The Whanganui Tech Network Charitable Trust (50167412) was founded in June 2023.

The idea of forming a local network originated from discussions in July 2021 among local technology industry leaders, including the late Mike Price (Proaxiom), Alan Nixon (E-ology), and Jo Buckingham, who was then serving as a community advisor for the district council.

Although each of them actively participated in the Whanganui tech sector, they encountered challenges in connecting with others within the community and noticed a lack of a cohesive and well-informed strategy or space for fostering the tech economy for both now and into the future.

With Mike passing away in early 2022, Jo and Alan took on the vision create this network ‘by Whanganui, for Whanganui’ and in 2023 joined up with The Backhouse Trust and Rodd Eddy to bring it to life.

Why its important

Despite pre 2019 predictions of a population decline, Whanganui has had significant population growth to an estimated 48,700 in 2022* and outperformed the New Zealand average for economic growth. But growth in the local technology sector has been minimal with no current education pathways or support in Whanganui to gain the skills and knowledge needed to participate and grow our regional tech sector.

In September 2022 the ambitious government strategy Te Rautaki Matihiko mō Aotearoa The Digital Strategy for Aotearoa sets out a digital New Zealand with a goal of ‘‘a thriving, fast growing and inclusive tech sector.” One measure of success by 2032 is that ‘the digital sector employs more than 10% of the New Zealand workforce in high-value jobs’. As the tech sector is diverse and many roles are remote, we are currently unsure of the number of tech sector roles in Whanganui, so an important part of our purpose is to create awareness of our local ‘digital sector’.

Whanganui showed in 2012 as one of the first cities in Aotearoa to roll out ultrafast fibre that we can be a digital leader if we come together and leverage our unique offerings. We believe that Whanganui is full of people, organisations and future digital heroes that can come together to inspire digital growth and support that will benefit our community and economy through Whanganui Tech.

Therefore, our overall purpose (why we are doing this) is in line with e Rautaki Matihiko mō Aotearoa The Digital Strategy for Aotearoa: To create a network that promotes ‘a thriving, fast growing and inclusive tech sector’ for Whanganui.

  • GDP Growth Whanganui District vs New Zealand (Infometrics) 2019: 3.5% vs 3.4% growth, 2020: 2.7% vs 2.2% and 2021: 1.7% vs -1.2%