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News > Member News > Spark Foundation reaffirms support for Māori in DigiTech

Spark Foundation reaffirms support for Māori in DigiTech

Spark Foundation reaffirms support for Māori in DigiTech committing $1 million to Te Ao Matihiko

07 December 2023 Source: Brooke Hurndell

Spark Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Spark, today announced a $1 million investment over the next three years in Te Ao Matihiko, the newly formed national organisation for Māori in technology, which launched in October. 

It’s the largest investment Spark Foundation has made in any single organisation, and a reflection of its commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi by supporting Māori aspirations as it accelerates towards digital equity.

Te Ao Matihiko aims to foster Māori excellence in the technology sector with a vision to have te ao Māori interwoven within the digital realm. The organisation’s kaupapa is all about fostering Māori excellence in digitech, safeguarding Māori culture in the digital realm, and providing pathways into the digital trade economy.

Katie Brown CEO of Te Ao Matihiko says, “This support from Spark Foundation is transformational for our organisation and most importantly for Ngāi Iwi Māori. 

“It provides us with the financial foundation that we need to deliver all of the things in our vision for Māori in digitech. This means security and continuity. We’ll be able to hire our team permanently, and pay the people who have been holding this kaupapa and offering their mahi for free. We continue to move forward with the guidance from our people.”

Spark Foundation Lead Kate Thomas says this investment reaffirms the Foundation’s steadfast commitment to investing behind kaupapa Māori and ensuring rangatahi Māori, who are more likely to experience inequity, have the opportunity to thrive in the growing digital world. 

“Te Ao Matihiko has a bold and exciting intergenerational vision for Māori excellence in tech, which aligns to the Foundation’s strategic focus on digital skills and pathways and supporting Māori aspirations.

“We know that Māori are disproportionately impacted by the digital divide, which is why the majority of our funding is focussed on supporting Māori and Pasifika youth. Our ambition is for at least 50% of our funding to be committed to Kaupapa Māori by June 2026, and with this new investment we expect to reach 48% by June 2024.

The recently released NZTech report, ‘Digital Skills Aotearoa – Digital Skills for Tomorrow, Today’, illustrates the significant participation gap of tangata whenua in the technology sector, with Māori accounting for only 4.8% of the technology workforce. 

Thomas adds, “There is no ignoring the fact that the future of work will be technology driven, and Aotearoa’s future workforce needs to be more diverse to reflect the demographic changes we will see across Aotearoa in the years ahead. We have seen the positive impact of ‘by Māori, for Māori’ programmes, and we’re excited to be partnering with Te Ao Matihiko to drive real change.” 

In addition to Te Ao Matihiko, Spark Foundation provides funding to a number of Māori-led organisations, including Pūhoro STEMM Academy (developing rangatahi to be active participants in the STEMM economy of tomorrow), Digital Natives Academy (supporting rangatahi to embrace a digital future in creative tech such as gaming or graphic design), Te Hapori Matihiko (the inaugural Matihiko awards for Māori excellence in Digital and Tech), and Hihiko Te Rawa Auaha (unlocking the digital potential of Māori communities in the Bay of Plenty). 

Spark Foundation’s mahi complements Spark’s three-year strategy, which has a clear ambition to grow digital skills and diversity within Spark and the sector more broadly. Spark has committed to a target of a 5-percentage point uplift in Māori and Pasifika representation within its workforce by June 2026. 

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