Catalyst's birthday is a day-long celebration for all staff

by Charlotte Weston


As I write this, Aotearoa is in the midst of a nationwide lockdown, so it seems strange to look at these photos of people in rooms together. In the distant heady days of a month ago, before the most recent lockdown, we held our annual Catathon. If you’ve wondered what it’s like to work here, welcome to one of the (many) cool things about life at Catalyst.


Catathon began in 2017, as a way of celebrating Catalyst’s 20th birthday. The company has grown from its five founders in Wellington in 1997, to around 350 staff in multiple offices across New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Ireland, and Canada, supporting organisations with a wide variety of products and expertise, all while holding fast to the principles of open source technology. Two decades of fantastic work was well worth celebrating, and so Catathon was born.


The idea was simple: staff could work on anything they liked for a day. While a standard hackathon is a coding event that brings programmers together to improve or build new software, at Catalyst we also have non-technical staff who wanted to participate in a company-wide event. Besides which, although we love tech, it’s not the sum total of who we are, as the individuals who make up the collective.


Catathon is an opportunity to learn new things, such as juggling, cross stitch, and Bhangra dance. The annual event has evolved over the last four years (although last year’s one was unfortunately cancelled due to Covid-19). The July 2021 Catathon featured a huge range of activities, punctuated in the middle by pizza, and at the end by a Bhangra dance performance and our usual Friday beverage o’clock. Below are a few photos of some of the activities from our Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington offices.


A group of people are sitting around a table painting. Also a close up of their finishing paintings, snowy landscape scenes.

Painting landscapes in the Christchurch office.

A group of people are sitting around a table smiling and working on a jigsaw. Also a close up of the finished jigsaw, a colourful stylised owl.

Putting together a jigsaw in the Auckland office.

The following photos are all in Wellington.

A person in a Catalyst t-shirt is demonstrating coffee making with an espresso machine, another person is behind them watching.

Former barista Doris teaching the art of espresso.

Several people are sitting round a table playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Dungeons and Dragons.

A large group of people are sitting around a table working on cross stitch or crochet projects.

Combined cross stitch and crochet events.

A person is juggling balls in an office.

Liam juggling.

A desk with a collection of plants, and a sign that reads Plant Share.

Many plants, cuttings, and seeds were shared.

A group of people sitting around a table practicing tying knots.

Alasdair teaching knot-tying.

Looking over a person's shoulder at the cross stitch in their hands. Other people are out of focus in the background.

Cecilia cross stitching.

Looking over a person's shoulder at coding on a few computer screens.

Coding did still happen as well!

Four people sittting at a table playing a board game.

Playing board games.

A big group of people are learning dance moves.

Harpuneet teaching Bhangra dance.

A few people are looking at a large and complex Lego train set up.

Sanjay running the Lego train engineering.