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New collaboration to bring more Māori into tech

Yesterday was the beginning of a new journey for Te Tumu Paeroa – the launch of a new collaborative internship aimed at building Māori capability in tech: He Kākano.

He Kākano is a paid internship, supported by four organisations committed to developing the skills of rangatahi.

Over 18 months to two years, interns will complete work placements and trainings at two kaupapa Māori organisations - Te Tumu Paeroa and Te Puni Kōkiri - and at technology vendor Datacom.

Karlee Selwyn is the programme’s first Pia Kākano, chosen by the fourth partner in the 2024 programme, Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira.

Karlee was encouraged to apply for the internship by Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira Programme Services Manager Maria Dunlop, after telling Maria she wanted to get some work experience outside the Ngāti Toa “bubble”.

“I was born and raised in Takapūwahia, Porirua. I did all my schooling and most of my work experience within Porirua, so it’s really exciting for me to have this opportunity to branch out a little bit.

“I’m from Ngāti Toa rangatira. Growing up in the pā meant that I was constantly surrounded by whanau, so I was always taken care of wherever I went.”

A key aspect of the internship is grounding it in te ao Māori, so the manaakitanga will continue. The selection process late last year was held at Takapūwāhia Marae, involved whakatau, hākari, and the candidates, who were there with their whānau and other supporters, were all in it together.

He Kākano is structured around mauri ora check-ins, led by Ngāti Toa, and formal tuakana-teina relationships in each of the placement organisations.

Karlee says she’s interested in the fast-moving nature of tech and is keen to be able to support her whānau with the new skills she builds.

“I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity to be working with everyone and I can’t wait to see what I can learn through this.”

Te Tumu Paeroa Kaihautū Hangarau Whakaaturanga Ruth Russell says her team were motivated to jumpstart the collaboration to help increase Māori representation in tech – who make up just four percent of the tech workforce in Aotearoa.

“At Te Tumu Paeroa, we’re increasingly using technology to more effectively manage whenua Māori and support its owners. But there are some unique challenges and opportunities in this space, and kaimahi that blend te ao Māori with tech skills are hugely valuable to us.”

Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira Chief Executive Helmut Modlik said they’re excited to be working with partner organisations who see the vision, share the values, and support the opportunity to grow Māori capability and representation in tech. 

“We expect this programme to be the catalyst for other opportunities in tech for Ngāti Toa rangatahi and whānau.”

Managing Director for New Zealand at Datacom, Justin Gray said the organisation is committed to supporting the development of local talent and they’re looking forward to welcoming Karlee in a few months’ time.

“We are particularly excited to support initiatives that can help introduce rangatahi to opportunities in tech and address the underrepresentation of Māori in the tech sector.”

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