Announcing Hack Tairāwhiti 2019

People gather for a meal on a Marae

02 April 2019

One of New Zealand’s most innovative and dynamic tech events - Hack Tairāwhiti – is back, to be held in Gisborne in May.

Great ideas start in Gisborne

Last year the event created New Zealand’s first ever national Māori hackathon, bringing together eight Māori tech exporters and the country’s top talent - designers, developers, creatives, entrepreneurs and business leaders – to tackle complex and difficult challenges.

The hackathon – a 48-hour competition between teams to develop a commercial solution to a business problem, and one that can be taken to the world – demonstrates that innovation can be found anywhere, even beside a beautiful beach on the east coast of New Zealand.

The event will be held on May 17-19, 2019, and registrations are now open for participants:

Hack Tairāwhiti had a demonstrable impact on the companies involved. See the Straker Translations and Dacreed examples at the end of the release.

In 2019, the event’s focus will be on a broad range of exporters in Tairāwhiti (the Māori name for the Gisborne region, meaning the “coast of the rising sun”) to build on the momentum from the past year and deepen its impact on the regional economy. 

The hackathon will feature 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 timeframe, addressing their greatest imaginable challenge and accelerating international growth.

Digital disruption is part of everyone’s lives, and Hack Tairāwhiti helps the Gisborne region embrace its opportunities and be a key player in regional economic development.

The event also includes a powerful cultural element, with a powhiri to open the hackathon, and one of the most inspirational working environments in New Zealand – the Waikanae Surf Living Saving Club on Gisborne’s main beach.

A highlights video of the event can be viewed on the event’s website. Hack Tairāwhiti 2018 was also a finalist in the CIO50 Awards, which celebrate organisations that are harnessing business technologies to help solve social and community issues. 

Hack Tairāwhiti is being organized by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and Datacom, along with their supporting regional and technology partners.

Suzie Marsden, NZTE’s General Manager of Services, said the event was a remarkable experience. “I joined one of the teams last year and it was amazing to be part of the energy, the invention and the determination to help our company develop a practical solution to their problem.

“The hackathon has a very strong spirit of collaboration, where everyone brings their expertise and openly shares it. It doesn’t matter if you write code, create graphics, have a marketing or business background, all of those qualities are valuable.

“And we get to spend a weekend by the beach in Gisborne, inspired by this part of the world and its powerful culture.”

Kerry Topp, Datacom’s Associate Director of Transformation & Innovation, said: 

“Hackathons have the potential to provide genuinely transformational change for businesses, but the key is keeping people at the heart. Over 48 hours not only are people contributing their skills but also deepening their knowledge of innovative behaviours – and this is what helps to accelerate organisations into effective digital transformation.” 

“Hackathons are not only great for businesses to solve thorny problems, but they help people experience what the future of work looks like - kaupapa or purpose-orientated, mission-based, diverse individuals forming creative teams working together to achieve outcomes within a set timeframe. 

“Last year we saw some real regional economic growth coming out of Hack Tairāwhiti, so I’m hugely looking forward to what the 2019 event will create.”

Hackathon makes a difference for companies and the region

Straker Translations 

Straker Translations is a multi-million-dollar tech company based in Auckland. After co-founder Grant Straker acted as one of the judges for Hack Tairāwhiti last year, he learnt from Gisborne mayor Meng Foon that the local Eastland Community Trust provided relocation grants for tech firms that wished to move staff to the city.

His company had already been seeking a location for a regional office, with the dual purpose of providing job opportunities in regional New Zealand and an alternative work/life balance for its Auckland employees. Gisborne offered a tech infrastructure that would support businesses such as Straker.

Four staff have relocated to Gisborne, with another to join them this month. In addition, Straker recruited for five new roles, three were filled from people who already lived in Gisborne and two were filled with people that chose to relocate from other parts of New Zealand to Gisborne to take on the new roles. The skills now based in Gisborne include senior developers, web developers, a product manager, translation project co-ordinator and client services representatives.

In all, 19 new people now live in Gisborne, including partners and children.

Initially the team moved to Launch, the city’s new tech hub, and are now in their own office above Kiwibank in Gladstone Road. A relocation to Gisborne is a standing offer to Straker’s whole New Zealand team, and a few more are considering it.

More details about the move can be found here in a New Zealand Herald article.


Dacreed is a tech start-up with an innovative approach to managing business risk. Its hackathon challenge was to help minimise workplace bullying, harassment and discrimination. Although the solution that Dacreed presented at the hack won a prize, that particular solution has not yet been deployed. However, it remains part of Dacreed’s long term roadmap. 

Co-founder Dennis Murray said the real value for Dacreed at the hackathon was learning what it needed to learn in order to pivot. “Market research showed that there was greater demand for a positive approach to these types of problems. We learned that an organisation that pro-actively trains its staff to be aware, and to be kind and inclusive, is a healthy organisation and much less likely to have imbedded discrimination, harassment and bullying. 

“10 months on Dacreed is a next-generation, business media company – with individuals right at the heart of what it does. Dacreed is on a mission to help business advisors make their small business clients more resilient, so that their owners can sleep easy at night.”

Mr Murray said that in addition to progressing solutions, hackathons are also about establishing connections with passionate developers, experienced innovators and business leaders. 

“Those contacts opened some doors for us, which in turn led to more open doors. I highly recommend that all start-ups and early stage companies get involved at least once in their life with a hackathon.”

“Dacreed took the leap, and partly as a consequence of taking that leap, now has an exciting future. I will always be grateful to Hack Tairāwhiti for the part it has played in our journey.”

Newsroom notes

Images are available from last year's event, please contact Andrew Holden (below).

Media are welcome to attend the event.

Media inquiries

Andrew Holden
Director Communications
+64 21 568 253

Arwen Vant
Communications Manager
+64 21 484 232

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