1 Mar 2021

New Zealand Innovator of the Year - Te Pou Whakairo o Te Tau
New Zealand Innovator of the Year - Te Pou Whakairo o Te Tau

The Trade Me New Zealand Innovator of the Year Award – Te Pou Whakairo o te Tau recognises a person or group who, in the spirit of Kiwi inventiveness and resourcefulness, have created a better New Zealand.

Meet our 3 finalists.

Kami: Hengjie Wang, Alliv Samson and Jordan Thoms & Bob Drummond


Uninspired by the reliance on printed handouts in classes, university students Hengjie Wang, Alliv Samson and Jordan Thoms decided to create a cloud-based, collaborative note-taking app. In 2012, along with their mentor Bob Drummond they banded together to start the company that would become Kami, and launched the note-taking app as a product. They quickly found that teachers were their most enthusiastic users, and when they discovered that US schools spend over $7 billion on printing and copying each year, the company pivoted to launch Kami (‘paper’ in Japanese), with an aim of transforming the modern classroom into a paperless, collaborative and efficient digital learning environment for all, and help close the digital divide. Already Kami’s audio & video-enhanced assignments, digital whiteboarding and sketchnoting tools have transformed the way students and teachers worldwide engage with digital information, learning resources, and each other - in the classroom and beyond.

In early 2020, the founders chose to make Kami available free of charge to schools impacted by the pandemic, resulting in astronomical growth as schools around the world moved classes to online or hybrid learning. Kami now supports 22 million students and teachers across 180 countries every schoolday and is ranked the No.1 document annotation application in the Google Web Store, and the most-used application integrated with Google Classroom worldwide.

Following Kami’s international success, the team recently chose to offer free subscriptions to all schools in Aotearoa indefinitely – giving back to the local education community that Kami first emerged from, and ensuring their technology being embraced by the world is available to every kiwi student and teacher.

Ranjna Patel, QSM, JP


When CM Police were concerned about the increase in Family Violence in the South Asian community in 2013, they asked Ranjna, an experienced health worker in high needs community and community leader for assistance. Research to Ranjna is identifying the root cause of a problem and gaps. As in health, access was the main barrier for men to get help. In order to keep women and children safe and lessen the trauma of being removed from the home, men are removed and offered emergency accommodation, counselling and behavioural therapy (while also providing wraparound support to the whānau at home, as we know only 20% of women ask for help). Despite all the research to support it, the concept was a challenging one to get off the ground, as people are less willing to invest in support services for men who are physically and emotionally abusive to their families. But 90% of women take the men back. In 2014 Ranjna established the first Gandhi Nivas home for perpetrators for rehabilitation in Otahuhu, partnering with NZ Police and Sahaayta Counselling services and now there are now three permanent Gandhi Nivas homes in Auckland, all staffed 24/7 by counsellors, social workers and Alcohol and Drug counsellors. Massey University released a 5-year longitudinal study (looking at men 5 years before entering Gandhi Nivas and after) and found 60% of men did not re-offend. 60% non-recidivism is amazing and will make a difference in NZ shameful Family Violence statistics.

Craig Piggott


Craig Piggott is the CEO of Halter. Founded in 2016, Halter is a US/NZ company that has developed technology to modernise the dairy industry by physically moving and guiding animals under machine learning control. Since its launch, Halter has grown to a team of 50 employees whose work has received widespread recognition, investment from both New Zealand and American venture capitalists, and awards at the 2017 New Zealand Innovation Awards. Craig was also a finalist for the 2018 NZ Hi-Tech Young Achiever Award and EY Entrepreneur of the Year award and won the 2020 NZ Hi-Tech Young Achiever Award.

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