Introducing our Tech21 Summit Speakers
Amber Taylor, CEO, ARA Journeys
Ngāti Mutunga, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Whātua, Te Rarawa
Tech21 Summit Host and MC
Amber Taylor is Co-Founder and CEO of ARA Journeys, a mobile gaming company that blends the digital world with te taiao and te ao Māori. Inspired by and drawing on mātauranga Māori, ARA’s award-winning games use immersive technologies (AR, MR, XR) and artificial intelligence (AI) to promote connection, education, and exploration. Amber is passionate about growing Māori and Pasifika representation in STEAM subjects and seeing South Auckland lead the way as champions of innovation.
Amber is a business mentor with NZ Business Mentor Association, Auckland Lead at SingularityU, Auckland Regional Ambassador for National Digital Forum (Ministry for Culture & Heritage), member of the Young Business Leaders Initiative with Ministry for Foreign Affairs & Trade, and NZ scout for USA Female Founded Club.
Alexia Hilbertidou, Founder/CEO of GirlBoss
Alexia is the CEO of GirlBoss NZ – the school project which has grown to become NZ’s largest organisation for young women. Founded when Alexia was just 16, GirlBoss now has 13 and a half thousand members.
Alexia’s mission is to get women to the table – the boardroom table that is, and she believes the decisions made while young are crucial in paving the way.
She has received over 30 awards for her work including being named the 2019 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award Winner, Semi-Finalist for Young New Zealander of the Year, and the Most Influential NZ Woman under 25 at the Westpac Women of Influence Awards.
Alexia was also awarded a Queen’s Young Leader Award for Services to the Commonwealth by Her Majesty, The Queen, at Buckingham Palace. She was selected from over 20,000 nominations and is the youngest Commonwealth Citizen to hold this honour.
Anne Taunga, Facial Motion Department Manager, Weta Digital
Kūki Āirani Māori, Mangaia
Anne Taunga (Annie) is the Facial Motion Department Manager at Weta Digital, an Academy Award-winning visual effects company based in Wellington. Weta Digital created the ground-breaking visual effects for Director Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, and for James Cameron’s Avatar.
Weta Digital’s artists, animators and technological innovators work on some of the world’s most high-profile movies and series, including the recent Zack Synder’s Justice League, Godzilla vs. Kong, Mulan, Umbrella Academy, Game of Thrones and Avengers: Endgame.
Annie manages facial motion at Weta Digital, enabling the Facial Motion Department and show project teams to bring to life the faces and expressions of digital characters and creatures.
Annie has a BA in Theatre and Film from Victoria University of Wellington and a Diploma in Journalism from the Auckland Technical Institute. She is an advocate for Pasifika and Māori young people, encouraging them to find their voices creatively.
Duane Grace, CEO EDU Systems Ltd
Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāi Tahu.
The use of technology to unleash untapped potential is the thing that drives me. 20+ years experience working in the education and technology sectors, having managed and consulted on numerous projects of national and global interest.
Key area of expertise – the intersection between indigenous cultural paradigms and technology to provide highly impacting outcomes. Significant experience in the successful Māori immersion education sector, working alongside some of our most innovative Iwi and currently leading an indigenous EdTech start-up challenging education norms in Australia and the US.
Brittany Teei, Founder of KidsCoin
Rarotonga, Avatiu, Atiu, Ngāi Tahu
Brittany used to be a professional tennis player and coach! She teamed up with her mum Teri who has been a teacher for more than 35 years. Together they had no tech experience, but they believed in their idea and KidsCoin was launched in 2016. It’s all about learning how to make, manage and invest while having fun!
Sir Ian Taylor, Managing Director, Animation Research
Ngāti Kahungunu, Nga Puhi, Scottish
Ian’s back story is a fascinating journey, from growing up in a house without
electricity in the 1950s, to being part of a company recognised globally as being at the leading edge of technology and innovation.
In 2019, Ian was named Innovator of the Year at the annual New Zealander of the Year Awards. Awards organisers cited Taylor’s business intuition and expertise as an exemplar of innovation in New Zealand. In 2020 Taylor was named the Deloitte 200 “Visionary Leader of the Year.”
Tara Fagan, Project Director, Weaving Digital Futures at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Part of the Digital Technologies Equity for All Fund, Tara’s team is responsible for enabling innovative digital learning experiences for learners in Northland, Waikato, Hawke’s Bay and Wellington.
James Brooks, Junior Game Developer, ARA Journeys
Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi
James has been a part of the NZ Hip Hop scene for 20 years now as an artist and also behind the scenes engineering, producing, and crafting various projects both local and international. He’s been fortunate enough to build strong relationships that help keep that creative flame burning.
In 2021 he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in IT as a Software Developer focusing on Mobile Apps and Game Development. A big drive for James was overcoming the stereotype and challenging the formula for success, and to inspire his whānau and other Māori by accepting that challenge.
James has recently joined ARA Journeys as a Junior Game Developer, a position that allows him to explore fun in the gaming space while still allowing creative fulfillment by bridging the gap between music and tech.
Tuhoe Te Arawa, Samoan
Named Breakthrough Artist of The Year at the 2016 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards, plus picking up Vodafone Pacific Music Awards for Best Pacific Male Artist, Best Urban Artist and Best Producer.