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Kiwi youth are the change they want to see in tech

The 2018 OMGTech! Mana Tangata youth mentorship programme has kicked off and is bigger and broader than ever before, with 30 young people taking part this year.

To address digital inequality and tech sector diversity, the OMGTech! Mana Tangata programme pairs up kids from communities that are not well represented in tech with industry mentors from around the country.

During the six month programme the mentor and mentee design and implement a project using technology to help their community.

This year we have participants from as far afield as Timaru through to Kaitaia and OMGTech! General Manager Zoe Timbrell says the programme is going from strength to strength.

“The success of the programme has enabled it to grow by 50% this year, and has increased the spread of mentors from a who’s who of New Zealand technology companies.” say Zoe. Co-founder Vaughan Rowsell says the companies and mentors who are standing up to be counted are from a huge range of sectors.

“This year’s mentors are incredible and are from Trade Me, MYOB, Spark, Vend, Stretch Sense, Xero, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Nomad8, Unleashed, Vista Entertainment, AUT and the list goes on. It’s amazing to see so many in the sector wanting to give back to help the next wave of innovators”, says Vaughan.

The kids in the programme are between 14 and 17 years of age and have been nominated by their communities to be a part of the programme. The diversity in the group is a big focus with 75% of the participants being Māori or Pasifika and there is an equal mix of girls and boys.

“By having mentors with the same cultural roots the kids are inspired to follow the pathways open to them to a career in technology and to take their stories and influences with them,” says Vaughan.

Mentor Keoni Mahelona of the Māori not-for-profit organisation Te Hiku Media is creating a te reo Māori version of voice-activated assistants like Siri so people can ask for directions, search for things and interact more in te reo Māori.

Nikora Ngaropo who also runs the Young Animators mentorship programme explains what he brings to the programme.

“My journey, influences, passion and being Māori. How a dream, a goal, a wanting to leave a legacy and taking and creating the opportunity to influence the next generation of animators, creators and designers.”

The larger 2018 Mana Tangata programme launched this weekend, 27-29 April, themed around sustainability and community at Papatuanuku Kokiri Marae, Mangere, Auckland.


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