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

Aerospace Christchurch is an industry body that promotes the interests of our city, our region, and our nation.

We encompass broad aspects of aerospace: aviation, space flight, rocketry, manufacturing, engineering, geospatial mapping, data analytics, education, training, and services. Aerospace Christchurch works with individuals and organisations that want to grow the economic wealth and aerospace capability in New Zealand.

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.

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


CEO, Kea Aerospace

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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Roland Sommer


Interim CEO, Argus Group

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.

Mark Patton


Associate Director, EY

Supporter of innovation and technology development, Mark is an Associate Director at EY, 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.

Catherine Moreau Hammond

Committee Member

Sales & Marketing Manager, Dawn Aerospace
Catherine has led and advised on communications in a number of space companies in New Zealand, the US and the UK – spanning launch, smallsat development, green propulsion and data and insights.  In early 2021, Catherine returned from the UK and is the Sales & Marketing Manager at Dawn Aerospace, a space transportation company providing on-orbit propulsion and a same day reusable spaceplane. Catherine was drawn by the company’s values of sustainable, reusable space transportation and Christchurch’s evolving space ecosystem.

Jude Rushmere

Committee Member

General Manager New Zealand, Nova Systems

Jude is the New Zealand General Manager for Nova Systems, a global engineering services and technology solutions company, partnering with clients to keep our nations and people safe and secure. An experienced and customer focused aerospace professional with over 25 years’ experience of leading operations in safety critical environments, Jude is passionate about supporting the growth of New Zealand’s aerospace sector

Mark Hoskins

Committee Member

Head of Commercial, Airways

Mark has been involved in aerospace-related roles for over 30 years, both here in New Zealand as well as overseas – having been based in Australia, Europe and the Middle East. His aviation experience includes: military pilot and qualified flying instructor; aeronautical satellite communications; aerospace and defence investment management; and he has been a director on the boards of three aviation companies. He is currently Head of Commercial at Airways and was an advisor to the Aerospace Christchurch Committee from January 2021 to September 2021, prior to becoming a Committee Member.


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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.

Robert De Roo

Committee Member

Head of Department – Engineering and Architectural Studies, Ara – Te Pukenga

Robert has been part of the aerospace industry for over 30 years and 20 years in aviation leadership roles.  Aviation experience has been from maintenance, modification of commercial aircraft through to the building aircraft interior products for Boeing and Airbus.  Robert has had extensive experience working with customers, regulators and manufacturers and has previously held CAA NZ and EASA design delegations as well as working in the FAA regulatory system on both commercial and private jets.  As a committee member of Aerospace Christchurch, his interest is how to support the growth of the aerospace industry in Aotearoa.

Graeme Crombie

Committee Advisor

Corporate & Commercial Partner, Lane Neave
With over 25 years’ legal experience, Graeme heads up Lane Neave’s technology practice, including telecommunications and aerospace. His expertise includes corporate advisory, shareholder agreements, technology and other commercial contracts, privacy and technology regulatory compliance. Graeme is excited by new technologies, and over the years has been fortunate to be involved with projects that relate to enterprise resource planning systems, Internet of Things sensors, location-monitoring apps, and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in surveying. Graeme is ranked in technology in global law directories Chambers Global (since 2008) and Best Lawyers (since 2019).

Linda Falwasser (Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Awa)

Committee Advisor

CEO, Tāwhaki
Linda is the CEO of Tāwhaki – a world-leading joint venture partnership in Wāitaha (Canterbury), Aotearoa (New Zealand) to promote aerospace and environmental initiatives
that involve rangatahi and whānau from Te Taumutu Rūnanga and Wairewa Rūnanga.
A JV between the Rūnanga and New Zealand Government, Tāwhaki has two objectives: to heal and rejuvenate the land at Kaitōrete; and advance Aotearoa’s aerospace industry. Linda brings a unique blend of governance, commercial and te ao Maori skills to the venture. She is an experienced director and senior executive, having worked for public and private sector, and Iwi organisations. Linda has also served as a strategic advisor to several boards and chief executives.

Megen McKay (Ngāi Tahu)

Committee Advisor

Director, Tāwhaki
An experienced Director and governor, Megen is a specialist consultant focused on enabling Māori success and empowering Māori leadership. Megen combines her commercial experience (lawyer, Senior Executive, Accounting & taxation specialist) with her deep understanding of Iwi and papatipu rūnanga to drive strategic excellence and enable effective partnering. As a Director for Tāwhaki, Megen is passionate about ensuring Te Ao Māori values guide public and private (industry) decision-making. She has held several leadership roles within her communities, most recently becoming an Independent RMA Hearing Commissioner.


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Victoria Harman

Operations Manager, Aerospace Christchurch

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 joined Aerospace Christchurch as the Communications and Events Manager to support the successful development of the aerospace community in Christchurch. In June 2022, Victoria took on the position of Operations Manager, facilitating corporate sponsorships, strategic partnerships and leading project implementation. 

Rushil Gentejohann

Technical Coordinator, Aerospace Christchurch

Rushil has significant experience in technology, working as a computer technician previously with experience in Python, C#, HTML and CSS. He is currently in his first year of studying a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours, specialising in Mechatronics Engineering, at the University of Canterbury. Combining his passions for Aerospace and Technology, he joined Aerospace Christchurch as the Technical Coordinator, managing the Aerospace Christchurch website, associations and related technical media.

Brydee Gibbins

Events Coordinator, Aerospace Christchurch

Brydee has extensive experience in Christchurch’s events sector, with comprehensive knowledge of event logistics/coordination, health and safety, employment law and strategic HR development. Brydee is passionate about delivering events to a high standard and cultivating meaningful relationships with stakeholders. Brydee has joined Aerospace Christchurch as the Events Coordinator, and is in her final semester at Ara Institute of Canterbury, studying for a Bachelor of Applied Management, specialising in Event Management and Human Resources Management. 

“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