Rangatahi learn to code

The group entering Tuahiwi Marae

In late January over 40 Ngāi Tahu rangatahi took part in a coding wānanga run by the Ngāi Tūāhuriri Education Committee, Ngāi Tahu Funds, Tribal Economies,  the University of Canterbury and the University of Delaware.

Ngāi Tahu rangatahi and computer science students from the University of Delaware took part in a powhiri and workshop at Tuahiwi Marae and then spent two days in a computer lab at the University of Canterbury where they learnt basic coding.

Lynne Te Aika, Ngāi Tūāhuriri Education committee member and General Manager, Te Taumatua, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu says the kaupapa of the wānanga was to bring culture and computer science together.

“We hope that tamariki will see that technology can be a tool for language and cultural revitalisation,” says Lynne

“We want rangatahi to be able to understand and use technology to communicate our stories and help develop our language and culture.”

During the course rangatahi designed and coded computer programmes incorporating Ngāi Tahutanga.

Jarrah Rae Tau-Manuel said he built a game which involved catching riwai. Taiki Pou created a game that followed the migration  of Ngāi Tahu.  “It starts with one player having a dream to go south,” he says.

Ruiha Reuben at the coding wānanga

Ruiha Reuben said she wanted to build on the work of the cultural mapping team and created a quiz based on resources in Te Waipounamu.

Lynne says the overwhelming response from Ngāi Tahu rangatahi who wanted to take part in the wānanga has meant there will be two more coding wānanga held this year across the takiwā.

“The Ngāi Tahu Fund committee made a strategic decision to focus on rangatahi so these sort of initiatives fit well within the focus of the Funds”, says Lynne.

Students in the computer lab.

James Atlas, associate professor of computer science at the University of Delaware, said the experience had been invaluable for his students. Not only had they been challenged in the computer lab but they also gained a much greater understanding of the importance of Ngāi Tahutanga in stimulating the creativity of rangatahi.

“When you see their eyes light up, that’s a key takeaway and a sign that a student has accomplished something.

“ We are the creators of the next phase in the 21st century and if there is one factor that determines whether or not someone will succeed in computer science, it is previous experience.”