SGA conference case study

"I find conferences so motivational. You hear from people speaking about new things – it’s been a large influence on my working career"


Tony Christie, minerals geologist and Emeritus Scientist at GNS Science, was a keen conference attendee. Then, with support from Tourism New Zealand, he used his experience to host them.

“I find conferences so motivational. You hear from people speaking about new things – it’s been a large influence on my working career,” Christie says. “I was so keen at going along I got involved with organising some.”

Christie has been on organising committees for around 15 conferences since the 1980s and has now convened four.

He convened the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy NZ Branch conferences in Rotorua (2012) and Wellington (2016) and was shoulder-tapped to host the International Applied Geochemistry Symposium in Rotorua in 2013. He most recently bid for and convened the 16th Biennial Meeting of the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA), which took place virtually in March this year.

Why? Hosting a conference in New Zealand has multiple benefits, Christie believes.

“New Zealand holds a lot of interest to the geoscience community, which helps. Rotorua is top of my list for bringing people here because of the geothermal activity. It’s been well publicised in journal papers and people are interested in coming to see mineral deposits in the making. It’s that ‘natural laboratory’ element which entices many.

“But ultimately New Zealand mineral exploration is largely funded from overseas. Hosting a conference in New Zealand can help bring overseas mineral explorers to New Zealand to see opportunities for exploration here.

“At the same time, they attract overseas researchers to New Zealand, providing the potential to develop collaborative research projects. New Zealand researchers can learn from the new ideas and expertise, while showcasing their current research.

“Plus, they’re excellent professional development and networking opportunities for young scientists.

“You’re rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s top people in geology. That opens doors.”

Christie also points to the personal professional benefits, which in his case includes a long-term collaborative research relationship forged at his 2013 meeting. This led to a research programme on biogeochemical sampling and surveys in mineral exploration.

“It does help with international profile, too. I ended up being a Council Member for the SGA because of my interactions there.”

Christie says for those starting out on the conference bidding journey, Tourism New Zealand’s Business Events team can offer valuable advice and support.

Indeed, it was Tourism New Zealand, in conjunction with Events & Venues Rotorua, who suggested Christie bid for SGA – as far back as 2014.

Tourism New Zealand’s Conference Assistance Programme then funded and supported the delivery of a professional bid document and bid presentation, plus trips for Christie to the SGA Biennial Meetings in Nancy, France in 2015 and Quebec, Canada in 2017 to present the bids to the SGA Council.

Support also included travel to the Glasgow event in 2019 to promote SGA in Rotorua, and assistance in developing marketing materials for the event.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the funding,” Christie says.

Unfortunately, SGA’s long-awaited arrival in New Zealand coincided with the COVID-19 epidemic.

“It was disappointing to have to go fully virtual,” Christie says.

“I’m very grateful to TNZ for all the help they provided that led to a very successful conference for an online event with some 500 registrations, including 470 from overseas.”



For more information on bidding and support, visit: