Show us your policy: The Māori Party
Editor's note: We've asked the ICT spokespeople of all the major parties to comment on their policies in the lead up to the election. As they come in we'll publish them here.
The ICT sector is growing rapidly both in size and its value to the New Zealand economy and the Māori Party wants to see Māori play a leading role both in its development and application.
But to do so it is imperative that we lift Māori participation in the sector's workforce and lift the number of young Māori studying for ICT qualifications.
The Māori ICT Report in 2015, produced by He kai kei aku ringa, showed that just 2.3 percent of the Māori workforce was employed in the ICT sector. The figures were even worse for those studying. Less than 1 percent of Māori in tertiary education are studying towards an ICT qualification and most of those are studying for lower-level qualifications.
Technology and innovation are key to the country's economic future as we seek to diversify and move away from the traditional reliance on primary industries. With around 8 percent of the country's GDP coming from the tech industry it is already a major contributor and we want Māori to be more involved in it.
The Māori Party secured $30 million in funding for the Māori Digital Technology Development Fund to help enable this. The fund supports initiatives to create high value jobs and opportunities that advance Māori in digital technologies.
There is a real potential and value that Māori will add to our bourgeoning tech sector and the fund, which has recently allocated its first round of funding, will support Māori to build the skills needed to participate in the digital economy, as well as providing a strong platform for Māori language content and production.
The Māori Party believes the continuing rollout of the ultra-fast broadband network and the next year's arrival of the Hawaiki cable will only further increase the opportunity for Māori businesses to grow in an increasingly connected world.
An issue the Māori ICT Report highlighted was the lack of internet access for Māori households compared to the national average. Māori households that had access to the internet was 68 percent - 15 percent lower than other New Zealand households.
Bridging that digital divide is crucial for Māori to access the plethora of services that are now offered online. To that end the Māori Party supports continued investment in the Rural Broadband Initiative to improve access for those, many of whom are Māori, outside UFB areas.
We believe further funding, in addition to the $100 million for Rural Broadband Initiative and $50 million for mobile black spots, may be required to achieve the government's targets for rural broadband connectivity.
Te Ururoa Flavell is the co-leader of the Māori Party.
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