I’m a proud Kiwi and I love the way New Zealand constantly punches above its weight. We have an innate culture of pioneering, innovation, and invention, most recently in technology – think of great local success stories such as Xero, Soul Machines, and Animation Research who have taken their business global. Now we have an opportunity to strengthen our presence in the global digital economy by making our world class ideas more easily accessible to all Kiwis.
Today, I’m excited to announce that AWS plans to launch an AWS Region right here in New Zealand. We aim to invest NZD $7.5 billion in the new AWS Asia Pacific (Auckland) Region, which is estimated to create 1,000 new jobs and contribute NZD $10.8 billion to Aotearoa’s GDP over the next 15 years. This includes building data centres, importing specialised equipment, buying regional goods and services, and operating expenses such as ongoing utilities, facility costs, wages, and salaries. This investment should help unleash innovation, drive productivity, increase our skilled workforce, and position New Zealand at the forefront of digital commerce for generations of Kiwis to come.
Building world-class cloud infrastructure to spur innovation
The AWS Asia Pacific (Auckland) Region forms part of our deep and long-term commitment to Aotearoa since setting up our first local AWS entity (AWS New Zealand) in Auckland in 2014. Today, AWS has thousands of active customers across the country using our services each month to innovate quickly, increase operational efficiencies, and take their ideas to the world. These include Air NZ, ANZ, BNZ, Contact Energy, Datacom, Deloitte, Department of Conservation, Education Perfect, Halter, Kiwibank, Lancom, New Zealand Ministry of Health, New Zealand Ministry of Justice, Orion Health, Sharsies, Spark, The Clinician, TVNZ, UneeQ, University of Auckland, Vector, Vodafone, Xero, and many more.
Opening an AWS Region in Auckland brings our services closer to our customers in New Zealand, further improving our already rapid responsiveness, and provides customers with the opportunity to securely store their data in New Zealand. AWS Regions are physical locations consisting of at least three Availability Zones (AZs), with each AZ consisting of one or more physical data centres. Our AWS Region in Auckland will consist of three isolated and physically separate Availability Zones within a geographic area, with enough distance to significantly reduce the risk of a single event impacting customers’ business continuity, yet near enough to provide low latency for high-availability applications.
The new AWS Asia Pacific (Auckland) Region will provide even faster access to advanced technologies that we offer today such as analytics, machine learning (ML), database services, and Internet of Things (IoT). These services unlock innovation for Kiwis. For example, farmers use IoT sensors to monitor the health of livestock and water levels on farms; conservationists and scientists leverage ML to identify and protect endangered wildlife such as the Kokako, and big data and analytics deliver insights from smart energy meters that inform more efficient and cost-effective consumption. Customers can do all of this knowing that AWS is committed to providing the best possible privacy and security protections, including the most comprehensive security and compliance controls.
Enabling Kiwi business to grow and go global
We believe that making cloud services available to everyone democratises innovation and allows anyone with a great business idea to be successful. Businesses of all sizes across Aotearoa can access the same cloud services, security, reliability, scale, and speed as the largest organisations in the world.
We’ve seen that with customers like Sharesies launching on the ASX, Halter raising $30 million to fuel their next phase of growth; Tania.ai, a voice-activated financial assistant launching in the US; and Hectre, leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) computer vision to help Hawkes Bay orchardists quickly and easily assess picked fruit.
Many of these companies started on the AWS Activate program, which provides training, technical support, and AWS credits, to support startup growth. Since 2013, AWS Activate has provided hundreds of thousands of startups with support, and last year, we provided more than USD $1 billion in AWS credits to help startups accelerate and grow their business.
AWS works with a thriving community of partners in New Zealand who provide knowledge, expertise, and services to support digital transformation. Last April, we opened our AWS Marketplace and AWS Data Exchange to New Zealand Independent Software Vendors (or ISVs), Consulting Partners, and data providers. This new sales channel provides our partners with instant access to more than 310,000 monthly active users around the world who can now find, buy, deploy, and manage software services from partners. One great example is our local partner, Consegna, who found Australian software provider Local Measure’s customer platform so interesting, they bundled it with their own consulting services – and listed the new service offering on the AWS Marketplace, allowing them to access customers from all over the world.
We’re also working with AWS Partners on projects that are solving some of our community’s biggest challenges. One of my favourite examples is the work we do with the Department of Conservation and our partner Spark Qrious to support Kiwi conservation efforts. Using AWS ML services, we’re able to help detect and sort sound recordings of the birds to identify their location and position. These stories are what drives us every day – helping New Zealanders identify new business ideas and ventures, unlock new products and services, and tap into new revenue streams, cost savings, and growth opportunities.
Addressing the digital skills shortage
Addressing the nation’s digital skills shortage is something we’re deeply passionate about. AWS is collaborating with industry, government, education providers, and customers to bridge the skills gap in primary, secondary, and tertiary education through reskilling the existing workforce. Our goal is to train more than 29 million people globally by 2025. To help meet this goal in New Zealand, AWS provides access to more than 500 free training courses to support reskilling, upskilling, and organisational training.
One area we are committed to improving is the diversity of New Zealand’s IT workforce by providing inclusive and equitable access to careers in the industry. In May, we launched our AWS re/Start digital skills program in New Zealand, a free 12-week full-time skills training program which provides cloud skills to the people in between jobs or underemployed. It also seeks to help Maori and Pacific communities who are under-represented in the technology industry. And last month, we worked with The Dream Collective to launch SheDares in New Zealand to educate young people about opportunities for future careers in technology.
AWS’s history of investment in Aotearoa
We have a track record of investing in Aotearoa to support the evolving needs of our customers. This year, we opened new AWS offices in Auckland and Wellington to support our growing workforce of more than 100 Kiwis across roles such as data scientists, cloud engineers, solutions architects, and sales and account managers.
Vector, one of New Zealand’s largest energy companies, launched their first AWS Outposts to improve their technology operations. AWS Outposts is a fully managed service that offers the same AWS infrastructure, AWS services, APIs, and tools to virtually any data centre, colocation space, or on-premises facility for a truly consistent hybrid experience. We also launched an AWS Edge location in Auckland to help customers like TVNZ access our cloud services faster and provide improved user experiences for their customers.
I’m incredibly excited and proud of this investment coming to Aotearoa, and look forward to strengthening our presence in theglobal digital economy.
Note this planned investment is subject to discussions with the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).