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Our Story

About: Welcome

About us

DroneMate was formed in 2015, providing aerial services across New Zealand that included, aerial video/photography, 3D modelling of land for quarrying, stockpile estimation, mining, construction, other earthworks, and forestry mapping.  In 2016 we expanded into the agricultural sector forming a relationship with Sentera, a global leader in sensor technology while growing our services in precision agriculture.


We began our first official training courses with DJI/Ferntech and NMIT in 2016. We continue to offer them throughout the year across New Zealand. For the last 2 years, DroneMate has been expanding its consulting services for drone-based product development and turnkey solutions for large and small organisations across New Zealand. 

Today, DroneMate continues to support and manage drone operations for some of the largest businesses in New Zealand. Dronemate has now expanded to offer regular 4 day aerial survey courses at our home base in Nelson. 

The team at DroneMate

AJ Thompson, Executive Director. After Initially being associated with the company from early 2020 in an advisory capacity AJ formalised his involvement as Executive Director at the beginning of 2021. He has set up and developed businesses both nationally and internationally in the wine and agricultural sectors over the last 25 years, primarily with a technology focus. In addition to these he currently also has involvement in wine importation and the tourism industry. 


Geoff Sherlock, Co Founder and Non-Executive Director.  With a BRP Hons, Geoff identified the value of drone technology in 2014 after meeting fellow co-founder Jonathan Lopardo.  Subsequently he merged the use of drones into a successful landscaping company. Geoff understood that drones have a big part to play in the coming years and co-founded a separate entity which became DroneMate in 2016. Geoff has been heavily involved in the development of DroneMate through the years and plays a key role in facilitating Drone Mates growth.

Jonathan Lopardo, Co Founder and Technical Director.  Formally a specialist with the US Army’s 101 Airborne division and 88th regional support, Johnny had a career in crown and bridge manufacturing and quality control for dental laboratories before moving to New Zealand in 2014.  A lifelong operator and exponent of radio-controlled aircraft, he has been full-time in the use of UAVs and mapping since 2014 and is highly regarded in the RPAS industry in New Zealand.  Johnny is an RPAS certified Part 102 pilot, holds a Pix4D photogrammetry software certification, is the lead instructor for DroneMates UAV surveying courses, is New Zealand’s Sentera rep/on seller/trainer of their multispectral sensing equipment, had first become a member of AMA in America in 1994 and is an active hang glider pilot.

Sheree Sherlock, Marketing and Administration Manager.  Sheree is a Graphic Designer with 20 years of experience in all forms of marketing and promotional materials.  Sheree is responsible for creating and maintaining the DroneMate brand along with many other well-known brands.

McKinlay Clark, Operations Manager.  McKinlay is an invaluable asset to our team, possessing a wealth of expertise in the implementation of streamlined systems and processes, project management, solution building, client management, and staff training. As a Part 102 certified pilot, McKinlay is highly skilled in the art of aerial surveying, with an advanced understanding of GIS and data processing software. Additionally, McKinlay has undergone extensive training by FlyFreely to onboard organisations to their digital drone operations and management platform. He has built prototypes of custom GIS solutions that are now ready for deployment to the wine industry and found workarounds to bottlenecks in weed management solutions. McKinlay is also a talented professional videographer and photographer, adept at producing creative and engaging content that captures the imagination of our clients.

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