Digital whizzes set to take flight from Wairoa

Eight Wairoa people are on their way to becoming digital whizzes following a $960,000 Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) investment boost.

The first intake of eight apprentices will have the opportunity to become certified in a variety of digital software including Maya 4D, Unity (2D and 3D gaming development software) and Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere Pro editing software).

The programme is the brainchild of Korou Digital Trust. Korou’s Hinerangi Edwards refers to a well-known Ngai Tamaterangi proverb to capture the aspirations of the programme.

“Ma te huruhuru te manu ka rere ai. Feathers enable the bird to take flight.

“This project will enable our Wairoa apprentices to find their wings, as well as a place to perch here at home.

“To provide our whanau with an incentive to stay or return home and help grow our future.”

Cam Swainson-Whaanga, founder of the Jean Swainson Foundation, moved his foundation office to Wairoa last year. His organisation is the creative digital agency behind the new gaming platform AFED Education — an educational resource making learning in the classroom and at home more immersive and interactive.

Mr Swainson-Whaanga says it is great to see the fruits of the planning that went into the digital employment programme.

“Our foundation played a small part in the planning and is now looking forward to engaging with the Wairoa digital apprentices as they emerge from the training stage of the programme.”

Ngati Pahauwera IT guru and Innovator of the Year 2019 Ian Taylor is also set to join the initiative as a patron for Korou Digital Trust.

“I’m coming on at the tail end of the hard work that the Wairoa digital collective has already done. It’s amazing what they’ve achieved already and I’m really looking forward to helping add to that. “When I was growing up in Wairoa, we didn’t even have electricity and now we have the Wairoa Digital Employment Programme, that’s incredible.”

Ian and his company Animation Research Ltd produced Land of Voyagers — an educational digital platform which coincided with the recent Tuia 250 celebrations.

He sees opportunities for the Wairoa digital collective, with plans for the Land of Voyagers platform to be rolled out nationwide as an educational resource for schools.

“What if we trained the digital apprentices to help build content for Land of Voyagers, enabling them to produce their own digital content, to tell their own stories, their own history. The timing is perfect,” says Ian.

Wairoa mayor Craig Little says the programme will help whnau and the Wairoa community develop new businesses and opportunities for social and economic benefits beyond those directly involved.

“This project is the result of the work of a group of passionate local people who are working to create employment opportunities for our Rangatahi.”