Next Tech Cluster Meeting

Our next Tech Cluster Meeting is planned for late October.

Our first speaker will be Brian talking about how to develop a fairly complex robot for gaming. Brian will cover insights on the sensors used to detect and interact with the robots ūü§Ė environment and communication technology, as well as commercial learnings.

We try to get a  GIS Expert to talk about their work and the latest LiDAR scan of Northland. Maybe even someone to talk about Earth Observation/ Satellite remote sensing, if we can find a speaker.

Some students may report on their recent gov hack experience…


If you are a local entrepreneur and like to get some free mentoring advice, please book at


Please contact us if you like to join the planned 3D hands-on workshop or like to suggest a topic or speaker for next tech cluster. Any student projects are always welcome.

See you in October,

Martin & the Crew



Whangarei needs YOU to keep Tech Cluster going.

And improve the WordPress website with a proper, searchable directory, ability to list projects/ events…

If you have time/ skills or know someone who has, please contact us.

Many thanks !!!!


5th Tech Cluster – 12. Sep @ WBHS Library

Our most recent tech cluster meeting attracted the biggest and most widely spread audience to date. About fifty eager technologist & enthusiasts joined our excellent speakers. The youngest attendant was 11 and the eldest couple over 150 years between them. We are grateful to Allister from Whangarei Boys High school to host us again at their well suited library.

1 ) The event was kicked off by the brilliant civil engineer Shaun Grieves from WSP-Opus. Shaun shared his use case for using drone technology to develop 3D terrain models for slip monitoring in Northland. He explained how he uses drone footage to monitor slips along rural road corridors. Shaun compared this fairly recent application of drones to traditional and other methods. The coolest alternative he is dealing with is 5.5 day spaced 250 x 50 km satellite data.

IMG_20190912_170722.jpgEarth Observation (EO) maybe another, separate talk on its own for one of the next Tech Clusters…

2 ) The next speakers were Richard & Jack Slatter from WBHS.  They successfully ran a campaign at the Northland Science Fair to win an introductory trip to Otago University early next year. Both presented their comparative model of different forms of public transport for Whangarei.

IMG_20190826_145318.jpgThe presentation was so compelling that the audience suggested them to present to the wider council transport team and Ohmio, the autonomous shuttle company based in Pakaranga, Auckland.

3) The students were followed by Wayne Caroll. Wayne teaches at Excelerate College and runs cool after school tech workshops. He shared his vast experience on 3D printing. Printer types, filaments, printing and 3D scanning methods were shared and many amazing artifacts presented.¬† Others, including Dave from the Inventors Club, shared some of his cool designs including steam engine, Hamilton Jet and a recent, complex levitating device. It was suggested to organise a small workshop on do’s and don’ts on 3D printing. Please get in touch if you like to join and contribute.

4) Heath Grant did a brilliant presentation on WBHS’ new pupil run Technology Committee.

IMG_20190912_173853.jpgIf understood it right, they are open for ideas on cool tech projects, as long as you provide materials and/ or funds to source them. If you are interested in well specified and executed projects, please contact Allister at WBHS. He will connect you to the relevant pupils.

5) Kiri Tavaga summarised the exciting first five week’s of Port3’s 12 week digital right skilling programme. Students between 15-26 years are learning to build web sites, mobile apps and other amazing tech skills.

IMG_20190912_184301.jpgIn week¬†one they visited 19 tech companies in Auckland including Spark, Vector, Xero. The students are incorporating the life skills taught by their parents into their end project. The big prize at the end of Port 3’s programme is your driver’s license, a laptop and pathway into your new digital job. I think this is a very inspiring programme for the first cohort of ten.

It looks we got first suggestions for improving the event and a couple of new speakers & topics. If you have topic requests, recommendations and/ or cool new speakers, please contact us.

Many thanks for all to come and specifically to our brilliant and inspiring speakers.

See you late October for our next Northland Tech Cluster.



Fourth Tech Cluster event – 5. June

For this¬†tech cluster on 5. June we were hosted at Whangarei’s StrandLab.¬† This is a pop up collaboration and art space in 49 Cameron Street. Luckily we organised enough chairs, sofas etc. to seat the twenty five visitors..

The June Topics & Speakers were

  • “Listening to vibes, acoustic testing of electric equipment”¬† by Andreas Gabler from Northpower
  • “Growth Mindsets”¬† by Educationalist Nigel Studdart
  • Mixed reality art by Kim Nowall
  • 3D opportunities by Daniel Jaeger from BetaFormSolutions


Andreas talked about a cool directional microphone which can pick up faults on power lines, including high Transpower lines. Someone in the audience suggested to explore to put a permanent audio monitor on key power poles and only send alerts if thresholds are surpassed. If you are engineer who can help design a practical extension to the existing solution, please contact Andreas at Northpower.

Nigel gave a motivational presentation on the growth mindset, quoted a few learning experiences across his multiple careers as a scientist, hippie, captain, manager of super yachts, farmer and educationalist.  His key message: start with something, try to make it work or fail fast, re-iterate and try again.


Also check out Carol Dweck’s TedTalk on the power of not yet. Meaning if you can’t do it now, that doesn’t mean you can’t but just you can’t do it, yet. Keep trying and you will get there. This has huge impact on how we educate our kids. Streaming them into careers at a too young age isn’t likely to work in the current move towards a gig economy. To be successful in a fast changing world, we need to adapt fast. A growth mindset is a huge asset.


We had a great discussion on how to better connect innovators in Northland to each other. Running events with Creative¬† Northland, NorthChamber, the Digital Tech Group, Northland Inc, the Innovator’s Club, IPENZ, the monthly Flying Kiwi Business Advisory et al is seen has a great approach to cross-pollinate and inspire each other to go for it and try harder.

Thanks again to Maggie & Kim from the StrandLab Team for hosting us.


Our next tech cluster meeting will be in August/ September. It was suggested to include a 3D printing workshop and an update on drones for surveying.

If you are knowledgeable in this area or do know someone who is, please contact us.

If you have a cool technology you like to talk about, recommend someone who would be an another awesome speaker or have a tech problem you like to get solved, please contact us.

Again, many thanks for your excellent patronage and support,

Martin, Dave & Team

Keep doing cool stuff. Northland rocks !!!


PS: If anyone who reads this post knows how to integrate a Calendar and Directory easily into WordPress, please contact us and help to make this site a great community resource.


Third Tech Cluster Session – 29. April 2019

For our third Tech Cluster on 29. April at the Library of Whangarei Boys High we had an excellent turn out. So far we have been able to get over 100 Northlanders and visitors interested to join our tech cluster events since we started earlier in 2019.

This time we probably had the most exciting line-up of Northland talent than ever before. This included the speakers and the patrons.

Visitors from as far as the United States, Wellington and Auckland, were matched by amazing talent from Old Paroa Road, Whau Valley Road and Lower Dent Street.

Sheldon White, a local inventor and alumni from WBHS, kicked us off with an amazing rollercoaster ride through one of his inventions. He developed from an initial idea a kiwi fruit packing robot. The way Sheldon approached the technical challenge of picking up plastic crates and separating them automatically from each other was amazing.  He started with a small suction fan, added light detection sensor, built numerous jigs to test his approach, discarded the not working setups, pivoted and came up with new ideas. This iterative innovation process led to a robot which is now  helping to pack thousands of Kiwi fruit everyday. And this is only one of the cool projects Sheldon is working on.

Over the years I have been to a few Better-by-Design, UX design and other customer empathy workshops. What Sheldon explained to us within 15 minutes was more hands-on and practical as those combined. A big thank you to our local star, Sheldon.

The next speaker, Justine Amundson, was no less inspiring. Over twenty years ago Justine started a humble call centre in Whangarei by solving a local business problem. Today¬†A&A¬†employs over 70 locals and is serving customers from as close as Northpower in Whangarei to international hotels, banks, insurances in places like Singapore, London. Justine has developed an onboarding process to bring in unemployed and first time employees into her call centre. Buddying up the new talent with experienced staff, teaching etiquette, the latest customer processes, systems and tools are only some of the strategic training approaches. Justine’s team uses a wide suite of customer relationship management tools including SAP, Salesforce to next tier CRM’s. Latest ICT technology allows serving multiple digital channels from voice-over-IP telephony, email, social media, as well as a seamless handover with artificial intelligence chatbots. Once the local talent has outgrown the A&A call centre, Justine assists them to staircase into bigger opportunities. Her Whangarei talent is working in big organisations around the country and overseas, and some have started their own businesses. She doesn’t call it like this, but A&A looks almost like a textbook tech talent incubator. What an inspiring Northland story.

Maggie Buxton, a recent Whangarillian like myself (only after twenty years or more you are a proper Whangarillian,¬† I am told …), inspired all of us to get involved in this months pop-up digital project in the Strand Arcade. Please check out StrandLab for more information and get involved. This is one of the many Tech Week 2019 activities happening all around Aotearoa.


We then kicked off our short Lightning Talks:

Will Pearse from Christchurch shared his story how a six week contract in Whangarei turned into a seven year time in the sunny North, two businesses started and running remote IT projects for national and international projects from a lifestyle block in Whau Valley. He shared his highs and lows, insights on how to make friends when you are new up North, as well as how his views on Whangarei and the amazing potential it holds changed. His business IpadHire and other business opportunities are growing for him and his wife. Another worthwhile insight shared.

Ant Backhouse, CEO of the charitable trust “I Have a Dream”, encouraged the audience to get involved and assist the local dreamers to reach their potential.¬†“I Have a Dream” is looking for after school homework assistants, one-on-one mentors for local talent. You can find more information on their programmes in Whangarei on the I Have a Dream website. Please get in touch with Ant, Joby and the crew based at Tikipunga High.

Last, but by no means least, Andrea Ross and Anthony explained how People Potential is assisting locals to upskill into higher value roles. Anthony told his compelling story from starting as a security guard to becoming a cyber security IT expert and tutor. He started with People Potential 14 years ago as a student. His aspiration was to get the job of his tutor. At the beginning it seemed only like a bit of boys banter, but he ended up getting his tutor’s job and then rose within the organisation. By now he has designed and built their multi-campus IT network, has established and improved several of their IT courses, has onboarded new tutor talent and is still teaching new cohorts of local IT talent. Anthony, Andrea and their team are passionate about up- and right skilling Whangarillians. People Potential now employs over 100 locals and is helping thousands to find meaningful roles in Northland.

It is pretty impressive what today’s speaker lineup of this tech cluster session have achieved in terms of positive socio-economic impact.

We will be digging further to share more untold local success stories.

Again, many thanks for those who presented and shared their stories, as well as those who participated in the lively discussion afterwards. A big thank goes to Allister Gilbert, Deputy Principal and Josh Clark, Old Boys Coordinator from WHBS, to host the tech cluster again. You guys rock !!! Thank you for having us.

Please let us know if we missed anything or mis-stated some things.

Many thanks for joining us and we hope to see you at our next tech cluster event on 5. June.

Martin, Dave & Crew

Second Tech Cluster Meeting – 18. March @ Whangarei Boys High, Library

We had a wonderfully diverse group of about 30 tech enthusiasts and interested people joining our second Northland Tech Cluster Meeting on 18. May .


Here the agenda for the day:

5:00 PM  Welcome and Tour of WHBS Labs including CNC machine РAllister Gilbert

5:20 PM  Possible impact of  Hawaiiki Cable and ultrafast broadband for Northland Tech РDuncan Hamilton (Chorus)

Lightning Talks (5 min max!)/ Panel Discussion

Maori Digital Arts & Technology – Te Piha Tipene (InnoNative Business Hub)

Multimodal Transport Demo in Whangarei end of this year – Martin Knoche (Vision Zero, N3T)

Technology Education and Development in Whangarei – George Norris (Developers Institute)

Technology Eco-System in Tai Tokerau – Matt Keane

Creative Technologies in Northland – Maggie Buxton

Inventors Club – Dave Bennett

6:20 PM – Drinks, Nibbles and networking

7:00 PM – Closing

If you enjoyed the event, please tell two new people, bring your partner and friends next time to have a lively discussion on how technology can be an enabler to mobilize more innovation from Tai Tokerau.

Let’s start …

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