Growing Māori innovators

26 May 2016

Māori students are gathering in Taranaki and Tauranga this weekend to launch the Māori to the Valley programme and participate in a design thinking workshop to prepare them for a week-long experience in California’s Silicon Valley.

Nearly 25 rangatahi, mostly Year 9 and 10, and a number of adult mentors will be heading to Silicon Valley in July and more in October, as part of the Māori to the Valley programme. This programme aims to raise participation and achievement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects and subsequently, the number of Māori innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders.

The programme is run in partnership between NZQA, Callaghan Innovation, and iwi Māori. NZQA and Callaghan Innovation have designed the programme and will administer and deliver it, while each student’s participation is funded by iwi Māori.

In Silicon Valley rangatahi will visit some of the world’s most innovative companies.

“We want rangatahi to be inspired by this global, digital and connected world, and show them how they can be part of this exciting future,” says NZQA Deputy Chief Executive Māori Daryn Bean.

To enhance their experience, students are first taking part in a design thinking workshop, which includes identifying a project based around their local community – a problem or an opportunity – which they will be able to consider as part of the wider experience. This is being led by Anne Gibbon a Stanford D School Fellow who has been seconded to Callaghan Innovation for 12 months.

Next week they start a six-week online course encouraging them to practice behaviours that are a slight step out of their comfort zone, and enable them to make the most out of their time in Silicon Valley.

“The 21st century workforce requires young people who are resilient, adaptable and able to problem solve.  They are the kind of skills developed through STEM related subjects which is why we are committed to supporting Māori achievement in STEM subjects,” Daryn says.

Callaghan Innovation General Manager Māori Economy Hemi Rolleston says one of Callaghan Innovation’s objectives is to inspire current and future innovators and the Māori economy plays a key part, so this a great initiative to encourage young Māori to be more ambitious and innovative.

“Throughout the country, iwi are looking for innovative solutions to help their people live joyful, connected, productive lives, and investing in their rangatahi to immerse them in the innovation ecosystem of Silicon Valley is a great step towards that future” he said.

When the students return from Silicon Valley a range of support will be provided to the participants to keep students, teachers, mentors and schools engaged and to ensure they share their experiences. The aim is to stimulate broader interest in STEM subjects and have these students be champions for STEM study amongst their peers and schools.

This year’s programme will be evaluated by NZQA. The project was successfully trialled last year with 12 rangatahi from Te Wharekura o Mauao in Tauranga.

A video about the trip last year can be viewed on YouTube.

Media contact:
NZQA Communications
Lisa Gibbison
Phone 04 463 3169 or 0274 575783

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