Coding club initiative praised by MPs

By Mikaela Collins

1 comment
Matthew Jeffrey-Upsom, 14, and Kaea Bercic, 13, show Whangarei MP Shane Reti how they code.
Matthew Jeffrey-Upsom, 14, and Kaea Bercic, 13, show Whangarei MP Shane Reti how they code.

Whangarei youth who are learning computer coding have been dubbed world leaders by MPs who say the students' coding knowledge will help lead them into jobs.

Whangarei MP Shane Reti and Minister for Women Louise Upston visited Kamo High School last Wednesday to see students from the school's coding club, and Pehiaweri Marae's coding club, in action.

Dr Reti said he was a bit of a fan of coding and even admitted to coding while in the House.

Before he was politician, and before he went to medical school, he was a computer scientist at Waikato University.

"I learned my computer languages way back when and I found, for me, coding is very relaxing. I still code at the moment. About every two weeks I code for about 30 minutes."

The coding club is the first part of a wider research project launched last year, in partnership with NorthTec, looking at creating a digitally literate community.

Dr Reti said it was exciting to see so many Whangarei youth learning about computer language. He told the students that before visiting them, he had phoned Ian McCrae, CEO of Orion Health, who told Dr Reti he employed 1000 people from around the world - a third of whom are coders. Dr Reti said Mr McCrae told him a Java coder fresh out of uni could earn between $50,000 to $60,000 per year.

Ms Upston, who is also MP for Taupo, said the students were world leaders, as Pehiaweri Marae is the only marae in the country to have established a marae-based coding club.

"What you're doing is going to have an amazing impact on the rest of New Zealand. I'm going to go to Tuwharetoa and say, 'Guess what, Northland are beating you because they've got a coding club and you haven't.'"

- Northern Advocate

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