Pacific tech entrepreneurs, Research & Development scientists, engineers and emerging innovators were among the many who attended the Pacific Business Trust’s Kiwa Nuanua Pacific Tech Summit at Shed 10 on Auckland’s waterfront.
Kiwa Nuanua, formed from the Maori word for the guardian of the ocean- kiwa, and the Samoan word for rainbow – nuanua, a symbol of hope, was developed for Pacific people living in New Zealand interested in the technology industry.
The inaugural summit saw a mixture of young and old attend, and was conveniently held during the school holidays on 24 April.
As young Pacific boys and girls were enthralled by the readily available technology provided by Microsoft and PBT, inspirational speakers from both large and small tech companies took to the stage to share their own experiences of the tech world in the hopes of inspiring more Pacific people to go into the sector.
The Summit provided plenty to think about for Sulu Fiti, Community Outreach Manager at Mahuki – Innovation Hub of Te Papa in Wellington.
“There were some excellent examples of tech innovation on show,” he says.
“Particularly in relation to being mindful in who holds the data in order for it not to be exploited.”
Which was why Sulu was impressed with key speaker Keoni Mahelona from the Maori not-for-profit organisation Te Hiku Media. Keoni, of Hawaiian descent, completed his Masters in Physics in 2011 with the Computational Nanotechnology group.
Representing the Maori not-for-profit organisation Te Hiku Media, Keoni said indigenous people had valuable knowledge and their sovereignty and ownership needed protection.
“When we need tools to help us do our mahi (work), often those tools are designed and sold by non-indigenous groups,” he says.
“The way they think about designs is very different so, as indigenous people, we have different values. It’s important those values are reflected in the tools we use.”
Jesse Armstrong, founder and CEO of Vaka Interactiv and one of the 2017 Mahuki Accelerator programme participants, paid tribute to the programme and how it has benefitted them.
“We had to make the decision of staying in Auckland, where we live, or go down to Wellington to receive mentoring on a more fulltime basis at Mahuki,” he says.
“We weighed up all the pros and cons and decided to head to Wellington. It’s been brilliant for us as we’re right in the heart of the CBD. It’s a really cool, compact place to be and it has enabled us to build networks in health, education and other agencies.”
PBT CEO Kim Tuaine was pleased with the attendance and feedback from Kiwa Nuanua, particularly considering organising the event began less than a month earlier.
“It was a great opportunity for those attending to be in such a different space,” she says.
“But it also showed that it’s (tech) not that daunting to us because we saw so many are already doing it. It’s the first one we’ve staged and the positive feedback shows we’ve laid a platform to grow from.”
The Kiwa Nuanua Summit included presentations from Microsoft, Emerging Tech Innovators, Systems Analysts, Engineers, R&D Scientists, a Q & A Panel and a number of discussions.
Many of those that participated voiced their support to make it an annual event and were confident it will grow.
As a follow up to Kiwa Nuanua on the 22nd of May, together with Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment; Ministry for Pacific Peoples; Dev Academy and Summer of Tech, PBT are hosting the Digital Moana Forum at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau.
The forum will showcase Pacific people who are succeeding and navigating the different parts of the tech sector and will open up the world of opportunities that already exist in the tech sector for Pacific people.