Programme aims to apply a 'Māori lens to data' in online world

11:12 am on 4 June 2023
Closeup shot of a unrecognizable business person typing on a laptop keyboard

The Māori data workforce is currently quite small, but a group is working to change that. Photo: Manuel Faba / 123rf

A data apprenticeship programme has been launched in the Manawatū to help Māori in the region enhance their data capabilities.

The Poipoia Data Apprenticeship programme was the brainchild of Auraki Group Limited, with the goal of boosting Māori STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) capability.

Co-founder of Auraki group Naomi Manu said the programme will help address colonial bias that might be inherent in data and grow the Māori data workforce, which was currently quite small.

"We need to ensure that we have data capability across our organisations, particularly Māori and iwi organisations... so that we can, I think importantly, ensure that we are applying a tirohanga Māori or a Māori lens to data."

Manu said if more Māori have the skills to collect, analyse and interpret data then they will be better placed to address social, economic and environmental issues affecting their communities, without simply focusing on deficit questions.

Auraki was working with local iwi and Māori organisations including Rangitāne o Manawatū, Rangitāne o Tamaki Nui-a-Rua, Highbury Whānau Centre, Te Kāika and Māori pākihi (business) TKO Plumbing.

As the apprentices start to receive an understanding of data analytics concepts, tools and techniques they will be able to uncover data insights that will improve outcomes for their communities, Manu said.

"The apprentices come together on the Rangitāne o Manawatū campus and we use their facilities.

"We come together every fortnight and we're able to then start to build a bit of a community of Māori data analysts."

Participants will also receive a certificate upon completion of the programme, which will recognise their tirohanga Māori (Māori world view) technical data capabilities and writing skills.

Manu said the programme will help establish Māori leadership around topics such as data sovereignty and generative AI.

"We need to become more aware of generative AI, what it is, how it might impact and provide some leadership and guidance around how we manage that as Māori.

"To be able to keep our people safe but at the same time providing leadership around the ethical use of generative AI."

It was important that Māori were thinking about how to protect their data and information in an increasingly online world, she said.

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