Sir Richard Taylor, Rod Drury, Sir Peter Jackson, Sam Morgan; the stories of the people who reinvigorated Wellington’s economy have been well told. Great entrepreneurial mavericks who built great companies over the past two decades that continue to flourish today.
Lesser known are the stories of the region’s new business influencers.
WREDA, Wellington’s economic development agency, is bringing you their picks for the next generation of thinkers and leaders who are reshaping their respective industries from Wellington.
From social enterprise creators, to scientists, filmmakers, and digital innovators, these up-and-coming leaders from right across the Wellington region are developing fresh ideas and building new companies that might just be the new Xero, Weta or Trade Me.
Greg Broadmore, Weta Gameshop
Greg Broadmore heads up a team of 50 developers at Weta’s newest division Weta Gameshop. This year they are working with a US based company Magic Leap, who are at the forefront of the global augmented reality and virtual reality industry. This month Broadmore and Weta Gameshop will release their first title – Dr Grordbort’s Invaders – on Magic Leap’s new mixed reality gaming platform, ML1. Around the world there’s a fierce race between tech companies to see who will perfect a viable platform for augmented reality. With Magic Leap among the leaders right now, Greg Broadmore is helping make sure Wellington has a top spot in that bright new future.
Kat Lintott, Wrestler
2018 is being touted as the turning point for virtual reality and leading the charge in Wellington is Kat Lintott, VR evangelist at digital content agency Wrestler. Lintott’s goal is to build a sustainable creative commercial business in VR, and to foster Wellington’s indie creative community via a new studio space and collaboration with the Miramar Creative Centre. Lintott has one foot firmly in the present, managing Wrestler’s spectacular business growth, and the other in the future, exploring the multidimensional potential of storytelling and the mediums and technologies that will make it happen.
MARK TANTRUM PHOTOGRAPHY
Derek Bradley, Aurora44
Aurora44 is a relative newcomer to the Wellington region’s video game developers cluster, an industry pioneered in the region by local pioneers PikPok. When Aurora44 launched in 2013, it was a team of three; now it employs 40 developers – making it one of the largest studios in the country. And it’s not stopping there: Derek Bradley’s goal is to continue to foster an environment that will provide job opportunities for highly skilled programmers, artists and producers in the region. Aurora44 is currently working on its first title, the strikingly beautiful Ashen for Microsoft’s XBox platform and PC.
Jason Gleason, Eight Wire
In 2013 Jason Gleason launched Eight Wire, a software platform that allows vast amounts of data to work seamlessly on different platforms, and links them securely with industry leading privacy controls. Gleason says the early days of Eight Wire were a long, slow push but in the past year, Eight Wire has found its stride, connecting more of the public sector to deliver improvements in data-heavy areas such as social services and health. Eight Wire also services clients in the UK and is making inroads into Singapore, an indication that Gleason’s idea, literally named after Kiwi ingenuity, is set to make a genuine impact at the global level.
Libby Hakaraia, Māoriland Film Festival
Libby Hakaraia dreams of creating a film festival for indigenous filmmakers in Otaki with similar allure as the Sundance Film Festival, and as the Māoriland Film Festival enters its fifth year it looks like she’s on track. Hakaraia established Māoriland Film Festival with Tainui Stephens in 2014. The quality of the programme they curate each year, the collaborative atmosphere they foster, and the location of the festival in a small village close to mountains and the sea, has meant audiences and filmmakers are returning year after year to screen and watch films that will not be seen anywhere else in New Zealand.
David Stubbs, Director/Producer, Daffodils
Wellington’s film industry creative David Stubbs has a vision to create an iconic Kiwi musical. Stubbs is directing the musical feature film Daffodils, based on the much-loved and critically-acclaimed stage play Bullet Heart Club. The bittersweet love story written by playwright Rochelle Bright will be told with reimagined New Zealand pop songs and features Rose McIver (iZombie, The Lovely Bones), George Mason (Home & Away, Go Girls) and Grammy Award winner Kimbra. The film has the backing of the New Zealand Film Commission as well as international funders.
Denis Watson, ManukaMed
Not many entrepreneurs exceed the value-add of Denis Watson, who transforms honey from a breakfast food into a critical element of surgery in hospitals around the world. Watson was a high school chemistry teacher in the 1990s when he had his lightbulb moment – spreading manuka honey on a burn after a household accident and witnessing its remarkable healing properties. Today he is head of a medical supplies company, founded in the Wairarapa, that is growing export markets for its innovative range manuka honey dressings and ointments. ManukaMed products treat all manner of wounds – from minor scrapes and burns to more serious pressure ulcers, diabetic ulcers, major burns and surgical wounds.
Dr Monica Saini, Volpara
Internationally-renowned American breast cancer imaging expert Dr Monica Saini was in Queenstown to speak at a conference in April last year, when she met Volpara CEO Ralph Highnam. Saini was already a vocal fan of Volpara’s technology, which makes mammograms more accurate through better understanding the density of breast tissue. Saini had been looking for a good excuse to relocate to New Zealand and Highnam had been looking for the insights of a clinician and communicator like Saini for his Wellington-based company. By mid-November 2017, Saini had moved her family to Wellington and was sharing her time between working with patients at Hutt Hospital and with Volpara, making its technology more usable for clinicians and patients.
Jos Ruffell, Garage Project Crushed
Garage Project is now challenging traditional winemaking techniques with its new urban winery project in their Marion Street Wild Workshop. Spearheaded by Garage Project co-owner Jos Ruffell, Garage Project Crushed has been created in partnership with winemaker Alex Craighead from Kindelli and The Don. Ruffell wants to create boundary-pushing natural wines that challenge the notions of what fermented grapes can be. The results are delicious, drinkable and utterly unique. Production for 2018 is ramping up to about 18 new wine styles.
Rebecca Stewart, Pomegranate Kitchen
Rebecca Stewart’s 18-month-old catering company Pomegranate Kitchen, uses food to make us a more cohesive society by employing former refugee cooks, teaching them skills they need to be employable in New Zealand. To help former refugees learn what it takes to work in New Zealand, Stewart’s company teaches employable skills at all levels of business, from management to kitchen operations. In the past 12 months Stewart has relished seeing former employees graduate to jobs in commercial kitchens and IT, and the initiative has moved into its own catering kitchen.
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