Visionweek day two – Connecting NZ: transport, tourism, technology

Visionweek NZ 2020 continued today, its second day in a week-long virtual event focused on the question ‘What next for New Zealand?’.

The event features some of New Zealand’s most prominent figures in innovation looking at topics including business, infrastructure, housing, science, health and education.

The summit features visionary New Zealanders, including Sustainable Business Council Executive Director Mike Burrell, Transpower CEO Alison Andrew, New Zealand Infrastructure CEO Jon Grayson, Stephen England-Hall CEO Tourism NZ, KPMG’s Ian Proudfoot, Spark CEO Jolie Hodson, Auckland Transport’s chair Adrienne Young-Cooper, Urban Development Deputy Chief Exec Mark Fraser and Alex Saifiti, Property Advisor for Auckland Transport.

The organisers are asking us to imagine if our five million Kiwis set a vision for our future that ensures NZ’s long term sustainability, productivity, resilience and high-quality outcomes for all people, communities and the environment in a post-Covid world.

Visionweek founder Paul Blair says, “A vision can create the ‘north star’ that links our team of five million, but it needs to quickly translate into a multi-decade, multi-partisan nation-building plan. Our plan needs to realise New Zealand’s untapped potential and put people, purpose and planet at the heart of transforming Kiwis lives for the better.”

Each day this week is focused on a different theme. Today’s focus is on the three ‘t’s: transport, tourism and technology.

Stephen England-Hall, CEO of Tourism New Zealand thinks the way New Zealanders have handled the Covid crisis gives hope for the future. He says now is a great opportunity to rethink our infrastructure design and bring in the voice of iwi, community, as well as industry to make sure we’re designed for the future in a way that overcomes some of those challenges we were starting to see in the past.

“Because at the end of the day it’s not just about the visitor it’s also about us. This is our home. This is where we live. And we want to make sure that when we open our country up for others to come and join and visit that we benefit too.”

Stephen England-Hall, CEO Tourism NZ

New Zealand Transport Agency chief executive Nicole Rosie supposed the sole purpose of NZTA post-Covid is to continue acceleration and improvement of the connections across New Zealand:

Nicole Rosie, CEO NZTA

“Often people think Waka Kotahi (NZ Transport Agency) builds roads or does transport. What we are, is we’re a connector. That is our primary role. We connect New Zealand to support a thriving New Zealand.”

Talking on technology, Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab says New Zealand has an opportunity to utilise its knowledge to the global landscape where historically it may have missed out. He says New Zealand has very good entrepreneurs and New Zealanders are very good at solving complex tech problems.

Rocket Lab Founder Peter Beck

“We’re less good at bringing those to the world market and commercialising them really, really effectively on a big scale. So I think that that would be an area of opportunity that would be sad to be missed.”

Senior Partner at McKinsey, Andrew Grant told attendees that there is an incredible opportunity to reinvent New Zealand around autonomous, hydrofoiling, small containerised ships that could actually utterly reinvent our regional ports, could take thousands of trucks off the road and actually could create an incredibly sustainable safe logistics network.

“New Zealand can create the world’s most intelligent virus-free border. We can do it. We’ve actually got the technology today to do it. It’s a matter of are we prepared to stitch it together to make that happen,” he added.

Andrew Grant, Senior Partner at McKinsey

Professor Paul Spoonley of Massey University suggested we make the most of New Zealand’s international reach. “I don’t think people realise quite how extensive our international links are and in particular the way in which tourists, international students, temporary workers, permanent migrants influence this country that is New Zealand and the 21st century,” he says.

Massey University Professor Paul Spoonley

At the point of lockdown, there were 310,000 people in this country on temporary work and study visas and some permanent visas.”

Frances Valintine, Education Futurist at Technology Futures Lab says the change in the use of technology throughout the pandemic is promising for New Zealand’s future.

Francis Valintine, Tech Futures Lab Educational Futurist

“The technology we’ve seen almost leapfrog ahead in the last few weeks, it’s really putting us back on track to where we should have been perhaps, you know, two or three years ago with the digitisation of systems and processes to bring us in line with other markets in the world that we trade with.”

Tomorrow’s theme will focus on Sustaining NZ looking at sustainable agriculture, water, energy and efficiency. The summit is free and accessible to all – you can register on their website:



Read about day one of Vision week here.

– Natalia Rimell

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