Pūhoro STEM Academy presents at Google

Pūhoro senior analyst Kemp Reweti at Google's Sydney offices.

Pūhoro was one of a select number of organisations in Australia and New Zealand invited to attend the Google 2019 Partner Summit in Sydney, Australia.

The conference, held on December 3 and 4, focused on three broad challenges including growing participation across digital technologies, reframing the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) agenda, as well as funding and sustainability.

Attendees were welcomed by the tangata whenua of Australia through an indigenous protocal known as Welcome to Country, which invites others to the land of their ancestors.

Pūhoro staff were invited to present on how the Academy is supporting Māori engagement in STEM, which aligned to the challenge of growing participation in digital technologies.

Pūhoro kaihautū (leader) Leland Ruwhiu and senior analyst Kemp Reweti presented on two components that are creating a powerful impact and leaving lasting impressions on Māori tauira (pupils).

The first was the Engineering Young Māori Minds (EYMM) programme, which targets year-nine and year-10 pupils and, through pūrākau (mythical legends), creates STEM experiential challenges that help tauira see the connection between engineering and their own identity as Māori. The experience helps contextualise their learning while allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of the culture’s pūrākau (legend or story).

The duo also presented on the Āmua Ao component of Pūhoro, where a partnership between the academy, the Qualifications Authority and Callaghan Innovation allows year-13 pupils the opportunity to gain international exposure to STEM and engage with indigenous peoples from around the world. Mr Reweti describes it as a life-changing experience. Next year the academy will be selecting another group of year-13s to go to Silicon Valley, California, leveraging off relationships with companies such as Google to help Āmua Ao students gain access to some of the most world-renowned technology companies.

“Having the chance to be invited to go to Google was a huge moment for us, and then to be able to present to a room full of engaged people and organisations that are doing impactful things in their own communities was astonishing,” Mr Reweti says. “The response we received to our presentation was very encouraging. Many of the partners there, particularly the Australians, were amazed to see how Pūhoro has created a for-Māori by-Māori response and solution to increasing the relevance and engagement for Māori in STEM.”

Participants at the conference were also taken on a tour of the Google offices in Sydney. They were shown several micro-kitchens on the premises that employees can use at any time for snacks and drinks. The rooftop restaurant, with scenic views across Sydney Harbour, was a highlight, Mr Ruwhiu says, along with collaboration spaces that reinforce Google culture and help employees thrive in the innovative environment. “Seeing the Google atmosphere and environment was a real eye-opener to me. Our tour guide around the Google offices was a young New Zealander who attended Hutt Valley High School. The environment was inspiring and I hope we can bring some of the attitudes they have around collaboration and innovation to our own team here at Pūhoro in Massey.”


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