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The year that was: Looking back on our top 10 stories of 2018

We’d like to think (completely unbiasedly) that Idealog unleashed some top-notch stories on the world this year. But don’t just take our word for it – take our readers’ word for it. To recap on the year that was, according to you, feast your eyes on the top ten most well-read stories on Idealog over the course of 2018.  

1. ReoBot: The AI-powered chatbot that will help you speak te reo Māori



The story of Reobot, a new start-up that uses an artificial intelligent bot called ‘ReoBot’ to get more people conversing in te reo Māori through Facebook messenger nabbed the most read story spot this year. ReoBot works by encouraging the user to interact and respond in te reo Māori through a series of short conversational chats. Questions such as "would you like a coffee?" and "how are you?" or "how is the weather?" guide the user through a short conversation that is conveyed in both te reo Māori and English.

2. The Blunt + Idealog + Generator umbrella experiment: meet the finalists



Back in February, we asked the Idealog audience to submit a design that defined modern New Zealand, with the winning effort going on to become a limited-edition Blunt umbrella. And the power of a deadline to create action among designers saw the entries flooding in at the last minute, with 239 in total and 3,734 votes for the People’s Choice category. The finalists – featured here – also attracted a sizeable amount of eyeballs.

3. Helius Therapeutics' Paul Manning on the challenges and opportunities of New Zealand's cannabis industry

Our podcast interview with one of New Zealand’s first medical cannabis companies, Helius Therapeutics, came out at the time that interest in this emerging sector was just starting heat up, with founder Paul Manning proving very open in his discussion of where the opportunities and challenges laid for businesses that ventured into this space.

4. If you plant it, they will come: Sunfed's Shama Lee on tackling the meat industry in New Zealand



Is going meat-free the way to fight climate change? As part of our Can We Fix It series with Kiwibank about climate change, we explored the alternatives to meat that aren’t as impactful on the planet. Sunfed founder Shama Lee discussed creating a plant-based ‘meat-free meat’ that looks and tastes like the real deal, and the implications for New Zealand's food exports.

5. Meet the young entrepreneur at the helm of Halter, the NZ agritech company backed by Peter Beck, Data Collective and Peter Thiel



The story of a young man from Morrinsville making waves in the agritech world with the award-winning idea behind his company, Halter, proved to be popular with readers due its focus on the future of farming. The solar-powered, GPS-tracked collar self-herds cows while gathering data about their behaviour, emotions and health and sending it to the farmer’s phone, leading to Rocketlab’s Peter Beck to dub it a ‘billion-dollar idea’.

6. Could investing in New Zealand cannabis companies be the next green rush?


 
When companies such as Helius and Hikurangi Enterprises hit the New Zealand market, many were wondering where the opportunities laid for those wanting to invest in the birth of a new industry. 1J Capital founder Andrew Jeffery, who is creating a cannabis capital fund in New Zealand, was on hand to discuss the opportunity for Kiwis.
 
7. Inside Xero's new Wellington HQ



Interest was high to have a peek inside Xero’s new HQ, a heritage-listed building in downtown Wellington that has been reconstructed for the digital age. As one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing companies, Xero’s primary objective was to house all 600 Wellington staff at one site. The team has called the 6000-square-metre footprint home happily ever since.

8. Shane Hansen wins IP battle over copied campervan artwork, now hopes to inspire other artists



When artist Shane Hansen was told his artwork had been copied and used on the side of a campervan, he decided he wasn’t going to let it slide. After a year-long battle, he succeeded in getting Escape Rentals to apologise and settle out of court. He shared the advice he had for other artists who are having IP trouble, following the experience.

9. For The Better Good: A refreshing alternative to the water bottling industry



The water bottle industry is one of the most flagrant users of plastic in the world, but aside from banning the industry altogether, the next step forward in combating this is difficult. New Zealand made compostable and circular water bottle company, For The Better Good, may represent an alternative. Founder Jayden Klinac discussed his plant based alternative and how the company is turning waste into capital.

10. Calling on cannabis: Hikurangi Group on how it plans to use marijuana to grow Ruatōria from the ground up

In our series covering the budding cannabis market, Idealog reached out to companies poised to launch into what is predicted to be a billion-dollar market in New Zealand. Social enterprise Hikurangi Cannabis says it won’t just be another marijuana plant: it wants to to be a forestry of health, sustainability, local community and Kaupapa. Manu Caddie, managing director of Hikurangi Enterprises discussed his plans to enrich the community by restoring jobs and Māori values on New Zealand's East Coast. 

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).