May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Digital Natives Academy – teaching Maori kids to code

2 min read


It’s a question that had to be asked. Do we want our tamariki, our rangatahi, our nieces, nephews, moko to engage proactively with future technology, to create, develop, innovate, mould the world’s digital tools or simply be bound and constrained by them?

These are the patai Potaua Biasiny-Tule and his wife Nikolasa along with a small network of like-minded innovators have asked over the years and the the answer was a clear and decisive “yes, we want, we need more Maori geeks!” says Potaua.

One small step in making this possible has been to create Digital Natives Academy a dedicated space for Maori kids to learn the fundamentals of computer science (coding, hardware, etc.) along with graphic design, animation, digital photography and web development.

With no funding and just squeaking by on the little putea we can allocate towards it from our own pockets began to grow the idea of Digital Natives Academy with the help from some truly committed friends.

Incredible ninjas like Matt Dawson and Doug Mitchell from SupraIT, who lent us hours of their time along with 5 desktops to use and a splitter so we could run more then 4 computers at a time (lol) to our digital Wahine Toa, Robyn Kamira who sent us an array of bits and pieces to play with to an incredible landlord who is letting us work towards paying him all the back rent we own (DOH!) true #awesomenessness!

So having just completed their most recent Hour of Code with whanau they were struck by how quickly the kids (ages 6-11) have picked up the fundamentals of computational thinking.

“They all explore with such ferocity, pushing ahead, sequencing and debugging, testing, all without even knowing quite what that all means but doing so with such a natural ability it was breathtaking,” says Potaua.

“The next morning they all asked to have another go, tumeke!!”

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