Something to squawk about
Sunday, 15 May 2017

Two Old Collegians are behind a brand new social enterprise that aims to connect and engage New Zealanders in the protection and growth of our native birdlife.


Alex Hannon(School, 2006-10) and Fraser McConnell(Greenbank, 2006-10) both graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering(Hons) from Canterbury University. They decided they needed more than their 9-5 and got together with a few engineering friends from university to exchange ideas for side projects. They set criteria for the project they would choose: it had to be about a bigger picture rather than simply success or money and it had to be for others. After a day of zip lining with Rotorua Canopy Tours, Alex was inspired by how they funded Goodnature traps to protect the surrounding area. He took this back to the team and they set about looking for the greatest effect they could have on New Zealand’s conservation strategies. Thus began Squawk Squad.


Squawk Squad connects people with sanctuaries through an app. The app gives them the ability to collectively invest in sensor-connected traps in aid of sanctuary projects. The investors can see where their trap is deployed in the sanctuary and are notified in real-time when their trap activates. This indicates the positive impact that their investment is having on native birdlife.


Squawk Squad uses modern, self-resettable traps that trigger 24 times without any maintenance. Together with a live view of all traps and when they activate, sanctuaries are saved a considerable amount of labour time.


Squawk Squad’s first project is protecting the Matuku Link river line out in the Waitakere Ranges. The project is currently live and in five weeks with only ten trapping systems, 15 rats have been caught with funders being notified instantly.


Alex and Fraser recently launched Squawk Squad’s Kickstarter campaign with a minimum goal of crowdfunding $20,000. These funds will fuel their first large-scale project of 40 traps in the Ark in the Park sanctuary in the Waitakere Ranges and will provide the venture with the funds required for software development.  Fraser's brother and fellow Old Collegian Morgan McConnell (Greenbank, 2008-12) has joined the venture to take care of sales and marketing.

Over three years Squawk Squad aims to engage 100,000 New Zealanders in the environmental endeavour of defending the country’s native bird life. Once engaged, they will be educated on how they can take better care of wildlife, empowering them to make their own difference.

Ultimately, Alex and Fraser want to make New Zealand the most environmentally engaged country in the world.  They credit their time at King’s with teaching them tolerance and team work, which they consider to be essential attributes when wandering into the unknown path of an exciting venture.