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  • Writer's pictureSonny Ngatai

A Gift From Māui: Our Inherited Digital Savviness

As a product of the kōhanga reo movement, I find myself deeply connected to the extraordinary achievements of Māui. Whether you know Māui from Disney's Moana or kōhanga reo, Māui, our tūpuna (ancestor), not only showcases Māori ingenuity but, more importantly, our technological prowess.

Māui ingeniously utilised intergenerational technology from his grandmother's jawbone to defy three-dimensional Euclidean geometry and catch the largest fish ever witnessed by mankind! Māui also possessed the knowledge to create randomly generated microscopic amplitudes, which led to the creation of a time warp that could slow down the sun.

To me, Māui proved that anything is possible!

So here we are today, and I feel compelled to remind you that we, as Māori, are the epitome of technological advancement. Our ancestral heritage is adorned with remarkable achievements such as stellar navigation, conquering vast oceans, and even creating digital campaigns while walking State Highway 35 in gumboots. Our people are creators and innovators, shaping the world one step at a time. We use our technology and sometimes tech from abroad to design solutions that help our people.

To believe that technology solely emerged during our time would disregard the profound technological and scientific genius of our tūpuna. And to be blunt, it sounds racist af like the Auckland scientists who questioned the scientific nature of Māori knowledge. However, let's remember that every generation witnesses its own technological advancements.

As a small business owner providing digital marketing and content services, I cannot imagine a world without technology, the internet, iPhones, or anything that doesn't grant me complete access to the rest of the world. And for those who criticise "young people always being on their cell phones," well, "ok boomer!" As anyone born after the 1990s would agree, technology surpasses devices; it envelops our existence, becoming an indispensable part of our environment. You wouldn’t expect my mum to bake rewana bread with stones and fire, so don't judge me for using ChatGPT to enhance my emails' cleverness.

Like Māui, technology empowers us to push boundaries, explore uncharted territories, access countless YouTube tutorials, and achieve feats that were once unimaginable.

In this information age, a degree's relevance diminishes as AI can provide answers to almost any question! But in all honesty, the key for our generation lies in advancing technology and creating digital solutions that contribute to our overall well-being as a Māori. It's not just about connecting with the world but also nurturing meaningful connections with those close to us.

At ATA, we believe that every digital platform serves as a whare — a place where everyone who enters is welcomed, offered a virtual cuppa tea, and invited to the tēpu (table) for a kōrero (chit chat). This is how we foster relationships in te ao Māori and bring our Māoritanga, our grounding from kōhanga reo and kura, into our mahi.

We must recognise that our uniqueness and awesomeness depend on our ability to navigate and harness the potential of the Digi-verse as Māori. Executive Director of Tokana te Raki (Māori Futures Collective) Dr. Eruera Tarena emphasises the importance of understanding the opportunities that lie before us. By making strategic investments, we can transform our systems and empower our people to achieve their dreams — their new Hawaiki.

Technology enables us to envision a world beyond the horizon and reimagine what is possible. Lee Timutimu, a modern-day Māui in the digital and tech landscape, embodies this spirit and has paved the way for many of us. Through his dedication to our communities, he has developed innovative solutions that address our unique aspirations. The cuzzy Lee's work serves as an encouraging reminder that Māori innovation and digital/tech go hand in hand.

Restricting our horizons would contradict the desires of our tūpuna. So let us embrace technology and digital solutions as a tool for progress, ensuring it serves us in creating a brighter future, not only for ourselves but for our mokopuna. What does the future look like? Not sure. But just like Māui, we may encounter a few false starts. What matters is that we shape a world where digital solutions not only benefit our people but empower us to be unapologetically Māori.


Shout outs

  • Dr. Eruera Tarena

  • Lee Timutimu

  • Māui

  • Mum

1 Comment

Hayley Flett
Hayley Flett
May 30, 2023

He pai tō kōrero my tungāne! Looking forward to the next one #unapologeticAF


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