Check out the future at Teckweek'18 (Photo by Warner Bros./Courtesy of Getty Images)

Techweek’18: A festival of the future

At Techweek‘18 the people leading New Zealand’s innovation and technological revolution share their secrets. We asked the experts for their festival recommendations.

The description of Techweek‘18 as a festival of the future is perfect. The pace that science and technology is reshaping our society and economy is often alarming and overwhelming. Techweek’18 is a diverse celebration of the way technological innovation is changing the world for the better, and New Zealanders are leading these developments across an array of industries. From 19 May to 27, across hundreds of events, it’s a unique opportunity to learn about the contributions Aotearoa’s tech innovators are making in their industries.

From Team New Zealand’s ground breaking cyclors (at the must see Sports Performance Innovation Forum on Wednesday 23 May) to busting gender barriers in the tech world (hear women leading these tech fields share their professional stories at the TECHquality: Women at the forefront of Technology forum) Techweek’18 is a chance to meet and hear from the Kiwis who are shaping our future.

At the heart of this innovation is the city of Auckland. It’s where almost half of New Zealand’s tech sector is based, creating more than $8 billion a year in GDP across 47,000 jobs. As the city grows and develops technology has a huge role to play in what Auckland looks like in the future. And the tech sector believes Auckland can become a major innovation hub in the Asia-Pacific region.

At Techweek’18 the way the sector is changing New Zealand’s biggest city is visible across the events. See how opening the Council’s data is allowing entrepreneurs to solve Auckland’s biggest issues, and learn the best ways to find money to fund technology projects. And this year there’s been a focus to get more children, more women, and more Māori and Pacific people engaged in the events.

The Spinoff got in touch with some of Techweek’s biggest fans and some of the participants, to learn about what events they are most looking forward to as part of the Auckland programme.  

Dhayana Sena – Owner/Editor, Attack On Geek

This year’s lineup of Techweek events showcase the rapidly changing nature of technology, the impact of globalisation and the rise in popularity of creative pursuits.  As a female technology enthusiast, gamer and live-gaming broadcaster, I’m particularly thrilled to see events catered towards women and girls. I firmly believe that we, as a society, should be doing more to encourage diversity and inclusivity in the world of technology and gaming. Below are some of the Auckland Techweek’18 events that I am especially excited for:

The future of work in the Gig economy

Gone were the days of being glued to a desk in an office for 40 hours a week. In this age of modern technology and globalisation, remote working is becoming more and more of a norm, with many people spending more time working away from the office. I’m curious to listen to discussions surrounding the changing nature of the workforce as well as what it means to move away from traditional work practices. I’m particularly interested in this event as I currently work for a company that deals with a global market, and own and operate my own venture which sees me working with people from all over the world in short bursts.

AI | A force for good

AI technology is rapidly changing the way in which we operate and function in today’s modern society. As someone interested in AI technology and how it can be used to benefit society, I’m interested in attending this event in order to learn more about AI functionality, how it works, and the various ways in which it can help improve our world.

Streaming for Kids: How-To Session

As a content creator and broadcaster, I feel that it is important to educate the next generation on the best practices of creating online content, how to do so safely as well as provide them with the right tools in order to help them achieve their streaming goals. This event, in particular, is close to my heart, not only because I am hosting it, but also due to the fact that streaming has become a passion of mine that has resulted in me becoming more connected with gamers and content creators around the world. I would love to be able to inspire the next generation of streamers and be able to assist with their development in the online content creation space as I find it incredibly satisfying those I help achieve success.

Dhayana Sena is hosting the Women in Gaming Meetup. As a passionate gamer, who strongly believes in encouraging more females to pursue technology and gaming. She’s thrilled to be able to bring female gamers in Auckland together, in order to foster a sense of belonging, community and build long lasting friendships.

Peter Griffin, technology journalist for the New Zealand Listener, Noted and RNZ Bits+Bytes

The TechWeek event I’m most looking forward to getting to is MaD2018, the Collaborative Future for NZ Manufacturing and Design conference being held at the Viaduct Events Centre on the 21st and 22nd of May. I think it is quite appropriate that the venue the conference is being held at is eventually going to be given over to Team New Zealand to mount is 2021 America’s Cup defence. If ever there is an example of cutting-edge design completed on a tight budget, it is our America’s Cup innovation.

The conference is going to hear from Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck, who hopefully by then will have delivered a second payload of satellites into orbit, as well as Brendan Lindsay, the founder of plastic container maker Sistema. Those two men represent some of the most innovative design and manufacturing our country has produced over the last couple of decades, though they are poles apart in terms of their application and target markets.

Design and manufacturing is an under-appreciated part of our economy, but one that has huge growth potential. I am looking forward to hearing about plans to take it to the next level.

Abhi Kala – CEO and founder of Titan Ideas Ltd

I personally love creating and consuming children stories, so I’m really looking forward to the Screenies Children’s Festival. A day of engaging with some of the best content in the industry is sure to spark my imagination, and get me thinking about what more we can bring to our own storytelling!

I’m really keen to hear from some of the leading tech innovators at the Meet the Upstarters | Good for the World Open Day. This session sounds a wonderful point of inspiration, especially as a company that also dreams big with ambitious aims, and I’m looking forward to tuning into all the discussions, ranging from AI to Blockchain.

As a company breaking into the film and television industry, the digital disruption in the film and television industry session closely aligns with our own ideals and ambitions of digital disruption. I definitely want to make sure I’ll be sitting within that crowd listening into such an amazing panel of speakers!

Abhi Kala will be on the panel at AKLgamedev Meetup – Games in Te Reo & Māori History where you can hear him discuss his passion for bringing to life the myths and legends that accommodate differing cultures from all around the world, in a discussion about how animation, gaming and AR/VR are educating audiences on subjects such as diversity, Māori culture and mental health.  

Alexia Hilbertidou – Girl Boss NZ Founder and Social Entrepreneur

Tech Week is one of my favourite weeks of the year. A time where anyone who loves technology and innovation can come together – geek out, discover new technology, and have important conversations about the tech ecosystem in New Zealand.

Two events which I am look forward too are She Started It hosted by Xero, and Igniting Your Spark hosted by AMP.

Through intimate, action-driven storytelling, She Started It is a documentary which explores the cultural roots of female under-representation in entrepreneurship – including pervasive self-doubt, fear of failure, and risk aversion among young women. It exposes, too, the structural realities women face as they become entrepreneurs, including lack of female role models and investors, and the persistent dearth of venture capital funding made available to women-led companies.

She Started It will then be followed by a panel discussion which I will be on on alongside awesome women such as Anna Curzon, Angie Judge, Cecilia Tarrant, Miriana Lowe and  Sabrina Nagel, who are all keen to encourage, support and inspire a new generation of female tech entrepreneurs into the marketplace.

At Igniting Your Spark, I will be leading a panel of four inspiring technology specialists, each of whom started with a dream to use innovation for good and make a change in the world. We will delve into each of their unique journeys, uncover what it takes to develop a dream into a life changing innovation and share insights to help others on the same journey. One of my biggest passions is how we can use Technology to solve our pressing social problems and all four of the incredible panelists – Dr Andrew McDaid, Dr Daniel Xu, Stuart Julian,  Isabel Cowlishaw – do exactly that. This event will be powerful, moving and can not be missed!

You can see Alexia Hilbertidou at Igniting Your Spark on Wednesday 23 May from 8am – 10am.

Kate Allan – Code Club Aotearoa

There is lots to get excited about Techweek’18. With a focus on amplifying innovation that is good for the world, I am thrilled to see a variety of events aimed at supporting our youth to get involved creating digital technologies, not just using tech in a recreational capacity.

As a teacher by background and mum to a young girl, the events focused on supporting females in finding an interest, passion and career pathway into tech are my top picks. With technology already such a vital part of everyday life and only 18% of computer science degrees being completed by women we are in real danger of products and services being developed with little or no input and voice from 50% of the population they aim to serve.

2018 marks the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand and Code Club Aotearoa are proud to be launching She Can Code, a celebration of girls, women and other marginalised gender (omg) coders who write much of Aotearoa’s inventive and kick-ass software. She Can Code aims to track and map in real time coding projects being completed by women in to serve as an amazing example and to inspire the next generation of girls to give it a go.

She Can Code is supported by our student ambassador, local Auckland high school student Amelia Lockley. Amelia hosts a regular learn to code segment on What Now and will help share and tie together all of the activity happening around the country to her young audience. We are hoping to see entire schools take part along with companies and organisations keen to make their mark on the national map.

There will be coding projects for beginners; a competition for schools and clubs; stories about some of Aotearoa’s amazing coders and a tweetstorm of images of Aotearoa girls, women, and omg people coding around the country.

NZTech are hosting ShadowTech day where female students will be connected with women within the Tech sector and then spend the day with them in the workplace. What better way is there to gain hands on experience and perhaps ignite an interest or passion for a tech pathway?

Another event not to miss is Microsoft’s Digigirlz is a showcase of tech with the aim to inspire the female youth of today and get them excited about the jobs of tomorrow.

ShadowTech provides girls in years 9 -11 with an opportunity to experience what working in the tech sector is like, encouraging them onto education pathways that lead into tech sector roles. (Image: Supplied)

Sam Ramlu – managing director at Method, M Theory

Ah Techweek, one of our busiest weeks of the year! The question isn’t what event am I going to but what events am I going to miss out on? Each year it grows and one week just doesn’t seem to be enough. So, aside from cloning myself to be able to work through all of them, I choose some key events which covers both entertainment and also counts as ‘research’ for work.

This year I’m really looking forward to taking my son to a couple of the Screenies Children’s Film Festival films – we adore animals so they’re bound to feature. I love bringing stories to life for kids so it’s always great to see what’s working in this space.

Unfortunately I’m headlining a couple of other sessions while the key Auckland event, Good for World Open Days, is running otherwise I’d be there in a heartbeat -–the lineup looks fantastic. I also wish I could go to DigiGirlz but am a bit (ok, a lot) above the target age group so instead I’m going to have to “make do” with Robot Smackdown! I am looking forward to an inspiration-filled week!

Sam Ramlu will be sharing her experience using technology to connect audiences to stories at AKLgamedev Meetup – Games in Te Reo & Māori History.

Pam Ford – Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), General Manager of Economic Development.

Not only are there so many fantastic events in Auckland, but the diversity of events is mind-boggling. It’s also great that there’s a key focus on groups which are underrepresented in the tech sector such as children, women, maori and pacific people.

I’m really looking forward to events like the Good for the World Open Days and Govtech but my top three picks are:

The Southern Initiative – XLR8 – Maori in innovation:

Auckland is a world leader in augmented and virtual reality so this is a must see if you’re interested in finding out how we are staying ahead of the global curve. I’m going to completely immerse myself in tech and digital innovation from robotics to 3D printed cars, sequencing to coding and gaming.

Changing the World with Creativity and Innovation:

This forum has been designed by the awesome people at WeCreate and brings our creative and digital tech industries together with government. The forum will explore how to build competitive advantage in Createch and embrace the rapidly changing future of work for Auckland and New Zealand.

Interface ’18:

Scientists from the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology and the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonics and Quantum Technologies are coming together to solve  problems facing the industry in novel ways. This year the companies involved will talk about their experiences and how they went out tackling issues.


This content was made possible ATEED. Auckland is a natural breeding ground for innovation and home to almost half of New Zealand’s tech sector. The region’s diverse and world-leading tech offering will be on show at Techweek’18 May 19-27, a festival designed to amplify New Zealand innovation that’s good for the world.


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