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"Creative" Kiwi students set to present to Google executives

11 Jul 14

Kiwi teenagers have impressed judges with their creative submissions to the inaugural NetSafe and Google Web Rangers competition.

“We were completely blown away by the time and energy put into each of the student campaigns,” says Ross Young, spokesperson Google.

“We didn’t just ask people to put forward an idea; they had to also turn them into a reality and then use tools like social media, websites and school presentations to spread their message.”

Young says that the judges were struck by the clever ways that entrants addressed online safety.

“Our 14 year-old Wellington winner spent hundreds of hours teaching himself animation skills, while another got his dad to drive him around the North Island so he could deliver posters to schools and community centres," he adds.

The three winners are Auckland’s Hayley Smith, Wellington’s Angus Slade and Christchurch’s Tip Varnakomala, who will be travelling to Google Head Quarters in Sydney to present their work to Google executives. Other place getters will receive prizes including laptops and smartphones.

The Web Rangers programme was attended by over 140 teenagers, who attended workshops in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

The workshops involved collaborating with experts in online safety, marketing and social media, who shared tips on creating public awareness campaigns.

Participants then had six weeks to put together a campaign using media such as YouTube, videos, Facebook pages, posters, animation, presentations, websites and music.

NetSafe’s Sean Lyons says the Web Rangers competition shows how effective teens communicating directly with their peers about issues can be.

“You should never underestimate how talented teenagers are, and how powerful their messages can be because of their understanding of how to use the web to reach a wide audience,” he says.

To view the winners and their competition entries, visit

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