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Product’s story a challenge winner

Ngati Porou Seafoods has come away as one of the big winners at the region’s inaugural Hack Tairawhiti event held over the weekend.

The innovation and technology event was a 48-hour “hackathon” — tech developers and innovators competed to develop software worth millions of dollars free of charge to help businesses grow.

Led by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Te Tira Toi Whakangao (T3W), the event was aimed at unlocking the region’s potential to support entrepreneurs across New Zealand.

The hackathon saw eight Maori export companies put forward business challenges to some of the country’s top tech talent.

The challenge was for tech developers, designers and innovators to come come up with solutions for the businesses.

The business challenge that had the winning solution was Ngati Porou Seafoods.

The local business asked innovators to help create wealth in small and remote tribal communities by getting its message heard on the global stage.

Ken Houkamau of Ngati Porou Seafoods said they wanted something that would share the story of their commitment to kaitiakitanga and sustainability, and authenticity with the world.

The team of developers came up with a solution where consumers would be able to trace every step in the process of the product — from the fishing practices on the boat and processing in the factory, to meeting some of the people of Ngati Porou.

This could be carried out using barcode/Q-code technology, where a person would scan their phone over a code on the packaging and a record of the process would come up.

Developers included concepts of adding 360-degree video footage in the factory and on the fishing boats.

“It is a transparent look at our supply chain so we can prove the things that we say are real,” said Mr Houkamau.

“Blockchain technology enables us to be able to keep a record of our sustainability, traceability so our consumers can be confident that our product is authentic, and it can be reflected in a way that reflects our values.

“Blockchain is a hot topic right now and it’s fantastic what the team of developers have come up with.

“It gives us more understanding of what the blockchain is and how it can be used in other fields of our business, such as forestry and honey.

“We’re very happy with the win because we’re not a tech company, we’re a fishing company utilising tech.

“The possibilities are exciting, especially in regard to all of the major industries in our region. Anything can utilise that system.”

Mayor Meng Foon said Hack Tairawhiti had sparked great opportunities.

“This event was great for enhancing our local businesses by using technology to enhance productivity.

“It is also great for relationship building with people in the tech industry.

“It was awesome to see that some of the developers from out of town want to move here because they can do their work remotely.

HACK 2018: Last year’s Hack Tairawhiti innovation and technology event attracted more than 80 developers from outside of the region. Event organiser Barry Soutar said many of the developers were drawn to the cultural and scenic aspects of the region. Taking part in the 2018 Hack are (from left) Dipesh Trikam, Roger Shakes, Steve Whitaker and Alex Ang. Hack Tairawhiti 2019 is being held next month. Herald file picture