What On Earth Colloquium

New Zealand Space Agency

We are the front door for space activity in New Zealand – the lead government agency for space policy, regulation and business development.  We were set up in April 2016 within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to enable development of a New Zealand-based space industry. MBIE is the Government’s economic growth and innovation agency and has regulatory expertise across multiple areas.  In that time we have built and launched a new regulatory regime, provided support for rocket launches, enabled space-related businesses, engaged internationally and developed space policy and strategy. 

The New Zealand Space Agency is a committed principal partner of the What On Earth Colloquium; we believe this is a fantastic opportunity to build New Zealand’s Earth Observation community and strengthen the connections with key international players as we develop the New Zealand space industry.

Visit New Zealand Space Agency




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Dr Peter Crabtree

Dr Peter Crabtree is the General Manager Science, Innovation and International at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. He currently has responsibility for enterprise policy, science and innovation policy, international science partnerships, trade and regulatory cooperation, international strategy and leadership of the New Zealand Space Agency functions. 

Prior to this role, Peter was Deputy Chief Executive, System Strategy and Policy at the Ministry of Science and Innovation. Peter has also held other senior roles across the New Zealand public service with the Ministry of Economic Development and Ministry of Justice.

Peter has a PhD in natural resources management.

Centre for space science technology

The Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST) is a regional research institute based in Alexandra. CSST was established in June 2017 and is one of the first regional research institutes to get off the ground in New Zealand.  

CSST are building an agile company that can handle the entire Earth observation data life-cycle, from system design, data capture, data management, dissemination, through to training and support. 

CSST will use satellite, aerial, drone and in-situ data in its three work programme streams to:

  • Provide a publicly available digital platform that facilitates the discovery and processing of raw Earth observation data, delivering usable, actionable information to drive smart, data-driven decision-making; 
  • Build a portfolio of products and services developed from Earth observation data that directly benefits regional industries and supports improved decision-making by policymakers and actors in key sectors of New Zealand’s economy; 
  • Create a world-class research capability in using Earth observation data that is relevant and beneficial to the regional industries, and aligned with Vision Matauranga.  

CSST is also assisting others get access to affordable satellite imagery, and  received their first purchase order from Northern Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) in December 2017 to assist with repairs to earthquake-damaged roads.

CSST is a limited liability company owned by a charitable trust. The trust’s mandate is to benefit regional industries across New Zealand and to educate those industries about the benefits of using Earth observation data in their operations and R&D activities.  An Advisory Committee, made up of members from industry and the research community, will support and assist CSST with its research agenda.  

Vist Centre for Space Science Technology




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Rafael Kargren

Rafael is leading the commercial and technical operations of the newly established Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST), a Regional Research Institute based in Alexandra, New Zealand. He has over 25 years’ experience in multiple leadership roles in telecommunications and space satellite industries.

Before joining CSST, Rafael was the Executive Vice President and Head of Asia, Pacific Region for the SSC. In this role, he was responsible for the establishment, development and growth of earth observation and remote sensing business with commercial and government sectors in Asia and the Pacific. He maintained close cooperation with space industry in the region, building relationships and partnerships with key players and new start-ups. Prior to SSC, he was leading product development unit and major global telecommunication projects at Ericsson.

Rafael holds a degree in Telecommunications and Satellite Operations. He is a member of NASA Satellite Operations Executive Committee, Asia Pacific Regional Satellite Forum and Asia Pacific Satellite Communication group.

Land information new zealand

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) makes sure New Zealand has accurate information about where people and places are, that people have confidence in their property rights and Crown property is well managed for future generations. Our responsibilities include managing land titles, geodetic and cadastral survey systems, topographic information, hydrographic information, managing Crown property and supporting government decision making around foreign ownership. 

Location Information contributes to the LINZ goal of a tenfold increase in the value of geographic information by developing and managing new and existing data about our land and seas. These are released online through the LINZ Data Service, for others to use and reuse. Using this data, we provide products and services (Earth observation satellite images, aerial images, maps, charts and geospatial reference system) to support critical national functions.

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Graeme Blick

Graeme Blick obtained his Bachelor of Surveying from Otago University in 1980. He worked for the then New Zealand Geological Survey (now GNS Science) in their Earth Deformation Section using geodetic techniques to measure, monitor and study crustal deformation across New Zealand.  In 1992-1993 he received a visiting Scientist Award to work at the University NAVSTAR Consortium in Boulder Colorado utilising GPS to monitor crustal movements on several international projects.  In 1995 he moved to Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), New Zealand’s National Survey and Mapping agency.  He is the Group Manager of the Positioning and Resilience Group and Chief Geodesist where he continues to work on and manage the development and implementation of the geodetic system in New Zealand and develop a new resilience programme of work for LINZ. 

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Dragos Bratasanu

Dragos Bratasanu is LINZ's Technical Leader for Earth Observations. He received his Ph.D. Magna Cum Laude from the Center for Sensor Systems at the University of Siegen in Germany with the thesis "Interactive Models for Latent Information Discovery in Satellite Images." Dragos is a graduate of International Space University at NASA Kennedy Space Centre and of Singularity University at NASA AMES in Silicon Valley. He received several international awards for his discoveries and innovation in the field of satellite image intelligence and was nominated by M.I.T. Technology Review in Innovators Under 35 for "the brightest minds in Europe who are changing society with their projects." 

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Andrew Ferrel

Andrew Ferrel is the Manager Partnership Programmes within the Location Information Group at Land Information New Zealand. Andrew is part of the team working on National Imagery Coordination and Elevation Data Improvement Programme.  Andrew is passionate about ensuring high value public sector data is widely available.

Andrew has worked in customer relationship roles at LINZ for the past 12 years, particularly in the topographic and Landonline areas. Prior to this he worked in the key accounts area for Fonterra. 

Andrew has 3 children, so spends his weekends as a parental Uber driver, specialising in the most efficient route between Wellington sports fields.

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Bjorn Johns

Bjorn Johns is a senior technical leader for elevation and imagery at LINZ, where he is currently developing the national elevation data improvement programme. Previously at LINZ he established the Crown historic air photo digitisation project. Before coming to New Zealand he managed engineering and surveying support services for US National Science Foundation and NASA sponsored polar research throughout the Arctic and Antarctic.

He has a Masters in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado, and enjoys kayaking, swimming, sailing, and boating in Wellington Harbour despite the wind.


Venture Southland

Venture Southland is the Economic Development Agency for Southland, delivering a wide range of initiatives, services and events to promote and grow the region.

Venture Southland organised the first What on Earth Colloquium in 2011 with the European Space Agency and the Royal Society of New Zealand. This event was very successful in starting a conversation about New Zealand’s goals in Earth Observation and space. For the second What on Earth Colloquium we are pleased to partner with the newly formed New Zealand Space Agency, as well as Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research, Land Information New Zealand and the Centre for Space Science Technology. 

This year’s event will inspire, inform and challenge New Zealand business, space industry, science and technical community to collaborate to create a ten year strategy for New Zealand. Participants will learn more about the practical applications of bug data, machine learning and space from international and local industry leaders, while having the chance to contribute to the establishment of an Earth Observation community for New Zealand.  

Visit Venture Southland 



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Stephen Canny


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Robin McNeill


manaaki whenua landcare research

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research is New Zealand’s lead research institute in remote sensing and associated image processing. We have been assisting New Zealanders with their earth observation research and data needs since 1978.

  • Advice on satellite services
  • Data archive searches
  • Satellite data ordering and supply
  • Contract research work
  • Commercial contracts in all aspects of environmental monitoring and mapping using digital technologies

Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research’s earth observation experts are part of our Informatics team, an amalgamation of individuals with cross-disciplinary ideas and expertise spanning the fields of ecology, systematics, genomics, land resources, geoinformatics, remote sensing and computer science.

Informatics is one of our 7 science teams , collectively  responsible for four National Outcomes, to:

  • Improve the measurement, management and protection of New Zealand’s terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity, including those in the conservation estate.
  • Achieve the sustainable use of land resources and their ecosystem services across catchments and sectors.
  • Improve the measurement and mitigation of greenhouse gases from the terrestrial biosphere.
  • Increase the ability of New Zealand industries and organisations to develop within environmental limits and meet market and community requirements.

Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research is one of seven Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) formed in 1992. CRIs function as independent companies but are owned by, and accountable to, the New Zealand Government. Our core purpose is to drive innovation in the management of terrestrial biodiversity and land resources.

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Dr David Pairman

Dr David Pairman (DPhil , Atmospheric Physics, Oxford) is the remote sensing research leader at Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research. He began his career in 1980 at the Physics and Engineering Laboratory, DSIR, transferring to the Crown Research Institute in 1992. His current research specialities are:

  • Image analysis and remote sensing research, specialising in synthetic aperture radar imagery, image segmentation methods, geo-rectification models, and atmospheric calibration.
  • Land cover and land-use mapping, including temporal image analysis techniques.
  • GIS modelling.
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Dr John Dymond

Dr John Dymond gained an MSc in Remote Sensing from London University in 1987 and was awarded a D.Sc. in 2006. He is a researcher in the Soils and Landscapes team at Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research. He is the science leader of the current 5-year MBIE-funded remote sensing research programme. His research specialities are:

  • Ecosystems and environmental modelling
  • Catchment management, erosion and slope stability
  • GIS applications and modelling
  • Ecosystems services
  • Remote sensing and image processing.