Digital discovery for Māori & PI youth at Park Jam

By Tepara Koti

It's not everyday South Auckland youth get the opportunity to have a hands-on experience with things like robotics, coding, 3D printing or augmented reality technology, but this weekend, stalls were buzzing with excited kids and parents "having a go".

The latest Park Jam event hosted by Accelerated Aotearoa saw hundreds of participants, including Māori and Pacific Island youth, exploring all sorts of digital tech fun throughout the day.

At the Awhi World Augmented Reality workshop, tamariki designed their own strange creatures and used an app to make them "come to life".

Organisers say the event over the weekend came about due to a high demand and the massive response they had received for their last Park Jam event held back in April.

To top it off, organisers secured the opportunity for the young digital enthusiasts to see the technology behind a VTOL or real flying car prototype.

Flying car prototype display - Photo / Mangere Town Centre

The free community event held in Māngere commenced with a whakatau, welcoming dignitaries, special guests, local entertainers and keen participants.  

Amongst those in attendance were MP David Seymour and local councillor Arthur Anae who supported the event and helped to secure the next Park Jam which will be hosted in Ōtara, in April 2016.

Whakatau - Photo / Accelerating Auckland

"The kaupapa for Park Jam rings so close to home for myself having worked in Technology for 15 years.  It's no secret that we need more of our people both Māori and Pasifika in the industry and Park Jam is committed to bridging that gap," explains Anna Brown (Ngāti Maniapoto), a member of the Park Jam organising team.

She continued to say, "With digital skills now just as important for getting a job as reading, writing and maths, these Māngere kids now have a "foot in the door" by taking part in local digital workshops."

Accelerated Aotearoa, Accelerated Auckland and this Park Jam team in particular, hope to expose more South Auckland youth to the range of disciplines within the Technology sector, with the team committed to closing the gap between locals and the pathways to technology careers.

Park Jam team - Photo / Accelerating Auckland