'If the person has the spirit of their ancestor Māui, they can do anything'

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Māori tech innovators and entrepreneurs from around the country gathered in Tūranga Nui a Kiwa for 'Ko Māui Hangarau', a high-powered summit to help rangatahi Māori find success in the technology and innovation sector. 

Rob Ruha took his kids all the way from Raukōkore to Tūranga for the event. "I brought my children here because this is the world they want. This is what they really like, so I brought them to see what's what and if that's something they're interested in pursuing."

Founded by Lee Timutimu and Awhina Ngatuere, Ko Māui Hangarau operates as a not-for-profit social enterprise to awaken, inspire and ignite rangatahi Māori to follow the example of Māui.

"He was an innovator, he was a cheeky fellow, he was a tutu, so these are pretty much part of who we are as Māori and if we lean into those attributes, our rangatahi are in pursuit of things that some of our greatest ancestors were responsible for, technologies that helped them navigate via the stars, helped them travel across Pacific highways using mātauranga but also using, at the time, technology and also innovation," Timutimu said.

Technology continues to grow at a rapid pace, and is a key tool for indigenous storytelling.

"Our family is an arts family, whether it's painting, writing, oratory, composing music, so this is something they're really into in terms of producing stories from home. They use it at their school, Te Kura Mana Māori o Whangaparaoa,  that's where the seed is planted, it's nurtured at home, and so here they're seeing what other homes are available for that seed."

Timutimu said there is a shortage of Māori in the tech industry, and there is potential to facilitate Māori into high-value employment opportunities.

"So it's about moving them from traditional hard industries, some of the more traditional roles that our grandparents and parents would have worked in, and transitioning them into the soft industries, things like programming, coding, development, cybersecurity, website development, non-manual jobs but they can provide high-value employment opportunities."

One of the key themes of the summit was to make rangatahi believe they can do it, and Ruha voiced his support for that notion. 

"It's possible, even if you're from a small place like Raukōkore, Ruatōria and Wharekāhika, If the person has the spirit of their ancestor Māui, they can do anything."