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Sir Ian

One of New Zealand's foremost technology innovators

Bugger the boxing, pour the concrete anyway.

Ian was brought up in a small East Coast village on the North Island of New Zealand. He was seven when electricity arrived at his home. It was 1957. The telephone arrived a couple of years later. He didn't know it at the time but three years after he got electricity at his house, New Zealand got its first computer.

Ian's story mirrors New Zealand's growth from its days as an agriculture-based economy. He laboured in the freezing works during the school holidays. Through the swinging 60s and 70s he was a singer in a rock and roll band, before being called up in the army. By 1980, he had completed a law degree and started an entirely new career in television, where he was part of an industry that went from black-and-white film to colour video and on into the digital age.

Previous experience
Ian founded Animation Research Ltd (ARL) in 1990 on nothing more than a handshake with the Vice Chancellor of the University of Otago. They bought their first hard drive to make their first TV commercial in 1991. It cost $15,000 and had 1 GB of memory. The computer they used for the America’s Cup in 1992 was the size of a small fridge and cost $500,000. Everything they did on that computer they can now do on a mobile phone.

Current work
Today, working from their base in Dunedin, ARL covers sports events all over the world. They also have a joint venture with Airways New Zealand, who market the Air Traffic Control Simulator they built for them. They had never built one before. They continue to service the F1 Race Car simulator they built for one of the world’s leading F1 Race Teams. They had never built one before. They built an online Risk Assessment platform for one of the world’s largest mining companies. They had never built one before. They built an online application to demonstrate the power of the IBM cloud-based analytics engine, which they presented to a conference of 22,000 delegates. They built it in three weeks. They had never built one of those before, either.

In 2019, Ian started Land of Voyagers which he says is the “most important work of his life.” Land of Voyagers documents the Polynesian voyage to Aotearoa in a way that’s never been done before, in order educate New Zealanders and to celebrate the incredible story of our Polynesian ancestors.

Ian says he uses the word 'we' very loosely. He claims he has no idea how any of this stuff is done. 'We are where we are because of a very small team who, from day one, arrived with open minds and a belief that there was nothing they couldn't do. The fact that we only do stuff we like probably helps. In the words of Lord Ernest Rutherford - "We didn't have the money, so we had to think." We didn’t discover the digital world: it discovered us. We had already decided that we would take on the world from Dunedin - next stop the South Pole! Someone invented the internet, and they gave us our highway to that world. We have been travelling it ever since.'

Ian holds an LLB from the University of Otago and was inducted into the New Zealand Hi-Tech Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2010, he was named North & South magazine’s New Zealander of the Year. In the same year, he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the New Zealand Computer Society, the top honour of the ICT sector in New Zealand. He was named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2012 New Year Honours, for services to television and business, and won the Creative sector of the World Class New Zealander Awards. In 2013, he was named Outstanding Maori Business Leader of the Year. Ian was awarded 2019 New Zealand Innovator of the Year.

In 2021, Ian was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Years honours, recognised for his services to broadcasting, business and the community.

It may come as a surprise that Ian claims to have no skills whatsoever, is at a loss to understand why anyone would want to hear his story and believes he has received the accolades he has because he lives at the bottom of the world, where no one has been able to check him out. That and the fact that he has had the amazing good fortune to have worked alongside some of the cleverest people in the world.

Ian was an engaging and informative speaker and an extremely personable bloke. His quintessential kiwi can do attitude, coupled with his global outlook was refreshing and completely aligned with our own values. Ian was also very interested in our own business making time to chat with staff in the office and in the factory. We would certainly recommend him as a speaker for other businesses. Furnware Industries Ltd

Ian was fabulous - great feedback and obviously puts a lot into his presentation.

Travel Managers Group

Ian is an inspiring and entertaining speaker. His story telling linked with incredible animations was a wonderful mix to educate, entertain and inspire our delegates to think about what they do in different ways. Love the "can do" message of his story.

Project Management Institute of New Zealand

We received extremely positive feedback from our delegates who reported their enjoyment of the one-hour presentation you delivered. The journey you took the audience on revealing various experiences throughout your life and career had everyone captivated and energised. Our delegate survey reported that 97 % of the delegates found your talk interesting and 100% of delegates found you to be an engaging speaker. The structure of presenting for an hour and then having time afterwards to meet with delegates for individual questions and discussions was very effective and a number of our delegates noted your keynote as the highlight of the conference. On behalf of our organisation and all in attendance, thank you for being a key note speaker for our conference and sharing your story in such a memorable way.

PMINZ Conference

Phenomenal speaker! This was a global audience which included multiple translators relaying his message. With his expert story telling skills he was able to bring every single delegate on the journey with him. Outstanding talent we will definitely book again.


Ian was outstanding and created an exceptional level of energy in the room. The anecdotal feedback was all hugely positive and after his presentation our people were fizzing and collectively wanted to brainstorm how to make our business better. Ian more than exceeded our expectations.

First Gas

I was very impressed with the extent to which he engaged prior to his own address (attending other sessions, talking with me) to understand context and test out his approach. He also linked his address very well to the themes of the conference and the other speakers he heard. This was above and beyond the call expected of him.

New Zealand Principals Federation

He was perfect for our event, a great and inspirational story!

Electric Bikes New Zealand

Sir Ian was very friendly and charismatic. He was approachable and happy to have conversations throughout the evening with our attendee's which was fantastic. He was also very interested in us and what we do which saw him having some very engaging conversations with multiple Firstgas and Rockgas team members.


We recently had Sir Ian Taylor speak at the Guthrie Bowron & Colourplus conference. Our franchisees and suppliers were entertained by Sir Ian's hour long presentation. He has an inspiring story which reflects a kiwi "can do" attitude. He was able to thread our conference themes into the presentation and add real value for our attendees.

Guthrie Bowron
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