Smart Kid

I love stories like this..instead of the usual woe and misery we have a positive story of a smart kid who has invented something useful.

Watching her mother cut herself chopping kindling led to a winning science project and a new business for a Taranaki teen.

And already, there is overseas interest in the device, with one company wanting up to 15,000 of the devices a week.

Last year Ayla Hutchinson, 14, was in year 8 at Norfolk School and had to come up with an invention for her science project.

After her mother, Claire, cut herself, Ayla decided there had to be a better way.

So, she came up with the Kindling Cracker, which is a device that removes the risk of chopping fingers while chopping wood. 

The Kindling Cracker has a fixed blade on to which the operator hammers the wood and conveniently splits it into kindling.

Her invention won a prize at the Fonterra Taranaki Science and Technology Fair.

A year later she is a finalist in another award, the New Zealand Innovators Most Inspiring Individual. The winner will be announced on October 17.

And her family’s Tariki lounge is full of boxes ready to send out the first 200 orders.

Ayla has a stencil with her Kindling Cracker logo, which the family, Dad Vaughan, Mum Claire and younger sister Jasmine, 12, have spraypainted on every box. The first 200 Kindling Crackers arrive this week from the Whanganui factory that is manufacturing them. They have to be painted before each one is tested, boxed up, and finally sent off, Ayla said.

“It’s awesome seeing it come to life.”

And the best part is there is no bludger mentality expecting corporate welfare.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.

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