Seminar Series

Making space in Southland


Robin McNeill


Venture Southland

Time & Place

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 14:00:00 NZST in Kirkwood KH03


Because of its unique geographic location, Southland is favourably viewed internationally for ionospheric research and ground segment support for space activities. After providing a contextual background, this talk traverses the modern history of such work at Awarua—situated between Invercargill and Bluff—starting with establishing the Unwin SuperDARN radar in 2004, the development of the Awarua Satellite Ground Station to support resupply missions to the International Space Station in 2008, through to hosting facilities for the world’s leading ‘Space 3.0’ satellite operators since 2014. Overcoming engineering difficulties inherent with ‘boot-strapping’ facilities development are discussed and the development of New Zealand’s institutional framework for space activities is briefly described. Local capacity building and utilisation are considered with implications for New Zealand universities.


Robin G. McNeill
BA, BE(Hons.)(Elect.), FIPENZ, SMIEEE, CPEng, PE(Int.)

Mr Robin McNeill is a chartered professional engineer. He graduated from the University of Canterbury with an honours degree in Engineering in 1980 and has a BA in English from Massey University. Mr McNeill is a Fellow of IPENZ, a Senior Member of IEEE and a member of AIAA. In 2016 he was awarded the IPENZ Rabone Award for technical excellence and innovation. Over his career, Mr McNeill has variously worked for New Zealand Post Office, Telecom New Zealand, International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and Thermocell with special interests in remote and rural telecommunications, and renewable energy. Mr McNeill has worked at Venture Southland since 2004 where he manages Engineering Projects and Ground Segment. He has designed and built five satellite ground stations in Tokelau and Southland and was a member of the team that established a satellite ground station at Arrival Heights, Antarctica in 1991.