Topic: Technology

Activating Māori communities with technology

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The Mana Tangata program by OMGTech selects 30 students from disadvantaged communities around Aotearoa and pairs them with tech industry mentors in an effort to empower them through education. Te Kāea caught them at their latest workshop at Papatuanuku Kōkiri Marae in Māngere.

OMGTech Māori Tech Leader Kawana Wallace (Ngāti Uenuku) says, “We can only solve the problems that we know, we can't expect people outside of our communities to solve our problems, and rangatahi bring a really unique perspective and they're also digital natives so they can marry those two ideas together and help us solve our community issues and whatever other problems we have for the future.”

The Mana Tangata program by OMGTech connects rangatahi with current industry practitioners to give them real-world role models.

Māori Tech Leader at OMGTech, Kawana Wallace (Ngāti Uenuku) says, “We can only solve the problems that we know, we can't expect outside of our communities to solve our problems, and rangatahi bring a really unique perspective and they're also digital natives so they can marry those two ideas together and help us solve our community issues and whatever other problems we have for the future.”

Wallace says that globally only 8% in sciences and technology are woman.  The Mana Tangata program has seen 75% Māori and Pasifika participation with over 50% being female.

One of those students, Rangipo Takuira-Mita (Te Arawa, Ngāti Pikiao) says, “We learnt about traditional Māori knowledge and its relationship with the lunar calendar and relationship between our Māori gods and science.”

Also participating on the course, Awhina-Tawera Takuira-Mita (Te Arawa) says, “We're developing an app about this marae, it's history and use today.”

Wallace elaborates, “We do things from robotics, programming, conductive paint, invention, ideation, everything.”

The initiative is driven by finding community-based solutions for social, environmental and community issues.

“It’s about making our rangatahi leaders so that they become rangatira in their communities and in this space that they're natives of,” says Wallace.

Speaking on behalf of Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae, Valerie Teraitua (Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara, NgāPuhi, Kuki Airini) says, “It was about being able to reconnect them back to the whenua, reconnecting them back to whakapapa, reconnecting them back to para kore working towards zero waste and having them in a space that enables them to do that.”

The program runs for 12 months, culminating with a rangatahi community event that has a technology element.