Regional | Space

Helping rangatahi reach for the stars

StardustME's Stu Potter wants to provide more opportunities for rangatahi in space on the East Coast. Photo / File

A Māori businessman wants the New Zealand Space Agency’s aerospace strategy to help rangatahi in Te Tai Rāwhiti enter the space industry.

StardustME managing director Stu Potter (Ngāti Awa) organises memorial flights of people’s ashes into space. Now he’s initiating a business case on the viability of a space and innovation centre in the region for economic and rangatahi development.

“The wider vision was always to bring in that social and cultural aspect into our kaupapa. It was really to fly the flag, particularly based out of the provinces, that innovation and aerospace business can be launched from Te Tai Rāwhiti,” Potter says.

Potter says the space industry will potentially be worth $1 trillion by 2040 and there’s no limit on space entrepreneurship for Māori.

“Thanks to Rangi Mātāmua, Rereata Makiha and others that elevated the cultural aspects and connection to Matariki as a public holiday, I think that’s raised the opportunities that presented to us culturally and the opportunities to keep building on that mātauranga Māori and knowledge of astronomy.”

The government has given $30 million to implement the NZ Space Agency’s aerospace strategy and become a world leader in key areas of aerospace technology. This can open the way for Māori involvement, Potter says, and upskill rangatahi.

“[The strategy] has a lot of inclusiveness and opportunity to break down some of those barriers that restrict Māori being included, so I’m very heartened that there’s a big focus on Māori and mātauranga Māori so that we increase capability for our rangatahi.”

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