Maker Faire Wellington: Stupid Robot Fighting, an Intrepid Cobbler, a Mythical Sea Creature, and not a Hobbit in Sight

Maker News
Maker Faire Wellington: Stupid Robot Fighting, an Intrepid Cobbler, a Mythical Sea Creature, and not a Hobbit in Sight

Kia ora! Maker Faire is coming to Aotearoa! Famed for its pristine wilderness and wild coastline, hobbits and flightless national bird, New Zealand is on the global maker map and showing off its long history of rugged DIY resourcefulness and quirky creativity. On November 4th, the inaugural Maker Faire Wellington kicks off an exciting new chapter for Kiwi makers and builds another branch on the ever-expanding global maker movement.


Powered by Capital E, a Wellington-based non-profit whose mission is to “ignite the creative spark in young people through digital workshops and live performances” and is home to the National Theatre for Children, Maker Faire Wellington looks to New Zealand’s ethic of self-reliance and community of home-grown inventors to create a one-of-a-kind event. With an eye to the theatrical, the organizers hope to create a rich visual experience for New Zealand’s first taste of Maker Faire, with artwork reflecting the country’s unique cultural heritage like the roving large-scale and bike-driven percussive Taniwha (a mythical Maori water creature) sculpture created of recycled materials.

Award-winning producers of making interactions, Capital E has designed a workshop area as a steampunk-style Da Vinci studio and created a BoxHead selfie booth that will allow visitors to capture expressions of delight on the day.

As Makers ourselves, we are putting a lot of effort into creating and making playful and visually inspiring props, experiences and spectacles that add to the overall Maker Faire experience and atmosphere.

Here are a handful of the awesome projects set to take the stage alongside the indomitable Professor Inventus (a.k.a Tom Hutchinson), a Capital E regular (above).

Chris Dawson

A long-time RC model enthusiast and Maker of all things, Chris is passionate about 3D printing and has channeled his skills to create an incredible indoor obstacle course for his drones. Starting with balsa wood model airplanes in the Model Airplane Club, Chris exemplifies the lifelong maker spirit.

I really enjoy being able to make things, whether it’s stuff for around the house, electronics for a replica Star Wars blaster, or the robotic prosthetic I’m building for a friend who needs a hand. The technology we have access to in our living rooms is simply amazing, and I love being a part of it and finding new ways to make things and use the tech we have around us. Get stuck in, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and iterate on your projects and skills. You might not be able to make a 40-foot tall Giant Metal Robot as your first project, but every little thing you make goes towards something bigger you can make later. Finally, don’t feel you have to go at it alone. Many of my projects are made all that much better by sharing what I know with friends or clubs, and I learn a lot by sharing, and having others share with me.

Here’s a taste of the amazing Indoor Drone Racing project that Chris is bringing to Maker Faire Wellington.

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Building BB-8 in Your Own Garage

Matthew Reading is a true tinkerer. The dad of two from Porirua (a.k.a @WellingtonIronMan) has no experience or formal training in engineering or technology and has taught himself to recreate replica props from his favorite movies, like a BB8 droid from Star Wars or a working bodysuit from the Iron Man movie – the costume that started his career.

At Maker Faire Wellington, Matthew will be sharing his tips and tricks for creating realistic, working movie props. Here’s a taste of his process:

The Stupid Robot Fighting League

The Stupid Robot Fighting League (SRFL) is exactly what it sounds like – a harmless collection of life-sized ‘roboticless robots’ created from recycled rubbish that are controlled by two competitors via poles. John Espin, the founder of SRFL, says that the idea came from a child’s instinct to poke dead animals with a stick. He describes SRFL as a way to expel energy and smash stuff without hurting anyone. John will be conducting multiple fights at Maker Faire Wellington, with the opportunity for attendees to participate in a fight – this is one not to be missed for those who love to get involved in a major way.

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Shoe School with Louise Clifton

This one’s for the ultimate DIY enthusiast and fashionista! Louise Clifton is Wellington’s leading shoemaker and owner/founder of Shoe School, started in 2015 to help shoe enthusiasts learn to cobble their own. Like many makers who share their craft, Louise was inspired to start Shoe School after struggling to find a way to learn shoe-making in Dunedin (at the very bottom of New Zealand’s South Island), ultimately apprenticing with shoemakers in Australia and Japan. Louise will be hosting an exhibition at Maker Faire Wellington all about shoe making. Attendees will have the opportunity to sketch their dream pair of shoes with her assistance and feel the materials, tools and leather used at Shoe School.


DIY Powerwall

Paul Kennett describes himself as just another failed electrical engineer who loves finding new uses for “waste”. If you’re interested in giving electronic waste a second life but don’t know where to begin, check out Kennett’s powerwall fashioned out of 1848 old laptop batteries. The powerwall has the capacity to power his house 24/7 during the summer from solar PV panels on the roof. It can also top up his Nissan Leaf electric car. At Maker Faire Wellington, Paul will be demonstrating the process of harvesting cells from a laptop pack, disassembling it, sorting it and testing the cells to soldier up new power ‘bricks’.


Rob Kennedy is a trained scientist and artist, as well as a passionate ecological developer. Rob turns old sheets, worn-out jeans and linen fabrics into beautiful hand crafted paper. He also works with harakeke (New Zealand flax) in his paper-making, as there is benefit in sustainably harvesting its leaves. Learn how to give old clothes and plants a new life with this paper-making exhibition.

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Wellington ZineFest

Zines are weird and wonderful! Founded in 2007, Wellington ZineFest is a local group of ardent zine enthusiasts and agents provocateurs (as are all good zinemakers) who spread their love of zines (mini, self-made booklets of comics, poetry, collage, etc.).


Jess Weichler

Jess Weichler is a media arts educator from Pittsburgh, PA and the founder of MakerBox, a group that facilitates workshops for kids and teens in the fields of science, technology and art. She will be bringing the It’s Electric! workshop to Maker Faire Wellington where you can interact with her ‘Living Circuits’ art piece. Jess’ first Maker project was a robot penguin made out of recycled boxes. By using a Hummingbird Robotics Kit, Jess was able to bring the penguin to life with LED eyes and the ability to say, ‘hello’ when your turned a knob. “I still think it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever made!”

“I’m an eclectic maker,” Jess explains. “I love combining art, crafts, technology, and science to create interactive art.” Jess is a firm believer that knowledge should be open to all and says, “Accessibility is really important to me, so all my favorite projects use common objects anyone can get ahold of, like cardboard and items repurposed from the tip shop.”

All the information you need to make the trip to Maker Faire Wellington is on the website! And all the usual channels: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Tirohia koe i reira!



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Jennifer Blakeslee keeps the Global Maker Faire program running smoothly and has been a maker at Maker Faire since 2011. Among other things, she really likes to travel, write, cook, hike, make big art, and swim in the ocean.

View more articles by Jennifer Blakeslee


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