THE KIWIBOTS STORY

In 2008, a team of enthusiastic Kiwi educators, business representatives and students could see that science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) was about to be the forefront of education. This group scoped out what was happening in the world, and travelled to see the VEX programme in action and saw the potential of sharing these with New Zealand - inspiring young kiwis one robot at a time.

The NZ Robotics Charitable Trust was founded in 2009 with the support of businesses that could see the future growth of the tech industry and the imminent global need for more innovators, problem solvers, and creative thinkers.

NZ teams competed in their first season of VEX Robotics in the 2009-2010 season. In true kiwi fashion, the students showed innovation and a 'No.8 wire' approach to problem solving that resulted in a World Championship title, knocking reigning champions out of the top spot!

Since then, Kiwibots has grown, creating and supporting teams from intermediate through university to world calibre levels that put NZ on the map in the robotics and tech industry.

Kiwibots teams have won a World Championship title 9 times against 53 competing countries. They have also won awards such as the Inspire Award, Community Award, Online Challenge Competitions, and many more.

Our shared successes would not  be possible without the support of our generous sponsors over the years.

Thanks to them and the amazing students, parents and teachers, the future of robotics excellence and STEM advancement will be filled with passionate kiwis.

 
The Kiwibots Difference

We are unlike other software and coding based education as we encourage students to create physical results using robotics. The gamification of learning tasks creates a more engaging experience, while also fostering a collaborative and social environment.

Many of our programme alumni find themselves in careers with top technology firms across the world after gaining their initial interest and skills with Kiwibots and making friends for life. 

Meet The Team

  • JANET VAN

    NATIONAL MANAGER

    Based in Auckland, Janet leads the Kiwibots NZ team nationwide, working with community champions, educators, and their teams.

     

    Responsible to the Board of Trustees, Janet covers the main business aspects of Kiwibots NZ, sponsorship and support of teams at Nationals and World Championships.

  • DAVID ASTON

    REGIONAL COORDINATOR - AUCKLAND

    David is based in Auckland and is one of our longest serving Kiwibots ambassadors, creating teams and introducing VEX to his school when Kiwibots started in 2009.

    Winner of Inspiration All-Star 2016, David juggles supporting many VRC teams across Auckland as well as the pick, pack and despatch of goods for teams nationwide.

  • CRAIG YEARBURY

    REGIONAL COORDINATOR - AUCKLAND

     Craig teaches at Lynfield College and has been part of the Kiwibots programme since it started in NZ.

     

    He has coached many teams across Auckland, and successfully brought teams to the World Championships to claim titles for NZ too.  

  • GEORGE GILLARD

    REGIONAL COORDINATOR - AUCKLAND

    George has been with Kiwibots as a student, volunteer, referee and judge over the last 11 years. He currently works as a Structural Engineer with Blue Barn Consulting Ltd.

     

    Based in Auckland, he's one of our original enthusiasts, joining the programme very young and continuing to work closely with students across NZ to unlock their potential. 

  • DOUG BRYAN

    REGIONAL COORDINATOR - AUCKLAND

    Doug is a technology teacher and comes from a background of automotive and hard materials technologies. 

    He has been with Kiwibots since the first years, starting the teams at Onehunga High School (SymbiOHsis) who have represented NZ and won at the VEX World Championships.

     

  • MARTIN ALLEN

    REGIONAL COORDINATOR - AUCKLAND

    Martin is another one of our early adopters, bringing students on board from his school in Kiwibots' first years. He currently teaches and leads robotics at Kristin School.

    Martin provides valuable insight and is one of our biggest supporters and key volunteers in all the years of Kiwibots operation.

  • TONI DE RIJK

    REGIONAL COORDINATOR - BAY OF PLENTY

    Toni and her husband, Paul, help support all the events and teams from the Bay of Plenty.

    Toni's been with Kiwibots for a number of years. As well as all the engagement from her region, she has also had her own children go through the programme. She has won Volunteer of the Year a number of times to recognise her passion and work in the community.

  • HAMISH CARR

    REGIONAL COORDINATOR - BAY OF PLENTY

    Hamish is currently a teacher at Katikati College in the Bay of Plenty.

    He has recently joined the Kiwibots programmes and has championed the introduction of both VEX IQ and VRC into schools in his region.

     

  • GARRY VENMAN

    REGIONAL COORDINATOR - BAY OF PLENTY

    Garry is part of the Kiwibots team in the Bay of Plenty. He currently has his own children in the programme and has been a regular appearance at our VRC scrimmages.

     

  • STEPHAN VAN HAREN

    REGIONAL COORDINATOR - MANAWATU

    Since 2014, Stephan has organised the VEX IQ National Championships for Kiwibots. Stephan has also set up the Central Region Robotics Trust to support new schools/teams that want to try robotics across the central North Island.

    Stephan is based in the Manawatu, teaching at St. Peter's College and won the Inspiration All-Star award in 2019.

  • BEN ELLERY

    REGIONAL COORDINATOR - MANAWATU

    Ben is based in Palmerston North and is the Chairperson of Central Robotics Trust, running this with Stephan van Haren. 

     

    Ben has been through the Kiwibots programme as a student before joining as part of the core team, with a particular interest in the technical side of our events.

  • HAYDEN WILSON

    REGIONAL COORDINATOR - WELLINGTON

    Hayden is based in Wellington and has been with the Kiwibots programme for many years. 

     

    Hayden oversees the producing and administration of many of our large  events, as well as communication channels and support of Kiwibots systems. 

  • ISSY RIDDELL-GARNER

    REGIONAL COORDINATOR - WELLINGTON

    Based in Wellington, Issy has been through the Kiwibots programme herself aftere stumbling upon it while at Wellington Girls'. She's joined us as a Regional Coordinator to continue creating events for our Kiwi kids.

     

    Issy also helps to manage our social media channels and external comms.

  • KATANA DUNN

    REGIONAL COORDINATOR - CANTERBURY

    Katana is based in Christchurch and has been with the Kiwibots programme since 2010 and then joining as a Regional Coordinator in 2017. She has been teaching Digital Technologies at Burnside College since 2010.

    Known as the Christchurch regional mum, she supports the teams across Canterbury as well as other South Island groups.

  • ANDY KERRISON

    REGIONAL COORDINATOR - CANTERBURY

    Andy is new to join as a Regional Coordinator, however has been a key volunteer with Kiwibots for a number of years working alongside Katana. He is currently at St. Andrew's College.

    Prior to his extensive career in teaching, Andy comes from an engineering background and brings these skills to his work, sharing invaluable insights for students and colleagues.

 

Proudly sponsored by

Board of Trustees

Mike Hearn

Executive Director AmCham

Prof Don Cleland

Professor Massey University

Sir Ken Stevens

Former Chairman Glidepath

Prof Johan Potgieter

Professor Massey University

Greg Smale

Director Smales Farm

Lee-Anne Taylor

Director of Deans
Rutherford College

Debra Lumsden

VP Fisher & Paykel Healthcare

Sharon Blincoe

Accounting Manager
Smales Farm

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