Breadcrumbs

Learning more about the blockchain

28 February 2018

Steve Reeves
Professor Steve Reeves, leading BRONZA, a blockchain research group.

A University of Waikato computer scientist Professor Steve Reeves has set up what’s believed to be New Zealand’s first blockchain researchers’ group.

A blockchain is the distributed ledger or decentralised database that keeps records of digital transactions, such as Bitcoin, and Professor Reeves is the lead on the Science for Technological Innovation (SfTI) seed National Science Challenge, investigating further possibilities for the blockchain.

The new research group calls itself BRONZA  –  Blockchain Researchers of New Zealand Aotearoa – and working alongside Professor Reeves will be Kade Morton, Security Consultant from Deloitte; Alex Sims, Associate Professor of Commercial Law, Auckland University; Warwick McNaughton, Deputy Electoral Officer, Auckland Council; and Michael Delgrosso from Election Services.

Professor Reeves says a blockchain is secure, but nobody has control because it’s a distributed system. “And I got to thinking that it’s not only banks that are interested in the technology; I can foresee it being useful in libraries for cataloguing and interloans, and for Māori as a site for taonga.”

He sees BRONZA as having an important role in helping people to understand the role and potential of blockchains. “We need to ensure public interest is prioritised in blockchain development, encourage more research in blockchain projects, lobby government for more engagement, and increase the public’s overall understanding of the blockchain.”

The group, which is open to all and also aiming to expand, will meet several times a year, with the next meeting in a couple of months in Auckland, where members will also give public presentations.

“The current founding members of the group cover a wide range of interests in blockchain, and we came together following an article last year about a new grant I received. A couple of people contacted me and the rest followed as contacts of those contacts,” says Professor Reeves.

Vision Mātauranga

Last year he was awarded nearly $200,000 seed funding from SfTI to support his research. The funding comes under Vision Mātauranga which is integrated into all SfTI challenge activity. Its mission is to unlock the science and innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources and people for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

Professor Reeves is developing a prototype that would accommodate taonga and other information.

“The issue I have is that the technology is changing rapidly – go away for three weeks and when you come back, chances are what you have will no longer work, so I have to immerse myself in the technology and produce a public interface for the underlying blockchain.”

Blockchains are in essence an excellent idea, he says. “They reduce the need for a third party, and they can enable better information sharing and better more efficient business processes.”

Related stories

UoW Fullbrights

Two bright futures

University of Waikato Fulbright Scholars are off to universities in Arizona and Colorado.

How antiquated legal language undermines complainants in cases of sexual assault

Dr Brenda Midson examines one of New Zealand’s most notorious sexual misconduct cases.

When machine learning, Twitter and te reo Māori merge

Researchers have whittled down a massive 8 million tweets, to a more manageable 1.2 million…

Summer Research Scholarship wrap up

A successful summer of research was wrapped up at a function held at the Gallagher…

The significance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Sandy Morrison and Ingrid Huygens look at role of the Treaty, 179 years after its…

Culturally responsive teaching in a globalized world

What are the best ways for teachers to deal with increasingly diverse classrooms?

How a default union membership could help reduce income inequality

Researchers argue that making union membership the default option would help reduce inequality while protecting…

Children who kill and child killers - is the current system fair?

A University of Waikato researcher is proposing new ‘degrees of murder’ to help make the…

Five key values of strong Māori leadership

Dr Maree Roche looks at what it takes to be a strong Māori leader.

A million dollar investment in sniffing out threats to our environment

A major funding boost is enabling Waikato researchers to establish whether detection dogs can identify…

What do Kiwis think of encryption?

New research by University of Waikato academics reveals what people value most when using encryption.

New guidelines for better healthcare for transgender people

Health professionals and transgender advocates from around the country have created a new set of…