Media Release: New kaupapa Māori digital training programme and start-up incubator to inspire greater Māori participation in Aotearoa’s digital revolution

April 22, 2021

Te Wānanga o Raukawa, a tertiary education provider in Ōtaki, has joined with tech industry leaders to establish a new digital learning programme grounded in te reo, tikanga and mātauranga Māori.

Whitihiko ki te Ao is a vision and programme of work that will see the development of a world first digital and innovation campus and startup incubator within a kaupapa Māori learning environment. Leaders from New Zealand’s tech industry have formed an advisory group and will work alongside Te Wānanga o Raukawa to inspire and prepare more Māori to participate in the tech industry, in a bid to reduce the growing equity divide between Māori and non-Māori. The industry advisory group includes:

  • Mike Jenkins CEO and Founder of Instillery
  • Catherine Jones, CEO of Creative HQ
  • Rob Fyfe, Former CEO of Air New Zealand and business leader
  • Vanessa Sorenson, Managing Director of Microsoft NZ
  • Justin Gray, Managing Director of Datacom
  • Rob Fisher, Lead Partner for Technology Consulting at PwC

The advisory group will support Te Wānanga o Raukawa to bring the vision for Whitihiko ki te Ao to life.

Tumuaki (Chief Executive) of Te Wānanga o Raukawa, Mereana Selby, says “Our vision is to inspire and prepare more Māori to participate in the technology industry. We want to give them the skills and knowledge they need to become navigators and creators within the technological and digital worlds so that they can become digital communicators of te ao mārama - the physical world”.

“We know we can’t do this alone so we have joined with leaders within Aotearoa’s tech industry. We want to ensure our students leave their learning journey industry ready. We also need to support industry to lift their game and become employers of choice for Māori where being Māori is an asset”.

Justin Gray, Managing Director at Datacom, says “This is a unique opportunity to partner with a community that has established an end-to-end learning pathway grounded in te ao Māori. This is the changing face of New Zealand’s workforce and we need to do just as much work to prepare ourselves as future employers”.

Selby adds that Māori are significantly under-represented in the technology sector and there are few, if any, opportunities to learn about technology in a kaupapa Māori learning environment. 

“Technology is the highest paying industry and the third largest export in Aotearoa, and demand for technology skills is expected to continue rising for years to come. The lack of Māori participation in the industry means that not only are Māori missing the opportunity to accelerate Māori economic growth, but Industry is missing out on Māori who can offer dual competencies in technology and mātauranga in this increasingly important part of the economy.”

Chair of the advisory group, Rob Fisher says, “Whitihiko ki te Ao is an innovative, by Māori, for Māori approach to closing participation gaps in our industry. Te Wānanga o Raukawa are thinking much broader than just tertiary training, exploring how they can inspire and spark curiosity with tamariki about the infinite opportunities and possibilities of technology. 

The establishment of a start-up incubator in Ōtaki will provide a pathway and support-structure for students with entrepreneurial ambitions, we could see a new wave of Māori start-ups thriving on the local and global stage based in regional Aotearoa.  The advisory group is excited to play a supporting role in their ambitious vision.”

Image: Members of the Industry Advisory Committee and Te Wānanga o Raukawa staff taken at Te Wānanga o Raukawa during the first formal hui to recognise the partnership.

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