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  • 25 Oct 2022 3:10 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Auckland businessman, Stewart Germann, known to some as ‘The Franchise Coach’, has today announced an agreement with London-headquartered global franchise marketing and advisory company, World Franchise Associates, granting him licence to introduce a portfolio of global franchising heavyweights to the New Zealand market.

    The deal captures an initial portfolio of nine international franchise brands, including seven restaurants and two non-food brands, which together represent total global revenues exceeding $5 billion NZD and employ tens of thousands of staff around the world.

    The portfolio includes the iconic TGI Fridays restaurant brand which was founded in the US in 1965 and now boasts almost 700 restaurants in more than 50 countries.

    Other notable brands include the highly successful Earl of Sandwich chain, and relative newcomer Teriyaki Madness, which since opening in 2005 has expanded rapidly to 110+ restaurants around the world and was labelled by Restaurant Business as the number one fastest growing big restaurant chain.

    Germann, whose business, The Franchise Coach, specialises in both helping existing Kiwi businesses transition to a franchise model, and introducing international franchises to the New Zealand market, says the deal represents a significant opportunity for Kiwis who would like to leverage the power of global brands with proven successful models, for New Zealand customers.

    “Having access to this portfolio of global opportunities means that when Kiwi clients approach me, we can be very strategic about marrying them with the right sort of opportunity,” says Germann. “We can look at any relevant expertise, location, financial and lifestyle considerations they might have, and set prospective franchisees up with a recipe for success that’s been tested in the most competitive global markets.”

    Troy Franklin, Managing Partner at World Franchise Associates, says bringing this opportunity to Germann was an obvious choice.

    “Stewart is a globally regarded expert in franchise law, and his law firm, SGL, has for many years been involved in helping broker significant franchise deals, and facilitating and simplifying complex structural arrangements in the New Zealand market,” says Franklin.

    “Since taking the reins as The Franchise Coach, a consultancy with an impeccable forty-year pedigree, Stewart has further bolstered his reputation as a master at connecting the right people with the right opportunity at the right time. We’re excited to have Stewart onboard, finding the right partners to bring some truly iconic brands to Kiwi shores.”

    Germann is encouraging enquiries from any New Zealand residents considering their next business venture, and says due diligence and franchise application processes can begin immediately, with the right candidates.

  • 10 Oct 2022 12:31 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Grant Robertson departs this evening with a business delegation to New York, after which he will travel to Washington DC for meetings.

    “The New York leg of the trip has been developed by Air New Zealand alongside their new non-stop service from Auckland. It presents an opportunity to continue promoting New Zealand’s Reconnection Strategy and strengthen business ties in the United States,” Grant Robertson said.

    “It also provides a valuable opportunity to engage with Kiwi business leaders and highlight New Zealand’s tourism offerings on the world stage.”

    The Finance Minister will attend the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings in Washington DC. He will also meet with the US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, senior officials from the Biden administration and Finance Ministers from around the world.

    “These meetings provide an opportunity to engage with counterparts on geopolitical issues, including matters relating to New Zealand’s and the Pacific’s economic security, trade, the recovery from COVID-19 and ongoing matters such as supply chain issues, global inflation and Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

    “We are all facing an uncertain global economic environment, and I am keen to hear the insights and perspectives of other countries on their approach and to share New Zealand’s story with them.”

    “This trip is a great opportunity to reconnect in person with the US Government, international financial institutions, APEC, and our partners in the Asia-Pacific region as we look to reconnect New Zealand to the world and strengthen relationships with our business and trade partners,” Grant Robertson said.

    The Minister will return to New Zealand on October 18.


  • 07 Oct 2022 6:06 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Air Tahiti Nui is preparing to celebrate the first non-stop service connecting Seattle to Tahiti. The inaugural flight, TN51, will depart Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) at 1230hrs local time on Wednesday 05 October and arrive in Tahiti at 1910hrs local time on Wednesday 05 October.

    The service marks the start of a new partnership between Air Tahiti Nui and Alaska Airlines, one of North America’s most prestigious carriers and a leader in the Northwest region.

    This codeshare partnership will enable travellers to connect with nearly 100 cities in North America through the Seattle hub. Major cities on the network to be enjoyed by travellers include Vancouver, Boston, Chicago, Miami, and New York City.

    The arrangement also offers a world first for Air Tahiti Nui passengers to use their Club Tiare miles on the Alaska Airlines' network. Passengers can also earn Club Tiare miles on Alaska Airlines routes beyond Seattle. Reciprocally, Alaska Airlines customers can earn or use their Mileage Plan miles when travelling with Air Tahiti Nui.

    General Manager Pacific Daniel Eggenberger says, “The route complements the long-established Los Angeles route that connects The Islands of Tahiti with North America. This has proven very popular for New Zealand and Australian travellers, especially with highly competitive pricing since the border re-opening in May. With Seattle being a departure point for cruises towards Alaska, we expect a strong interest from the cruise market out of New Zealand and Australia.”

    The partnership further demonstrates Air Tahiti Nui's commitment to continually developing and enhancing its customer offering to deliver the best travel experience to our favourite destinations. The airline is internationally recognised and, for the fourth consecutive year, has been awarded 'Best Airline in the South Pacific,' – Global Traveler GT Tested Awards, as well as carrying the 'APEX 5 Star Major Airline' rating. In 2021 Air Tahiti Nui's 787-9 Tahitian Dreamliner was also awarded ‘Best Airline Design – Oceania Region’ at the DesignAir Awards.

    Route Days Departs Arrives Aircraft Flt No. Papeete – Seattle Tue, Sat 9.35pm 10.00am+1 787-9 TN52 Seattle – Papeete Wed, Sun 12.30pm 7.10pm 787-9 TN51

  • 30 Sep 2022 9:44 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    “The United States is a proud Pacific power.  We will continue to be an active, engaged partner in the region.” President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

    “The history and the future of the Pacific Islands and the United States are inextricably linked.” Vice President Kamala Harris

    The Pacific Islands region – an “ocean continent” spanning nearly 15 percent of the Earth’s surface – is a vital sub-region of the Indo-Pacific. It holds opportunities and challenges, from the climate crisis to an increasingly complex geopolitical landscape. The United States recognizes that geography links the Pacific’s future to our own: U.S. prosperity and security depend on the Pacific region remaining free and open.

    To that end, the Biden-Harris Administration is elevating broader and deeper engagement with the Pacific Islands as a priority of its foreign policy. This national strategy, the first-ever from the U.S. government dedicated to the Pacific Islands, both reflects and advances that commitment. It supports the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the United States and is aligned with the goals of the Pacific Island Forum’s 2050 Strategy.

    As part of its Pacific strategy, the United States will pursue four objectives:


     The foundation of our engagement in the Pacific Islands must be strong ties between the United States and the Pacific Islands, individually and collectively. We will:

    • Fulfill and Increase U.S. Commitments to the Pacific: We will fulfill our historical commitments and strengthen our enduring relationships with the full Pacific Islands region, including by:
      • Successfully completing negotiations on the Compacts of Free Association (COFA) with the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia
      • Successfully concluding negotiations on the South Pacific Tuna Treaty Annex amendments and associated Economic Assistance Agreement for 2023 and beyond
    • Build U.S. Capacity to Support the Pacific: The United States will demonstrate the level of diplomatic attention the Pacific deserves and position ourselves to best meet the needs of Pacific Island countries, including by:
      • Expanding U.S. diplomatic missions from six to nine across the Pacific
      • Deploying additional personnel across the Pacific
      • Reestablishing a USAID mission in Fiji


    The Pacific Islands region is stronger united, with the Pacific Islands Forum at its core.  The Pacific Islands Forum provides a platform for Pacific Islands to speak with a common voice to drive Pacific priorities and engage other partners, including the United States ‑ a proud Dialogue Partner of the organization.  We will coordinate with other nations and do so according to principles of Pacific regional cooperation, transparency, and accountability. We will:

    • Bolster Pacific Regionalism and Elevate the Pacific in the Regional Architecture: The Pacific Islands are stronger when regional institutions are strong.  The United States will continue to support the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), ensuring it remains at the center of the regional architecture.  The U.S. will elevate its commitment to Pacific regionalism by:
      • Appointing the first-ever U.S. envoy to the PIF
      • Encouraging connectivity with existing multilateral groupings, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Quad
      • Supporting other regional organizations
    • Coordinate with Allies and Partners, within and beyond the region: The United States will continue to closely coordinate with our Allies and Partners to ensure our support for the Pacific Islands is effective and meets the needs of the people. We will prioritize consultation and coordination with the Pacific Islands and the PIF, including by:
      • Bolstering the Partners in the Blue Pacific, an initiative among Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom to better meet the needs of people across the Pacific


    The Pacific Islands region faces daunting and mounting challenges.  Chief among these challenges is the climate crisis, an existential threat to many Pacific Islands.  The United States is committed to maintaining its global leadership in combatting the climate crisis, while partnering with the Pacific Islands in adapting to and managing the impacts of climate change on lives, health, and livelihoods.  The region also faces challenges to security and sovereignty, including in the maritime domain.  The Biden-Harris Administration will work in partnership with Pacific governments and people to ensure they have the autonomy and security to advance their own interests.  We support the Pacific Islands as they guard against corruption and protect the dignity of Pacific Islanders. We will:

    • Combat the Climate Crisis and Build Climate Resilience in the Pacific: Of all the 21st-century challenges we face, none is more pressing for the Pacific Islands region than climate change. We will collaborate with the Pacific Islands to tackle the climate crisis and limit its effects on the Pacific, including by:
      • Striving to enhance the adaptive capacity and build upon the resilience of Pacific Islands to the devastating impacts of climate change through the President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE) 
      • Collaborating with partners and international institutions to improve Pacific Island countries’ access to adaptation finance from multiple sources
      • Driving action and supporting investment in climate mitigation in the region
    • Support Marine Conservation, Maritime Security, and Sovereign Rights: The United States will support the Pacific Islands as they continue to shoulder the great responsibility of stewardship over the Blue Pacific Continent, including by:
      • Increasing United States Coast Guard (USCG), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Department of Defense (DOD) presence
      • Coordinating security cooperation and training with likeminded partners and with civil society
      • Developing sustainable, climate resilient “blue” economies to sustainably manage Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), including fisheries and protected areas and coordinate security cooperation and training with other partners
    • Support good governance and the human rights of all people: The Pacific Islands region is home to diverse democracies and participatory governance. The United States will continue supporting democracy, human rights, and good governance, including by:
      • Building capacity among Pacific Island stakeholders in government, private sector, media, academia, and civil society


    To fully empower the Pacific to capitalize on the opportunities of the 21st century, the United States is committed to increasing trade and investment with the Pacific Islands, including through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment; expanding people-to-people ties, including through the Peace Corps; increasing English-language programming and overall professional advancement; bolstering health architecture in the Pacific; and providing educational and development opportunities for Pacific Islanders, with a particular focus on women and youth.

    • Create Economic Opportunities and Forge Connectivity: The United States will partner with the Pacific Islands and partners and allies to drive economic growth and prosperity regionally and globally. We will focus on key logistics, transportation, and technologies to enhance connectivity within the Pacific Islands region and with the world, including by:
      • Collaborating with partners on submarine cable implementation and upgrades and other connectivity options
      • Working with Pacific Island leaders to leverage private sector solutions to advance strategic projects and commercial priorities in the region.
    • Bolster Health Architecture to Promote Health Security: The United States will partner with public-health experts and networks to improve how the region effectively prevents, detects, and responds to infectious disease threats, including by:
      • Working to meet the COVID-19 vaccination needs of the region to lift the Pacific Islands out of the emergency phase of COVID-19
      • Strengthening regional health security in preparation for future outbreaks
    • Partner with Pacific Islanders to Strengthen People-to-People Ties and Seize 21st Century Opportunities. We will support Pacific Islands in their objective to ensure that everyone can realize their full potential including by:
      • Offering enhanced educational experiences through student and professional exchange, enhanced curriculum, and the establishment of Pacific Studies programs in the United States
      • Empowering Pacific youth through leadership development opportunities
      • Returning Peace Corps volunteer presence to Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and Vanuatu this year and actively exploring options for opening missions in other countries
  • 23 Sep 2022 3:39 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Deel, a global hiring, payroll and employee experience platform that helps businesses hire contractors and employees in over 150 markets, today launches in New Zealand.

    Founded in 2019, Deel makes global hiring accessible to all companies. It helps businesses easily enter new markets, hire talent wherever they are, at the same time managing teams, contractors, and payroll in multiple markets – all in one centralised platform. When a company hires workers, Deel takes on the responsibility to ensure the business is compliant with local laws.

    Deel expands into New Zealand in the midst of an unprecedented workforce crisis. The NZ Reserve Bank states that there are now double the job vacancies than there are unemployed people in New Zealand. A June 2022 study by Hays, found that 91% of employers of professionals are experiencing a skills shortage. With 83% saying it will impact the effective operation or growth plans of their organisation, with this number being higher (96%) in New Zealand’s tech sector.

    “In light of the chronic talent shortages in New Zealand, employers are looking beyond our borders for the right people. Previously there have been significant roadblocks to hiring international talent including lengthy entity set-up times averaging six-to-eight months, compliance risks, confusing local laws, complicated tax systems and hefty fines if you don’t get this right. Deel’s platform and compliance expertise solves these issues, giving businesses the tools to expand, hire, and pay teams more easily than ever before,” said Shannon Karaka, Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand.

    Fast growing Tauranga-based LawVu, which develops software for organising in-house legal teams, is using Deel to add to its 120 strong workforce as it signs large international clients.

    “LawVu has the capital and international customer opportunities to create a global significant business - we just need the staff to help make it happen. Deel enables us to expand rapidly into new international markets, confident that we can do so in an efficient and compliant manner that also creates a positive experience for new staff working remotely for a start up headquartered in New Zealand,” says Karly Boast, VP of People.

    Hiring Trends

    The rise of extended remote working as an option, alongside the challenge of cross border immigration introduced by the pandemic, has driven a new global hiring movement. According to Deel’s latest data, the most popular countries that NZ businesses are hiring overseas talent from include the United States, UK, Philippines and Australia.

    Additionally, the top roles that New Zealand companies are hiring for are software developers, digital designers, software engineers and sales team members.

    NZ’s talent is highly sought after by overseas companies. The USA, Australia, UK, Canada and Singapore are the top countries currently hiring NZ talent.

    Research from Kea New Zealand, who have formed a strategic partnership with Deel, shows 60% of Kiwis living offshore want to remain connected to New Zealand and support New Zealand businesses to grow. Kea Global CEO Toni Truslove says being able to work for a Kiwi company while living offshore is one way to do that.

    “Hiring offshore Kiwi allows companies to tap into a community of people who understand the New Zealand culture and business landscape, but also understand the landscape of the market they are based in. This is a huge advantage when it comes to growing a team offshore.”

    Deel also provides payroll services that make it easy to pay employees and contractors globally, in their preferred currency, in one bulk payment, and with just a click. The platform supports 120+ currencies, and contractors have access to 15 different withdrawal options ranging from local payment networks to cryptocurrency.

    Globally, Deel serves 9,000+ customers, including Airwallex, Coinbase, Dropbox and Shopify.

    Deel has raised US$630 million dollars in total from venture capitalists such as Andreessen Horowitz and Y Combinator. It raised US$425 million in October 2021, valuing Deel at US$5.5 billion, making it the highest-valued company in the global hiring, payments, and compliance space.

  • 22 Sep 2022 3:21 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Today New Zealand, the USA, Twitter, and Microsoft, announced investment in a technology innovation initiative under the banner of the Christchurch Call.  This initiative will support the creation of new technology to understand the impacts of algorithms on people’s online experiences. 

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms play a growing role in our everyday lives, including in how we organise information, and experience the internet.  A majority of the content we encounter and view online is curated by algorithms in some form.

    Through the Christchurch Call to Action, we have committed to work together to better understand the impacts that algorithms and other processes may have on terrorist and violent extremist content.  Leaders and the Call Community regard this algorithmic work as a top priority.

    In order to study those impacts, we have to overcome challenges around: how to protect user privacy and proprietary information; how to investigate impacts holistically across society; and how to achieve reproducibility, affordability, and scale for independent researchers. Working with an open-source non-profit organisation called OpenMined, the Algorithms Initiative will develop and test ground-breaking privacy-enhancing software infrastructure to address those challenges and help us move forward work under the Call.

    While this initiative won’t tell us all we need to know about the outcomes algorithms are driving online, it will help us better access data so researchers can answer these very questions.

    The Christchurch Call Initiative on Algorithms is committed to supporting this work so that we can empower independent researchers to help us build safer platforms and more effective interventions to protect people both online and offline.

    If successful, these technologies will be made available to the whole Christchurch Call community and beyond it.  The technology, once tested and proven in the Call context, could open up a new field of algorithmic research with a much wider application.

    Our community wants to understand the role of online activity as a factor in radicalisation, how terrorist and violent extremist content spreads across platforms. The privacy protective technology being developed through our initiative is one of the most promising ways to open those questions to independent research at a suitable scale.  It could also help people working in a number of other fields.

    We hope that this work will ultimately help the Christchurch Call Community to understand what online service providers, community organisations, and governments can do to make the online environment safer and more user-friendly.

    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “We simply won’t make the progress we need on these important issues, without better understanding how they are operating in the real world in the first place. Companies, governments, civil society, we will all benefit from this initiative. It will help us create the free, open and secure internet we are all driving for.”

    Brad Smith, of Microsoft, said: “The Christchurch Call is about bringing governments, tech companies, and civil society together to make meaningful progress to stop the spread and amplification of violent extremist content online. The responsible use of AI, including explaining how algorithms recommend content to people on social media platforms, is an important challenge we must address.”

    Vijaya Gadde, of Twitter, said: “Our work with the New Zealand Government and Microsoft to support the development of innovative technology by OpenMined is a key building block to significantly expand the ability of researchers to understand the role of algorithms in content discovery and amplification while protecting the privacy of people’s data. There is significant potential to provide a far more robust evidence base for a policy debate of critical importance to the future of online services.”

    Andrew Trask, of OpenMined, said “Few in civil society have been able to study how major algorithms impact society, owing to privacy, security, and logistical challenges. We think that privacy enhancing technologies can remedy these challenges, and we're optimistic that this project will set the precedent that they can.”

    Background and FAQs:

    What is the Christchurch Call Initiative on Algorithmic Outcomes?

    New Zealand, the USA, Twitter, and Microsoft are working under the Christchurch Call, partnering with OpenMined, to develop new software tools that will help facilitate more independent research on the impacts of user interactions with algorithmic systems.  

    What will the Christchurch Call Initiative on Algorithmic Outcomes do?

    As the first project under this initiative, the partners will work together to build and test a set of privacy enhancing technologies. Once tested, replicated, and validated, these technologies could form the basis for an infrastructure to support independent study of impacts of algorithms and their interactions with users, including across multiple platforms and types of platforms, and could dramatically lower the barriers to doing this work. 

    If successful, these technologies will be made available to the Christchurch Call Community and could help support independent research that fulfils our collective Call Commitments, potentially opening up wider applications and new fields of responsible AI research beyond the Call itself.

    How does this respond to the Christchurch Call Commitments?

    Christchurch Call Supporters have committed to working together and with Civil Society to understand the outcomes of algorithms and other processes that may drive users towards terrorist and violent extremist content, to make changes where this occurs, and to develop effective interventions based on information sharing.  

    The technologies developed with the help of this initiative should help to overcome some of the barriers identified through our existing work and enable information exchanges among civil society, industry and government, to make it possible to realise those commitments. 

    Why is it needed?

    At the moment it is costly and administratively complex for online service providers to provide access to independent researchers to study impacts on users, while complying with ethical and regulatory obligations.  Current secure access programmes often entail significant costs and time from researchers and firms alike.  That greatly reduces the possible scale and breadth of external studies of the sort needed to understand the impacts of algorithmic systems.   That means independent research typically only studies user impacts on a single platform rather than across a broader demographic (i.e. across multiple platforms).

    This new technology is intended to reduce the cost and complexity of access for independent researchers, and allow a multitude of different studies, for instance looking at how social issues manifest online, the impacts of user interactions on artificial intelligence, and the effectiveness of different actions intended to promote a safer online environment. It could also enable studies on a range of other algorithmic and responsible AI topics.

    For example, Governments should not require access to private user data from online platforms.  However they can benefit from insights obtained by independent researchers that can help inform policy.  Civil Society has an interest, among other things, in ensuring privacy is preserved, and that human rights outcomes are effectively assessed and acted upon. These privacy enhancing technologies could help facilitate and scale access to allow important insights without governments or other parties requiring access to the base data.  

    What is being developed?

    Software infrastructure is being built which will integrate a new set of privacy enhancing technologies (PETs). This will enable data scientists to remotely study data and algorithms distributed across multiple secure sites. Technologies including remote execution, federated learning, differential privacy, and secure multi-party computation will enable this remote research in a way that conforms to the data-use policies of the platform under study. 

    The current project plan envisages work taking place approximately over a 9-month timeframe with a total cost of approximately US$1.5m.  

    In brief these milestones are to: 

    1. Build the underlying software and systems for the new infrastructure.
    2. Do a proof of concept test using synthetic data to show that the system works.
    3. Trusted partner(s) test out the system on real datasets, showing reproducibility and proof of function.

    What is each partner contributing?

    New Zealand is providing a financial contribution and assistance with establishing the initiative.  New Zealand will also provide coordination between the Call Community and the project to ensure transparency, visibility, and that opportunities are maximised for Call supporters and partners to make use of the project’s output. 

    The support of New Zealand and the USA will help to ensure the project outcomes are developed on behalf of the wider Call Community and will be tested for different types of online service provider.  

    Twitter‘s ML Ethics, Transparency and Accountability team will be providing the proof-of-concept for the PET’s infrastructure. At the conclusion of Phase 1, trusted partners will be able to securely access and replicate the findings of our Algorithmic amplification paper published last year. Enabling secure access to this data is a milestone in data transparency and security.

    Microsoft is providing financial support to the initiative and is exploring options to enable the initiative to be tested on a different platform.

    How can I be involved?

    As part of the project, OpenMined will provide periodic briefings for the Call Community about its work, and an opportunity to discuss its potential applications.

    In subsequent phases of this work, there will be scope for other online service providers who want to test the capabilities of the new tool on their system, and for Call supporters who wish to help finance the development and testing of new functions and capabilities.  

    We envisage that these tools will take some time to build, test, validate, and refine.  In the long term they hope to create significant new opportunities for independent researcher involvement and the application of these tools across the Call Community and beyond it.  

    If the pilot is successful, what are the next steps? 

    If successful, the pilot will prove that the underlying techniques can be scaled to meet real-world legal, policy and other requirements. Subsequent phases could focus on additional testing, moving towards building a production-ready system to enable use for a wide range of objectives by a wide range of independent researchers.


  • 15 Sep 2022 10:02 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    First Dunedin, next step, the lucrative American market for a pair of entrepreneurial former Scarfies.

    The Flatpack Co founders Angus Syme, 23, and Cam Leigh, 22, have just made a whirlwind trip around New Zealand’s campuses visiting first-year students.

    That market – young people set to go flatting next year – is the company’s bread and butter. The Flatpack Co specialises in boxed mattresses and frames and a guarantee of delivery on the first day a student moves into their new flat.

    And it has worked, with the pair selling and delivering some 3000 beds over the last couple of years. In February, Stuff reported that The Flatpack Co was set to turn over its first million dollars.

    “We blew it out of the water ... we’ve had a fantastic year,” Syme said.

    That success meant the pair are now looking to expand to the United States.

    Syme said their business model was about getting in front of students the entire year, and getting them to pre-order their bed before they finished the year, “so they can go away for summer and not worry about it” – meaning that by the time other companies tried to target returning students, they were already committed to The FlatPack Co.

    It was during their first year at the University of Otago that the pair came up with the idea to supply beds to fellow students, putting in $5000 a piece to buy 30 second-hand beds from graduating students and re-selling them to their mates.

    “There is a culture, in Dunedin especially, to buy a bed from us.’’

    Of the 4000-odd first-year students at Otago university, the company sold beds to 550 of them last year, and this year is on track to sell between 800 and 900 to them.

    The success of their Dunedin-born idea is a key part of their American drive, as the New Zealand student city has been their strongest market.

    To replicate that in the United States, the pair researched similar “college towns”, contacting students over social media about their universities – often three times the size of those in New Zealand.

    Many of those were in the Midwestern US, with the pair also looking for college towns made up of mainly houses as opposed to apartment complexes with already furnished accommodation.

    Syme and Leigh will visit mattress wholesalers in the US next month, later heading to some of those colleges to employ teams of students.

    And if all goes well, the pair plan to return to the US in January “on a one-way ticket”.

    “We are all guns blazing, ready to rip, s... and bust.”

    The pair will start in Kansas, before concentrating on college towns in other states including Indiana, Virginia, Texas, Ohio, Nebraska, Alabama and Arizona.

    “The plan is we will be in 25 universities in five years,” Syme said. “The goal is to immerse ourselves in the college.”

    Despite their aspirations for America, New Zealand remained an important market, they said, with the pair looking at employing a “hot-shot grad” to become the manager.


  • 14 Sep 2022 10:03 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Partnership will accelerate New Zealand’s transition to 100% renewable electricity with over $1.0bn on track to be deployed over next decade

    AUCKLAND.  solarZero, New Zealand's leading provider of solar, battery storage and energy services, announced today that a fund managed by BlackRock Real Assets has agreed to acquire the company . New Zealand is currently leading Asia Pacific's clean energy transition, and solarZero has built the region's largest virtual power plant using its proprietary smart battery and energy management platform. BlackRock's Climate Infrastructure business, which sits within BlackRock Real Assets, will work with solarZero's management team to build on the company's market leading track record and drive its next phase of growth, both in New Zealand and internationally.

    "Kiwis want clean and resilient energy. BlackRock Climate Infrastructure team's investment and backing will enable us to rapidly scale, grow our energy services network, and accelerate the transition to a 100% clean energy future" said Andrew Booth, Founder and CEO of solarZero. "By 2030, 50% of the world's energy will be generated in the Asia Pacific region. The window to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis is closing fast and the power couple of solar plus storage isone of the few true paths to energy security, stable power prices, prosperity, and a liveable planet."

    solarZero's unique energy-as-a-service model accelerates solar and battery uptake without the need for government subsidies and with $0 upfront removes the barrier of a $25,000 plus upfront to install and maintain a solar and battery system. Uptake of the service is flat across the deprivation index, democratising renewable energy to help ensure that the transition to a net-zero economy will bring about a more equitable society.

    solarZero is installing a new system every 35 minutes and plans to invest $1.0 billion in new insolar and battery systems across New Zealand over the next 10 years.  The service currently powers the homes of almost 9000 families, generating over 89GWh of energy each year and with over 48MWh of storage its service provides active support to the national grid by reducing peak loads across the country by 16MW every day. Combined, solarZero customers have saved over $4.5 million on their power bills, reducing carbon emissions by 10, 950 tonnes, the equivalent of planting 102,000 trees.

    Charlie Reid, Asia-Pacific Co-Head of BlackRock's Climate Infrastructure team said, "New Zealand is widely recognised as a global leader in renewable energy and climate finance, and we are pleased to make our first investment in this market. Our move into New Zealand demonstrates BlackRock's commitment to invest in attractive markets as part of our broader efforts to offer a flow of addressable global climate investment opportunities for our clients. solarZero is a global pioneer, and we look forward to supporting its expansion into other Asia-Pacific markets and, at the same time, to accelerating New Zealand's net zero journey."
    solarZero co-developed with Panasonic, the world leading battery manufacturer, its smart battery platform which is at the heart of its energy service. The platform gives customers a personalised energy plan and connects them together to form clean, resilient virtual power plants—freeing them from power outages and rising energy costs. 

    "Our engineers in Japan and Singapore have spent the past five years working alongside solarZero's team in Auckland to achieve significant design, technology and cost breakthroughs. This is a world-first battery platform design, and we are looking forward to working alongside solarZero and the BlackRock Climate Infrastructure team to take this breakthrough technology global," said Stewart Fowler, Managing Director of Panasonic New Zealand.

    solarZero, a recipient of numerous financial and technology innovation awards, turns homeowners and businesses into active members of the new energy economy by giving them the freedom to generate, store, and control their own clean energy, and support their communities.


    About solarZero
    solarZero is a smart solar energy service which allows homeowners to power their homes by streaming the sun’s energy and converting to usable electricity - at a price which can be up to 30% cheaper than buying electricity from the grid. This unique solar energy service requires no upfront costs.   The hardware of the system remains the property of solarZero, who manage the installation, maintenance, and servicing while the homeowner enjoys the benefits without the investment.  The solarZero system comprises solar panels and a smart battery - allowing stored power to be accessed even when the sun isn't shining or in a power cut.

    About BlackRock Real Assets 
    In today’s dynamic and complex global investing market, BlackRock Real Assets seeks to help clients access real assets that could help meet their investment goals by providing a distinct range of well defined, outcome orientated strategies, along the investment risk-return spectrum.

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  • 13 Sep 2022 4:42 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Air New Zealand’s daily operations are now helping to enable new research into climate change, with a ground-breaking approach to collecting data for the global scientific community.

    In a world-first, Air New Zealand flight NZ8844 took off this morning from Christchurch to Nelson carrying a NASA next-generation satellite receiver.

    Using direct and reflected GPS and Galileo signals, the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver will collect unique environmental data to better predict storms and enable new climate change research.

    Air New Zealand is the first passenger airline in the world to join a NASA earth mission, working together since 2020 on the design, installation and certification of the receiver onboard one of its Q300 aircraft.

    Air New Zealand Chief Operational Integrity and Safety Officer Captain David Morgan says climate change is a shared challenge and the airline does not shy away from its responsibilities to address it.

    “With a network stretching from Kerikeri to Invercargill and flying at an altitude of around 16,000 feet, the Q300 was the perfect aircraft to pilot this mission.”

    “Flying much closer to the land and sea than NASA’s satellites, our aircraft can collect a daily feed of high-resolution, high-quality data, with significant potential for the science community.”

    The University of Auckland has established a Science Payload Operations Centre to receive and process the data in what could become New Zealand’s largest source of environmental data. Project Lead, Professor Delwyn Moller, says the collaboration will put Kiwi scientists at the forefront of this emerging field.

    “The data produced by this collaboration will be made publicly available, opening up a range of research possibilities, with many potential uses – from flood risk management to agriculture and resource planning.

    “Air New Zealand’s commitment to the project’s success will hopefully inspire other airlines around the world to use their own aircraft for the benefit of science.”

    The data collected in flight will also feed into NASA's Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS). Dr Will McCarty, NASA's CYGNSS Program Scientist in the agency's Earth Science Division, says the data from Air New Zealand flights will extend the CYGNSS mission to monitor environmental changes over land.

    "CYGNSS bounces GPS signals off the ocean to measure wind speeds to help predict hurricanes and cyclones. Over land, the technology can determine soil moisture levels, so it can also monitor climate change indicators such as drought, flooding and coastline erosion.

    “The receiver that Air New Zealand is flying has advanced capabilities with the potential to be used for future space bound missions, so we’re excited to test these out.”

    The project to fly a next-generation GNSS-R receiver on Air New Zealand’s aircraft to advance earth observation has been gifted the name Rongowai, combining the Māori words rongo (to sense) and wai (water). 

    For video of David Morgan, Delwyn Moller, b-roll footage, and the original announcement of the project in 2020

     Note to editors:

    • Air New Zealand has 23 of the 50-seat Q300 turboprop aircraft in its fleet. The Q300s operates to 19 domestic ports, with each aircraft flying around 50 services a week.
    • NASA's Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) mission is a constellation of eight small satellites which measure wind speeds over the Earth's oceans. It works by measuring GNSS signals, such as GPS, reflected off the surface of the ocean. This increases the ability of scientists to understand and predict cyclones. However, this approach can also be used to collect environmental data for other purposes and the potential of this land-based science is just beginning to be realised.
    • GNSS reflections over land are sensitive to soil moisture with possibilities to monitor droughts and flooding, and track coastal and wetland conditions, monitoring erosion. In the long-term, these dynamics are impacted by climate change, so this data can be used to inform research.
    • The advanced features of the next-generation receiver flying on Air New Zealand’s Q300 include: the capability to receive reflections from up to 20 satellites (CYGNSS can receive up to four), compatibility with GPS and Galileo (E.U.) satellites (as opposed to only GPS), and polarimetric capability which may help for vegetation characterisation and interpretation of more complex terrestrial scattering
    • The dense and frequent measurements provided by Air New Zealand aircraft will benefit NASA in several ways. CYGNSS has good satellite coverage of the northern part of the country, including the area around Auckland, so there will be plenty of overlap between its measurements and those collected by Air New Zealand. Daily comparisons between satellite and aircraft data will be possible over a sustained period, building out a picture of environmental change across seasons and during weather events such as flooding. After enough time, longer term climatic changes could be detectable.
    • CYGNSS satellites orbit the tropical storm belt with coverage down to 38 degrees latitude. Through the Q300 network, Air New Zealand measurements will extend well south of this, meaning data will be captured across New Zealand for the first time.
    • The CYGNSS mission science is led in partnership by researchers at NASA and the University of Michigan, including Professor Chris Ruf of the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, who is the Principal Investigator in the NASA CYGNSS Earth Venture Mission. The receiver installed on Air New Zealand’s Q300 was developed by the University of Michigan for NASA's Earth Science Technology Office. 
    • The Science Payload Operation Centre at the University of Auckland has been developed by a team of researchers from the University of Auckland and the University of Canterbury. It will support GNSS-R data handling and operations, integrated instrument calibration and measurement validation. It will also support field work for these purposes.
  • 11 Sep 2022 11:11 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

    Gallagher, the leading security solutions manufacturer, is proud to announce the expansion of its technical support services to the Americas with a dedicated team of people based in Atlanta, Georgia.

    The team in the Americas will create stronger connections in the region, while also alleviating the New Zealand team’s current load of operating all day and all night.

    “It’s an evolution of our technical support. We’ve been providing 24/7 technical support from New Zealand and we’re growing really quickly elsewhere, particularly in the Americas. So, this expansion has been a couple of years in the making,” says Shane Keesom, Gallagher’s Technical Support Manager.

    “Expanding our global support capabilities is a natural progression of our vision to provide exceptional customer experiences. The team here in the Americas adds to the diversity within our global team,” says Paul Wilson, the Gallagher’s Director of Technical Services for North America.

    The new team consists of four engineers, servicing the entire globe during their shift, with one member who is able to provide technical support in Spanish too.

    “This is going to be gold, being able to talk to our partners and customers in their own language and lingo,” says Matthew Dean, Gallagher’s Technical Support Team Leader.

    To find out more about Gallagher’s 24-hour technical support team structure and plans, join Dean and Keesom as they lend their voices in the latest Tech Talk podcast episode hosted by Chief Technology Officer at Gallagher, Steve Bell. Listen here.

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