Te Pae Tata – growing Ruapehu learners, creators and leaders

An Ohakune-based iwi organisation, Ngā Waihua o Paerangi Trust is leading the way in connecting whānau through the innovative use of technology to create meaningful outcomes for the community.

The Ruapehu Whanau Transformation Plan, a Ngāti Rangi iwi initiative that sits under the social arm of the iwi (Ngā Waihua o Paerangi), created the Te Pae Tata, the Ruapehu Community Learning and Tech Hub in 2016– a community centre dedicated to providing access to, and understanding of, cutting edge technology for whānau. Te Pae Tata seeks to bring learnings from distant horizons into the palms of whānau hands.

Whānau across the entire Ruapehu district – stretching from Taumarunui in the north, to Raetihi in the south – can access Te Pae Tata, which is kitted out with virtual reality sets, music technology, podcasting equipment, hui facilities, dozens of computers and tablets, alongside hot desks.

Manager of Te Pae Tata, Rachel Hoskin, says that the facilities are about providing more than just access to technology, but also focusing on building capacity within whānau.

“We’re very reactive to our community’s needs so we’re constantly evolving our offerings,” says Hoskin. “Our goal is to enable our whānau and support their endeavours through more than just providing the technology to do so.”

The offerings will extend to include coaching sessions on topics like IRD, budgeting, enterprise and innovation support, amongst other practical topics. The Hub is also home to workshops and programmes including kaumātua and adult tech classes, after school and holiday programmes, video, audio, podcasting, and digital art classes.

“The technology available to us encourages entrepreneurship to truly enable whānau, which feeds into our mission to lead innovative action and facilitate learning opportunities that continually advances ourselves and our communities says Hoskin. “We are achieving this by collaborating and connecting as a community.”

It’s this tailored use of technology that truly demonstrates Te Pae Tata’s innovative spirit when considering how to further empower our whānau to realise their aspirations. “We even used virtual reality technology to design additions and renovations to one of our marae from the ground up.”

“Virtual reality marae walkthroughs have typically been used to connect whānau away from home with their marae, which is an amazing use of technology,” says Hoskin. “We flipped this and used it to conceptualise the marae whānau want to create, so they can walk through it before it’s even built.”

Te Pae Tata have also developed many programmes and opportunities to specifically benefit rangatahi in the rohe, with an eSports team who meet regularly at the Hub who will be competing in both national and international level competitions in the future.

Stan Walker at Te Pae Tata

The eSports helps to connect and engage rangatahi that are interested in technology and helps to develop the soft skills of the participants through a structured, practical approach.

“The rangatahi learn valuable skills like teamwork and strategic thinking,” says Hoskin. “We help develop and hone their skills into a viable career path, and work with the rangatahi involved to ensure there’s a suitable exit strategy for when eSports is no longer a career for them.”

Te Pae Tata also work closely with rangatahi who wanted to develop careers and skills in the digital space, but without having to move away from their whānau and whenua where they felt the most connected. Noticing a significant lack of tertiary education offerings in the region, Hoskin and Te Pae Tata set up a workplace for rangatahi to get on the job training and experience.

This has led to the creation of Rawe Creative – a digital design and advertising agency supported by Te Pae Tata. It is headed by Hoskin, who has a strong background in digital design and creative work. She spent years teaching and then leading the creative qualifications, including writing some qualifications, at UCOL over her career.

“There’s no formal qualification needed at Rawe Creative,” she says. “The rangatahi are self-learning, and work with close mentorship which sees them at a third-year level of training within the first year of working here.”

Te Pae Tata has also worked to create international opportunities for its rangatahi, partnering with the Video Project in San Francisco – an organisation which focuses on sustainable filmmaking and distribution. Youth within the rohe have an opportunity to go on a one-month, fully supported internship which sees kaimahi travel with the intern to help them settle in and ensures they are well looked after.

Rawe Creative Kaimahi at Google in San Francisco. Heleni Misiloi, Kiri Rapana and Kyran Jones

Hoskin says that Te Pae Tata seeks to empower the entire community within the Ruapehu rohe – both north and south of the maunga.

“Regional boundaries have been a barrier at times for us, given our reach spreads across Waikato and Manawatū-Whanganui. Te Pae Tata provides a central hub for all facets of our communities – right across our rohe”.

Going forward Te Pae Tata aims to continue with its aspirations across the board, to further conceptualise the marae, expand its educational capacity and continue to advance. Te Pae Tata wants to continue engaging with rangatahi and whānau, as well as continue to develop its technical capacity.

“It’s not about having the best technology or the most cutting edge facilities,” says Hoskin. “Rather, it’s about developing, fostering, and investing in the things that will have the most significant impact on our community. Our cutting edge technology here is just a bonus”

To learn more about Te Pae Tata’s incredible kaupapa and mahi, head to www.ruapehuhub.com