(By Potaua Biasiny-Tule, TangataWhenua.com)
Kia ora whanau. Over the past 3 months, TangataWhenua.com have been speaking to whanau around the country on all things IT.
It has been quite a remarkable and open time, with lots of sharing happening and a great deal of optimism around some of the digital dreams we’ve been hearing. The digital Maori opportunities we have heard about are just as exciting too.
Here is our list of the Top 5 Maori Trends in IT:
1. Whanau Staying Connected
Maori have adopted IT and mobile technologies relatively quickly, with email, txt and Facebook all working alongside the written letter, the televised message and radio. Social media is now an incredibly popular term with many whanau.
It has been amazing to see multiple generations talking across countries, from home and relatively inexpensively. We are still at the early stages of ensuring that the mokos can kiss their koroua and kuia goodnight and that the kids can talk to their cousins and as technologies get better, more will be possible. Who knows – perhaps truly whanau focused technologies are just around the corner?
There has also been a huge push by iwi authorities to get online and begin communicating with their members, two years ago there were only a handful of iwi-related websites, now marae and hapu as well as Iwi and post-settlement entities are using the internet to actively engage with their people, tumeke!
2. Online Mahi from Home
We are meeting more and more whanau who utilise IT in their daily lives and are able to mahi from home. With a sharp increase of Maori focused cultural, social, environmental and economic organisations, many roles and responsibilities are being delegated to those whanau memebers who not only have the time and skill, but who can also access resource and utilise at home office set ups.
Along with the fax machines (which no doubt will be extinct in the next 5 years), the printer, affordable PC and broadband connections all work in tandem with the smartphone. Specific task requests include Strategy Formulation, Group Hui (at home, shared kai), Event Management, Administration & Record Keeping, Printing, Financial Records, Schedule & Shared Calendar, Fundraising and Online Ticket sales. Social media plays a pivotal part in developing those essential networks and relationships needed to hasten the speed and reach of any message. Crowd sourced funding is growing in interest and we’ve seen some exciting projects get launched as a result.
One of the big opportunities before Maori comes in the form of Spectrum. Spectrum are the waves of frequency and light carried from Ranginui. These are harnessed here on Papatuanuku by scientific advancements, as seen with short wave radio, television frequencies and now, mobile phone technologies. Our televisions will all be digital soon and as more ipads, smartphones and tablets find their ways into our whare, the need for more and more spectrum will grow. Spectrum is always around us. It is how we harness these and utilise what is available. In the past, giants like Sky, Vodafone and Telecom have taken the lions share but over the coming months, Maori will rightly ask where our place is in these new innovations and with Spectrum Auctions coming up, how can we protect Maori spectrum, in the face of everything being sold on the open market? More soon on this one.
4. IT Scholarships, Internships and Real Jobs
Many whanau were encouraged to send their rangatahi to study IT as they were promised 60,000 IT related jobs upon graduation. Now the 2nd wave of Maori IT graduates are about to head out into the industry and while we acknowledge our talented whanaunga who do graduate and find work placement in the IT sector, we are seeing 3 out of every 5 graduates either not being able to complete their final year (with many having to chose work over study to make ends meet) or not finding suitable work at home, which is where many whanau want to be. Even the most talented are finding it tough. One of the few bonuses have been the internship offers by 2Degrees, Transpower, Vodafone and some great offers by Nga Pu Waea and Te Huarahi Tika Trust, but honestly, any real discussion on building Maori wealth needs to first look at the emerging talent coming through.
4.1 Maori IT Experts, Tuakana
When we first started our mahi on the internet, one of the leading voices of Maori IT was Ross Himona (our own digital ninja). His strong presence paved the way for many, as did his forthright views, essential news services and building of a broad Maori network.
Since then, we have met many amazing Maori IT practitioners who have retired, who have finished working for large corporations like IBM, Microsoft, Telecom, overseas Telcos and have finished teaching IT at academic organisations, now back at home teaching seniors.
Where do these talented, skilled whanau fit in our new Maori IT vision? Why re-build the wheel when we have many, many skilled wheel-builders awaiting the next challenge here at home? There has to be a link between 4 & 4.1 somewhere. So sadly the loss of this talent is one IT trend we’re not too happy to report on, but needs to be stressed, we need these tuakana, we need the wananga, we need these ninjas helping to walk new prospects through the journey. Too many of our colleagues who started in IT have had to go back to mainstream jobs, because of lack of support, resourcing, and acknowledgement. When is the last time you saw Maori ICT celebrated!
and 5. Teaching, Learning and Collaboration Resources
Many of our tamariki have access to some very advanced IT equipment at their schools and more teachers are looking for Maori specific teaching resources that can help with literacy and numeracy, that can show local stories and help the kids visualise their place in this modern world. We have sat with numerous iwi and hapu, developing some awesome IT resources like Training DVD’s, animation & short cartoons, e-books and tamariki games. There is also a need for constant reviews of existing resources relevant to Maori teachers, kura and the like. Actually, that could be a full time mahi. Come to think of it, all of these could form the basis of full time mahi. Add this to Computers in Homes, the Computer Club Houses, Regional/Rohe ISP’s and who knows, perhaps Maori IT could be one of the major drivers in our cultural rejuvenation. It is already playing a significant part as a Maori economic engine. Exciting times whanau, exciting times. Kia kaha tatoa!
Potaua Biasiny-Tule (Tuhoe, Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Whakaue, Te Arawa)
Potaua is founder and CEO of TangataWhenua.com. He writes and works as a digital communicator and technological entrepreneur.
He writes from experience as a digital practitioner, a communications tutor, a businessman, a tinkerer and believes that we are in the midst of a fierce digital revolution.
Potaua writes regularly for the Rotorua Daily Post and is a contributor to Tu Mai magazine. He is currently an elected member of the Te Arawa Standing Committee.
Potaua sees the Maori community as potential pioneers in this new knowledge economy and is looking to stimulate like minds. His writing is a bridge between the digital and analogue generation, so to get full use of this instant geek, please, just add water…”