This month, as part of the DIGMYIDEA Māori Innovation Challenge, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa was again privileged to host the annual DIGIwānanga.
Altogether 10 finalist groups took part in a weekend of intensive mentoring sessions, which saw Nga Hau Whakaaro - Māngere Campus’ innovation space - being used to further develop entries to present to the panel of judges.
The winner of the youth category - Rerenga o te Kora - was Jordan Messiter while the winner of the open category - Muranga o te Ahi - was Arena Williams.
Arena, with her colleague Eric Goddard, created an election tool in te reo Māori and English called Kōwhiri, and says it feels great to come out top from more than 200 entries.
“We’re really excited,” Arena says.
“With $10,000 seed money to spend on the development of a web voting portal, the Kōwhiri election and engagement services will be unlike anything currently on offer to iwi.”
From the judges' feedback Arena sensed they saw Kōwhiri as a disruptive tech solution for a real problem faced by members of Māori communities who are required to elect representatives in a secure but democratic way.
“Our product is designed with Māori end users in mind,” she says.
“Of course, the market for a secure election process is not limited to iwi. By refining our systems, Kōwhiri will be positioned to expand into other markets, or even license our technology elsewhere.”
Jordan Messiter’s winning concept is an online market place that connects tenants with landlords. The 25-year-old says her idea, called Homely, stems from wanting to simplify the process of applying for rentals.
“There’s an obvious dissatisfaction in the rental market which I see as an opportunity,” she says.
“Our platform aims to enable users to minimise the time and effort required to apply for multiple rental properties which can be an exhausting process,” she says.
Users would be charged a success fee when they were approved for a property and the service would also provide a transparent feedback forum.
“I’m passionate about affecting real change in our communities and believe this can be achieved through the right business model.”
Jordan says it’s now goal setting time and she’s looking to making a solid plan.
“There were some pretty epic ideas that came out over the weekend, from the revitalisation of our reo to raising awareness about mental health among our rangatahi, so to have won feels pretty amazing,” she says.
“The stars aligned and I’m happy to have walked away with the trophy and some pūtea to help get this kaupapa kicked off.”
DIGMYIDEA judge Kaye-Maree Dunn says she was impressed by the volume and calibre of ideas that came through.
“It’s exciting to see an increase of wahine Maori applicants wanting to see how digital technology can make a real difference to others’ lives,” she says.
Aukaha Tangata for Te Ihu, Shanan Halbert, congratulated all the finalists and winners for their passion and creativity.
“It’s vital that we encourage more Māori into the thriving technology and innovation sector and build capacity by supporting more involvement through initiatives such as the DIGMYIDEA Māori Innovation Challenge.”
Youth category - Rerenga o te Kora Finalists:
Taylor McDonald - Gluco
Tupua Urlich - Te Ahuatanga Aroha
Anqush Kumar - K2K
Jordan Messiter - Homely
Michan Fukushima - MIKAN
Open Category - Muranga o te Ahi Finalists:
Arena Williams - Kowhiri: Choice!
Lelandra Te Taima Barrett - Hoa Pumau
Keith Jones - i-Piki
Darren Rewi - Engage Point
Tahi Goddard - Kiwifruit Trainer