• Matariki - Pleiades Star Cluster

• The Kea Atmos is a solar-powered, remotely piloted aircraft that will fly for months at a time / www.keaaerospace.com

• Asteria Engineering Consultancy and University of Canterbury Payload

About Aerospace Christchurch

Christchurch aspires to be at the centre of an energetic New Zealand aerospace industry by 2025, with a
network of aerospace companies employing hundreds of people across the city. The aerospace sector
encompasses the research and development, design, manufacturing and launch of satellites, drones,
flight vehicles, space launch vehicles, and spacecraft (manned and unmanned), as well as upstream and
downstream services concerning the provision and use of aerospace data.

Christchurch’s low air traffic and easy access to both an international airport and seaport, make it an
ideal environment for the development and testing of aerospace technologies, including sub-orbital
rocket launch, drones and satellites. Christchurch is also one of five international gateways to Antarctica
and the only one in New Zealand.

Our Committee

The Aerospace Christchurch committee members are a group of dedicated volunteers who are all working towards a common goal, promoting the interests of the Christchurch and Canterbury aerospace community.

Mark Rocket


Kea Aerospace, CEO

Internet and aerospace entrepreneur. Mark founded two internet companies in 1998 and sold one of those ventures to Telecom Yellow Pages in 2006.  Mark was the first New Zealander to book a ticket with Virgin Galactic.  He was the seed investor and co-Director of Rocket Lab from 2007 to 2011.  In 2018 Mark started up Kea Aerospace to develop commercial aerospace projects and is committed to growing the Christchurch aerospace ecosystem.

Mark A Patton


EY, Senior Manager – Government Incentives

Supporter of innovation and technology development, Mark leads EY’s Government Incentives team here in the South Island. Assisting both high growth start-ups and globally successful  innovators access a broad range of government grants and R&D funding. Originally trained as a geneticist, Mark has 10 years’ experience in the manufacturing and export sector in both leadership and technical roles. Now Mark is driven by the unique opportunity to support the growing aerospace hub here in Ōtautahi.

Mike Profile (2).png

Michael Read


Skybase, Founder

Michael loves building a vision and building teams to create the reality. By studying and refining the formulas for start-up success over the last decade, combined with an aviation career spanning more than 20 years in manned, unmanned and optionally piloted aviation, across military, civilian, humanitarian and experimental test flying operations. Michael is enjoying leading the growth of Skybase. Michael is a veteran, having served on operations as a pilot for the Royal Australian Air Force.

Andrew Dachs

Committee Member

Decision Consulting Ltd

Andrew is a consultant engineer with experience in software engineering, product development, team leadership and product management. He has developed on-board data handling platforms, image capture modules and telemetry/ telecommand systems for small satellites. He studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering, at undergraduate, postgrad, as well as an MBA. He currently runs a small consultancy specialising in high technology development and is keen to see the NZ aerospace industry grow.

Andy McNamara.png

Andrew McNamara

Committee Member

Director, Project Dynamics NZ

Andy is a project manager and consultant with 20 years of space industry and high-tech manufacturing experience. He has delivered over 100 projects; from roles in project-, programme-, portfolio-, and business-management. In 2016, in response to demand from the UK aerospace community, Andy co-founded GNC Go; providing Configuration Management and Document Control for aerospace projects, through a secure and scalable software-as-a-service platform. Andy is an external advisor to the University of Warwick’s Advanced Manufacturing Group (UK); and the University of Canterbury’s schools of Engineering and Business, where he supports both the MEM and MBA programmes. Andy keeps his sleeves rolled up working freelance in industry through Project Dynamics NZ Ltd.

Rafal Kargren.png

Rafael Kargen

Committee Member

Director of Sales, Orbica

Rafael is seasoned entrepreneur, telecom and space executive, founder of New Zealand’s Earth Observation Group (NZEOG) and Aerospace Centre (AC)

Rafael has extensive background in satellite earth observation, building remote sensing applications and data management tools. In his role, he has led engagement with key project stakeholders and governments  in many countries around the world including Pacific Islands. His passion lies in translating remote sensing observations of the environment into actionable information with focus on sustainability and analysing long term human impact on the environment.

Rafael has been involved in many international initiatives to improve humanitarian action and disaster response. He brought Copernicus Data Hub to New Zealand and represents New Zealand in several international Earth Observation forums.

Roland profile pic.JPG

Roland Sommer

Committee Member

TE Connectivity, General Manager

After a brief career in the UK Merchant Navy as a radio/electronics Officer, Roland came to New Zealand and joined Tait Electronics in a manufacturing support role. This developed into setting up and running the test engineering department at Swichtec where after 10 years Roland had risen to the role of General Manager for the systems division. For the last 9 years Roland has been General Manager at TE Connectivity. He holds an HNC in Radio and Radar, HND in Electronics, an MBA and is PMP accredited.

Sarah Kessans_profile_pic.jpg

Dr Sarah Kessans

Committee Member

University of Canterbury, Lecturer

Dr Sarah Kessans is a lecturer in the UC College of Engineering’s School of Product Design. As a biochemist and synthetic biologist with a passion for space exploration, Sarah is working to create solutions for sustaining life both on and off Earth, as well as developing technology that will make this possible. As a committee member of Aerospace Christchurch, Sarah is committed to facilitating relationships between the aerospace industry and the tertiary education sector, ensuring a progression of qualified talent into the ecosystem as it expands.

Stefan Powell

Dawn Aerospace, Co-Founder, CTO

Stefan Powell has been building rockets since his early student years and spent his entire career in both rocket and satellite start-ups that push the envelope, including being on the Rocket Lab team testing the first firings of the electron rocket. CTO of Dawn Aerospace, Stefan now heads various technical teams building reusable launch vehicles and new space transportation technologies. A Kiwi at heart with a dash of Dutch eccentricity, Stefan is currently spending his spare time exploring all ways his green thrusters can be used to cook the company’s weekly BBQ or dance to classical music.

Vickie Profile.png

Victoria Harman

Aerospace Christchurch, Communications and Event Manager

Victoria has over 7 years experience working in the areas of development, project management and events management within the tertiary sector in Melbourne. After moving to Christchurch in 2019, Victoria has taken on the position of Communications and Events Manager at Aerospace Christchurch to assist in the successful development of the aerospace community in Christchurch.

Emily Pointon

Aerospace Christchurch, Administrator

A newcomer into the field, Emily has joined Aerospace Christchurch after graduating from the University of Canterbury with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Communications and Sociology.

“The Government sees great potential in the development of an innovative unmanned aircraft sector in New Zealand and we are in a prime position to work with globally-leading companies here to safely test and go-to-market.”

Hon Dr Megan Woods, Research, Science and Innovation Minister