It was a spellbinding day for two St John's College students as they were the first North Island team to take out two of six national excellence awards for the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES).

On Waitangi Day Benjamin Gardiner and Brad Selwood attended a reception at Government House to honour their achievements.

The invitation was made to recognise the national achievement of St John's College in social enterprise – as the college was a national finalist in the NZI National Business Sustainability Awards in 2018.

They were awarded for their device, otherwise known as GEORGE - a low cost rain and flood warning device.


GEORGE could be housed in ordinary PCV piping - which could be purchased in any hardware store. A computer programme created by the students then sends information via text message to a mobile phone with a warning.

Other Directors of GEORGE included Rhyva van Onselen, Shea McDonald, Jack Gardner, Kadyn Newport and Jake McIvor.

A Commercial partnership was also in place between GEORGE and Ravensdown NZ. The
performance of the creation was described as "innovative, audacious and extraordinary".

Gardiner said the visit down to Wellington was a busy one, but well worth it, travelling there and back from Hawke's Bay in just one day.

"It was amazing, there were so many people dressed up and some really influential people there. The Governor General spoke about the environment which we thought tied in really well with GEORGE.

"We got a chance to speak to her and she was just really impressed with what were going as were a lot of other people," he said.

The awards were originally presented on Thursday December 6, 2018 by Governor General Patsy Reddy at her headquarters in Wellington.

Two Top Business awards were given to the GEORGE founders which included Unitec Award for Enterprising Technology and the Gallagher Award for Smart Technology.

Never before in the history of YES, has a North Island team secured two national excellence awards in one year.

"That makes us feel pretty special. We've just come so far and we've put in so much hard work, so it's just great that we're getting recognition and people are showing such a strong interest."

Both Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Minister of Finance Grant Robertson wanted to meet Gardiner and Selwood, who both had two colourful stories to tell, one of commercial enterprise which embraced new technology; and the social enterprise which embraced a different partnership.

Bill Gallagher, CEO and also son of the Founder of the Gallagher Group, presented his company's award to Gardiner and Selwood.

Gallagher was so thrilled by GEORGE he invited the team to his Hamilton Headquarters next year to visit their Research & Development faculty this year.

Gardiner said he was unsure of when the visit would be, but said they were looking forward to the adventure ahead.

"There's been so much interest from a lot of people and many are quite inspired by what we're doing. It's just amazing by what a bunch of school kids can do."