2021 Winners announced

2021 Winners announced

NZ Open Source Awards organisers at Catalyst IT are pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 New Zealand Open Source Awards.

These awards continue to recognise and celebrate the outstanding work done with free and open source software and the artistic, scientific, and social outcomes it delivers in New Zealand.

New Zealand Open Source Awards Winners Announced

NZ Open Source Awards organisers at Catalyst IT are pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 New Zealand Open Source Awards.

These awards continue to recognise and celebrate the outstanding work done with free and open source software and the artistic, scientific, and social outcomes it delivers in New Zealand.

“Once again the these awards have uncovered some incredible work by an amazing a diverse group of people. The joy of open source is the joy of sharing, learning from others and building capability that can be used anywhere by anyone,” says Don Christie, NZOSA judge and managing director at Catalyst. “We've heard about project teams, developers, designers, testers and users. All of whom make sure that the phenomenal impact of open source software continues to make a profound contribution to our communities and societies.”

The awards were scheduled to be announced at a gala dinner on February 8th, however the gala celebration was cancelled due to Covid-related event restrictions.

The winners in each category are as follows:

Winner - Open Source Use in Business
Te toa - Whakamahi Pūmanawa Herekore i te Pakihi

Te Hiku Media for Whare Kōrero

“The values and spirit of open source technologies can be a powerful driver for business development. By fostering the freedom to create in collaborative ways, open source technologies when used well can lift performance not only in a business, but across a sector. I was delighted to see the calibre of business finalists and the innovation all of them are using to drive positive, sustainable change not only for themselves, but for their wider communities. Te Hiku Media are an outstanding example and a deserved winner in the business category, using open source technologies to protect and grow te reo," says judge Joy Liddicoat.

Whare Kōrero is an API, website, and now an app built and used by Te Hiku Media to make te reo Māori and Māori content available to all. Whare Kōrero allows a way for Māori content to be created, curated, and delivered to people that would otherwise be unable to access it. It gets local stories out, and keeps local mita (dialects) alive. It is all built on open source software and is now being used by other iwi radio stations. Using this technology, Te Hiku have recently released an app that allows people to listen to and watch content from all the Iwi radio and TV stations in one place. A significant step towards helping to nurture the taonga that is te reo Māori.

Winner - Open Source Use in Government
Te toa - Whakamahi Pūmanawa Herekore i te Kāwanatanga

Ministry of Health for NZ COVID Tracer Application

Not only has the Ministry led New Zealand’s successful COVID19 response they have taken an exemplar approach to software development placing transparency, openness and trust front and centre.

The NZ COVID Tracer is an app that New Zealanders can use to keep a private, digital diary of where they have been to speed up Covid-19 contact tracing. Users scan QR codes to record where they’ve been and can enable Bluetooth tracing to anonymously log who they have been near. Public trust is key to the uptake of the app; it is designed to preserve privacy and was open sourced in December 2020. The Ministry of Health used the NZGOAL-SE framework to guide the selection of license and settings, and engaged with the open source community to ensure that they were going about it the right way. They have also made contributions upstream to the international open source projects that made the Bluetooth tracing feature possible.

Winner - Open Source Software Project
Te toa - Kaupapa Pūmanawa Herekore

Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand for LINZ Basemaps

Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand is the public service department of New Zealand charged with geographical information and surveying functions as well as handling land titles, and managing Crown land and property. LINZ is developing a free, open source, high quality basemap service providing an authoritative source of up-to-date New Zealand aerial imagery, as well as soon-to-be-integrated NZ Topo50/250 maps. The code is released under an MIT licence, and all of the content is released under Creative Commons. The code is being developed 'in the open' using modern code management tools to mitigate vulnerabilities and security issues.

Winner - Open Source Contributor
Te toa - Kaikoha Pūmanawa Herekore

Evonne Cheung for contributions to the Mahara project: Graphically designing an open source project

Judge Aleisha Amohia says, “The Open Source Contributor category is my favourite because it recognises open source communities. Starting a project is wonderful, but it's the communities and contributors that develop it, maintain it, grow it, and keep it alive. Open source software is special because it requires collective effort and passion for a project to build it. The winner of this category embodies those values. Evonne has shown true dedication to open source software through their 15 years of contribution. Their contribution also largely consists of the immensely important and often overlooked design and front-end component of software projects.”

Evonne is the longest serving Mahara team member and has worked on the project for close to 15 years. She established and shaped the brand, keeping it contemporary and relevant. We often celebrate open source from the coding perspective, but Evonne is an equally critical contributor to the project because graphic design is incredibly important for any modern web application. Evonne has adapted the brand and given it a major refresh. She also creates additional graphic visualisations, and Mahara themes that follow modern guidelines of responsiveness and accessibility. Evonne also creates the actual CSS and performs a lot of the front-end work for Mahara. This synergy between graphic design and front-end has been working very well for the Mahara project because Evonne knows how far she can push a design.

Winner - Open Source in Education, Social Services and Youth
Te toa - Pūmanawa Herekore i te Mātauranga, ngā Ratonga Pāpori me te Rangatahi

Deaf Studies Research Unit, Victoria University of Wellington & Ackama for NZSL Share

The Deaf Studies Research Unit and Ackama designed and developed a solution to the need for the New Zealand deaf community and sign language users to communicate new and previously undocumented signs. NZSL Share is an open source software project, operating alongside the NZSL online dictionary, free NZSL e-learning material and other online initiatives that support the New Zealand Sign Language Board’s strategic objectives. NZSL Share was developed in response to a need for a community-controlled online space where the Deaf community can discuss newly emerging or previously unrecorded signs. NZSL Share allows access to up-to-date language developments, by enabling people to view the discussion, save selected signs in folders, or upload their own signs to a private space.

Winner - Open Source use in Science

Whakamahi Pūmanawa Herekore i te Pūtaiao

Centre for Computational Evolution for BEAST 2

BEAST 2 is an open source cross-platform program for inferring family trees (phylogenies) from molecular sequences. BEAST 2 used by scientists all over the world in diverse fields, but particularly in genomic research. Having open source code means results can more easily be verified and errors can be reasoned about. Results can more easily be reproduced independently. BEAST 2’s analysis of the family trees of viruses has come into its own over the last two years, to the point that New Zealand is recognised as a world centre of phylogenetic research.

Winner - Open Source use in the Arts
Te toa - Whakamahi Pūmanawa Herekore i Ngā Toi

Vicki Smith for Breathe – Artist contribution to urban waterway engagement

“Vicki Smith's work has always been community-oriented and intersecting arts and sciences to engage audiences,” says judge Birgit Bachler. “The openness Vicki's work Breathe demonstrates goes beyond the technical and functional, and inspires how creative practice can be a catalyst for social and environmental change.”

Breathe is an art, science and technology collaboration which takes the form of a visual representation of the temperature of water along the length of Te Wairepo (York Stream), via a series of internet-connected fish replicas displayed in a public venue. The project seeks to encourage the groups involved to practise kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of their part of the waterway, taking direct action to reduce the temperature and therefore improve fish habitat. Breathe engages the health of New Zealand freshwater streams and the wellbeing of its connected ecosystems. The project combines a participatory approach that is suitable for children, using open source software to create a networked art project that is available to be developed for other streams.

Winner - Open Source People's Choice Award
Te toa - Te Kōwhiri a te Iwi

Nicholson Consulting in partnership with Te Rourou, Vodafone Foundation Aotearoa, Centre for Social Impact and Deloitte for Thriving Rangatahi Population Explorer

This work is about democratising data, so communities can access the information they need, for free, when working to support rangatahi in Aotearoa. This mahi used R to compile Stats NZ Integrated Data about the drivers of youth wellbeing. Nicholson Consulting led the work in partnership with Centre for Social Impact, Vodafone Foundation and Deloitte, who together thought long and hard about this use of open source data and technology to ensure it was undertaken in a way that upholds and uplifts the mana of young people. This was informed by te ao Māori approaches to data analysis, in particular, the Principles of Māori Data Sovereignty. The thinking about open source extended far beyond technology, to engagement and partnership with Māori community organisations and the care and protection of the rangatahi and whānau represented in the data.

Service awards

This year two service awards have been given to the following and recognise a lifetime contribution and achievement to open source software that is deep and impactful.

Adam Hyde for Exceptional FOSS leadership, and

Andrew Bartlett for his 20 year commitment to Samba.


The 2021 New Zealand Open Source Awards takes place in an environment where, after many decades, open source has gained a pre-eminent status in the software world and beyond. Open source powers the Internet, our phones, the cloud, the Internet of Things and is increasingly the default choice in enterprises around New Zealand and the rest of the world. It’s use under the shadow of the global Covid-19 pandemic has helped build trust in government systems, from Covid-19 Tracer apps to General Elections and delivering important information and support to our fellow citizens.

The range and quality of this year's nominations is testament to the vibrancy and diversity of our communities. This depth and breadth of achievement is nothing short of impressive. We are fortunate to have so many people here using open source technology and philosophy to deliver amazing technical, social and creative projects.

Many thanks to the NZOSA sponsors Catalyst IT, Red Hat, Silverstripe, IT Professionals NZ, Catalyst Cloud, SECTION6, Ackama, amazee.io, Internet NZ, NZOSS, and NZ Rise.

Thanks also to our judges Don Christie, George Moon, Birgit Bachler, Edwin Bruce, Joy Liddicoat, Aleisha Amohia, and Tim McNamara.




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