Three Kaitaia students who took part in this year's Young Enterprise Scheme have come up with a technological innovation that they say could save ratepayers large sums of money.

Mud Tech founders Irimana van der Mei, Taz Snelling and Troy Panapa-Thurlby designed and built an underwater drone that can be used to inspect boat hulls for marine pests such as the highly invasive Mediterranean fanworm. The remote-controlled submersible is fitted with a camera and spotlight, with images displayed on the operator's screen in real time.

The students, from Kaitaia College and Kaitaia Abundant Life School, displayed their invention at the Young Enterprise Scheme Trade Fair at Kerikeri's Old Packhouse Market, the annual opportunity for Northland's school-aged entrepreneurs to showcase their products.

Taz Snelling said the team had identified a problem with marine pests in places like Ōpua, and noticed no one else was carrying out drone surveys. Instead the Northland Regional Council, which is charged with looking after marine biosecurity, was spending large sums of money on diving contractors to inspect boat hulls.


Taz said the team would meet regional council staff to trial their invention at Doves Bay marina, near Kerikeri, next month.