GovHack NZ 2017 is happening!

From 28-30 July this year, hundreds of people across New Zealand will come together to create potential solutions to the challenges facing our society at both local and national levels.

Last year, you registered for GovHack; we’re thrilled to be inviting you to take part again this year.

Before we start send you lots of exciting news and updates, we thought we’d make sure you wanted to remain on our mailing list. We won’t share it with third parties, and we most definitely don’t sell your information to anyone! We also respect your right to leave the list at any time.

If you’d like us to stay in touch with you, simply join our mailing list by clicking on the link below, or the “Join the mailing list” button at the bottom of this email.

(We also don’t mind if you get so excited you decide to pass this on to all your friends.)

Join the GovHack NZ mailing list

For those of you who decide to join the mailing list (yay!), we’ll be back in touch with more news about this year, including:

  • our exciting pilot lead-in events, aimed at improving the event’s diversity
  • our plans for helping build even better solutions during the main event
  • our thoughts on supporting GovHackers after the weekend.

You’ll also see that we have a new look website :)

All the best, and speak soon! Please do let us know if you have any comments, questions or suggestions, or if you’d like to volunteer, help organise or even sponsor. We’d love to hear from you all :)

Focus on: Dunedin

“We have a really strong IT community down here with a lot of great talent, both established and emerging, thanks to our Polytech and University.”

 – GovHack Dunedin

We’re just a few short weeks out from GovHack NZ, and it’s time to wrap up this series with the southernmost of our 2016 locations: Dunedin.

Read our Focus on: series

Having Dunedin as one of the locations for GovHack is great for Dunedin, says Phil Wheeler, senior web developer and Dunedin event head.

He explained: “It helps raise the profile of the city as a credible technology centre, allows the local talent here to collaborate and combine their skills in a constructive way, and it encourages some meaningful innovation with local and central public data that can offer practical uses for our Dunedin locals.”

What a great description! We love it :)

GovHack Dunedin 2015 event winners Vincent Rijlaarsdam and Chris Burgess.
GovHack Dunedin 2015 event winners Vincent Rijlaarsdam and Chris Burgess. Credit: Phil Wheeler

This year, GovHack will be taking place in Dunedin:

  • 29-31 July
  • Otago Institute of Sport and Adventure
  • Sargood Centre, 40 Logan Park Drive
  • Dunedin, 9016.

Keep an eye on Dunedin-specific GovHack info and news

Wheeler is very happy to have Otago Polytechnic on board as a sponsor.

“We’re extremely privileged to be able to work with Otago Polytechnic again for the second year running, with the event taking place in the Sargood Centre beside the University Oval cricket ground”, he told us.

“Otago Polytechnic have a strong commitment to enabling learning and community events in the ICT sector in Dunedin and their sponsorship of this event means a great deal.”

And we know just what Wheeler means when he says, “I’m really excited about GovHack in Dunedin – not only did we have a fantastic year last year, but this year promises to be an even bigger, more successful event.”

Hear hear, Phil!

And there are still a few tickets remaining – get them while you can :)

Register now for GovHack 2016 Dunedin

If you have any questions or would like to sponsor, get in touch with Phil at [email protected] or the national team at [email protected].

Find out more about our team


What data do you want for GovHack NZ?

Update: we’ve updated this post with more places to look. But this isn’t our most comprehensive list. Keep an eye on our 2016 data page for all of them as we keep updating!

2016 data for GovHack NZ

As we head into the final few weeks before GovHack, it’s time to give some thought to any particular government datasets you might want to work with over the weekend.

Why now? Well, if the data you’re interested in isn’t publicly available, you can request it through an Official Information request. Organisations have up to 20 working days to let you know what their decision is, which is just in time for GovHack NZ :)

Checking if the data you want is available

There isn’t a single catalogue or repository for open data in NZ. There are, however, some great places to start looking:

And, of course, there’s always Google to help you find data, too!

But what happens if the data you want isn’t available?

Making an OIA request

You can request the data under the Official Information Act (OIA) and Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA). These Acts state that:

“everyone in New Zealand has the right to access information held by public bodies. By law, they have to respond.”


There are numerous ways to make OIA requests, including directly to government agencies. We’ve found one of the simplest and easiest ways to do so is to use FYI.

Go to FYI (

Essentially, the site allows one to:

  • see what data has been requested from various public bodies
  • see what happened with those requests
  • make a request of one’s own.

It publishes all requests openly and transparently, and their progress and resolution (where there’s been one). This is great because it means others can also benefit from your request – and that’s what open data is all about!

Of course, you may not be able to get the data you request. While public organisations are required to respond, they don’t necessarily have to give you the data if there’s a good reason not to.

Most requests are successful, though.

We’re in the process of requesting councillor meeting attendance for GovHack locations for this latest 2013-2016 term. We think it could be really interesting for comparisons both within and between councils, and it’s definitely timely ahead of October’s local government elections.

Have we missed out any good open data sources/repositories/catalogues in NZ? Tell us in the comments below :)

Focus on: Queenstown

“Queenstown is a dynamic town and part of a fast-growing district with many opportunities and challenges.”

– GovHack Queenstown

In our penultimate post looking at this year’s GovHack NZ locations, we visit Queenstown – one of our new locations!

Read our Focus on: series

Says Nathalie Lacaze Campbell, lead organiser for the event, “the first GovHack Queenstown hopes to be a catalyst for people to bring ideas to the forefront of an ongoing conversation, a voice that local, regional and national government can listen to, an opportunity to develop a network of problem-solvers, and a great opportunity for locals to access and work with open data to build better connected communities and businesses.”

We couldn’t have said it better :)

Queenstown from Bob's Peak
The gorgeous location of this year’s GovHack Queenstown, seen from Bob’s Peak. Credit: Lawrence Murray, Perth, Australia

This year, GovHack will be taking place in Queenstown:

  • 29-31 July
  • Queenstown Memorial Hall
  • 1 Memorial Street
  • Queenstown, 9300.

Keep an eye on Queenstown-specific GovHack info and news

The theme for this year’s event is “Design thinking”. But what is it?

Nathalie explains: “design thinking is a human-centred design approach for finding real solutions by refining them through an iterative process, and involving people in shaping the final products, services or systems.”

As with all other GovHacks, GovHack Queenstown welcomes people of all backgrounds, interests and skills. As Nathalie puts it, “We hope that many people – jacks-of-all-trades and of-all-ages – will come join the conversation on the 29th July, and collaborate over a weekend towards creative solutions to the challenges our community sees.”.

We hope to see you all there! There are still some tickets available – grab them quickly before they’re all gone :)

Register now for GovHack 2016 Queenstown

If you have any questions or would like to sponsor, get in touch with Nathalie or Victoria at [email protected], or the national team at [email protected].

Find out more about our team


Focus on: Christchurch

“Christchurch is a great place for GovHack because we have a reputation for startups and a number of new tech initiatives.”

 – GovHack Christchurch

And we’re into the first of our South Island venues! This week, we focus on Christchurch.

This year marks the first time that GovHack has come to ChristChurch. ChristChurch City Council is its proud host, with the theme of “A Smart and Healthy City”.

Read our Focus on: series

Explains Dana Burnett, IT Service Manager for Digital Channels at Christchurch City Council and GovHack Christchurch lead organiser, “Govhack is good for Christchurch because it is part of rebuilding our city and creating a culture of innovation for us.”

“GovHack is another way to bring communities together; GovHack helps foster that and rebuild our culture of gathering people to do cool stuff together!”

Christchurch City Council digital hack day
The team at one of Christchurch City Council’s Digital Channel hack days, focussed on building innovative and creative digital solutions for Council. Credit: Dana Burnett

This year, GovHack will be taking place in Christchurch:

  • 29-31 July
  • Christchurch City Council Function Room
  • 53 Hereford St
  • Christchurch, 8013.

Keep an eye on Christchurch-specific GovHack info

And why are Christchurch City Council so excited to be involved? “We’re excited about hosting here because it is a great opportunity for the Council to be involved with an event encouraging innovation, open data and and open government. It’s a different way for us to work with our city and its residents and is a positive event for the city.”

“We are hoping that our local participants will come along with ideas, or generate ideas, that make Christchurch a smarter and more modern city, ideas that build on the rebuild already under way.”

Dana’s team are no strangers to the power of hackathons to help tackle tricky problems, especially around service design. She and her team were the impetus behind holding a GovHack event, as they are always looking for ways to think more innovatively, stay on top of new technologies and approaches, and deliver better information and services to their communities.

GovHack was a perfect fit.

“We have had a couple of our own internal hackathons to develop new ideas for tackling digital problems (some of which we have/are implementing)”, she told us, “and GovHack is another way for us to meet people and learn, to tap into new ways of working to solve problems and be part of our tech community.”

Of their many awesome sponsors*, Dana had this to say: “Our sponsors are keen to support GovHack Christchurch as it encourages creative and innovative thinking for our evolving city.”

A number of bounty prizes have been put up by the sponsors, including:

  • CDHB are looking to work with the winners of their bounty using CDHB data and give them a unique opportunity to make their ideas come to life
  • Christchurch Transport Operations Centre and Environment Canterbury have data and bounties focussed on enhancing Christchurch
  • UC Centre for Entrepreneurship have a student focus for their bounty.

Vodafone Xone are also providing participants with helpful “swag” for the event, “to help grow a culture of innovation across the city”. And Christchurch City Council will be releasing new datasets especially for the event.

“We want our GovHack entries to have a local and unique flavour!”, says Dana.

We hope to see you all there! Registrations are still open, but get in quick before all the tickets for this free event are gone.

If you have any questions or would like to sponsor, drop Dana a line at [email protected], or the national team at [email protected]. You can also follow GovHack Christchurch on Twitter, at @govhackchch.

Find out more about our team


* See the GovHack Christchurch page



Focus on: Wellington

“Wellington is right in the thick of the government action and we’re working closely with agencies to crack open some exciting data sets for the event.”

 – GovHack Wellington

This week, we look at the last of our North Island locations for GovHack NZ 2016: Wellington!

Read our Focus on: series

The seat of NZ’s government, Wellington is the largest of our NZ locations, with a very large and active community of organisers, volunteers and participants.

Cam Findlay, one of this year’s GovHack NZ Wellington organisers, has the following invitation: “This year’s GovHack Wellington is all about telling stories through data. Whether you have a tale to tell, or a question you want to answer using open data, head along. Wellington is in the thick of government open data so is a perfect place to hack up some solutions. It’s going to be a great weekend!”

GovHack Wellington 2015
Dan Randow organising GovHack Wellington 2015 into teams. Credit: Elias Rodriguez

This year, GovHack will be taking place in Wellington:

  • 29-31 July
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)
  • 15 Stout Street
  • Wellington, 6011.

Keep an eye on Wellington-specific GovHack info

This is the second year MBIE has hosted GovHack. What value does MBIE see in the event? Grant Lyons, MBIE’s CIO, told us. “Increasingly citizens and businesses are looking to transact with government online.  And one way the government believes we can deliver better public services is by a more joined-up public service.  So it’s important that digital information within government is readily available as often new services and applications rely on differing combinations of public and private data sets.”

“This sort of forum enables us to open up a wide range of government data sets and allow innovators and creators to collaborate and team. By applying fresh thinking and leveraging existing information sets, we know new services and applications will be created for the benefit of many.”

And people do, indeed, build applications which could help people both in NZ and internationally. One of GovHack Wellington 2015’s teams – Tremorz – picked up a major prize with their app after last year’s event.

Last year’s awards winners

Their mobile application, iHelp, used emergency response and crowd sourced data to help people find things they need or for people to offer items they had during a natural disaster.

Jo Booth, part of the winning team and one of the organisers of this year’s Wellington event, said: “We were all interested in emergencies, and within 46 hours, iHelp was created. Little did we know that the solution we created tapped into a 6-billion dollar problem – helping people find the right help in a disaster. Our app evolved as people shared their stories the effect of disasters and GovHack was the perfect catalyst to get ideas turned into reality.”

We couldn’t agree more, Jo!

GovHack Wellington 2015: Team Tremorz
Team TremorZ listening to stories of what helped in a disaster. Credit: Mark Tantrum

If you’re living locally (or passing through for the weekend) and have an interest in building on the social and economic value of open data published by government, we know Wellington would love to see you. Like all our locations, they’re looking for a wide range of skills (not just techies!) – everyone has something to contribute, stories to tell and questions to answer.

If you have any questions, drop the Wellington team a line at [email protected], or the national team at [email protected].

Find out more about our team


GovHack Wellington is closely aligned with HackMiramar, local civic hackers and makers group based in the peninsula suburb of Miramar in Wellington.

Portions of content have been modified from the HackMiramar website, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand CC BY license

Focus on: Whanganui

“Whanganui is a surprising place with a huge river of talent quietly running through it. “

 – GovHack Whanganui

In the middle part of our Focus on: series, we turn our gaze to Whanganui.

Read our Focus on: series

Why Whanganui? As Kevin Double, event co-lead and Partner at Double Farley Creative Partners, waxed lyrically:

“Events like GovHack are like perfect eddies in Whanganui’s river of talent, where like minded folks circulate around each other and build upon their collective passions and energy. Afterwards they return to their own flows but continue to collectively help our city’s future as one of the digital leaders of the world.”

GovHack NZ Whanganui 2015 participants
Some of awesome people who brought their talent and warmth to GovHack NZ Whanganui in 2015. Credit: Kevin Double

Whanganui has been recognised as a Smart21 Intelligent Community for the last three years, and as a Top7 Intelligent Community in 2016, but prestigious US thinktank the Intelligent Community Forum. So it’s a great fit for GovHack!

Read more about the Whanganui and the ICF

It’s more than just talent, though. Marianne Archibald, event co-lead and Innovation Leader – Special Projects at Whanganui District Council, explained: “I organised the inaugural GovHack Whanganui and was blown away by the warmth and enthusiasm of those who participated, so I’m doing it again this year.”

Double agreed, telling us “My interest in GovHack started by volunteering for the Whanganui event in 2015. I enjoy meeting people who are passionate about learning new stuff and making a difference to their communities.”

Whanganui river
A beautiful river really does run through Whanganui. Credit: Kevin Double

This year, GovHack NZ will be taking place in Whanganui:

  • 29-31 July
  • Double Farley
  • Level 3, 15 Watt Street
  • Whanganui, 4500.

Keep an eye on Whanganui-specific GovHack info

As Archibald said: “I’m so excited about Govhack coming to Whanganui again. The thing I liked most about our Whanganui Govhack was the warmth of the people. It was really lovely and really supportive.”

“The people from last year become friends.”

We’re excited to see old friends again, and make new friends, this year 29-31 July. See you there!

Interested in being involved as one of the event’s awesome sponsors? You’ll be in great company. Says Archibald, “It’s great to have Ultrafast Fibre – our local fibre company – on board as a sponsor again this year. If your company would like to sponsor the event please contact us. It’s an awesome event to be associated with.”

If you have any questions, drop Marianne or Kevin a line at [email protected] or [email protected], or the national team at [email protected].

Find out more about our team


Focus on: Hawke’s Bay

“Hawke’s Bay’s provincial perspective  – with its diversity and historic significance, and difference from the major urban centres – along with the creativity of the local community, provides a unique input into open data and the GovHack NZ community.” 

 – GovHack Hawke’s Bay

In the fourth part of our series taking a closer look at GovHack NZ locations this year, we turn to Hawke’s Bay.

Read our Focus on: series

This will be the region’s first year holding a GovHack, and we are all understandably excited! The event’s also taking a different form from our other locations – rather than being centred around a particular town or city, it’s being being organised on behalf of the 5 local councils:

  • Central Hawke’s Bay District Council
  • Hastings District Council
  • Hawke’s Bay Regional Council
  • Napier City Council
  • Wairoa District Council.

Explains Ian Tidy, organiser of the Hawke’s Bay event and GIS developer and analyst for Napier City Council: “To date the 5 local councils release very little data as open data. They are using this event to gauge what open data the community want, and this will feed into their policies and decision making processes about open data.”

Of course, it’s not just about councils. Tidy went on to say, “GovHack NZ provides the Hawke’s Bay communities an opportunity to participate in a national event, and local communities the opportunity to influence how the local councils work together in providing open data.”

A great example of how getting the civil and public sectors to build together is a win-win situation for everyone!

Register now for GovHack NZ 2016

Te Manga Maori Faculty Development by Paris Magdalinos Architects, EIT Campus
The award-winning Te Manga Maori Faculty Development, by Paris Magdalinos Architects, on EIT’s campus. Credit: ArchitectureNow

This year, GovHack 2016 will be taking place in Hawke’s Bay:

  • 29-31 July
  • EIT Hawke’s Bay Campus
  • 501 Gloucester Street
  • Taradale, 4112.

Keep an eye on Hawke’s Bay-specific GovHack info

But there’s more! The Friday night will a celebration of this inaugural event for the Hawke’s Bay, and is being held in the Gatsby Room at the iconic art deco Masonic Hotel in Napier. “This will provide a social atmosphere for teams to share ideas and plan their weekend”, says Tidy.

And why is Tidy himself so keen on GovHack NZ?

“I’m excited about seeing how open data can be used both at national and local levels.  There are so many possibilities with open data and how it can be used, not just for applications and web sites.

“I am thrilled by the ideas around the stories that can be told with open data and how the data can be visualised.”

We’re looking forward to seeing you there! If you have any questions, drop Ian a line at [email protected] or the national team at [email protected].

Find out more about our team

Focus on: Hamilton

“Hamilton is ideally placed for GovHack; it has an an active community, and a supportive university with an excellent computer science department.”

 – GovHack Hamilton

In the third of our Focus on: series, we continue heading south from Auckland to Hamilton.

Read our Focus on: series

So, why would you want to go to GovHack Hamilton this year?

In the words of Brian Cole, Hamilton event co-lead and Research Projects Manager at the University of Waikato, “GovHack represents a unique opportunity to collaborate and work with real data to come up with some interesting insights. Aside from all the people that you meet, you also get a chance to tackle real problems and maybe even come up with some solutions.”

GovHack NZ Hamilton, 2015
A group of tired but happy GovHackers from the 2015 Hamilton event. Credit: David Nichols

This year, GovHack will be taking place in Hamilton:

  • 29-31 July
  • Innovation Station, Computer Science Department
  • University of Waikato
  • Hillcrest, 3216.

Stay in the know about Hamilton-specific GovHack NZ info

David Nichols, Hamilton event co-lead and senior lecturer at the University of Waikato, told us that “the University is excited to host GovHack – it’s a wonderful broadening experience for our students and a great way to engage with the local community.”

He went on to say “I hope that regular GovHacks will encourage more collaboration between the university, industry and community.”

Cole agreed, adding “Im excited at the idea of new insights coming from the data. I love seeing things pieced together like a puzzle and looking at old problems from new angles. For me it is all about the challenge!”

Registrations open 9am 30 May. You still have time to enter our awards night competition, or have your say about how we improve our logo.

If you have any questions, drop Brian or David a line at [email protected] or [email protected] respectively, or the national team at [email protected].

Find out more about our team

Focus on: Auckland

“Auckland is a vibrant city with busy hacker and maker communities established in all areas.”

 – GovHack Auckland

In the second of our series looking at each of the GovHack NZ national locations this year, we showcase Auckland.

Read our Focus on: series

Says Cherie Ellis, National Coordinator and organiser of the Auckland event, “I love the event – the sense of community is as strong as the competition. It’s great to give people the opportunity to discuss their project ideas, the tools they’re e using, data they’re accessing and issues they’re having.”

Following on from the community spirit that was evident at last year’s Auckland event and the calibre of the products created, we are looking forward to seeing what Aucklanders can do again.”

Solving problems at GovHack NZ Auckland in 2015. Credit: Cherie Ellis

This year, GovHack will be taking place in Auckland:

  • 29-31 July
  • Salt Cafe, NZI Centre, level 1
  • 1 Fanshawe St
  • Auckland, 1010

Keep updated on Auckland-specific GovHack NZ info

National sponsor IAG’s Digital Project Manager Nigel Cherrie says “I’m looking forward to involving the community. It’s a great opportunity to see how we can influence the future of digital information, and we’re excited to be part of such an innovative and collaborative event”.

“As sponsors of the global event, it seems fitting to be inviting all of Auckland’s teams to IAG’s head office for GovHack 2016. During the event, the whole floor will be transformed into a creative, technological space where teams will create their masterpieces.”

GovHack NZ brings together people from all walks of life to work and backgrounds to collaborate on identifying problems and building solutions using government data. It’s open to anyone, and the more the merrier! In the words of Ellis, “we welcome participants with a range of skills from developers to graphics, marketing and business.”

We look forward to seeing you there. Registrations open 9am 30 May 2016, and you still have time to enter our awards night competition and logo design initiative.

Watch/listen to Mike Riversdale of Hack Miramar talk about GovHack at the recent Open Data Showcase at Parliament.

If you have any questions, drop Cherie a line at [email protected] or the national team at [email protected].

Find out more about our team