Te Au Hangarau:
The Wave of Technology research

He Waka Eke Noa

Exploring the participation gap of Māori in the Tāmaki Makaurau tech sector – why it exists, and what we can do.

Why was the research conducted? 

The 2021 Digital Skills Aotearoa Report identified that there is a significant participation gap of Māori in the tech sector, with Māori accounting for only 4% of the tech workforce.

In 2022, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited and Spark Foundation commissioned research, in conjunction with Te Matarau The Māori Tech Association, to understand which factors influence participation and success of Māori in the technology industry.

The research was conducted by AATEA Solutions and Korou Digital Agency in collaboration with the Pūhoro STEMM Academy.

Te Au Hangarau: The Wave of Technology Insights Summary

This document summarises the key insights of Te Au Hangarau: The Wave of Technology research for tech industry change makers, and what factors and actions can influence greater participation of, and success of, Māori in the technology industry.

For more information about the research or to request the full report or the Insights Summary as a PPT, please contact the Tech Tamaki Makaurau team.

Research goals

Te Au Hangarau sought to gather an understanding of the participation gap of Māori in the tech sector; identify and understand the main reasons why Māori either choose to go into the tech sector or not; provide strategic insights into supporting Māori in the transition from tech education to employment; and examine the barriers and enablers for Māori working in the tech sector.

Key research findings

The fundamental proposition within the research is to reimagine a tech sector where Maori feel a deep sense of belonging which will lead to a greater desire to participate.

This research looked at Māori participation in tech in Tāmaki Makaurau from the experiences and perspectives of Māori in the industry. These findings can help to inform systemic and structural shifts across the tech ecosystem.

Enhancing Māori leadership and profile, creating culturally safe and literate workplaces, and providing culturally anchored support networks in technology organisations are all key enablers to foster a sense of belonging. 

The ‘capability gap’ cuts both ways

The ongoing discussion around the industry’s skills capability gap places much of the responsibility on youth and the education system. Addressing this skills gap is vital, however, it is equally important for employers to assess their cultural competency capabilities to become an organisation where rangatahi are welcomed and nurtured.

It is important for the industry to be mindful of broader whānau and rangatahi aspirations, on top of the tech sector’s labour shortages.

A sense of belonging and community is important  

Workplaces where Māori feel a deep sense of belonging will lead to a greater desire to participate. Connection to other Māori – both at the same level and with Māori role models within tech – would strengthen the entry and retention of rangatahi Māori to the sector. 

Those interviewed highlighted the necessity of mentors. Those that had access to a mentor hunted hard to find one, felt confident in their participation and success in the tech sector and were able to navigate and stabilise their position in accordance to a course or employment. 

Thirty per cent of rangatahi Māori are working towards careers where they know people in those jobs. 

Improving access and opportunities  

The direct and indirect impact of poverty is a barrier to Māori participation in the industry. Losing talent to jobs that perpetuate the cycle of poverty represents a high cost – economically, culturally, and socially – for Auckland and Aotearoa.

There is a clear need to address equitable access to education and employment. Some rangatahi Māori are unable to access tertiary education, even with fee-free years and scholarship programmes. Action needs to be taken to facilitate more affordable, inclusive education pathways to tech careers. 

A need to recognise Māori aspirations, not just industry needs  

There is a strong desire to work for organisations that have a clear purpose beyond making money, and whose values are upheld in the workplace.

The eagerness and responsibility to serve and uplift iwi, hapū and whānau influences career pathway decisions. This could mean anything from flexibility to work around additional commitments to being able to work closer to their ancestral lands (often in the regions rather than the main tech centres).  

What will the research be used for?  

Insights from the research will be used to support Tātaki Auckland Unlimited’s Tech Tāmaki Makaurau strategy, a three-year programme of action to grow Auckland’s technology industry, to create jobs to attract talent, investment and diversity in the region.  

The research findings will also help Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, alongside the tech industry, to understand what actions are required to better support Māori in the tech sector and reduce the participation gap, including the transition from education to employment, and increasing retention once in employment. 

It is hoped that Te Au Hangarau will create meaningful discussion as well as action in helping Māori tech graduates to successfully transition into employment in the tech sector, and ultimately accelerate Māori participation in the tech sector. 

If you have any questions about this research, please contact Wellington Tamutimu, Future of Work Programme Lead, Industry and Investment, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited.

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