First Tech Cluster in 2020

Our first 2020 Northland Tech Cluster meeting on 19. Feb was kindly hosted by Josh Clarke at Whangarei Boys. Many thanks for your awesome support (and air conditioning on the night). We had about 30 participants and four fantastic speakers.



1) Dr. Nur Nabilah Shahidan – “Smart Polymers”, Researcher @ University Malaysia Kelantan

Nabilah recently arrived in Whangarei. She will be talking about her work on polymers: Cationic P(DMA-co-HEMA) for bioassay application. She received her PhD from University of Manchester in 2014. Her research interests are biopolymers, smart polymers and functional polymers. Nabilah shared her fundamental research on cationic (negatively charged) polymers. They can be used as biosensors for medical, agricultural or other purposes.

Here are Nabilah’s slides.

2) Mark Churcher – “The future is remote”, Lead engineer @ Cognizance and Montage Interactive


Mark is originally from Christchurch. He worked for Wynyard group and Tait Communications and now works for fully remote company Montage Interactive, which enabled a move to Whangarei. He shared his views on how to improve remote work opportunities in regional cities such as Whangarei. One idea is to include ‘remote’ as a location for tech businesses to attract talent. Here are Mark’s slides.

3) Bram Pitoyo – “101 on User Experience/ UX design” @ Mozilla

Bram is a user experience designer and specialist of most other subjects at Mozilla. He gave a very compelling introduction to understanding and improving people-experience and service- usability with data and research. Bram works for the Mozilla foundation. Mozilla has about 1,500 staff, over 70% work remotely from all over the world. They develop work beating open software from the comfort of their home office.

Here is a link to Bram’s introduction to UX.

4) Pauline Rose – “Getting Northland connected”, Chief Operating Officer @ Uber Communications

Pauline is not only the COO of Uber, but also the owner of a boutique banana plantation and lotus farm. Formerly she was project manager for the New Whangarei Central Library building and many other exciting roles. Pauline shared the interesting story on how Uber started by fixing her rural valley’s internet problem in 2005. By now Uber is the biggest independent ISP in NZ and the main provider of rural broadband in Northland, as well as the only local distributor of Northpowers Fibre. Pauline cleverly connected the topics ‘female in tech’ and ‘remote working’ to her business.

5) Announcements

If you are an employer or local tech geek with a strong opinion on how to bring more tech to Whangarei, please join Kiri from Port3 on Monday 24. May 11:30 at Joblab in the Strand Arcade to discuss what to do and how to fund this.

On Thursday 27. Feb from 6pm at Whangarei Girls you can hear Professor Geoff Whittle from Victoria University to talk about Maths & the Digital Revolution.

The Tech Cluster likes to canvas ideas what to organise for Tech Week in May. Geeks at the Library, Digital Tech Job Fair and a discussion around the digital curriculum are on the cards. Any other ideas and assistance is much appreciated.

Please contact us on topics for the next talk/ suggested speakers for April or any other improvement suggestions.

We like to make sure that you are enjoying the networking events and are getting value from them. It is really your event series, any feedback is very much appreciated.


Many thanks for spreading the word on cool technology solutions being developed in the wonderful Tai Tokerau.

Enjoy your day,

Martin & the Tech Cluster Crew


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