Lee Timutimu heading to Copenhagen conference with tech giants

By Muriwai Hei

A Māori information technology engineer is off to Denmark to talk about the work Māori are doing in the IT industry.

Lee Timutimu (Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tuhoe and Ngāti Porou) owns his own digital company and is committed to helping more young Māori becoming technology entrepreneurs.

He will be travelling to the Design Matters Conference in Copenhagen where he is a keynote speaker.

Timutimu is the chief executive and founder of Arataki Systems is also the founder and chief executive of Te Matarau, the Māori Tech Association where  Maori tech entrepreneurs share matauranga, information and expertise.

At Arataki Systems users of an app can unlock authentic historical content and stories in places of cultural significance around Aotearoa New Zealand, helping share and preserve the culture of Māori storytelling for future generations.

Timutimu developed the first digital storytelling app that displays stories near the location. He also set up a digital summit, Ko Maui Hangarau, to encourage young people into technology and business.

Digital storytelling

Timutimu said the conference in Copenhagen was a large meeting of tech minds, with world-leading tech companies like Twitter and Grammarly attending the conference.

“For me personally, it’s quite daunting. I am the only New Zealander and the only Māori who will be presenting at this conference. I’m fairly confident that I can go over there and represent our people to the best of my abilities - it’s really about preparation and planning, getting the presentation sorted and I’ll be speaking from the perspective of digital storytelling, particularly our mode of indigenous story storytelling.”

Information technology was an industry with few Māori, he said.

“When you consider that Māori representation in tech is 4%, that's about 3000 Māori working in IT.

"We can do more but where we are at the moment is a good start," he said.

More Māori wanted

“It's really important for me for there to be visibility and representation for our people. If you can't see someone that's speaking at a conference like this or working in a big role for a big tech company, if you can't see yourself in those jobs and roles and you can't see people just like you, then it’s very difficult for you to make a connection into jobs and pathways in tech."

Timutimu is focused on getting more rangatahi Māori into the industry. 

One of the things I've committed to in terms of this conference is I get a speaker fee but I'm going to put that speaker's fee into a kete of putea under the Te Matarau banner to support our next generation, so support rangatahi who might be wanting to attend a conference of this type or to just to go toward travel cost because that's probably the biggest cost for anyone who is wanting to do this thing so it's about supporting the next generation into this mahi.”