Supporting Māori to keep up with the digital wave

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The DIGMYIDEA innovation challenge is back, with $10,000 up for grabs. This weekend an Ideation conference was held by Māori Womens Development Inc and ATEED at Centrality in Auckland, a two-and-a-half-day event bringing Māori digital entrepreneurs and mentors together to help develop ideas into quality business ventures using technology.

The world is increasingly becoming more technologically orientated and the team at DIGMYIDEA are striving to ensure that Māori have a place in it.

Program Mentor and one of the facilitators for DIGMYIDEA, Te Huia Taylor (Ngāti Te Ata Waiohua) says, “Firstly we want to help them with their submissions to DIGMYIDEA. Secondly, to help them stand confidently and pitch their business propositions.”

Embodying that objective is entrant Te Ahi Kapua Hape-Maui (Tuhoe, Whakatohea). He says, "Our idea is based around helping people with Irlen Syndrome, and what that is is a perceptual problem where the brain is not able to process information properly, so we're trying to do is design an app that's able to scan the reading, and slow the process down for the brain so your properly able to learn and education yourself in that area.

Now in its third year, DIGMYDIEA held the Ideation Weekend to help applicants refine their proposals before the finalists for the rangatahi and open categories are selected.

Te Ahi Kapua Hape-Maui is applying as a team of two, alongside his teammate Mikaia Tuhamai (Tuhoe) who was unable to attend. Suffering from Irlen Syndrome, Tumahai came up with the idea to develop an app through the DIGMYIDEA initiative to help others who may be suffering from the syndrome.

Speaking on their behalf, Hape-Maui says, says, "Some Māori are suffering from this syndrome so what we're trying to do is provide something that's able to help them, educate them so they're able to amount to something, as Māori rangatahi specifically drop out because learning gets too hard, so this is trying to help them learn.”

Te Huia Taylor says if Māori don't own a space within the digital realm we may be left behind.

"The sector is mainly non-Māori and they're the only ones in that world. If we don't enter into it, our aspirations won't be realised within that world."

Te Ahi Kapua Hape-Maui has high hopes for his teams idea, "So once we launch this app it's designed for Māori specifically, but once that increases we're trying to get this to go worldwide and help people in other countries with the same syndrome, and this is able to help people with dyslexia, autism and cerebral palsy."

Entries for DIGMYIDEA close on the 27th of May.