Henderson Oration



We are delighted to announce that Dr Rob Bell, Programme Leader Climate Impacts & Adaptation, NIWA, will deliver the 2020 Henderson Oration.


Rob has nearly 40 years’ experience in coastal engineering, ocean outfalls, risk from natural hazards, the impacts of climate change on coastal communities and infrastructure and dynamic adaptive design and planning for adaptation.


Rob is the Programme Leader for Climate Impacts & Adaptation in NIWA’s Climate, Atmosphere & Hazards Centre. He has published papers on sea-level rise, coastal hazards (including tsunami), coastal adaptation planning, national coastal risk exposure to sea-level rise and the development of RiskScape to compare risk from natural hazards.


Rob was the Lead Author of the 2017 coastal guidance for local government published by Ministry for the Environment for planning adaptation to climate change, and on the Expert Panel that produced the risk framework for the 1st National Climate Change Risk Assessment. He is currently a Contributing Author for the IPCC Working Group II 6th assessment report on climate change impacts for Australasia. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Science NZ.


Rob obtained his PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Canterbury, and is a Fellow of Engineering New Zealand and is a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng).

Established as The Hydraulics Oration in 1989, the Award was renamed The Henderson Oration in 1998 in recognition of Professor Frank Henderson’s contribution to the knowledge and practice of hydraulic engineering in general but in Australian practice in particular. Professor Henderson’s book “Open Channel Hydraulics” is used as a standard text in almost all engineering schools in Australia and many others throughout the world.


The Award aims to recognise the contribution of the science of hydraulics to the practice of hydrology and water resources engineering in Australia. The address is given at each Hydraulics in Water Engineering Conference, held approximately every 3 years. The conference organising committee, in consultation with the National Committee Chairman, proposes one or more candidates to the National Committee at least 12 months before the conference. The National Committee makes the final selection and the Chairman then sends a formal invitation to the selected Orator. The speaker should have made a significant contribution to hydraulics in Australia but need not be either an engineer or an Australian.


The Award is sponsored by the National Committee on Water Engineering. The inaugural oration was held in Adelaide in 1998 by Dr Martin Lambert, an ex-PhD student of Professor Henderson, on Professor Henderson’s behalf.

Previous Orators:​