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DIGMYIDEA Māori Innovation Challenge winners reach for the stars

10 Jul 18

The DIGMYIDEA Māori Innovation Challenge has concluded for 2018, with two winning teams taking away $10,000 worth of business startup and support packages.

Hamilton-based Jordon Messiter took out the Rerenga o te Kora (ages 15-24) award for ‘Homely’, a digital marketplace that connects tenants with good landlords.

Arena Williams and Eric Goddard won the Muranga o te Ahi (ages 25 and over) award for their digital election platform for iwi that is created in both Te Reo Māori and in English. Williams is based in Auckland and Goddard is based in Wellington.

The finalists travelled to Mangere in Auckland to present their ideas as part of DIGIwānanga, a mentoring workshop and Dragon’s Den style pitch session, at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

The challenge also aligned with this year’s Matariki, which is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter and for many Māori, means the start of a new year.

The DIGIwānanga ran when Matariki can be seen just above the horizon before the sun comes up; a great connection between a new year and the birth of new ideas.

The Māori Innovation Challenge, now in its third year, aims to attract more Maori into the digital sector by promoting a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. This year’s challenge attracted 200 entries – the highest number it has ever had.

According to DIGMYIDEA judge Kaye-Maree Dunn, she was impressed by the calibre and amount of ideas that came through.

“It’s exciting to see an increase of wahine Maori applicants and many coming from all sorts of backgrounds and communities, wanting to see how digital technology can make a real difference to others’ lives,” she says.

"Eighty percent of the ideas that came through are focused on making a transformative difference to the lives of whanau, hapu and iwi".

ATEED general manager of Economic Development, Pam Ford, says the pitch ideas make use of technology including virtual reality, transparent LCD screens, and smart biotech.

“Our digital sector is thriving, impacting all sectors. DIGMYIDEA helps to build Māori entrepreneurs so they continue to be active contributors in the digital economy, securing higher-skilled jobs and increased income.”

The three DIGMYIDEA Māori Innovation Challenge judges included Kaye-Maree Dunn, Ian Musson, programme director at Kōkiri, a business accelerator programme and Mike Taitoko, co-founder of Takiwā Ltd, a technology company.

The Māori Innovation Challenge is delivered by Auckland’s economic growth agency, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) which is focused on creating quality jobs for all Aucklanders.