Welcome to GovHack 2017!

This is your opportunity to shine: to craft great outcomes from open government data, and compete for some great prizes!

Have a good time, conduct yourself well, enjoy working with others, build relationships, and walk away with the feeling that the cause for open data is just that little bit better. Most of all, let’s see some awesome outcomes!

Read the competition rules (super important!)

Read our code of conduct


  • Check in opens 5.00pm Friday, 28 July; start time varies, but is after 5pm.
  • GovHack finishes 5pm Sunday, 30 July.

Volunteers and mentors

Volunteers are here to help with any general issues you might have with regard to the venue, toilets, moving equipment, catering, access to and from the building, emergencies, and competition rules or issues. If you need help, look for the people wearing GovHack t-shirts or wearing ‘GovHack Organiser’ name badges.

A number of mentors will be available to help with data and technical issues over the weekend.

The GovHack Hackerspace will also have a community forum during the competition where you can ask for mentor assistance from helpers not at your location. Data mentors are here to help where they can with the use of specific government datasets. Technical mentors are here to help where they can with your general technical problems. They are also available in case you need someone to bounce ideas around. Speak to your event host if you need to reach out to anyone specific.

GovHack Hackerspace 2016 (an example of what this year will look like)


All participants and observers must register on arrival. Registration will vary by location, but you will have full details when you get your (free) ticket for the event – ticket “sales” open closer to the event.

If you are under 18, you must supply the name of a parent/guardian during registration, and they must be present at all times while you are at the venue. To assist the organizers in identifying parents and guardians, we require their details to be provided with ticket registration on Eventbrite. Guardian/Observer Passes will be provided at the registration desk at opening night. These must be worn at all times to help the crew manage the safety at the event.

At registration, participants and observers will be provided with a GovHack name badge and lanyard that must be worn at all times. You will also be given details on Internet access at the venue.

How to have a great hackathon

Here’s a list of our top tips for getting the most out of GovHack. If you have any more, email or tweet us and we’ll add your suggestions!

  1. Read the What to Bring, Food, and Wellbeing sections below to make sure you have everything you need to stay happy, healthy, and productive.
  2. Have a chat to our organisers. We’re all here to help and make sure you get the most out of your weekend, and many of us have competed in hackathons in the past.
  3. Try not to get your heart set on a single project – if the data simply isn’t available, join a team and be involved in something different. Even if you don’t know much about their topic by the start of the weekend, you’ll be an expert by Sunday!
  4. Try not to be a perfectionist. (We know it’s hard. We’re perfectionists.) You want to get something up and running for the demo on Sunday evening, even if it’s not perfect.
  5. Talk to other teams and be generous where you can. We’ve seen teams lending each other coders and designers where there’s been a skill gap, and it’s great to see.
  6. We’ve said it elsewhere, but seriously, sleep, eat, hydrate, and take breaks! And do take some alone-time if you need to recharge away from people.
  7. If you’re feeling stressed, uncomfortable, or in need of assistance, come chat to one of our organisers. It’s really important to us that GovHack remains a safe, creative, and welcoming space for all participants.

Remember that you’re allowed to do research and project planning before the event – it helps to come prepared, as these can be time consuming. Think about what you’re interested in doing in the weeks leading up to GovHack, and see if you can find some of the datasets you’ll need.

What to bring: tech and equipment

Please label your belongings so we can return them to you if you leave them behind.

Here are some of the things we’ve seen people using at GovHack:

  • laptop
  • mouse and mousepad
  • adaptors and power cables
  • headphones
  • portable scanner, spare batteries, SD card
  • SD card reader
  • USB thumb drives, external hard drives
  • tablet and charger
  • phone and charger
  • drawing tablet and stylus
  • bluetooth adaptor
  • USB hub
  • identification.

What to bring: the other stuff

GovHack is great fun, but it can also be an intense and stressful weekend at times. Bring what you need to stay productive and comfortable. This may include:

  • comfortable clothing
  • a jumper, perhaps a blanket
  • any data you’ve downloaded for the event, or notes you’ve made
  • your favourite snacks and drinks (we’ll provide main meals and healthy snacks!)
  • a water bottle
  • glasses, if you need them for reading screens
  • pen, paper, post-its, notebook, coloured markers, your stationery drawer
  • business cards
  • any medications you may need.


We’ll be taking care of your food while you’re at GovHack, so all you need to bring along are any snacks you want. There will be vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options available.

If you have any special dietary needs, let us know (if you forgot at least 3 days before the event) and we’ll do our best to take care of you.

  • Friday: nibbles, maybe drinks.
  • Saturday: snacks, lunch, dinner.
  • Sunday: snacks, lunch, nibbles (and maybe drinks).

Wellbeing at GovHack

Taking care of yourself sounds pretty basic, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget over an intense 46 hours at a hackathon. Here are a few things to bear in mind.

  • Try not to get too stressed. It helps to set realistic expectations, and to focus on having something ready to demo – perfectionism and feature creep aren’t your friends at a hackathon. And don’t forget to back up your work, to avoid any last-minute panic.
  • Stretch!
  • Make sure you eat and drink regularly, and not just caffeinated drinks. Hydration is important.
  • Take breaks; go outside, tune out the world with headphones or had a quick nap.
  • Remember to take any medication that you need.
  • Try to get plenty of sleep. We don’t recommend being that person who works all night and doesn’t sleep. This recommendation may be based on real life experience.


We expect that you will be part of a team already, or will join a team at the start of the competition. You are allowed to compete as an individual, but we highly recommend you find other awesome people and join a team. There is no maximum size for a team. The best teams have a mix of skill sets. If you don’t have a team, find a local crew member who will help you meet other GovHackers looking for a team.


There will be observers present at GovHack at various times over the weekend. Observers are only there to ‘observe’. They are allowed to communicate with the participants, but not allowed to assist them in their project. Any participants that are in breach of this rule will be asked to leave and the team involved may be deemed ineligible to compete for prizes.

Photos and videos

You may be photographed, recorded, or videotaped as part of the weekend. Please let the organisers know if you do not want to be included in any photographs, videos or recordings.

Internet connectivity

Your local venue will provide free WiFi. Details for how you can connect to the WiFi will be provided at registration. Your WiFi usage, including content downloads, may be monitored as part of general venue security, so please use the access provided with respect and avoid any illegal behaviour.

Please make sure the laptops or computers you bring can connect via WiFi, or that you bring a WiFi dongle (adaptor). Hardwired connections are not available at all venues.

Social media

Twitter will be the primary social media platform that will be used and monitored throughout the event.

Questions, comments, mentions, and cat GIFs can be directed to the National GovHack Twitter account, or to your local GovHack event account.


Twitter hashtag: #govhacknz

Please also share your photos of the event through Flickr or Instagram – just tag them GovHackNZ2017 :)

Public transport and parking

If you’re unsure of public transport or parking options at the venue you’re going to, please get in touch with your local organisers.

Security and building access

The venues for GovHack NZ 2017 will not be open overnight. Please see the page for your venue for details of when the venues will be open. While we can’t stop you working outside of those hours, we suggest you use those times to get some rest!

There will be volunteers, security staff and venue staff at the venue during all open hours of the event.

Neither the event organisers nor venue operators can accept responsibility for personal belongings left unattended onsite. If you don’t have a trusted person to look after your belongings, we recommend taking them with you if you leave the venue.

Occupational health and safety

OH&S refers to the policies, procedures, legislations and activities, which aim to protect the health and safety of people within a workplace. Specific ways to limit hazards to yourself or another person whilst participating in GovHack are listed below.

  • It is imperative that your health and safety is never compromised.
  • If you have any existing injuries, inform a volunteer.
  • If you notice any hazards, report them immediately to a volunteer (e.g. water spillages).
  • Minimise the risk of tripping by getting a volunteer to place gaffer tape over cords, securing them to the floor.
  • Place tables and electrical items close to the power outlets whenever possible.
  • Bend your knees when you lift.
  • If you start to shake, put on some warmer clothes and/or slow down on the coffee/energy drinks.

Think before you lift!

Manual handling occurs when you are lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying, moving, holding, and restraining any person or thing. It’s unlikely you’ll have to lift anything heavy at this event – do you really need to be moving that? Check with a GovHack volunteer before moving anything larger than a laptop.

First aid and emergency procedures

If a person is unconscious or requires an ambulance, immediately dial 111. Please also advise your GovHack Crew.
Details of emergency procedures will be introduced to participants during induction and on display within the venue. Make yourself familiar with these procedures at any time you’re onsite.

Event programme

The GovHack weekend is a frantic, frenzied period of work. We’d love to let you tinker away with your projects for the entire weekend but there’s a bunch of administrative stuff we need to fill you in on.

Event roadmap

You have only approximately 46 HOURS to get your entry completed, so here is a guide as to how you might want to allocate your time. This is only a guide, and you can do whatever you want to create and submit your entry.


At 7pm on the Friday night, we launch the competition categories and your team can start creating. The first night is all about working together in your team to create an idea that will win you cool stuff. Don’t try to develop concepts that win every prize, focus on one or two categories…. although you want to make sure you at least register your entry for one GovHack and one Local prize to max your chances. Yes, we know some of you will register for every prize.

  • Make a team and register all team members in Hackerspace
  • Identify data sets you will use and talk to mentors
  • Rule out data that needs too much work
  • Map out your entry idea, identify possible users and customers (demographic)
  • Determine which Local and GovHack prize categories you are targeting
  • Check if these prize categories have data requirements
  • Assign roles to team members e.g design, proof of concept, graphic/images, video production
  • Start creating
  • Ask for help


The best teams lock down their concept idea before 10am Saturday. Don’t be afraid to ask data mentors for ideas, after all they know the data best!

  • Continue or start creating and talk to the mentors.
  • Consolidate your many ideas into one or two good ones.
  • Start a storyboard of how you will communicate your ideas.
  • By 12pm, make sure all team members are registered in Hackerspace.
  • Take some photos of your team or media that will help your video entry.
  • Submit team registration page and nominate prize categories by the5pm deadline!
  • Test and refine the entry.
  • Keep building.


  • Last year’s competitors will all tell you the same: “It took me all afternoon to create my video and then we had loading problems….Aggghh panic!” On average it takes about half an hour to load videos onto YouTube, and new technology when you’re stressed takes twice as long as you want… so factor these elements into your day’s plans.
  • Finalise your storyboard script. This is your chance to sell your data reuse idea to the judges.
  • Finalise building your entry, or if you’re running out of time, focus screens that will feature in the video the most.
  • Arrange for a quiet space to record any audio and filming your (max) 3 minute presentation.
  • By 2pm you should be in editing mode for your video.
  • Get your team page completed to meet all entry criteria.
  • Aim to start loading your video to YouTube (or Vimeo) by no later than 4pm.
  • YouTube gives you a URL link as soon as you start loading your video – so make sure you grab this and enter it on your project page.
  • Finish and submit your entry by 5pm.

Don’t forget to look after yourself: take breaks, eat, drink, and go for an occasional walk. Allow some time to get away and freshen up. Showers clear the mind!

Submitting your entry

Hackerspace is the Official GovHack competition submission site, and allows you to submit all the components required for your team’s Govhack entry. 
 Note: submission elements and times are system controlled so no extensions are available! 
Teams are required to submit the following as part of their competition entry on Hackerspace:

  • Register all Team members in Hackerspace (If your team wins, we can only recognise registered team members).
  • A descriptive project page, listing your team members, details about your project, what data sets have been used and what competition categories (local, national and international) that you are going for.  The project page must include your Project Description Data Story.  This is a short description that describes how data has been reused and what your project is about. Submit an image that best captures your concept e.g a logo or photo. If you win an award this is what we will use to describe your project.
  • Nominate your Prize Categories. When you register your Team Project on the Hackerspace, you’ll have access to the international and national competition prizes, as well as your relevant local competition prizes to compete for. Teams may register more than one entry; a new project page is required for each entry. You can nominate more that than one prize category for each for each project entry so long as the entry meets the multiple eligibility criteria. At a minimum, please nominate one national and one local prize. We encourage projects to focus on a few prizes – not all the prizes.  The best way to maximise your chance to win is to use a dataset from the national official list and a dataset from your local competition, and to check for any prize category eligibility criteria such as the use of specific datasets.
  • Outcomes from the project itself (any code, graphics, mashups, applications, website URLs, or photos of each  stage to create your artistic representation etc) which must all be made available under an open source/content licence to be eligible for prizes. If judges are able to see and play with it, that is useful, but is a minor component of the judging.

Teams can put the code/source on GitHub, Sourceforge or an equivalent repository system and must make the URL available on their team page for verification. For artistic works, you may need to create a photo library or share a link to a Google Doc that contains evidence of the stages of your project.

  • Data reused – on your project page you are required to record any data used. This is especially required if the prize categories entered have a data usage requirement for eligibility. Help make judges lives easy and add the links to the data you’ve used.
  • A pre-recorded video (maximum three minutes) embedded on your project page that demonstrates your hack in action for the judging panel. The preferred method is to use a screencast with a voice-over narration explaining your hack, why you created it, and what is being show in the video.

Remember that the judging panel is viewing the videos in isolation and doesn’t necessarily have any context around your project. You may mix in other elements with the screencast, such as footage demonstrating the issues your hack addresses, interviews, or live action material you’ve filmed, but be aware that videos that don’t focus on showing off the hack itself will not be as valued as ones that do.

You are encouraged to include your team name, event location and team members, and to talk about the data you have used and your data reuse story. Check out the hacker toolkit for some assistance and instruction on how to make a compelling video. Remember: Your video should not take more than a few hours out of your weekend if you keep it simple.

Timeframes to register and submit

7pm Friday Hackerspace opens and prize categories are announced for your region.

12pm Saturday – all competitors must register as a user on Hackerspace.

5pm Saturday – a Team Project Page and your prize category nomination must be completed in Hackerspace. Record all your team members on your project page and the URL to your proof of concept repository. No new project pages can be created after this time, but you will still be able to edit existing project pages.

4pm Sunday – your video should be finalised and have a URL linked to your your project page. It may take some time for your video to load once you have started the process.

5pm Sunday local time –  you MUST have all parts of your competition entry finalised by 5:00pm. This includes 1) your team page, 2) your data story description and detail of datasets used, 3) your project outcomes (demos, code, graphics, photos submitted and 4) your video link uploaded.

Competition rules


All prizes you can compete for will be announced on 28 July at your registered Official GovHack Location 2017 launch party at 7pm! After then you can find the prizes at http://www.govhack.nz/2017-prizes/. Teams are eligible for some great prizes, including:

  • International Prizes categories
  • New Zealand GovHack Major Prize categories
  • New Zealand Bounty Prize categories.

Local Prizes

You must nominate which prizes you are competing for on your Hackerspace project page.

Team Prizes

There are also a few prizes for particular categories of participants. Teams must self-nominate in the HackerSpace which of the following categories best describes their team and declare the eligible members. Team awards can be nominated for if over 50% of your team members identify with the nominated team category. A youth is anyone 18 years or younger. To be eligible for the Best University or Best Public Servant award please add the relevant competitor’s University or school email address.

Hackers vote

A Hackers Vote award will be issued to the highest voted overall project. There are four weeks afterwards where you can nominate your Hackers Vote. Only registered team members can vote so make sure all your team members are registered on your project page. You will have 3 voting points which you can allocate over 3 projects (1 point per project).

Spirit Prizes

Each GovHack location will have a local “Spirit of GovHack” prize for the team or individual that displays the greatest spirit of GovHack – aka the best “hacker” ethos. This means the team who best helped others, shared, learned or applied their skills in a creative or clever way. Local Spirit prizes are announced on the Sunday night after the competition. Each local winner will be then up for the GovHack Spirit of GovHack Award announced at the Awards night.

Judging criteria

All GovHack entries will be judged by the GovHack Competition Judging Panel against the following criteria:

  • Originality.
  • The relevance to the team nominated category definition.
  • Specific prize eligibility criteria detailed (if any) e.g. data use, team criteria.
  • Consistency with contest purposes including social value.
  • Quality and design (including standards compliance).
  • Usability (including documentation and ease of use).


The GovHack competition judges will choose all winners. The judging panel for prizes will consist of a mix of GovHack organisers, government agency representatives and industry sponsors as appropriate for each prize. All Submission elements detailed in “submitting your entry” section of this document must be completed by the required time. No requests for extensions will be considered. The final arbiter is the judging panel, whose decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into. This is a competition of skill, chance plays no part in this competition. Judges are not eligible to compete for prizes.

Winners and Awards

Each winning team must nominate one person to liaise with and provide their details to GovHack organisers after prize announcements, to coordinate distribution of prizes after the event. Prize money must be evenly split between all team members of winning teams. If all members of your team are under 18, then please nominate a guardian or the local event organisers, who will facilitate the purchase of vouchers to be split amongst the team.

Some local prizes may be handed out on the Sunday afternoon, but most prizes will be announced at the awards night. The awards night also presents a great opportunity to celebrate all the clever projects from around the country with sponsors, agencies, media and some high profile special guests! After GovHack, a limited number of finalists from each location will be chosen to fly to the awards. More details will be advised after the main event.
There will also be an opportunity for some NZ GovHackers to attend the Red Carpet Awards in Australia.


You will find the list of official data available for the GovHack competition below.

Data sources for GovHack NZ 2017

You must use at least one Government open data set to be eligible for prizes. Check the eligibility requirements of the GovHack Prizes and to see if you need to use a specific dataset or data from a specific data publisher or data portal for the prize category you want to enter.

Some datasets listed on data portals may have additional resources available with further information on how to use the data or other supporting material. You are encouraged to download and use these resources. If you have questions about a dataset, let a crew member know and we will try to find a data mentor for you, or post the question on the Hackerspace forum.

Several competition goals require that entries must use at least one of the datasets provided for this contest, but you are free to use data from the official GovHack list or other datasets as long as their licensing terms permit usage for this purpose. You may also use any publicly accessible web services as long as it does not incur a financial cost to use (private and subscription APIs are prohibited due to licensing issues and barrier to entry).


To be eligible for prizes, individual entrants must be either an Australian or New Zealand citizen or a current Australian or New Zealand resident (this includes temporary student residents). For team entrants, at least one member of the team must be an Australian or New Zealand citizen or a current Australian or New Zealand resident (this includes temporary student residents). It’s only fair – it is an Australian and New Zealand GovHack competition after all. At least one team member must be over 18 (or a guardian must be registered as the representative to facilitate prizes).

Judges expect entries to be primarily developed throughout the weekend of GovHack. If submissions are shown to have been worked on before the weekend, the submission will be ineligible for prizes. This does not include reuse or extension of existing software, libraries or datasets. Entrants may be members of multiple teams but each team must be registered separately and each team has one entry. There is no maximum team size.

No judges will be eligible to compete for prizes, and individuals from organisations or companies are also not eligible for prizes sponsored by their organisation. Mentors/speakers are eligible to compete for prizes, but judges reserve the right to disqualify a mentor/speaker if they perceive unfairness.

Nature of submission

Don’t do bad things. This contest has been designed to demonstrate the benefit of open access and Government 2.0. Please participate in and engage with the contest in that spirit and in good faith. You must not include submissions that are or include:

  • potentially libellous, false, defamatory, invasive to privacy or overtly political
  • material which is potentially confidential, commercially sensitive, or which would cause personal distress or loss
  • any commercial endorsement, promotion of any product, service or publication
  • language which is offensive, obscene or otherwise inappropriate
  • misleading, deceptive, in violation to a third party’s rights or are otherwise contrary to law.

We reserve the right to reject submissions that do not comply with the letter and spirit of these rules.

Authorised materials

You agree to only include code, data, or other materials in a submission for the GovHack contest that you have the right to use and release, consisting with these contest rules.

All code and APIs must be available under an appropriately open license that allows reuse, commercial use, remixing and redistribution. As the owner of the code you can of course fork that code and commercialise if you want, but to be eligible for the competition, the codebase and demonstration submitted must be open sourced. All other content submitted must be Creative Commons BY licensed. For instance you may choose to submit an incredible dynamic or static data visualisation as your team contribution.

The reason for the open licensing of code and content is because GovHack is about awesome outcomes that anyone can use and build on. Great innovation comes from building on the greatness of those who came before.

Entrants consent to GovHack representatives using their name, likeness, image and/or voice in any media for an unlimited period of time, without remuneration, for any publicity and marketing purposes.

Most datasets available for this contest have been released under a permissive licence such as the Creative Commons Attribution license 4.0. You can also use other material that has been released on similarly liberal terms (ie. it is in the public domain (eg. US Government materials) or released under another, compatible Creative Commons license, the Free Documentation License, the MIT license or BSD license etc.).You can use non- Government data licenced for reuse, however remember this is GovHack, so you must use some official Government datasets.

Right to remove

Submissions and comments will be posted live, but occasionally they may not make it through our anti-trolling and anti-spamming filters and may need to be moderated manually. We reserve the right to remove or not post any submission that reasonably appears to breach any of these rules.


The GovHack team makes no representations or warranties of any kind, expressed or implied, including warranties of accuracy, in regard to any submissions or links published on the GovHack website.