Whangarei leading NZ’s charge in the EV world

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Whangarei, winner of the most electric vehicle friendly-town in New Zealand award, has a big advantage over other regions.

Northland is well connected and the city’s electric vehicle spokesman, Joseph Camuso, says the big advantage Whangarei has is in knowing all the engineers from the four districts and they can act very quickly to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure and make things happen.  

“For example, the very first charger was installed in 11 days from no to go. That’s how fast we can move,” Camuso says.

“Northland's electric car users now have 13 charging stations to get around the north. They are installed in towns such as Kaiwaka, Matakohe, Ruakaka, Marsden Pt, Dargaville, Whangarei south, Whangarei central, Whangarei north, Tutukaka, Kawakawa, Kerikeri, Kaikohe and Kaitaia. Cooper’s Beach, Pukenui and Waitiki Landing, are under construction and should be completed within a month making it possible to drive to Cape Reinga.  

“Whangarei is well-served with charging stations and is open for EV visitors. We boast one of the country's highest ownership rate of electric vehicles (EVs), according to Transport Ministry data.

 “Plans are in place to have charging stations about 50km apart to cater for more affordable types of electric vehicles, rather than top-end Teslas.

“Medium-speed chargers are being installed because they are a lot cheaper than high-speed versions but could still charge a Nissan Leaf in about half an hour and can be easily relocated as demand grows.  

“The new stations make it possible to drive to Cape Reinga even in a low-range EV and have enough charge left for side trips.

“Whangarei drives an organisation called Rev-Up, short for the Regional Electric Vehicle Utility Project, which is a group of Northland EV enthusiasts.

“This includes the Northland Regional Council, the Far North District Council, Whangarei District Council and Kaipara District Council along with the power companies Northpower and Top Energy.  

Camuso, a Northland Regional Council manager, says Whangarei held the NZ record for the most EVs (62) parked in one place. Christchurch and Auckland previously held the record.

Whangarei has just won the EVworld NZ Champions Award at a gala event in Auckland.

Two years ago, the government announced measures to increase the number of electric vehicles in New Zealand, with as a goal of reaching about 64,000 electric vehicles on the roads by the end of 2021.

The 2018 winners of the EVworld NZ Champions Awards:

  • SME-EV: EVs Enhanced (Christchurch)
  • EV fleet champion: Foodstuffs NZ
  • Most EV friendly town: Whangarei
  • EV sector sales and service champion: GVI Electric (Auckland)
  • EV champion: Martin Kane (Timaru)
  • The outstanding contribution to EVs in New Zealand: ChargeNet


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Potential to NZ fintech exports huge

James Brown

James Brown

The potential for New Zealand tech exports will be huge when direct free trade post-Brexit opens with the United Kingdom, a leading fintech expert says.

James Brown, general manager of FintechNZ says it’s so encouraging to see the government working proactively to set up free trade with the UK post-Brexit.

“The UK is a very important market for our agricultural, food and beverage exports, as well as high-value manufactured products,” Brown says.

“While New Zealand currently exports around $1.6 billion of traditional products to the UK, the big growth opportunity is hi-tech. Technology is now New Zealand’s third largest and fastest growing export sector so opening a market such as the UK, which is advanced and able to consume many of our tech innovations, will further drive tech export growth.

“We are seeing increasing interest in New Zealand agritech, fintech and space technologies. Fintech is the fastest growing sector at 48.5 percent compared to the global average of 31 percent. The UK is the world leader in fintech and UK firms have generated some $nz7billion in annual revenue and raised $NZ1.3billion in investment last year.

“Following the Lord Mayor of London’s visit to New Zealand earlier this year, FintechNZ sat down with various agencies to discuss a fintech bridge agreement like the one Australia and the UK entered into.

“There is significant benefit in both the UK and New Zealand starting their fintech policies and regulatory expertise which will insure that competition and innovation is not restricted.

“This will work and can be implemented very quickly if we can get government to government, regulator to regulator and industry to industry agreeing the opportunities.

“One of the main benefits could be that New Zealand companies can play in the UK sandbox as we have not got one set up here yet and this will allow companies to scale and test in new markets which is great for growth in both countries.

“We will be able to share and identify trends across blockchain, cyber, regtech and wealthtech making sure that we are inclusive in our approach.

“As the New Zealand reputation for innovations in fintech continues to grow, we expect international investors to attend the annual New Zealand fintech summit on November 29 to discover and connect with our own fintech innovators,” Brown says.



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Digital principles set up to help NZ businesses evolve

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David Kennedy

The digital revolution that has begun will change, redefine and disrupt almost every sector across the country, New Zealand Techleaders chair David Kennedy says.

Techleaders today released a set of digital principles to support New Zealand’s transformation into a more digitally competitive nation by helping Kiwi businesses and government agencies commit to digital transformation.

The TechLeaders executive was formed late last year because New Zealand, like every other country, is facing unprecedented change driven by rapidly advancing technologies.

Tech leaders are a group of New Zealand tech, digital and ICT focused senior executives from some of New Zealand’s biggest and most influential organisations.

Kennedy says the digital principles are vital for the country’s future prosperity and by coordinating the digital transformation, they can turn the challenges into advantages for New Zealand.

“All business, from large corporations and government agencies, through to small and medium firms throughout New Zealand, will at some stage in the next few years undergo a digital transformation as rapidly advancing digital technologies drive changes in the way our organisations work.

“In many cases these digital technologies will make organisations much more efficient and productive, however there is also risk that these changes will impact people’s jobs.

“Many people will quite quickly find that they don’t have necessary skills for a digital workplace, while at the same time there is a growing shortage of digitally skilled employees. Businesses must realise that the solution is to take a planned approach to these changes and help their employees develop the skills that the organisation will need in the coming years.

“We must start now, the prosperity of New Zealand will be linked to how well our organisations embrace a digital future, and how well they go through digital transformation.

“Kiwis are great at solving problems in new and innovative ways, so we will foster our creativity and amplify this cultural advantage by constantly trying new things in our organisations to rise to digital opportunities.

“Every day we will ask ourselves how we can adapt and think differently. We will foster the working habits, approach and mind-set which allows new thinking to flourish, identifies opportunities, and tests ideas to improve ourselves and our environment every day.

“The digital revolution will create new jobs that will require different skills and ways of thinking. For New Zealand to meet this demand at the scale required, we need to be adaptive and flexible in our approach by creating a culture where everyone, at all levels is continually learning,” Kennedy says.


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Teachers need to be better paid for the tech revolution

Photo : Kendall Flutey

Photo: Kendall Flutey

Teachers need to be better paid as they adjust to educating kids in the fastest growing sector in New Zealand, - technology, an award-winning Maori chief executive of a fast growing ed-tech company says.

Kendall Flutey, who runs Christchurch company Banqer, says one of her main concerns facing education and schools dealing with technology is that teachers are underpaid and overworked.

Flutey will be one of the speakers at the New Zealand education and technology summit in Auckland on July 3 and 4.

The event has attracted New Zealand’s top education experts to discuss how digital technology has begun impacting on education. Teachers, principals, educators, policy makers, publishers and tech leaders who are taking Kiwi education to the next level are leading the two-day event at Unitec Auckland.

Flutey says another concern she has with ed-tech is that people are confusing digital consumption with digital production.

“They're not the same, we want our students to be producers because it's easy to get caught up in gimmicky tech.

“The other remaining stigma is around girls and tech. We urgently need more females to get into tech as a career. People are doing awesome mahi (work) in this space, but this issue needs to be quashed. It's the last thing we need. Women who get into tech are doing amazing things.

“On the positive side, we are seeing an increasing personal approach to learning, mindfulness and other peripheral skills that develop the learner softer skills.

“In coding, students are great consumers of tech, but they need to become the producers and leaders to really thrive.”

Flutey says to crank up to the digital revolution in New Zealand, businesses, organisations and people need to reduce barriers, be it devices, literacy, confidence or capabilities.

She says New Zealand needs to ensure educators are comfortable in the digital world and creating a digital-centric educational environment is critical. Flutey will speak to the summit next month on teaching children about money and personal finances and expanding ed-tech into Australia.

Her company partners Kiwibank helping more than 63,000 students in Australasia teaching students about saving, investing, borrowing and purchasing by turning the classroom into a virtual economy.

The July summit will look at issues such as examining future models of learning, using data to inform better student outcomes, and addressing the digital divide.

The keynote international speaker in Professor Alec Couros of the University of Regina in Canada. He helps undergraduate and graduate students embrace educational technology.


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