Ongoing efforts to encourage Māori into higher paying jobs and advance prosperity will receive a $45,000 boost from BayTrust.
The grant will pay for initiatives such as free coding and robotics workshops for Māori intermediate and secondary school students and is being given to Toi Kai Rawa – the Bay's regional Māori economic development agency.
The agency's goal is to support local Māori to exceed the national average income levels by 2030 and thrive in all sectors of society.
Toi Kai Rawa's General Manager/Kaihautū, Awhina Ngātuere, said Māori and Pasifika will make up 30 per cent of New Zealand's workforce in less than a decade, with that figure rising to 50 per cent by 2050 – yet they remain over-represented in the lower skilled end of our labour market.
"We are working on foundational projects to help accelerate local Māori into high value jobs and have got a strong emphasis on STEAM pathways (science, technology, engineering, arts and math)," she said.
One new initiative is called Hihiko Te Rawa Auaha – Innovation Hubs Embedded in Communities, which will launch at Baycourt on Tuesday May 25.
A day of free robotics and coding workshops will be provided for Year 7 to Year 10 Māori students to encourage them to embrace training and career pathways they might not otherwise be aware of.
Hihiko Te Rawa Auaha aims to unlock community innovation with a focus on digital enablement and STEAM capability. Supported by Spark Foundation and Digital Futures Aotearoa, the programme aims to work with 30 Māori communities across the wider Bay of Plenty over the next three years.
"About 44 per cent of all young people in the Bay of Plenty are Māori. So there's a strong emphasis on working with rangatahi and building pathways to high value education, training and employment," Ngātuere said.
Other successful events run by Toi Kai Rawa include Ko Māui Hangarau (KMH) which showcases excellence in Māori tech, innovation and entrepreneurship to Māori school students, and an annual regional rangatahi Māori summit.
"It's going to take some time for meaningful foundations to be embedded so our people can seize opportunities for the future.
"Fostering the conditions in our region for our people to realise what their natural talents and skills are, what their passions are, and 'belief in self' is what we are setting out to do. If our people can unlock this, they can achieve anything they desire."
BayTrust chief executive Alastair Rhodes said for Māori to succeed economically, it was crucial that Māori designed, lead and implemented their own development opportunities.
"Toi Kai Rawa is the first kaupapa regional Māori economic development agency of its kind in the country and they are independent of local government and ensuing political cycles which is rare.
"They have a proven track record of success and are on the right path to create long-term change. We're delighted to support the work they are doing by approving this $45,000 grant."
Schools interested in the upcoming Hihiko Te Rawa Auaha event (coding and robotics workshop) at Baycourt can register on Eventbrite or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.