Igniting innovative Māori ideas in the digital space

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The DIGMYIDEA innovation challenge has named its two winners for 2018. $10,000 in support has been awarded to the two initiatives to help them bring their business ideas to fruition.

Arena Williams and Eric Goodard took out the Open category (25+) with 'Kōwhiri'- a digital election platform in Te Reo Māori and English.

Arena Williams says, “There's a bit of a weight on our shoulders now, from so many good ideas having come out on top of that process, it just adds to our passion to deliver something that's really good.”

10 finalists took part in the "DIGI-wānanga" workshop to work on their ideas and pitch to the competition judges.

Arena Williams says their idea has developed through interaction.

“They're people who want to engage with their iwi, want to engage in the democratic process but haven't and we got some really good feedback on our idea,” says Williams.

Now in its third year, the competition received over 200 entries.  Sitting on the judging panel, Kaye-Maree Dunn says it's a positive indicator for Māori moving forward.

“There's a real interest in tech and the way that tech can be used to solve the wicked problems of today.  I think the opportunities lie in developing capacity at a whānau level and getting more involved in the tech industry,” says Maree-Dunn.

Jordie Messiter took out the Youth category (15-24) with her pitch for "Homely", a digital marketplace that connects tenants with good landlords.

 “In that process, a lot of self-doubt goes on about whether or not the idea is good enough or whether or not you have the capabilities to follow through with it, so being here today and just being given that confidence, it's been amazing- it's been awesome,” says Messiter.  

Kaye-Maree Dunn says it's about facilitating more innovative Māori thinking and encouraging Māori into digital business platforms.  

"How do we become the architects, the designers, the active participants, the owners of that technology, so that we're not just contributing to the Aotearoa economy but the economy of the world as indigenous people?" asks Dunn. 

The DIGMYIDEA challenge is held annually.