May 9, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Digital Maori Forum on the $30m Maori ICT Fund: Legacy of a Dying Party

3 min read


Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples announced the next stage in the creation of a Maori ICT Development Fund as he exits politics.
The $30 million was set aside to establish a Fund to support Maori economic development and Maori language and culture through ICT. I find it hard to fathom how language and culture are included as an ICT factor because the Maori vote budget includes over 250 million dollars for that very issue. Dr Sharples has immense skills and passion based around Te Reo, but he has very little experience in the ICT industry and the lack of knowledge on how to create economic viability for Maori producing the many ICT outcomes that will benefit Whanau, Hapu and Iwi.

The decision that Te Mangai Paho has a proven track in managing contestable funds and had been chosen to administer the Fund is true, but the success will only be realised when the detail is developed from the transparent Maori public consultation process with Whanau, Hapu Iwi and Maori stakeholders on the proposed uses of the Fund.

Dr Sharples said he wanted to see more Maori businesses participate in the knowledge economy but the 30 million becoming an annual fund of 4.5 million is trivial, with many ICT developments of significance could be unrealized because of a budget shortfall.

DMF is a bit skeptical with Dr Sharples saying Te Mangai Paho will establish a standing Maori ICT expert group to provide ongoing advice.

Last time theDigital Maori Forum dealt with such a group across thetable, we were included in the korero and then excluded by his office in the selection processof a group called Nga Pu Waea, who supported Maori being users of the UFBand RBI andnot the connector businesses. I am hoping the behind closeddoors selection processused with NPW, has not already happened, because theconsultation process hasnt either.

Clearly Ms Adams has clearer ICT view of outcomes for Maori than Dr Sharples as she wishes the fund to support Maori economic development by stimulating M?ori participation across the ICT sector, as employees, entrepreneurs, managers, governors, owners and investors, where the outgoing minister is using words that covertly support more money into Te Reo.

Ms Adams also said the Fund could support enhanced use of ICT as an input into Maori economic development through enabling better use of existing ICT and through research and development. I feel that she is saying the right things, but without providing a real resource to make it happen, Maori ICT economic development will be slow and small.

The ICT Fund is a token of what is required to fill the void of Taonga acquisitionand is being accepted by the Maori Party,who the Digital MaoriForum fought for, when attacked by surrounding racist groups.

DMF feels betrayed,as we were ridiculed and excludedby the Maori Party and theirselect ICT groups.For that treatment I feel sorry for allthe Maori Party candidates in this election because they will be judged on thatlegacy…

But how ironic it would be, if after the election the Maori Party and itsselect ICT groups disappearedinto history with all the millions of ICTdollars they have usedand the Digital Maori Forum is still here supportingour ICT whanau without one dollar of resources providedby those select ICT groups, the Maori Party or any other government organisation.

Rei Sciascia.
Chairperson Digital Maori Forum


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