Enriching Māori Inclusion and Enterprise

Promoting and supporting activity that enhances Māori leadership and participation in the digital technologies sector and appropriately builds on mātauranga Māori.

Many successful enterprises in the digital technologies sector are led by Māori business creators and owners (including wāhine Māori), but they are under-represented proportionately. This very low percentage is likely due to a range of factors, such as misperceptions about digital tech jobs, a lack of visible role models, barriers to pathways into work or investment, and workplaces not offering mentors or manaakitanga to those transitioning into the workforce. It is clear that Te Ao Māori perspectives, values, language and practices have significant potential to help grow and invigorate New Zealand’s global success in this sector.

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This focus area seeks to nurture the growth and potential of the Māori tech ecosystem and its mātauranga.  All focus areas in this ITP have actions that aim to grow and reinforce a Māori presence and involvement in the industry. This ITP aims to make the activity and the potential of the Māori tech ecosystem more visible and understood by a wider audience, such as industry, potential investors, government agencies, and communities.

Māori in Tech Ecosystem

Research on Māori in the tech ecosystem is underway, which highlights the range of the existing activity promoting Māori perspectives within the sector.  This research is being led by a Māori tech entrepreneur, and involves Te Whare Wānanga ō Awanuiārangi and a Māori Advisory Kōmiti. It is creating a landscape map of the ecosystem to better understand the current Māori tech sector. The final report is due to be released in 2023.

Māori Annual Report

MBIE is supporting the inaugural Māori Tech Annual Report, developed by Paua Interface. This report will make visible, and help boost, the success and economic contribution of Māori technology companies, their founders, and their workforces.  It will provide a comprehensive and independent data-driven report to those who want to partner, invest, fund or support Māori-owned technology companies. The first annual report is due in the first half of 2023.

Tokona Te Raki Stage One Digital Apprenticeship 

MBIE provided financial support to Tokona Te Raki for the first stage of a proposed digital “apprenticeship” initiative. Tokona Te Raki is a Ngāi/Kai Tahu led organisation with a vision that all rangatahi are “inspired by their futures, thriving in education, confident in their culture and determining their own path”. 

This first stage involved engagement and co-design with rangatahi, education providers, agencies, and employers on what is necessary to develop a digital ‘apprenticeship’ (a work integrated pathway model) and how a prototype might encourage more rangatahi Māori into the digital technologies sector. This work will also benefit others looking to develop similar work integrated pathways for new starters or career changers, especially from a Te Ao Māori perspective.

Enabling Māori Fund 

The Enabling Māori Fund (EMF) arose from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, which included $6.5 million for facilitating Māori economic development. In mid-2022, MBIE ran a pilot for EMF funding that would support high-wage, low emissions and sustainable business growth for Māori across the Māori enterprise, digital and agritech sectors. MBIE is now determining a process to distribute the remaining funding in the EMF, which will be spread across all eight ITP work programmes. The EMF and the Digital Technologies ITP will work together to maximise their impact and support for Māori enterprise and participation.

Potential Initiative – Whītiki 

Champions within the eco-system are often responsible for delivering their initiatives and supporting others directly or through roles on boards and committees, while concurrently holding down a job or running a business. The draft ITP work programme previously identified the concept of “Whītiki”, who would be champions paid to act as a connector and advocate for the Māori tech ecosystem and to enable Māori participation and success.  Further consideration is needed, and this will be supported by the insights and outcomes of the initiatives already funded in this focus area.