Our Wellington

News | 19 April 2021

20 Twenty One: Logen Logeswaran

Logen Logeswaran remembers well his first day at Wellington City Council.

It was 17 February, 1994, and the engineer was in for a surprise, being taken out on a site visit to a busy intersection.

Portrait of Logen Logeswaran with 20 Twenty One logo.

“It was a cultural shock for me,” he laughs.  

“It was a busy road – a main road – with traffic whizzing by left and right, and we were standing right in the middle of the road.  

“It was crazy. It wasn’t what I was expecting, especially not on my first day.” 

Over the next 27 years working at the Council, Logen has worked on projects large and small across the city, including roads, pipes, drains, and reservoirs.  

He has amassed an intimate knowledge of Wellington infrastructure, both above and below ground, and has been a go-to person over the years for difficult or complicated projects. 

A Senior Engineer in the Transport and Infrastructure team, Logen is currently working on a project finding a new operator for the Kiwi Point Quarry. 

A black and yellow graphic, featuring the words 20 Twenty One, celebrating our people.

He says he loves contributing to the city through his work, getting up every morning at 4am, and being at his desk by 7.30am. 

“I’m not driven by money. I could have made three times what I earn by being a consultant.  

“But I truly believe that if you live in a community, you have an obligation as a human being to serve the community. It is your birth obligation to the society. 

“The work is not for you, you are working for the society when you work for a council or the public sector.” 

He says his route to New Zealand was a circuitous one. 

He worked in various roles for nine years in his native Sri Lanka, before spending five years in Nigeria as project manager for a large canal and roading initiative. 

Next was Botswana, where Logen worked on large drainage, wastewater reuse and water extraction projects for the Southern African Development Community. 

After a family holiday to Australia someone mentioned that New Zealand was “a nice place” so they decided to check it out. 

Logen Logeswaran sitting at a desk with a book of pipe plans.
Logen with his ‘bible’ of Wellington pipes.

That involved filling in a bunch of forms and applying to the New Zealand embassy at Harare, Zimbabwe, after which Logen forgot about the application. 

A phone call out of the blue alerted him that his application to come to New Zealand had been successful. 

Once in Wellington Logen ended up at the Council where his first big job was leading a drainage project aiming to reduce the amount of sewerage flowing into the harbour. 

Next step was operations manager for water and drainage – with 50 percent of his time spent on each area.  

Logen says he has always been comfortable and willing to innovate in terms of repairs and maintenance.  It has to be practical, cost effective and outcome measurable.  

He recalls a major repair of the interceptor pipe near the Basin Reserve (under Rugby Street and old houses). 

A manual inspection found the large pipe to be half filled with soil, with collapsed sections of brick and multiple leaks. 

Logen’s solution involved inserting a nearly 800m long felt/polyurethane lining, which had to be winched along the pipe and “cooked” into place over 70 hours. 

Another innovative solution involved bringing in hydraulic pipe-bursting technology to fix a 200m-stretch of water supply pipe under Paterson and Dufferin Streets. It was the longest length of pipe replaced using this technology at the time. 

A favourite project of Logen's” involved planting more than 50 trees along Jervois and Customhouse Quays.
A favourite project of Logen's involved planting more than 50 trees along Jervois and Customhouse Quays.

And there were plenty more big ideas over the years - not all of them implemented.  

“Sometimes my ideas are controversial at Council,” Logen grins. 

A restructure in the late 1990s led Logen to a water supply manager role, before moving into a new road safety role in 2006. 

A favourite project from that period called “Greening the Quays” involved planting more than 50 trees along Jervois and Customhouse Quays. 

It was a difficult job, having to protect a bulk water pipe, line the tree bases with special reinforcing polypropylene fabric, then planting each of the trees in 15m3 of engineering soil. 

Other engineering projects included a number of reservoirs and upgrading pump stations. The outstanding one was Aramoana Reservoir in Maupuia. Forty percent of the reservoir was built on 12 to 14m-deep piles, with the rest on solid rock. 

Logen’s current role involves finding and working with a new operator for Kiwi Point Quarry – a crucial provider of raw materials for Wellington roads and construction. 

But as Logen flicks through his ‘bible’ of Wellington pipes – a big book showing every connection in the city – it's clear he’s still hugely passionate and knowledgeable about the subject of water.  

“When someone says that there’s a burst in a street, I know exactly which pipe it is,” he grins. 

“I have seen kilometres and kilometres of Wellington’s drains and sewer pipes." 

It’s 2021, so we’re sharing stories about 21 of our people who have worked at Wellington City Council for 20 years or more. Find out more about the series in this story.