work for R.T. Scott Limited, a company later bought by Stresscrete, and in turn by the Fletcher organisation. Len’s long association with Fletchers included roles at Firth Industries and Golden Bay Cement.

Lightweight aggregate in Wellington’s Westpac Stadium, the thousands of concrete power poles across the middle of the North Island, and the uptake of self-compacting concrete all owe a debt to Len’s willingness to embrace change.

Taken from the July 2014 NZRMCA Newsletter