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Check out the Dig My Idea Māori Innovation Challenge winners

Two technology ideas which will improve the lives of whanau have been selected as winners in the Dig My Idea Māori Innovation Challenge, a programme that aims to get more tangata whenua involved in Aotearoa’s innovation sector.

Adele Sauer and her team of three from Hamilton won the Māuri tū category (for entrepreneurs 26 years old and older) with a Māori sign language app called SeeCom.

Nicole Calderwood – also from Hamilton – won the Māuri oho category (ages 15-25) with Scholar+, a web-based platform that helps tertiary students find and apply for scholarships.

Associate Economic Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell says he was impressed by all the finalists. “The technology sector provides opportunities for our whānau to higher skilled jobs and increased income– which is where a real impact can be made,” he said. “We are rich in creativity and innovation and Techweek’17 will ensure digital technology opportunities reach our rangatahi Māori, whānau, iwi and hapū.”

Judge Mike Taitoko, who’s also the managing director of technology company Waiora Pacific and an Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) board member, says finalists submitted a broad range of ideas. “These ranged from tourism applications to tertiary education ideas, and gaming and language concepts," he says. "One thing many of the applications had in common was the use of technology to improve the lives of whanau, rather than just producing another app. The winning entries were exciting ideas which were well presented and were backed up with good business case studies. I look forward to watching the ideas develop further."

Aside from Taitoko, the judges included Lillian Grace (founder and CEO of Figure.NZ, an organisation that empowers New Zealanders to make better decisions with the help of data), Maru Nihoniho (founder and managing director of game development company Metia Interactive), and Robett Hollis (digital entrepreneur and founder of ColabNZ and Aranui Ventures).

Ten ideas were selected for the mauri tū and mauri oho finalist categories. Entrants were able to submit their ideas either as individuals or as part of a team for up to five people.

Taitoko says one of the most rewarding parts of being involved with the challenge has been being able to help make sure there’s greater representation in the innovation sector. “It’s vital that we work to encourage more Māori into the thriving technology and innovation sector and build capacity by encouraging more involvement.”


Dig My Idea is designed and delivered by ATEED with support from He Kai Kei Aku Ringa (HKKAR), a Crown-Māori Economic Growth Partnership. It is also supported by Callaghan Innovation (the government’s business innovation agency), Te Wānanga o Aotearoa (a wānanga indigenous tertiary education provider), New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE, the government’s international business development agency), and the Poutama Trust (an independent charitable trust).

ATEED is also responsible for delivering the Whai Rawa – the Māori economic wellbeing work stream of Auckland Council’s Te Toa Takitini initiative, a top-down approach to lift Māori economic, social and cultural well-being across the region.

The Dig My Idea Māori Innovation Challenge finalists:

Mauri tu (open category)

Name/Team Leader

Entry

Region

Rawiri Pakinga (Team)

MaraEye

Rotorua

Adele Sauer (Team)

SeeCom

Hamilton

Ataria Sharman (Team)

Porirua

Lauren Graham (Team)

Aroha & Ako

Auckland

Louisa Browne (Individual

BAC Face

Auckland

Mauri oho (youth category)

Name/Team Leader

Entry

Region

Hone Douglas (Individual)

Drone Patrol     

Whakatane

Madeleine de Young (Team)

Encounter

Ōtaki

Nicole Calderwood (Individual)

Scholar+    

Hamilton

Perry Preston (Individual)

Critters

Tauranga

Renata Te Nana (Team)

Native BnB

Whangarei