Māori tech companies invite fresh thinking

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Hack Tairāwhiti brings Māori tech companies together in Gisborne with others within the industry to find external solutions to in-house challenges. 

An initiative led by NZTE, the 48-hour 'Hackathon' workshop coincides with Techweek 18.

Speaking of behalf of Amanti Tourism and Ngāti Porou Seafoods, Matanuku Mahuika (Ngāti Porou) says, "Even if these companies have only started to incorporate tech in recent times, we know that tech will increasingly become more relevant in coming years."

Twelve global Māori tech companies took part and worked with senior developers, creatives, design thinkers and leading business representatives, in an effort to come up with tech solutions in areas where the companies are looking to improve.

Elaborating further, Mahuika says, "The skills that these people bring may help us produce positive solutions and new avenues for these companies."

More than 100 people turned up to the event.

Steven Renata and the team at Kiwa Digital are trying to solve a global issue- literacy for disengaged boys between 5-8 years of age.

"So it's that whole engagement motivation challenge that we're trying to overcome, and then beyond that is how do you track the progress of their literacy through things like gamification?" says Renata.

Benefitting from the experience, he says that feedback from those outside his immediate network has helped clarify the way forward. 

"To de-clutter my own thinking, and then for them to able to come with a different approach- whether they were parents, mātua themselves, or not parents, uncles brothers, cousins, and that fresh thinking has just been really excellent".

He surmises that most 5-8-year-olds in Aotearoa are able to be in contact with a mobile device and access technology which is incredibly interactive.

"It's a combination of shifting the user experience for the five to eight-year-old, changing the user experience for the whānau that support that tamariki, and then moving into the schools, the kaiako, the kura - their experience as well," says Renata.

Mahuika is encouraging other iwi to support tech initiatives as positive pathways for youth.