by Divina Paredes

Hack Tairāwhiti, the national hackathon for Maori entrepreneurs, expands reach

May 17, 2019
GovernmentInnovationManaged IT Services

“Our goal is to make sure the next top technology businesses will come from the regions.”

Teresa Pollard, customer manager, Māori international growth, NZ Trade and Enterprise, says projects like Hack Tairāwhiti allow this to happen.

Hack Tairāwhiti, a hackathon for Māori tech entrepreneurs, is now on its second year. It is being held over the weekend in Gisborne, where the inaugural hackathon was also held.

Hack Tairāwhiti is being organised by NZTE and Datacom, along with regional and technology partners. It received the highly commended award for best ICT-enabled community project during the 2019 CIO50 event.

The hackathon is a 48-hour competition between teams to develop a commercial solution to a business problem, and one that can be taken to the world, says Kerry Topp, associate director, transformation and innovation at Datacom.

Teresa Pollard of NZTE and Kerry Topp of Datacom (Photo by Divina Paredes)

“It demonstrates that innovation can be found anywhere, even beside a beautiful beach on the east coast of New Zealand.”

“We weave Māori principles throughout the whole hackathon,” says Topp.

“We are much more collaborative and everyone understands commercial businesses have much more than an individual person, you affect a huge whanau behind them.”

Topp says at Hack Tairāwhiti businesses are putting out their challenges to the community, for the community to solve.

“That is the future of work.”

He explains the 2018 hackathon was based around Māori technology and economy, but this year it will also broaden the focus to wider regional development.

The hackathon features eight businesses and more than 100 business leaders, technologists, creatives, designers, entrepreneurs and investors.

For the businesses, it’s an opportunity to pull collective brain power together in a condensed time frame, addressing their greatest imaginable challenge and accelerating international growth, says Topp.

After the first hackathon, the Gisborne region got behind this as a platform and enabler, says NZTE’s Pollard.

“We very much believe in our purpose, to provide the next platform of growth for Māori businesses,” she adds.

“If we can be successful, and with our delivery partners, take them to the next stage, they will not only employ Māori, but also see the region lift.”

Topp says an innovation centre is now being set up in Gisborne. This will be where startups and scale ups will mix with established businesses.

Pollard says the aim is to ensure these organisations will have as much opportunity to access technology and business connections as those in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

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At the inaugural Hack Tair?whiti