Rotorua-based non-profit Digital Natives Academy (DNA) is proud to announce the launch of its education arm, the Native Institute of Digital Technology (Native Tech), which has just recently been certified as a Private Training Establishment (PTE) by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA).

This certification marks a significant milestone for Native Tech, a tertiary education organisation that aims to provide hands-on training in digital and creative technology to rangatahi. The programme takes a holistic approach to learning, using Te Ao Māori worldviews and Mātauranga Māori methodologies and pedagogies as its foundation.

Co-founder of DNA and CEO of Native Tech, Nikolasa Biasiny-Tule, says, “We are thrilled to receive this recognition from NZQA, which will enable us to further expand our programme and provide a certified pathway for rangatahi to gain essential skills and related qualifications in the digital and creative technology sectors.”

Indigenous responses to digital equity

Native Tech emerged from the gap DNA experienced while delivering programmes to tamariki and rangatahi over the last 9 years, in particular those most at risk of disengaging from formal education, or those who have already disengaged. Native Tech is a strategic response to the challenges rangatahi face when it comes to digital equity and the lack of clear pathways into digital and creative tech.

The stats are sobering, Māori represent only 4% of the tech sector and demographics show that by 2030, 30% of the workforce will be Māori and Pacific Islander. With the lack of local digital and creative tech pathways, the training and education opportunities in Rotorua are even more dire.

“Native Tech takes a holistic approach to our tauira, is collaborative and project based. We have an amazing registered teacher, digital tech tutor and junior tech assistant who work alongside two professional and experienced rangatahi navigators. Together our team will help students co-construct not only their learning journey but will support them to find their purpose and their path”.

Ms Biasiny-Tule, Native Tech CEO

The future of work

“Unless we prepare this generation for the future of work, which no doubt will have a digital element, employment opportunities for Māori will continue to lag behind”, says Potaua Biasiny-Tule, DNA Co-Founder, InternetNZ executive board member and Te Komiti Whakauru Māori Chair.

Native Tech focuses on preparing students for the future of work by offering training in a wide range of digital fields, including storytelling, content creation, illustration, animation, esports, web development and more. 

Over the coming years Native Tech’s programmes will focus on software development, computer engineering, artificial intelligence, data analysis and systems administration. Native Tech programmes are designed to be accessible, free and/or low-cost to students, and aims to bridge the gap in digital and creative technology education. Importantly, Native Tech will provide digital and creative tech qualifications and has the capacity to provide access to Levels 1-7, though the focus is on levels 1-3 to ensure rangatahi are given the opportunity to build their capacity, confidence and skills.

“This certification as a PTE allows us to offer our students recognised qualifications that will help them transition into further education or employment opportunities in the digital and creative technology industries.”

Marcus Powell, Programme & General Manager

The Native Tech programme has already shown promising results, with a pilot partnership with Media Design School, the most awarded Tertiary Institute in Aotearoa in 2022 seeing 80% of students successfully completing the Level 4 Digital Creativity Foundation programme, with two students offered employment at DNA in 2023.

The team at DNA is excited about the future of Native Tech as its education arm and the impact it will have on the digital and creative technology ecosystem in the Bay of Plenty region and beyond. With this certification, DNA is committed to providing the highest standard of education and training for its tauira, enabling them to dream big and build a successful career in the digital and creative tech sectors. Native Tech’s set of accredited programmes will be launched in due course.

Creating an industry focused ecosystem

Not only is DNA and Native Tech focused on training and education they have launched their commercial arm in the form of Native Industries, a Māori led and owned tech, innovation and creative design studio. This onsite studio allows students to see how skill progression and passion lead to real mahi. To date the studio is working on a number of exciting projects which will be launched over the next few months.

In addition, DNA and Native Tech works collaboratively with its partner organisation, Te Papatipu Matihiko (TPM), a collective of Māori tech focused organisations. TPM offers programmes in both Te Reo Māori and English and is focused on building the digital infrastructure needed to transform the lives of whānau across the motu.

About Digital Natives Academy

Digital Natives Academy (DNA) is a non-profit organisation based in Rotorua, New Zealand, dedicated to providing digital and creative technology education for young people. DNA takes a holistic approach to learning, incorporating Te Ao Māori worldviews and Mātauranga Māori methodologies in their programmes. Native Tech, their flagship programme, aims to equip students with the skills needed to navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape and help them find their purpose in the world of work.

About Native Tech

The Native Institute of Digital Technology (Native Tech), has been certified as a Private Training Establishment (PTE) by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) under Subpart 5 of Part 4 of the Education and Training Act 2020