Marae kids decipher code skills

By Mikaela Collins

Te Tuhi Hopa, 10, loves computers and games and is excited to learn the coding behind them in Pehiaweri Marae's Code Club. Photo / John Stone
Te Tuhi Hopa, 10, loves computers and games and is excited to learn the coding behind them in Pehiaweri Marae's Code Club. Photo / John Stone

Two of 10-year-old Te Tuhi Hopa's favourite things are computers and games - now for the first time he is learning a bit about how they work at his own marae.

The Whangarei boy is one of many who are learning computer coding through Pehiaweri Marae's Code Club.

"My mum told me to come along because I'd love it, and I do love it. I'd done some stuff on the computer like play games but this is the first time I'd done stuff like this," said Te Tuhi "I get to learn how they work and I love seeing family I don't usually see."

The club is the first part of a wider research project in partnership with NorthTec, launched last year, looking at creating a digitally literate community and comes after the successful coding event, the Hour of Code, which was held in December.

Tema Fenton-Coyne, NorthTec research educator, said the Code Club was a chance to introduce children and youth to a different side of computers.

"It's about injecting new computer knowledge into them but also about inspiring them to open their mind to a whole new world. Every single one of them had never done anything like this until the Hour of Code. They said they loved it, it was easy to follow and fun," she said.

Coding is what makes it possible to create computer software, apps and websites. In the club the students learn coding, how computers work and other vital skills through different activities and games. The Code Club also introduces aspects of te ao Maori (the Maori world) as students learn a new code-related word in te reo every day.

"For our whanau in this east Whangarei area our research showed one of the issues was transportation and marae-based learning is so effective. It's about kids having a sense of identity and being around whanau and the whole point of this is to be self-motivated. We don't want people coming here because they have to be there we want them here because they want to be here," Ms Fenton-Coyne said.

All the programmes used at the marae are online, free and available to whanau so students are able to carry on the activities at home. Ms Fenton-Coyne said worksheets were also uploaded on to a blog for easy access.

Te Tuhi said while he did not want a job in computers, they were on his top list of favourites and said he would be encouraging all his whanau and friends to come along. In March or April this year, Ms Fenton-Coyne said, they would be launching a Kauri Club at the marae for teaching computer skills to kaumatua and kuia.

"This will be more community-based learning than curriculum so we can cater to their needs," she said.

- Northern Advocate

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