This article was published on 10 August 2022
Pioneering a way to harness seaweed’s potential has helped AgriSea to claim the title of one of New Zealand’s most innovative hi-tech businesses.
The Paeroa-based company – which provides innovative, proven and effective seaweed products that benefit people and the planet – was named Callaghan Innovation Hi-Tech Māori Kamupene o te Tau/Māori Company of the Year at the 2022 NZ Hi-Tech Awards.
The award ceremony, run by the not-for-profit Hi-Tech Trust, was held on Friday (5 August) at a gala dinner at Wellington’s TSB Arena.
For more than 25 years, AgriSea has been using sustainably collected seaweed from remote coastal communities to develop organic biostimulant products for soil, pasture, and animal health. The business has the potential to contribute to New Zealand farming for decades to come, with its products benefiting the dairy, drystock, horticulture, apiculture, and viticulture enterprises that are using them.
Tane Bradley (Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato-Tainui), AgriSea’s Chief Innovation Officer, inherited AgriSea from his mother, Jill Bradley, and stepfather Keith Atwood who were championing organic products and sustainability principles long before being deemed ‘mainstream’.
Research and innovation have been the foundation for the business in establishing markets in Aotearoa and offshore – and as it expands by exploring different uses of seaweed for everything from wound care to creating cleaner waterways.
AgriSea Chief Executive Clare Bradley says the award win is great recognition of the team’s work.
“We’re extremely humbled by the award. It was an honour to be a finalist in this category for the second time in the row, so to win was really the cherry on top,” says Bradley.
“This win not only shows that green technology, using natural systems and ecological principles can be recognised as hi-tech but also how integrating manaakitanga and your values into work practices can have a positive impact.”
With support from Callaghan Innovation’s R&D Fellowship Grant, AgriSea has progressed the science behind one of its formulations and is beginning to commercialise IP that is developed in partnership with Crown Research Institute (CRI) Scion.
Henare Johnson, Callaghan Innovation’s Chief Māori and Government Engagement Officer, noted the importance of recognising the incredible mahi (work) of Māori innovators, and their contributions to a booming Māori economy.
“It’s great to see so many Māori businesses incorporating te ao Māori into their tech solutions that are helping our people and te taiao (the environment),” says Johnson. “Aotearoa should be proud of the innovative work being done here.”
Other finalists in the 2022 Hi-Tech Māori Kamupene o te Tau category were:
Envico Technologies is an award-winning environmental technologies company pioneering the R&D of specialist drones and automated systems for conservation and biosecurity. Their drones play a critical role in protecting New Zealand’s native species - from kōkako birds in Taranaki to mighty kānuka trees in Otago.
Plink believes technology can be used to connect Māori to their identity through language and whakapapa. Their two main offerings are Tipu, an educational app for learning te reo, and Te Ao Hunga, which is software that helps iwi organisations to manage membership information, including their whakapapa.
Height makes procurement in construction and infrastructure more equitable by offering project and procurement expertise to government agencies and companies. Led by their values, the company is demystifying the bidding and procurement process, saving companies millions, and creating better social and environmental outcomes for communities.
The full list of 2022 NZ Hi-Tech Awards winners:
Xero Hi-Tech Young Achiever
Winner: Jamie Beaton
Highly Commended: Imche Fourie
Visa Best Hi-Tech Solution for the Public Good
Winner: GNS Science & NIWA
Highly Commended: Kara Technologies
IBM Most Inspiring Individual
Winner: Brooke Roberts
Tataki Auckland Unlimited Most Innovative Hi-Tech Creative Technology Solution
Highly Commended: Writer’s Toolbox
Callaghan Innovation Hi-Tech Maori Company of the Year
Duncan Cotterill Most Innovative Hi-Tech Software Solution
Endace Most Innovative Hi-Tech Hardware Product
Highly Commended: StretchSense
Kiwibank Most Innovative Hi-Tech Service
Highly Commended: Hnry
NZTE Most Innovative Hi-Tech Agritech Solution
Halo Consulting Best Contribution to the NZ Tech Sector
Winner: Summer of Tech
Punakaiki Fund Hi-Tech Start-up Company of the Year
Winner: Seen Safety
Pacific Edge Hi-Tech Emerging Company of the Year
Highly Commended: Auror
Soul Machines Most Innovative Deep Tech Solution
PwC NZ Hi-Tech Company of the Year Award
Tait Communications Flying Kiwi Award
Recipient: Ian McCrae
See the NZ Hi-Tech Awards website for more details.