Matariki, also known as the Pleiades Star Cluster, signals the Māori New Year as it rises near the end of June

Kea Aerospace is developing the Kea Atmos, a solar-powered, remotely-piloted aircraft that will fly continuously for months at a time

Asteria Engineering Consultancy and the University of Canterbury are working together to develop a payload to study protein crystals in space

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 makes it an
ideal environment for the development and testing of aerospace technologies, including sub-orbital
rocket launch, drones and satellites. Christchurch is also the only gateway to Antarctica in New Zealand, and one of only five internationally.

Aerospace Sector Plan

Aspiring to to be at the centre of an energetic national aerospace sector by 2025, a growing network of aerospace companies employs hundreds of people throughout Canterbury.

Produced by Deloitte, the Sector Plan clearly outlines a future direction for the aerospace sector in Christchurch. It serves as a first step to accelerate the growth of aerospace in Christchurch, and presents a five-year strategic plan, capturing:

  • Christchurch’s existing strengths in aerospace
  • A capability map of the Christchurch aerospace ecosystem
  • A set of clearly defined goals
  • Action points to achieving these goals
  • Recommendations on the initiatives needed to help develop the sector
  • Potential regional economic benefits arising from the implementation of the Sector Plan.

View the Christchurch Aerospace Sector Plan 

View the Christchurch Aerospace Sector Plan Executive Summary


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 and 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.

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Michael Read


Skybase, Founder

Michael loves building a vision and building teams to create the reality. He has studied and refined 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 also a veteran, having served on operations as a pilot for the Royal Australian Air Force.

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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.

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Dr Sarah Kessans

Committee Member

Lecturer, University of Canterbury

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.

Shaun Johnson

Committee Member

CEO, Merlin Labs NZ Limited

Shaun is a senior aerospace professional, who has held a number of technical and leadership roles across the New Zealand Defence and civil aviation sectors over the past 32 years. Shaun served as an Engineering Officer with the Royal New Zealand Air Force for 27 years. He then led the aircraft, product and organisational certification teams at the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand. In 2005, Shaun was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and current President of the New Zealand branch, and is CEO of Merlin Labs NZ Ltd.

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.

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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