Grooming tech-based and innovative ideas

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Ten finalists have been selected for the DIGMYDIEA Innovation Challenge, competing for a $10,000 worth of support to make their ideas become a reality. Te Kāea caught up with two of the hopeful participants vying for the top spot.

Arena Williams (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Ngāti Tahu) is a finalist in the open category for her idea 'Kowhiri: Choice!' which could enable better access and security to voting tools.

Arena Williams, “Why don't Māori youth get out and vote? I think Māori youth, all Māori, need to be able to vote on their computers, their phones, in their homes and in Māori.”

Offering a solution, Williams explains the concept behind Kōwhiri: Choice!, “We want to create an election system that suits both iwi Māori when they're going through mandating negotiations with the crown when they're re-appointing and re-electing their trustees at both an iwi level and hapū level.”

The Kowhiri system is based on blockchain technology, which Williams says allows the voter to follow a vote right through the system and that it's completely secure.

“So you might get a user who votes online and they can track from when it goes into the system when it's interacted with by that system when it's counted and then know that eventually, their vote has made a difference,” says Arena Williams.

Williams says the financial support and expertise that’s up for grabs would help to build the blockchain based system.

“For us this challenge is about taking it to the next level, it's about making a globally viable product but it's about a product which is created by Māori for Māori making that something we can deliver to a wider audience,” says Williams.

A finalist in the youth category, Taylor McDonald (Ngāti Pūkenga) is working on an app for diabetics that uses biotechnology to use non-invasive methods of monitoring blood-glucose levels.

“For the kid it's either an app on their phone which is a gamified experience so it kind of contextualises what their blood glucose levels mean in terms of their health so it could be sad face or a happy face and that lets the kid know whether or not they're about to go into a glycemic attack and potentially what they need to do,” says Taylor McDonald.

She says that it's about having transparent information between the patient, the parent, the teachers and the doctors.

“As a parent or a teacher you get a notification when it's moderate to high-risk blood-glucose levels and when it's critical you get a warning as well but then it also takes you to a medical provider it sends out that call immediately because you can't waste time when they get into hypoglycemia attacks and worldwide every six seconds someone dies from diabetes,” says McDonald.

Ten finalists have been selected from a pool of over 200 applicants. There are five finalists in each of the youth and open categories as listed below:

Youth category - Rerenga o te Kora Finalists:

Taylor McDonald - Gluco

Tupua Urlich - Te Ahuatanga Aroha

Anqush Kumar - K2K

Jordan Messiter - Homely

Michan Fukushima - MIKAN

Open Category - Muranga o te Ahi Finalists:

Arena Williams - Kowhiri: Choice!

Lelandra Te Taima Barrett - Hoa Pumau

Keith Jones - i-Piki

Darren Rewi - Engage Point

Tahi Goddard - Kiwifruit Trainer

The finalists will now be paired with industry experts and mentors to work on their final pitch.