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New student challenge to help Kaikoura

University of Canterbury and NZ Transport Agency launch new student challenge to help Kaikoura

Quake affected Kaikoura businesses are set to benefit from a joint University of Canterbury and New Zealand Transport Agency initiative to boost visitor numbers to the area.

The UC Centre for Entrepreneurship (UCE) has joined with the Transport Agency to create and launch the three-day Kaikoura Challenge, following a similar format to University’s previous 21-Day Challenges which sent UC students to a typhoon-affected village in the Philippines in 2015 and to improve food sustainability on the Pacific island of Niue in 2016.

“This three-day challenge takes place much closer to home with more familiar conditions, but will be no less of an experience for the students,” UCE Operations Director Dr Rachel Wright says.

“Kaikoura’s economic and social well-being is heavily dependent on tourism. Since the quakes, visitor numbers have dropped significantly and so action is needed to help the community through what is likely to be a hard winter,” Dr Wright says.

“We think the three-day Kaikoura Challenge offers an exciting opportunity for UC students from all disciplines to make a tangible positive difference to a community in need. While helping the Kaikoura community in extraordinary circumstances is the aim, the students will also be developing and using key skills, such as collaboration and innovative thinking, which will benefit their future careers.”

Although the timeframe is short and university exams are looming, the organisational team anticipates that six teams of four students can be formed and be ready in time to travel to Kaikoura for the weekend of 19-21 May. The NZTA is funding and supporting the challenge with mentorship, transport, accommodation and other costs.

The entrepreneurial UC students will explore the region and consult with local businesspeople, the Kaikoura District Council and Transport Agency representatives in Kaikoura. The teams will then develop strategies to help increase visitor numbers to the region. At the end of the weekend, each team will pitch its strategy to a judging panel, with a share of a $3000 prize pool to be won.

The Kaikoura Challenge is open to all undergraduate and postgraduate University of Canterbury students from all areas of study, however given the short timeframe, particular courses of study had already been approached to raise awareness among students, Dr Wright says.

Pre-challenge briefings and preparation will be conducted in the week prior to the challenge weekend. Applications to participate close on 12 May.

More information can be found on the competition website: http://www.uce.canterbury.ac.nz/competitions/nzta.shtml


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