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RoboPā gains further funding to engage Māori youth

21 February 2018

Local rangatahi engage with the RoboPā programme

A robotics initiative by Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi has been awarded increased funding to support the growth of computational thinking among Māori students in the Gisborne, Bay of Plenty, Auckland and Northland regions.

Professor John Clayton and the team from Tokorau – Institute for Indigenous Innovation have been awarded increased funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Unlocking Curious Minds contestable funding initiative to increase engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Awanuiārangi CEO, Professor Wiremu Doherty, said the RoboPā initiative aligns well with the Awanuiārangi vision of engaging learners in STEM activities.

“This is an initiative in which – through culturally and Te Reo aligned project-based learning experiences – Māori youth actively engage with entrepreneurial thinking practices, modern technologies, software and equipment,” Professor Doherty said.

Learning Facilitators Thomas Mitai and Rochelle Rapana said that RoboPā, as a portable maker-space, is designed to encourage Māori students and emerging teachers to engage in computational thinking practices, scientific approaches and technological innovation. This work had proven to be engaging and successful in previous RoboPā activities and the significant increased support for RoboPā was an indication of the ongoing potential of this innovative approach, they said.

Professor Clayton said he believes that supporting Māori youth through this initiative – particularly those who have fewer opportunities to engage – will continue to encourage Māori students to participate further in STEM activities.

“This will help equip our rangatahi to become great innovators and creators in the highly skilled, digitally driven environments they will encounter as part of the 21st-century workforce,” Professor Clayton said.