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Rocket Lab fires the New Zealand FernMark into space

30 May 2017
By Sarah Morgan
Maori Business Stories Tawapata South

New Zealand’s trademark Silver Fern has taken off. Already spotted on Kiwi products around the globe, the distinctive FernMark was on the tip of the Electron and blasting into space when the company successfully made it to space in their first test launch from Tawapata South’s Onenui Station on Mahia Peninsula last week.

New Zealand in Space

Rocket Lab has also become the newest member of the FernMark Ambassador Programme. It is a privileged role, requiring a business to responsibly represent New Zealand offshore and always protect the well-being and reputation of our country. The American-New Zealand aerospace company, founded by New Zealand’s Peter Beck in 2006, will now display the best-known symbol of New Zealand - the Silver Fern - on Electron rockets they launch into orbit.

Living our Values

“We’re so excited to have Rocket Lab as a member of our Ambassador Programme”, says FernMark Licence Programme Manager, Sarah Morgan. “Rocket Lab epitomises the values we hold as a nation; creative idea-makers delivering new solutions while at the same time caring for both people and place.”

The FernMark symbol represents our New Zealand Story and communicates trust and credibility. It’s underpinned by the values we’re known for; kaitiaki, integrity and ingenuity, and it’s these values that are highly valued by global customers. 

“New Zealanders have a reputation for being trustworthy, welcoming and good to do business with. It’s beneficial for companies to leverage our nation’s brand and good reputation,” says Rocket Lab’s CEO, Peter Beck. “New Zealand’s brand reputation is totally aligned with ours at Rocket Lab, so carrying the FernMark is a good way to show the world our ingenuity, trust and environmental commitment.” 

Made of New Zealand

Peter Beck has worked tirelessly to collaborate and build lasting commercial relationships, both in New Zealand and overseas, to ensure his vision comes to life. His ingenious tenacity has assured him a place in history – putting New Zealand on the aerospace map.

“I’m really excited and proud of what we have achieved as a team and the role each individual played to achieve such a monumental project.” 

It's about National Pride

The Silver Fern is one of New Zealand’s most recognised, respected and longstanding national symbols. The origins of this symbol can be traced back to its use in traditional Māori culture as a path marker. When bent over, the fronds would catch the moonlight and illuminate a path through the forest, just as stars were used for navigating the ocean. Today, the Silver Fern is still guiding the way and for the Māori owners and  guardians of Onenui Station where the launch site is located - that path is now also into space as explained by Onenui spokesperson George Mackey.

"We always believed our atua came from space, and left stars to guide us, and now, with Rocket Lab, we are returning on that path from Onenui".

The FernMark has been developed for use by our international facing government departments and adopted by Tourism NZ as the country of origin symbol for New Zealand. 

Rocket Lab’s Graphic Designer, Emma Michelsen shared,

“In order to affix the FernMark to the tip of the Electron, we needed to use a metallic silver substrate that was used for all signwriting on the Electron. It is very exciting to be working with such an iconic design.”

Last week’s launch was the first of three test flights scheduled for this year. The target for Rocket Lab during their second test launch is to achieve a circularised orbit. 

At full production, Rocket Lab expects to launch more than 50 times a year and is regulated to launch up to 120 times a year. In comparison, there were 22 launches last year from the US and 82 internationally. 

The FernMark Licence Programme is the Government’s official ‘country of origin’ accreditation programme.