Tag Archives: Helping the community

Amazing people doing great things locally, nationally and internationally and opportunities for students to volunteer and get involved with community projects.

Hours of paperwork saved by app

A Christchurch tech company’s app is helping New Zealand Police banish thousands of hours of paperwork.

Developed by UC alumnus Reuben Bijl, Smudge Apps has collaborated with the New Zealand Police to develop the OnDuty Family Harm Investigation mobile application, which enables frontline police to combat family violence by giving them access to complex information at the touch of a fingertip. 

It’s safe to say the app has transformed the way police officers operate by effectively banishing lengthy paper-based forms to make way for the intuitive mobile application.

“Previously, police officers attending a family violence incident had to complete a 13-page paper form,” says Smudge Managing Director Reuben Bijl.

He says, the apps Smudge has built for New Zealand Police are saving over 500,000 hours of police time every year – valuable time that frontline cops can be spending on activities with more impact.

Smudge is the brainchild of Reuben Bijl and Toby Vincent, who taught themselves how to build mobile apps as a summer holiday project.

Ten years later, Smudge-designed apps have been downloaded more than eight million times and the team have partnered with several highly recognised brands, including Vodafone and the NZ Police to create variety of user-friendly products.

Growing up in Canterbury, Bijl says he was obsessed with technology from a very young age and enjoyed tinkering with devices and trying to figure out how they worked.

“One of my earliest memories was blowing up a computer by playing with the voltage selector switch,” he says. 

His interest in technology was complemented by a love for playing and listening to music, including studying classical piano at the University of Canterbury and being part of the choir at Christchurch Cathedral.

That ability to combine arts and science to solve problems ultimately inspired Bijl to set up Smudge with co-founder Toby Vincent, with a vision of using technology to enable people to make their lives easier. 

A good example of this is the New Zealand Police OnDuty Family Harm Investigation app which launched May this year, and is being hailed as “world leading” by overseas forces.

Now used by 9,000 officers around New Zealand, OnDuty’s capabilities has been a game changer for police. The app allows officers to search names, scan driver licences and search for related people, anytime, and from any location.

Bijl says Smudge are “super proud” of the work they’ve done with the Police – and so they should be. Their latest app recently won the NZRise Excellence in Software Award at the NZ Excellence in IT Awards – yet another example of the world-class, connected and creative work coming out of Christchurch’s tech sector.

Thursday’s in Black: the importance of social networks

Thursday’s in Black is a global campaign aimed with increasing awareness of sexual violence, consent culture, and positive relationships. Thursday’s in Black encourages everyone to wear black every Thursday in solidarity against gender based violence. The 2018 formation of UC’s Thursday’s in Black club has led to many events including clothing swaps, discussion panels, and free workshops, keeping its focal message in mind. You can typically find our stalls, Thursday’s at the central library’s entrance, providing free coffee, resources, and conversation. Otherwise, look out for us on Facebook! The on-campus presence of clubs and campaigns such as Thursday’s in Black lies at the heart of UC’s culture, building a community united in diversity.

“It’s so important to have a movement like Thursday’s in Black that breaks down the taboo of sexual violence and is spreading awareness for what we all can do to end rape culture. To have a campaign like this on campus means that we can firstly spread awareness about what sexual violence is, then take action within our communities and through working with the University to end sexual violence and promote a safe and fun campus,” says Kaitlyn White, President of Thursday’s in Black @ UC.

Like on-campus societies and campaigns such as Thursday’s in Black, the counsellors at the UC Health Centre and the Māori Student Development Team, Pacific Development Team, and Student Care are all there for a reason. The safety and security of everyone on campus is paramount.

Ben O’Connell

YMCA Youth awards – UC Community Action award: nominations close 31 July

Youth Voice Canterbury are excited to bring back the YMCA Canterbury Youth Awards for a second time to celebrate the amazing things that young people are doing in our communities! Youth in Canterbury are doing lots of great things and in 2018 we’re pulling together even more categories to create more opportunities to acknowledge our region’s rangatahi. 

Have you considered nominating someone for the UC Community Action Award?

Nominations opened at the beginning of July and close at 11pm on Tuesday 31st July 2018. If you’re keen to nominate someone you will need to provide:

  • Your details (the nominator)
  • Their details such as name, age, email, contact phone (the nominee)
  • Select the category you wish to nominate them for (can be more than one)
  • A referee

Tell us why you are nominating this person! You might include activities they are involved in, how they contribute to the community, something they’re achieved, how they’ve demonstrated leadership… anything that aligns to the criteria and category that the person/group is nominated for


There are many categories designed to recognise amazing people in our region including young people, youth groups, adults that support young people, and two new categories for Christchurch children! Check out the categories below:

  • Wayne Francis Charitable Trust Leadership Award
  • PYLAT Commitment to Wellbeing Award
  • Asia New Zealand Foundation Advocate for Inclusion and Diversity Award
  • University of Canterbury Community Action Award
  • YMCA Young Champion Award
  • Youth Voice Canterbury Te Tohu Tokomaha (group award)
  • Vodafone New Zealand Foundation Te Tohu Hihiri Taumata(supporting youth award)

We also have categories to recognise just one outstanding young person from each District:

  • Te Hā o Mātauranga Supreme Youth Award for Kaikoura
  • Supreme Youth Award for Hurunui
  • Matt Doocey Supreme Youth Award for Waimakariri
  • Norman Kirk Supreme Youth Award for Christchurch
  • Supreme Youth Award for Selwyn
  • Andrew Falloon MP Supreme Youth Award for Ashburton
  • Andrew Falloon MP Supreme Youth Award for Timaru

Find out more and nominate someone now>