Finding the link between coding and te reo

Code Club Aotearoa have teamed up with Ngai Tahu to produce an initiative to teach primary school pupils coding while incorporating te reo.

Code Club Aotearoa partners with primary schools and tech industry representatives to help children learn to code. In 12 months, the non-profit has grown from a single club in Christchurch to more than 225 clubs throughout New Zealand.

Code Club co-founder Michael Trengrove attended a Cyber Hui event hosted by Ngai Tahi earlier in the year. Ngai Tahi had done research about Maori involvement in ICT and the statistics were grim. They showed that while Maori were really involved in using technology, the number of Maori involved in the creation of technology were low.

To help combat these numbers, the Code Club has been working with iwi leaders and Christchurch school Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Whanau Tahi. The project aims to engage students in computer science and programming with coding projects that embrace Ngai Tahu’s cultural beliefs and language. Code Club worked with a Ngai Tahi artist who provided the animations the children code into computer programmes.

“From our perspective, we’re looking at creating a framework that can be used in other parts of the country with other iwi groups,” Trengrove says.

“Ngai Tahi were the first iwi to approach us because they recognise they have a hole in the business-side of the organisation where they don’t have many technology businesses and they see this as a way to change that.”

The project involves two full-day workshops for students and a term of Code Club sessions. Teachers also have the opportunity to attend further professional development at Code Club’s Computer Science for Primary Schools event in July.

Ngai Tahi now plan on rolling out the project in seven more iwi associated schools in the South Island, starting with a school in Bluff in term three.

Code Club Aotearoa has about 4000 children aged 9 to 12 throughout New Zealand learning code for free each week.

Industry volunteers partner with schools and teachers to teach the basics of coding to children.

Trengrove says the community-led model is win-win.

“It’s a fantastic way for industry professionals to give back to their local community and technology is part of the world now.

“Students are taught the basics of science and maths in school so it makes sense to teach them code. It increases their world-view and gives them confidence to extend their tools and create something new.”