By Rawinia Tiari Olsen Kingi
Huiterangiora Digitech is a digital community focused on indigenous education and economic development based in Ūawa, Tolaga Bay on the East Coast. We are a group started by four whānau who are harnessing the power of the digital world to build sustainable opportunities and create a ladder to grow and support others. We aspire to being the creators of digital applications, rather than just being the users.

Our objectives are to:

  • create opportunities to learn and grow digital thinking and technologies
  • develop tools and resources in te reo Māori, to support digital environments i te reo
  • build strategic partnerships to increase access to digital technology (physical access or learning and development) and
  • unlock the potential of rangatahi to prepare them to lead in the digital world.

Our ultimate goal is to build economic prosperity for our whānau here in Te Tairāwhiti.

Our Huiterangiora Digitech pou that guide our actions are:

  • Te reo Māori – naturalising spaces for te reo Māori to be celebrated in the community. All of our lessons are delivered in te reo Māori to both Kura Kaupapa Māori and mainstream students.
  • Te Ira Tangata – Strengthening pathways for young women to thrive in the digital world for their own economic empowerment. This year we have been a part of the Technovation Challenge that encourages girls from all over the world to learn and apply the skills needed to solve real-world problems through technology.
  • Te Taiao – Māori have an intrinsic relationship to our natural environment coded within our mōteatea, our pūrakau and visualised in our carved meeting houses. Huiterangiora Digitech infuses our indigenous knowledge with technology to inform and improve our practices and our future digital creations.

Karapu Tuhiwaehere – Code Club
We started in 2018. It was my son, Te Rū, who was eight at the time, who told me that he wanted to learn how to code. So, with the help of Code Club NZ resources, in particular the Scratch programme, (which is a visual programming language that allows the user to create animations and games), our four families got together and began voluntarily teaching and learning alongside our own tamariki and those of the community. Scratch in te reo Māori is currently in development and we look forward to using this so our tamariki, who are in kura kaupapa Māori, will not be at a disadvantage.

Currently we have around 30 tamariki aged between 8 and 17 years old taking part in the weekly programmes that we provide at the Tolaga Bay Innovation Hub in Ūawa and Hatea ā Rangi School in Tokomaru Bay. To date we have run two school holiday programmes the first one in Term 3, 2018 in Tokomaru Bay and the second one in Term 1, 2019.

We use digital strategies, both plugged and unplugged, and also a games strategy. We are developing inquisitive thinking and computational thinking. After trialling different delivery methods, we merged with the weekly Ūawa chess club so that our tamariki could learn complementary unplugged skills to the ‘plugged’ digital technology.

In late 2018, we were funded by the MBIE Curious Minds Fund (under the umbrella of the Tolaga Bay Inn Charitable Trust) to deliver weekly programmes in Ūawa and Tokomaru Bay and three one week holiday programmes during 2019. This funding has allowed us to employ Kirialana Wilson-Karini to run the programme and buy a couple of refurbished laptops to use during club.

One of the many projects that we are exploring this year with Kirialana’s support, is the electric garden. This involves putting a wireless sensor into the soil to measure soil moisture levels, soil temperature, air temperature, air humidity and light levels. The data is collected through an online portal that our tamariki will access, interpret and use. This tool connects technology to our indigenous gardening knowledge and practices around the growing of kūmara.

Supporting teams of our kohine in Technovation
Technovation is a global entrepreneurship and technology challenge for girls aged 10-18 aimed at inspiring more girls into business and technology related industries. The under representation of wāhine in these critical areas requires a massive shift. This year we had 11 kohine, who live in Ūawa take part in Technovation Tairawhiti, the first for our region. It involved driving them the 55 kms to Gisborne every week.

On May 26, 2019, after months of working through the process (figuring out a community problem to solve, undertaking the market research, exploring what an appbased solution might look like, coding up a prototype app solution, working up a business model, and making a four minute pitch video), two of our three Huiterangiora Digitech teams pitched their ideas to a live audience of about 60 people and answered questions from judges. They came away with two of the prizes.

In conclusion, we haven’t yet cracked the code #haramaitetoki. Our wifi connection drops off often, our refurbished laptops don’t always respond, and our tamariki are learning a new language, while speaking one and writing another. What we do know is that this is all part of our own debugging process. As adults we are learning alongside our tamariki and are often only one step ahead. We will keep on keeping on because we know the future of work is digital and we want our rangatahi at the forefront of it, leading the way, harnessing their digital knowledge and skills to work and prosper from their home base, Te Tairāwhiti.

Get in touch, we would love to hear from you. Like and share our Facebook page – Huiterangiora Digitech to see what we are getting up to.

Nā mātou Te Kahui o Huiterangiora Digitech.

During the writing of this article we received the greatest koha. Spark Foundation donated 20 laptops to our kaupapa and Microsoft donated OS and Office licences for these laptops. We are so pleased for our tamariki. All of this was made possible by Michael Trengrove of Code Club Aotearoa. Michael thank you for the support you have given us in the little time we have known you. Spark and Microsoft this is the greatest investment you could make in the lives of our tamariki, rangatahi. E kore te puna o mihi e mimiti.