AFQY Vision Week NZ Part 1: Digital Twins, Growing Tech Exports, Creating Trust in Tech, Finding the Right Tech Solution


Part 1 of the key outtakes from our AFQY Special Edition Vision Week event includes insights from Sean Audain, Paul Blair, Hiria Te Rangi & John Eccles.

Written by Gemma McKenzie, AFQY Editor 

Watch the full video replay here.

This special edition AFQY event included a range of lightning talks from speakers covering four key areas - environment, society, culture, economy - to give attendees some inspiration for thinking about what we want the vision for NZ to be, with a focus on how tech could play a part in the great reset. 

"Tech was our third largest exporter and therefore we could be getting a 10X return by setting up a whole range of things that enable it." - Ryan the Lion

Sean Audain - Head of Innovation, Wellington City Council.

Digital twins and investment in tech for cities that are built for the people of today.

Sean's vision for NZ cities is to be a place where we can stand on our own two feet, we can work together, and we can change things. Sean says with investment in tech and digital twins we can start to understand what that looks like, and we can change our cities, so they are built for the people of today and the much more diverse population.

"Cities are just amazing - they're made up of our hopes, our dreams, our lives - they're the most complicated thing we make as people and oddly enough they make us profoundly human."

Urban areas are home to 87% of our people and what happens there really matters.

Digital Twins create a digital consciousness, an understanding of how we as an organisation behave, how our city behaves, and how everyone in that environment both transacts and exists together.

Watch Sean's full talk here.

Paul Blair - CEO, Infrastructure NZ

Better jobs, better lives, better wellbeing for all New Zealanders.

"Our vision is that all kiwis should include world class infrastructure so that they can lead better lives."

Part of Paul's vision for NZ is better jobs, better lives, better wellbeing: Better all-round wellbeing - environmentally, socially, culturally, and economically - for all New Zealanders.

After the Christchurch earthquakes we spent 30 billion to rebuild the city.

"But we didn't reimagine the 21st century city that we could have put in there, we put back what we had. We've got 50 billion dollars now... it's time to actually be bold and put a vision out there for New Zealand."

If you want to be a successful small nation like New Zealand is then you have to specialize in a couple of things, and you have to get from 30% of exports as a percentage of GDP which is where we are now up to 60-70%, that's what the Netherlands do, or Denmark, or Switzerland.

The Productivity Commission have said the two things we need to focus on are agriculture, and tech. 

"Tech on its own, tech as an enabler, weightless exports."  

When Europe had a butter mountain and we couldn't send our butter exports over there, some bright spark said, "I'll tell you what, I'll send croissants over there because they're 90% butter." 

That's the opportunity we have with digital as we get really smart people here in NZ creating jobs and sending that IP weightlessly, powered by green energy, to the world.

Watch Paul's full talk here.

Hiria Te Rangi - Kaiwhakahaere CEO, Whare Hauaroa 

Creating trust as a value proposition in the tech sector

"When you look at the world today and you see what a dumpster fire it is... we know that people are looking for stability, for consistency, and for someone to rely on."

Hiria's vision for NZ is to make trust a part of our value proposition in the tech scene, digital inclusion - making our tech agnostic, and if we can, making our why our, our how. 

Whare Hauora was created as a Māori values driven organisation. 

"Our why is our how, and we did that specifically so that we could enable systemic change." 

The values that drive Whare Hauora are:

  • Kaitiakitanga: "We are not the owner... we are guardians, we will advise, support, maintain, we will record - but we do not own that data because the ownership resides with the family as it should."
  • Tino rangatiratanga: The family has the right to make informed decisions about their data - "We can't just give it away."
  • Utū: Bringing balance by providing compensation to the family for the use of their data. "If someone asks for their data, or gives us money for it, the family must consent to it and we don't share personal data, it must be aggregated."
  • Te rāranga: We interweave the family back into the community so that it supports the family to become stronger and healthier. "We can't create partnerships with [health] organisations unless it is to the betterment of the family."

Watch Hiria's full talk here.

John Eccles - CEO, Magnetism CEO 

Tech as an enabler & finding the right tech solution

John firmly believes that the tech sector is an enabler of a stronger New Zealand economy. "New Zealand organisations need to be innovators, leaders, and early adopters of tech."

"Tech is changing really, really fast. The rapid pace of technological change is dizzying... In my opinion the half-life for technical knowledge in 2020 is more like one year."

"Navigating the technology to find a solution for an organisation is really hard. It's like trying to find a friend in a crowd, maybe a moving crowd in heavy fog. It's just not easy."

John's recommendations and "Gotchas" to watch out for when finding the right technology to enable your organisation:

  • You need to get good advice. You need to find advisors that a) know their stuff and b) are focused on you and your success and not only on their product or their success.

  • The "Gotcha" - Maslow's Law of the Instrument: "If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail." - You need someone who has a wider view of the different technologies available.

  • You need to think flexible or agile. Ready, fire, aim. Don't wait until you have all the answers and have identified the perfect solution because next week it won't be the perfect solution anymore and chances are you don't even know all the right questions to ask yet.

  • The "Gotcha" - It's important that we think about the wider system and how new tech might need to interact with the existing tech.

Watch John's full talk here.

For more information on Vision Week NZ and to get involved visit