Category Archives: Google New Zealand Blog

New Zealand news and notes from Google

Announcing Google’s CS4HS recipients for 2017

Helping educators to confidently teach digital technologies provides students with lifelong skills that enable them to solve problems and develop critical analysis skills.

Google’s Computer Science for High Schools (CS4HS) program has been running in Australia and New Zealand since 2011 and in that time has trained more than 9,000 teachers.

Through hands-on professional development workshops the program provides teachers with the skills and resources they need to teach computational thinking and computer science concepts in fun and engaging ways.

Ali Duncan, a primary teacher at Ladbrooks School in Christchurch, along with other members of her school’s faculty, attended the first CS4PS (Computer Science for Primary Schools) run by the University of Canterbury in 2016. She says the workshop “made me feel more confident to expand my learning (a tiny bit of Python, robotics, Scratch) and being more open in general to conversations around these areas with my children and colleagues”.

Ladbrooks School students at the BuzzOff Challenge
Since the workshop Ali has become a driving force in her school for computer science and STEM programs. The students “love learning computer science, they enjoy sharing with their parents and making those connections”. Through the CS4PS workshop, Ali’s class was invited to the University of Canterbury’s BuzzOff BeeBot challenge last year which was a fantastic learning experience for the students and showcases the ongoing support for teachers fostered by the CS4HS program.

We’re excited to announce the 2017 CS4HS Awards that will continue to inspire and empower teachers like Bianca around Australia and New Zealand.

2017 CS4HS Funding Recipients 

Auckland University of Technology


The University of Canterbury - Primary Workshop

The University of Canterbury - Secondary Workshop

Victoria University of Wellington

A remedy for your health-related questions: Google Search launches health info in the Knowledge Graph

Think of the last time you searched on Google for health information.  Maybe you heard a news story about gluten-free diets and Googled "What is celiac disease?" Maybe you were planning a trip to Bali, so you looked up “Zika virus” so you could take precautions. Or perhaps you were worried about a loved one, and searched to better understand their condition and prognosis.

Starting today in New Zealand, Google search results will show information for over 900 commonly searched for health conditions. The new health feature will include an outline of the condition, symptoms, diagnosis, and prevalence according to age at the top of search results. For some conditions you’ll also see high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators. Once you get this basic info from Google, you should find it easier to do more research on other sites around the web, or know what questions to ask your doctor.
This feature has been developed as more people turn to Google to help with their health queries. In fact, 1 in 20 Google searches are for health-related information. That’s why we’ve surfaced trusted, quality health information right in Google Search. We hope this will help people find the information they need more quickly and easily.

We worked with a team of medical doctors (led by our own Dr. Kapil Parakh, M.D., MPH, Ph.D.) to carefully compile, curate, and review this information. All of the gathered facts represent real-life clinical knowledge from these doctors and high-quality medical sources across the web. Each fact has been checked by a panel of at least ten medical doctors at Google and the Mayo Clinic for accuracy.

That doesn’t mean these search results are intended as medical advice. We know that cases can vary in severity from person to person, and that there are bound to be exceptions. What we present is intended for informational purposes only — and you should always consult a healthcare professional if you have a medical concern.

We hope this information will empower you in your health decisions – so the next time you need information on measles or treatments for tennis elbow, Google will be a better place to start.

Posted by Isobel Solaqua, Program Manager

Visit Vanuatu on Street View, and journey under the earth’s surface

More than a thousand miles off the coast of Australia is the remote country of Vanuatu, an archipelago of 80 tiny islands – brimming with lush green jungles, pristine black sand beaches, and nine erupting volcanoes.
Starting today in Google Maps, we invite you to join us on a journey to the edge of one of the largest boiling lava lakes in the world on the Vanuatuan island of Ambrym. To get inside the active volcano, we partnered with explorers Geoff Mackley and Chris Horsly, who repelled 400 meters into the Marum crater with a Street View Trekker collecting 360-degree imagery of the journey down to the molten lava lake, which is roughly the size of two football fields. “You only realize how insignificant humans are when you’re standing next to a giant lake of fiery boiling rock. It’s like looking into the surface of the sun,” said Mackley.

“Standing at the edge and feeling the heat lick your skin is phenomenal,” said Chris Horsly after returning from his descent into the crater. “I hope that by putting this place on the map people will realize what a beautiful world we live in.”

Ambrym is defined by the desolate 39 square mile volcanic caldera hosting two active volcanic cones called Benbow and Marum. But the tropical island is also home to more than 7,000 people who live in the rainforest down the mountain.While the volcano has played a significant role in defining their history due to unpredictable eruptions and influence on agriculture and environment, they’ve learned to live in harmony with this beautiful yet deadly natural phenomena.

Chief Moses in the local village of Endu explains, “We believe that the volcanoes Marum and Benbow are devils. If you go up to a volcano you have to be very careful because the two volcanoes could get angry at any time. We believe that Benbo is the husband and Marum is the wife. Sometimes when they don’t agree there’s an eruption which means the spirit is angry so we sacrifice a pig or fawel to the volcano.” As part of the Google Maps journey, Chief Moses of Endu invites you to take a walk through his village and hopes you’ll be inspired to visit this sacred place he calls home. Following Cyclone Pam a few years ago, the country has been rebuilding its infrastructure. Now Chief Moses and his  village are ready to welcome travelers rs back to Vanuatu to experience  its stunning beauty and learn about its cultural traditions. He believes making Vanuatu more accessible to the world is a key step in the island’s recovery and ability to  establish a sustainable economy and preserve its  culture.

In Street View you can wander the streets of 81 countries and visit incredible historical and natural sites around the world like the Samburu National Park in Kenya, The Grand Canyon, or New Zealand’s walking tracks. Today, for the first time, Street View is going beneath the surface and into the heart of the earth—enjoy exploring Vanuatu’s Marum Crater and Endu village at Ambrym.

Posted by Alex Starns, Street View Program Manager

Keep track of your favorite places and share them with friends

Is your bucket list etched in your memory, or scribbled on a dozen post-it notes scattered around your home? Have you ever promised out-of-town guests an email full of your favorite spots, only to never get around to clicking send? Starting today, you can create lists of places, share your lists with others, and follow the lists your friends and family share with you—without ever leaving the Google Maps app (Android, iOS).

Getting started is easy. Simply open the Google Maps app and find that Dim Sum spot you’ve been wanting to try. Tapping on the place name and then the “Save” icon adds the place to one of several pre-set lists like “Want to Go” or “Favorites.” You can also add the restaurant to a new list that you name yourself, like “Finger Lickin’ Dumplings.” To recall the lists you’ve created, go to Your Places (in the side menu) and then open the saved tab. Icons for the places you’ve saved to lists will appear on the map itself, so you’ll always know whether one of your must-try spots is nearby.

Because sharing is caring, we made it easy to share lists like “Best Views in Auckland” via text, email, social networks and popular messaging apps. Whenever friends and family come to town, tap the share button to get a link and start flexing your local knowledge muscles. Once you send a link to your out-of-towners, they can tap “Follow” to pull up the list from Your Places whenever they need it. Here’s how it all works in real life:

The lists you follow are with you wherever you take Google Maps and are viewable on mobile and desktop—and even offline. Next time you're on a trip, download offline maps of the area in advance and you'll be able to see all the places you’ve added to lists on the map itself.

With the millions of landmarks, businesses and other points of interest in Google Maps, there’s no shortage of places to try. Now that we’ve got the world mapped, it’s your turn to map your world with Lists—from local hotspots to bucket list destinations worlds away.

Zach Maier, Product Manager, Google Maps

Bringing Shopping Ads to New Zealand – connecting shoppers and retailers online

As thousands of New Zealand students returned to school this month, here’s a stat that might not surprise some mums and dads out there: New Zealand searches for “backpack” have grown by 21% since this time last year. But it’s not just backpacks, searches for the latest fashion, tech and school supplies are surging. Maybe you are searching online today for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift? More than half (56%) of Kiwis use the Internet to compare products, prices or features to help make purchase decisions.

We know that this type of research can take time, so we want to help streamline the process for Kiwi shoppers. Today we’re rolling out Shopping Ads - image based ads that help shoppers find the products they're searching for and quickly connect with the merchants who sell those products - in New Zealand. You'll now see them alongside your Google Search results.

So if you’re searching for lunch-boxes or laptops, you can find exactly the one you’re looking for — and easily connect with a retailer who sells it.

Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 12.51.54 PM.png

Retailers, reach people when they want to buy what you sell
If you're a business, you can use Google Shopping campaigns to promote the products you sell, boost traffic to your website or local store, and find better qualified leads by putting product images, price, and business name in front of people searching on Google. Like search ads, you only pay when people click through to your website. Instead of targeting based on keywords, however, these ads are targeted based on the product data you provide. Learn more here.

Whether it’s back to school supplies or maybe you’re looking for a Valentine's Day gift, shopping ads can help you find what you’re looking for every time. Top marks for that!

Working around the clock to protect your privacy and security

There are plenty of things we can all do to be safer and more secure online. Having a strong and unique password on different accounts is a good start - who hasn’t recycled the same combination of your pet’s name and the numbers ‘1-2-3’? We’ve all been guilty of that at one stage or another.

Other measures include exchanging personal information only on encrypted sites, and keeping your software up to date with the latest patches - these tried-and-true tips have never been more important and effective. Take our two-minute Security Checkup to protect your account and adjust your security settings, and learn more about other ways to keep your Google Account secure at

But this Safer Internet Day, we wanted to give some insight into how our systems protect you automatically - on Google and beyond. No switches to flip or buttons to click, just the stuff that happens in the background that keeps you protected around the clock while you go about your day.

Outsmarting phishing to protect your Google Account

Spam emails take advantage of your trust in friends and businesses to try and steal your username and password
An email may look like it came from someone trustworthy, but it might be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This spammy message is trying to phish you—trick you into giving away your personal information—and then give its authors access to your account.

Luckily, we’ve built lots of smart armour into Gmail that helps to block dodgy messages before you ever see them. Our systems anonymously examine thousands of signals on Gmail - where a message originated, to whom it’s addressed, what’s contained in the message, how often the sender has contacted the recipient in the past - to determine which messages are safe, and which ones aren’t. We then filter the vast majority of this nasty stuff out; the average Gmail inbox contains less than 0.1 percent spam.

Even that’s not enough, though, because the bad guys can be pretty clever. For example, a fraudster could steal your username and password because you accidentally shared them on an especially deceptive scam site. But even if attackers have your credentials, our systems are still able to block them and keep your account safe - something we did hundreds of millions of times in 2016. That's because we aren’t just making sure you’ve typed the right password.

We also look for subtler signals to confirm the sign-in is you and not someone else: Are you using the same device that you usually use? Are you in a familiar location, or somewhere far away that you haven’t been to before? Scammers leave behind a trail of clues that help us inspect each log-in attempt and compare it with the picture of a safe log-in that our systems have painted based on billions and billions of other log-ins. If something looks fishy, we’ll require more verifications designed to thwart bad guys, send notifications to your phone, or email you so you can quickly act on anything that looks unfamiliar.

On the web, on Android: we've got you covered

We use similar security tools to help make the web and a huge variety of Android apps and devices safer, too.

For example, have you ever clicked a link and seen a red warning, like this one below?

A Safe Browsing warning: red means stop!

That’s Safe Browsing at work, strongly suggesting you should avoid visiting a site because it probably contains “badness,” like malware or a phishing trap. Similar to the way we crawl the web to deliver search results, Safe Browsing crawls for bad stuff that might be harmful to you or your device. It’s always hard at work: We show tens of millions of Safe Browsing warnings every week on more than 2 billion devices, across a variety of web browsers.

For our Android users, we developed an “app analyzer” that builds on Safe Browsing’s technology to specifically hunt for dangerous Android apps, wherever they may be, and warn you before you install one. If an app doesn’t pass the app analyzer test, it’s not be allowed in Google Play.

Detecting the obvious badness — sites well-known for phishing scams, ransomware that locks your device until you pay a fraudster — is relatively easy. But the stealthier badness is only detectable by measuring billions of signals across sites and apps. If this sounds similar to the way we approach spam protections on Gmail or suspicious logins into Google, that’s because it is! The ability to understand badness on a large scale enables us to find the clues bad guys didn’t even know they were leaving behind.

We have a responsibility to keep you safe on Google, and help make the web more secure as well. We’re constantly improving our automatic protections, but we want to give you the controls to adjust your security settings as well.

Don't forget to take our Security Checkup and learn more about other ways to keep your Google Account secure at, and happy Safer Internet Day!

Did someone say homework? Online safety tips for back-to-school week

From Kaitaia to Bluff, thousands of students across New Zealand headed back to school this week. Along with new books and uniforms, many students will be getting new devices and exploring new things online. It’s an exciting time for students, but parents and carers might be looking for some tips on encouraging responsible online behaviours - in and out of the classroom.

Managing privacy and security
The new year and the lead up to Safer Internet Day is a great time to check in with the privacy and security settings on your account (or your child’s). My Account gives you quick access to settings and tools that let you safeguard your data, protect your privacy, and decide how your information can make Google services work better for you. You can update your password, check out your personal information and change your account preferences.

More parental controls
So the kids are home from school and ready to relax… many families are already enjoying the YouTube Kids app, and now you can have more control over what your kids watch in the app. A new parental control feature gives parents the tools to decide what content is right for their family and the option to block videos or channels. Because you’re logged in, the videos and channels you block in YouTube Kids will remain blocked across all your devices. You can also tailor the experience for based on age and set a timer to limit screen time for your kids, so the app alerts when the session is over.

Google in the classroom
Our back-to-school update wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t share some updates about Google for Education tools, which more than 70 million students and teachers around the world use every day. We’ve introduced a new generation of Chromebooks, launching later this year, with new features such as stylus, world facing camera and easy access to Android apps, and our education team is working with schools around New Zealand to support ‘bring-your-own-device’ programs. Google Classroom has been upgraded to make it easier for teachers to give individual attention to students. Stay tuned for more updates on this…

So, a bit of homework (completely optional, of course)! Hope these tips help you and your kids to stay safe and make the most of the web as the school term begins.

A career in tech starts with a plugged-in teacher

Computer science education provides students with lifelong skills that enable them to solve problems and develop critical analysis skills.

Computer science (CS) is more available in classrooms across New Zealand than ever, thanks to the Digital Technologies curriculum, and so equipping teachers with the everything they need to teach CS and computational thinking has never been more important.

“A lot of students come out of school able to push the right buttons, but don’t know how to approach real-world problem solving. We need to teach students how to tackle problems that seem unsolvable,” says Leanne Cameron, CS4HS grant recipient.

It also helps them prepare for the careers of the future that will certainly involve digital skills and combining computer science with other disciplines like health, science, agriculture, art and more to solve complex challenges and design innovation solutions for the world.

Other CS4HS recipients have delivered hands on practical workshops to teachers all around New Zealand to equip them with both the knowledge and the skills to engage and excite students in the opportunities that computer science can lead to. CORE Education, a 2016 CS4HS recipient, developed an online introductory series of webinars to give teachers the resources and confidence to teach the foundation concepts of CS with year 7-10 students.

Applications are now open for our 2016 CS4HS program in Australia and New Zealand, and will remain open until 19 March 2016.

If you want to know where computer science can take today’s students, check out Careers with Code. In the future, young Australians will use computer science to do great things, and it will all start with a great teacher with a passion for the topic.

A tiny difference can make all the difference

At Google we often talk about trying to solve the really big problems - connectivity, communication, organising the world’s information.
Sometimes we take on ideas so large it could almost seem preposterous - like organising all the information on the internet, or using artificial intelligence to translate languages.
Google has engineers in Australia working on all kinds of global problems. We have the largest Google Maps team in the world - no surprise given that Google Maps was born in Sydney; we are working to transform the way businesses operate in a digital world; we’re helping people in emerging economies make the most out of the internet in spite of poor bandwidth.
We are also in a unique position to help others solve big problems using technology, and through our philanthropic arm we donate more than US$100 million and a further US$1 billion in products and resources every year to non-profit partners tackling some of the biggest social issues we face.
Google Australia & New Zealand managing director Jason Pellegrino, Infoxchange chief executive David Spriggs and director Jacquelline Fuller.
One of those partners is Infoxchange, which is transforming the way society tackles homelessness.
It’s hard to believe, but one in 200 people is homeless. You may also be surprised to know that roughly eight out of ten of those homeless people has a smartphone.
For many homeless people their smartphone can play a decisive role in determining their outcome. Infoxchange saw the opportunity to provide people in need with location-based information via their mobile, helping connect them with essential things such as food, counselling, employment services, legal support and a safe place to sleep.
Earlier this year it launched Ask Izzy, the world’s first, nationwide mobile website connecting people who are at risk with essential services. Ask Izzy was developed with support from Google, News Corp and REA Group.
It is exactly the kind of problem-solving that motivates people at Google; not only did we fund the development, but a number of Google staff helped develop the technology and assist with user testing.
The mobile site was co-designed by those who have experienced homelessness. It’s also free, anonymous, and the data usage costs nothing if you access it via Telstra’s network.
The people at Infoxchange have been amazing partners because of their passion for the issue of homelessness, for the partners they’ve been able to bring together to make this project happen, and for their belief in the power of technology to make a real difference in people’s lives.
Ask Izzy was launched in January by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and has now been used more 250,000 times - many more times than Infoxchange expected.
Launching Ask Izzy in January, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Lucy Turnbull spoke with people who consulted on the design of Ask Izzy.
The next step for Infoxchange and Ask Izzy is to create a national database that understands how people are using essential services so that policymakers can ensure they are available where they are needed most.
This Christmas if you wish to donate to Infoxchange go to so they can put pocket-sized mobile phone chargers into the hands of homeless people - for just $15 you can ensure that when they need that little bit of extra charge for their phone, it’s there for them.
A single power card will charge their phone for four hours. An extra phone charge in the pockets of people in need can help them find a bed, a shower, a meal, a friend.
Even when we’re seeking to make big changes to society, it’s the small things that often matter the most.

A Year in Search: The Moments that Defined 2016

From Rio to Kaikoura, here's what Kiwis searched in 2016

It’s that time of year again, when we look back on all the things New Zealand searched for. It was the year you ‘caught ‘em all,’ navigated natural disasters – and made Harambe a hero. We said goodbye to some greats, made pancakes – and came together to celebrate. To rediscover the events, people and topics that defined 2016 around the world, watch our video.

So, in honour of all that made 2016 what it was, here’s a wrap-up of the topics that caught our attention and brought Kiwis together in Search.

A year of real (and political) earthquakes
Shaken by quakes and possible tsunamis, Kiwis visited Geonet in droves for information, making it the top trending search for 2016. ‘Kaikoura’ also made it into the top 10 News searches for the first time. With the US election ranked second and Brexit ranked fourth in News, Kiwis grappled with political shifts, and wondered about the way forward.  

Punching above our weight
Joseph Parker led the list as the highest trending Kiwi, following his world champion title in Boxing earned this month. With New Zealand’s haul of 18 medals at the Rio Games, including four Golds, Kiwi’s Searches showed support and spirit for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, with Olympians and Paralympians making up half our most searched Kiwis. And of course, we backed the All Blacks who went up against Ireland and Wales in their biggest matches of the year.   

Searches for skills
Our ‘how to’ searches highlighted the everyday challenges we face, like tying a tie, taking a screenshot and dealing with pimples. Our foodie flair came through as we looked make the perfect pancake, and cook quinoa just right. We also asked how to play Pokemon Go, showing we boarded the bandwagon which swept the country (and the world) in July.  

Saying goodbye to the greats
This year the world mourned three of music’s greatest with the passing of David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen. They weren’t the only legends headed for the stars, with Alan Rickman and Muhammad Ali also passing away this year.

We’re a curious bunch
Global issues and and timeless existential questions featured in ‘what is’ and ‘why is’ searches this year.  Kiwis looked to learn about TPPA, Brexit and currency exchange rates. In a year of extraordinary surprise and upheaval, it’s no surprise we came back to universal, esoteric questions – looking for meaning of life, for Matariki stars and wondering why the sky is blue.  

And that’s just a preview. To dive into the top trending terms of the year, check out the full trending and most searched lists*:

Overall Searches (Trending):
  1. Geonet
  2. Olympics
  3. US election
  4. Euro 2016
  5. Earthquake NZ
  6. Pokemon Go
  7. Slitherio
  8. Donald Trump
  9. David Bowie
  10. Royal Road
News (Trending):
  1. Earthquake NZ
  2. US election
  3. Pokemon Go
  4. Brexit
  5. Dreamworld
  6. Kaikoura
  7. Tsunami warning NZ
  8. Syria
  9. Harambe
  10. Orlando shooting
Global People (Trending)
  1. Donald Trump
  2. Usain Bolt
  3. Hillary Clinton
  4. Michael Phelps
  5. Bernie Sanders
  6. Meghan Markle
  7. Bill Simmons
  8. Simone Biles
  9. Frank Ocean
  10. Leonardo DiCaprio
Kiwis (Trending)
  1. Joseph Parker
  2. Aaron Smith
  3. Eliza McCartney
  4. Lisa Carrington
  5. Jordan Mauger
  6. Mark Hunt
  7. Sophie Pascoe
  8. Liam Malone
  9. Brian Tamaki
Loss (Trending)
  1. David Bowie
  2. Prince
  3. Christina Grimmie
  4. Muhammad Ali
  5. Alan Rickman
  6. Leonard Cohen
  7. Gene Wilder
  8. Glenn Frey
  9. Anton Yelchin
  10. Sophia Hawthorne
Sporting Events (Trending)
  1. Rio Olympics
  2. Euro 2016
  3. All Blacks vs Ireland
  4. Melbourne Cup 2016
  5. T20 World Cup
  6. Paralympics
  7. Super Rugby
  8. Mitre 10 Rugby
  9. UFC 205
  10. All Blacks vs Wales
How to…? (Most Searched)
  1. How to make pancakes
  2. How to tie a tie
  3. How to draw
  4. How to screenshot
  5. How to play Pokemon Go
  6. How to train your dragon
  7. How to draw a dog
  8. How to cook quinoa
  9. How to get rid of pimples
  10. How to lose weight

What is…? (Most Searched)
  1. What is my IP
  2. What is the time
  3. What is the weather in Wellington today
  4. What is love
  5. What is a URL
  6. What is a class 2 licence NZ
  7. What is TPPA
  8. What is the Pound to the NZ Dollar
  9. What is the meaning of life
  10. What is Brexit
Why is…? (Most Searched)
  1. Why is there a leap day
  2. Why is the sky blue
  3. Why is the sea salty
  4. Why is the sky blue for kids
  5. Why is my nose always blocked
  6. Why is my ear blocked
  7. Why is Trump winning
  8. Why is the sun yellow
  9. Why is there Olympics
  10. Why is the Sky Tower blue
Recipes (Most Searched)
  1. Pancake
  2. Brownie
  3. Quiche
  4. Scone
  5. Cheesecake
  6. Crepe
  7. Waffle
  8. Hummus
  9. Banana cake
  10. Carrot cake

* Trending Searches: What was hot in 2016? The "trending" queries are the searches that had the highest spike in traffic over a sustained period in 2016 as compared to 2015.
* Most Searched: What topped Google’s charts? The "most searched" queries are the most popular terms for 2016 — ranked in order by volume of searches.

Go to to explore the rest of the 2016 Year in Search stories and top trending charts from around the world.

Posted by Camilla Ibrahim, Communications Manager, Google Australia & New Zealand