Recognising and unlocking the potential of ‘digital haututū’ – people who are mischievous and inquisitive with technology – could help lead to a more inclusive tech sector.

This was among insights shared by a Techweek 2022 panel on increasing Māori and Pacific inclusion in tech, both in workplaces and in the products and services the industry creates.

The session, ‘Changing the way we work – embracing tikanga in technology’, canvassed views from Māori tech leaders, including Datacom Associate Director of Strategic Partnerships Teresa Pollard (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa).

Teresa’s role involves fostering Datacom’s partnerships with iwi, hapū, not-for-profits and vendors, and supporting programmes aimed at getting more Māori and Pacific people into technology careers, such as Take2 and Programming Māori & Pasifika Potential.

“Another example of an entity we work with is Ko Māui Hangarau, who are working with a lot of our rangatahi around the country,” says Teresa.

“They’re helping them see how being a [digital] haututū is a great thing, because if we can unlock the potential of a haututū, and put them on a career path, that will give our rangatahi multiple choices in terms of opportunities going forward.”

Close-up of Teresa Pollard smiling

Teresa says Māori currently represent around 4% of New Zealand’s tech industry workforce and Pacific people 2.8%.

Strong leadership that promotes inclusion and collaboration are key to raising those statistics and, ultimately, the wellbeing of whānau supported by jobs in the sector.

“We just want to bring as many people as we can into the digital sector. It’s the fastest growing sector in this country … and there are so many opportunities for everyone.”

Growing up in Ruatoki, Te Tau Hou Nohotima was “that tutu at home that played with technology” and surrounded by tikanga Māori and whakaaro Māori.

A software developer for more than 20 years and currently an Enterprise Solutions Specialist at ANZ, the Techweek panelist agreed with Teresa’s view of technology as a “vehicle to enable Māori to flourish”.

During the session, Te Tau Hou reflected on how, as a technologist, he found it easy to connect with digital principles as they shared some similarities with whakaaro Māori and tikanga Māori, such as emphasising the importance of connection and following protocols.

Incorporating whakaaro Māori and principles of te ao Māori – such as manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga and arohatanga – from the earliest stages of technology design and development could also help create more inclusive digital products and services.

Panelist Megan Tapsell, Head of Pacific Technology at ANZ, used the example of how Māori names can include spaces and macrons but this was often not recognised and accommodated in digital offerings.

“The use of macrons is a really simple thing that’s important to our identity as Māori in the spelling of our names but for many years that respect hasn’t been given to us, and that affects us as people.”

“For me, that’s a starting point from which we see inequity in the application of technology… if we don’t have Māori at the design table who can talk to the fact that our names contain spaces, and that macrons are important to who we are as people – missing something as simple as that already misses our equity status and integrity before we even get to the more difficult things.”

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