Di Daniels has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to digital literacy education, in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Di, from Raumati South, has led initiatives to provide digital literacy education and free computer hardware to thousands of families in low decile school areas since the early 2000s.

"I was very surprised and quite emotional really," she said about the accolade.

Di was doing a masters in Māori education at Whitireia, Porirua, where she had been a tutor, when a lecturer mentioned a Computers in Homes programme the campus was starting.

Advertisement

"I realised it would impact on a lot of my students in Porirua who were handwriting their essays.

"Information technology was like the doorway to education, employment, communication, inclusion — I had more of a social view on technology than a technical view on it."

She was soon volunteering with the 2020 Communications Trust with the programme, and would become national co-ordinator for many years.

"When I started there were only four projects and I grew it to 22 regions with around 30 contracted staff.

During this time more than 19,000 New Zealand families have received digital literacy training and access to free computers.

"I can't take credit for that number of families — it's the whole team.

"There was an amazing team of eclectic people who were immersed in their communities."

She would also lead the trust's Stepping Up programmes, which were one on one computer lessons in libraries, "in response to parents wanting more training but they weren't ready to go to polytech".

In recent times she has played role in the Digital Wings project, where socially and environmentally minded businesses and public sector organisations donate quality IT equipment to charities and community organisations.

She is currently the social responsibility manager for Remarkit, a company who backed the Computers in Homes programme in the early days, where she leads the Digital Wings project.

"Remarkit's ethos is to reduce, resell, reuse and redeploy so we breath new life into the equipment, keep it out of the landfill for as long as we can, and contribute to communities."

Di said her work through the years followed a firm belief that education is the key to everything.