Technology workshop helps build matua confidence in this digital age

The Cook Islands Mamas are a colourful group of matua, who are reservoirs of cultural knowledge across traditional customs and practices, such as the artistic Polynesian quilting called tivaevae.

But one skill that has eluded these elders over the years is the use of present-day technology and knowing how to use computers and cell phones to connect with their families.

To help bridge this gap, a small group of Cook Islands Mamas participated in the Kanorau Digital training this week, based at the Auckland premises of the Cook Islands Development Agency New Zealand (CIDANZ). The course was offered to them and other Pacific community groups across the country by Pasifika Futures in partnership with Manaiakalani Education Trust and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

The free one-day course teaches people to navigate the use of computers and cell phones on an everyday basis. This programme was initiated by the Manaiakalani Education Trust after a report by the Department of Internal Affairs found certain groups, including the Pacific community, were more likely to be digitally excluded.

Mama Ikiariki Rua was in tears after the training because no one had taken the time to go through the step-by-step process with her on how to do a simple task, like sending an email. But she enjoyed the training as she learned with her friends.

“This was very emotional for me. Being around the other Mamas gave me confidence. I have tried many times before to learn about computers.  This time I am very happy. I would like to come back and learn a lot more.”

Mama Tekura Turitoa says the training highlighted the importance of technology and how it is a vital tool for families to stay connected. Normally the group would rely on their grandchildren or children to assist them with the use of computers and their cell phones. Mama Turitoa says the Kanorau Digital training has empowered them and given them confidence.  

“This is the world of technology and that can be really hard for our age group. If technology were around in our days, we would know a lot more. This training has given us the tools to learn more about this important part of our lives.”

Last week, Pasifika Futures started offering this training to their various partners in Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch. The skills the participants learn include; identifying the different parts on a laptop, how to care for a laptop, knowing how to be safe online, creating a gmail account, sending emails and understanding ways to report/block spam.

Kanorau Digital tutor, Charles Lavea, of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, says the course provides a valuable service to our Pacific communities.

“This knowledge is important because of the way in which the world is moving towards a digital age and if our matua do not jump on this waka then they will be left behind. It’s important that there is a safe environment for them to come and ask questions and feel comfortable to learn.”


Date: Thursday 24 June 2021