Professor Michael Pender

BE (Hons) PhD


  • Professor of Geotechnical Engineering


Staff member at The University of Auckland since 1977.
Professor of Geotechnical Engineering since 1985.
Served as Head of Department.
In the University Research Committee, Scholarships Committee and Discipline Committee.
Received a Sustained Excellence in Teaching Award from the university in 2005.

After completing my PhD at the University of Canterbury I spent a period of 18 months as a post-doctoral fellow at Cambridge University in England. Before coming the university I was with the Ministry of Works and Development working at their Central Laboratories in Lower Hutt. There I was in charge of the Geotechnical Laboratory providing laboratory testing services for designers and interpreting the data so obtained.

Whilst with this university I have done various consulting work through Auckland Uniservices. Examples being peer review work for the Northern Gateway project extending SH1 through the hill behind Orewa to Puhoi and supervision of laboratory testing for Contact Energy related to the extraction of geothermal energy at Wairakei and Tauhara.

Since 2003 I have been appointed as a visiting professor to the European School for Advanced Studies in the Reduction of Seismic Risk (ROSE School) , University of Pavia. In the middle 90s I was the Australasian Vice President of the International Society for Rock Mechanics. For 2006 and 2007 I was the President of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering.

Over the years I have received 7 IPENZ awards, including the IPENZ Supreme Technical Award for Engineering Achievers – Building, Construction and Amenities in 2005 and the IPENZ Turner Award for Professional Commitment in 2006.

Currently I have several PhD students doing experimental projects related to the design of foundations to resist earthquake loading. It is intended that these will contribute to advances in foundation design methods.


BE (Hons)



  • Responsible for the Geomechanics Laboratory
  • Member of the University Honours Committee

Research | Current


  • Limit state design of foundations.
  • Design of earthquake resistant foundations.
  • Soil/foundation/structure Interaction.
  • Characterisation of the geotechnical properties of New Zealand soil and rock masses.
  • Behaviour of closely jointed rock masses.

Research groups

  • Geotechnical Engineering Research Group (an informal grouping of staff and graduate students from the Faculty of Engineering).
  • Technical Committee 4 (Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering) of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.

Teaching | Current


  • CIVIL 322 Geomechanics 2
  • CIVIL 721 Foundation Engineering
  • CIVIL 702 Design of Earthquake Resistant Foundations
  •  Earthquake Resistant Design of Foundations (An EU funded Masters programme at the ROSE School, EU Centre, Pavia, Italy - July).

Areas of expertise

Geotechnical engineering

Committees/Professional groups/Services


Professional affiliations

  • Fellow, New Zealand Institution of Engineers (NZIE)
  • Fellow, New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering (NZSEE)
  • Life Member, New Zealand Geotechnical Society
  • Life Member, New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering
  • Life Member, American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Affiliate, International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering
  • Affiliate, International Society for Rock Mechanics.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Asadi, M. B., Asadi, M. S., Orense, R. P., & Pender, M. J. (2017). Dynamic behaviour of undisturbed natural pumiceous soils. In G. J. Alexander, C. Y. Chin (Eds.) Proceedings of the 20th NZGS Symposium Napier, NZ.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rolando Orense, Baqer Asadi, Sadeq Asadi
  • Asadi, M. S., Asadi, M. B., Orense, R. P., Pender, M., & Jacobs, E. (2017). Undrained cyclic and post-liquefaction behaviour of natural pumiceous soils. Paper presented at 3rd International Conference on Performance-based Design in Earthquake Geotechnical Engineering (PBD-III), Vancouver, BC, Canada. 16 July - 19 July 2017. (pp. 7).
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rolando Orense, Sadeq Asadi, Baqer Asadi
  • Pender, M. J. (2017). Bearing strength surfaces implied in conventional bearing capacity calculations. Géotechnique, 67 (4), 313-324. 10.1680/jgeot.16.P.024
  • Pender, M., & Rodgers, P. (2017). Numerical modelling of lateral load-deformation curves for timber poles embedded in stiff clay. ICSMGE 2017 - 19th International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering.
  • Storie, L. B. (2017). Soil-Foundation-Structure Interaction in the Earthquake Performance of Multi-Storey Buildings on Shallow Foundations The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
  • Stringer, M., Orense, R. P., Cubrinovski, M., & Pender, M. (2016). Undisturbed sampling of pumiceous materials in New Zealand. NZ Geomechanics News (92), 54-56. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rolando Orense
  • Orense, R. P., Wotherspoon, L., Pender, M., van Ballegooy, S., & Cubrinovski, M. (2016). Evaluation of liquefaction potential of pumiceous deposits through field testing. NZ Geomechanics News (92), 51-53. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rolando Orense, Liam Wotherspoon
  • Holmes, R., Williams, K., Honeyands, T., Orense, R. P., Roberts, A., Pender, M., ... Krull, T. (2016). Bulk commodity characterisation for transportable moisture limit determination. Proceedings of the XXVIII International Mineral Processing Congress (IMPC 2016), Quebec, Canada: Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum. Related URL.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rolando Orense


Contact details

Alternative contact

Correct Location:

Level 11, Room 401-1102

Web links