Computers in Homes Graduation – Hon Tariana Turia

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I was delighted to accept the invitation of Di Das from Computers in Homes and your school principal, Philip Benson, and to join with the community of Tui Glen in celebrating this very important event.

It is particularly pleasing to have the support of Te Turuma Koraunui marae, and the representation of Hutt City councilors, Gwen McDonald and Angus Finlayson.

I have been really looking forward to visiting Tui Glen School and to sharing in your graduation from the Computers in Homes programme this evening. To tell the truth, I did a little homework on your school tonight simply by turning on my computer.

In Youtube, I found a clip with Tui Glen and Koraunui schools walking and singing, in the Footsteps for Hope campaign. And then in Facebook, I found a big shout out from room 3, supporting the Hurricanes.

Its so fabulous to have events brought to life, in real time.

But there was one glitch in the system when I went to the TuiGlenSchool site it said account suspended so I am hoping thats just a technical malfunction and that I wont be required to ring Mr English tonight and ask him for a loan!

All it goes to show, is you never know what you might find on the internet!

The internet provides us with instant access to information at our fingertips, as well as improving communication and connectivity. And so I want to really congratulate all the whanau here today for putting your hands up to travel the information highway- and at high speed.

You have taken a huge leap in confidence, in seeking to explore new horizons in information and communication technology and indeed embark upon a whole new social network.

Incidentally, thats one of the reasons Im monitoring my nine year old mokopunas access to facebook I want to see who makes up her social network the old-fashioned way, kanohi ki te kanohi, before Ill let her venture into skype to skype friendships!

I have a keen interest in her safety and at this point in time, her adventures in cyberspace can only occur under our supervision despite her protestations to the contrary.

But I am very aware, that as she matures, so too, will her need for IT proficiency, as essentially a lifeskill for the 21st century.

Just think how reliant our lives have become on a whole new language of communication. Whereas previously we might have rustled through the pages of the encylopaedia or the phonebook, we now turn to search engines and browsers to help us navigate through new areas of knowledge.

With Word we can write letters and the kids can do assignments.

With Excel we can budget to make every dollar go further.

Through Skype we can talk with whanau throughout the world.

With i-govt we can access government service providers online.

In logging on to TradeMe and other similar sites we can buy, sell and exchange goods, or even better we might join the local FreeCycle network and reuse and recycle materials that might otherwise end up in the landfill.

We press enter and like a virtual Star Wars we have suddenly broken through the frontiers, to converse in a new cyberworld, where being digitally literate and connected is the only qualification you need to participate in every opportunity imaginable.

The really powerful thing about Computers in Homes is that through this programme, you get your licence to drive along with a computer, ongoing ICT support and a free internet connection for six months.

Over 5000 New Zealand families have already benefited from this programme and the results have been really exciting leading to increased participation in the economy, improved educational outcomes, more resilient communities, and better access to online services and support.

Ive been so thrilled to hear that here in Tui Glen, your programme has been totally whanau orientated, with mothers bringing their babies and children along, so that the whole family sees the benefit of the new learning.

I remember my mokopuna once grabbing my blackberry off me and telling me I needed to learn how to play. In many respects, that is what this programme encourages us all to be to play with the power of technology.

Of course its one thing to know how to drive its quite another to know how to escape or undo when suddenly everything youve been working on disappears off the screen and thats where people like your tutor, Briar Kopa, really come into their own, in helping you navigate the inevitable bumps.

Recently I announced that I have managed to secure additional funding of another $3.3 million dollars over three years for community based initiatives to increase digital literacy and connection.

The funding will contribute towards further families participating in Computers in Homes and the development of a further Computer Clubhouse another fantastic community initiative like this one.

This new funding builds on the $8.345 million I announced at last years budget the funding which I understand has been responsible for establishing your programme here.

This announcement sat alongside a recent announcement by my colleague Dr Pita Sharples, in introducing Nga Pu Waea the national Maori Broadband Group to ensure Maori can maximize the opportunities and that Maori views are represented as the rollout progresses.

Nga Pu Waea, will advise on Maori development opportunities in rural broadband, and ultrafast broadband and work to ensure that marae, kohanga, kura, wananga, iwi runanga and Maori health and social service providers benefit from the roll-out of broadband into rural areas, as well as the trade training and employment that will inevitably result.

Im really excited by all of these developments, because theyre about making life better easing up our access to information improving our opportunities for communication.

Finally, I want to just pay tribute to Di Das, who has made such an amazing impact across the country, in her dedication to Computers in Homes. She is a true champion in every sense of the word.

I wish you all well, and whether it be by twitter, by email, by facebook, lets stay in touch, lets stay connected, and may this Graduation Ceremony tonight signal the start of amazing opportunities for you all.

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