02 March 2015

Fritz Langbein (1891–1967)

  • Fritz Langbein, circa 1951. Past Presidents Album. IPENZ.

Born in Nelson and educated at Nelson College, Langbein joined the PWD in 1909 and served his engineering cadetship on the construction of the Midland Railway between Broken River and Arthur's Pass.

In 1913 Langbein was appointed Assistant Engineer and worked at Otira on the construction of the Arthur's Pass tunnel, in Central Otago on the railway construction between Clyde and Cromwell, and also on irrigation work. Langbein served with the New Zealand Engineers Tunnelling Company in World War One. After his return to New Zealand he was appointed engineer in local charge of the Arthur's Pass tunnel construction, then in its final stages.

In 1920, at the age of 29, he took charge of the Canterbury Public Works District, remaining in that position until 1940.

Langbein was closely associated with improved roading projects after the formation of the Main Roads Board, and also with aerodrome construction and defence works in the Canterbury province. From 1940 to 1945 he was Highways Engineer, the chief administrative engineering position of the Main Highways Board. Then, in 1945, he became the PWD’s Inspecting Engineer. He became Engineer-in-Chief in 1946 and retired in 1951.

Langbein was President of the New Zealand Institution of Engineers (now the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ)) in 1951.

Fritz Langbein, former Public Works Department (PWD) Engineer-in-Chief and chairman of the National Roads Board died 28 April 1967. He was 76.

More information


New Zealand Engineering, June 1967, p.258

Further reading

Rob Aspden, “Langbein, Fritz,” from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, last modified 30 October 2013.