Meet the Makers – Kea Aerospace and Remix Plastic

Customers can use the creative spaces at Tūranga to make toys, clothes, decals, and sometimes to launch businesses. At least two local businesses got a boost from their use of the creative spaces at Tūranga and have been working to shape Ōtautahi’s future. I was privileged to meet with the founders of these businesses.

The creative spaces are on the fourth floor of Tūranga, on the floor called – appropriately – Auahatanga | Creativity. These spaces include a 3D printer, a plastic mould maker, a sewing machine, a laser cutter, and other delights. There is also the Taupuni Oro/Ataata - Audio/Video Studio and computers with full subscriptions to top-of-the-line creative software. Most importantly, the spaces are staffed with knowledgeable and helpful experts who can help budding creatives realise their visions.

Philipp Sueltrop - Kea Aerospace

After Philipp Sueltrop got his PhD in flight control and mechanics, he and his business partner Mark Rocket devised a start-up to develop unmanned air craft that could quickly gather earth surface data over a wide area. As a new company, they didn’t want to invest in their own laser cutter right away. Philipp learned that the recently-opened Tūranga had a laser cutter. They were able to make changes to their designs to improve their models very quickly. This ability to do rapid iterations of their designs allowed them to develop a model that they are happy with. Now, as Kea Aerospace, they are working not only to bring their product to market, but to transform the future of the Canterbury aerospace industry.

Anthea Madill - Remix Plastic and EcoSplat

Anthea Madill is also making her mark on Ōtautahi, or rather is guiding people to leaving less of a mark on Ōtautahi and on the planet at large. She has dedicated much of her life to minimising her own environmental impact and to helping others do the same. As Creative-in-Residence at Tūranga, she explored the ideas of the Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle ethos. This led her to look closely at the plastic scraps remaining from projects printed on the 3D printer. After some tinkering, she began using those scraps to make earrings shaped like the feathers of Aotearoa’s extinct huia bird. After Prime Minister Ardern wore a pair of her earrings at a press conference during the first lockdown, Anthea’s business exploded. The popularity of her earrings allowed her to more widely disseminate her zero-waste message. She has also been able to pour the profits from her business, Remix Plastic to start another business, EcoSplat. EcoSplat creates and sells reuseable water balloons, which brings Anthea’s environmental vision for Ōtautahi to a whole new generation.

These are two remarkable stories of transformation facilitated by the creative spaces. They are by no means the only ones. We would love to hear from you about your work in the creative spaces at Tūranga and our libraries. If you have made something, please fill out the form and keep an eye out for more!

Bonnie Sarkar