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Digital Natives Academy Charitable Trust

Rotorua’s next generation of digital leaders are being encouraged to reach new heights under the wing of Māori-led organisation, Digital Natives Academy (DNA).

With a foundation based on a Te Ao Māori worldview, DNA is creating career pathways for whānau who don’t have access to technology.

Its three primary programmes are targeted towards rangatahi and cover digital wellbeing, content and game creation, animation, esports and a broad overview of the digital and creative tech sector.

Native Industries is a new programme DNA plans to pilot this year.

DNA Co-founder Nikolasa Biasiny-Tule says this programme will benefit rangatahi who don’t fit the mould that school environments offer but who have an interest in digital technology as a possible career path.

“This new programme aims to bridge the gap between training and employment by building an industry our rangatahi can work in and grow their skills in digital and creative technology while gaining the soft skills needed to be job ready.”

Nikolasa says COVID-19 showed the world the power of digital.

“Our focus is ensuring whānau Māori are given the opportunity to explore these spaces so they can prepare their futures, post-COVID,” Nikolasa says.

DNA, a non-profit, was established in 2014 to encourage young people wanting to enter the digital tech industry to create, transform and develop their own digital tools.

In its latest round of funding, Rotorua Trust approved a $40,000 grant for the charitable trust to go towards its building lease.

“We are so grateful to have the support of Rotorua Trust. Their tautoko has meant we are able to expand into our new space at 1128 Hinemoa Street which is much larger and allows us to work with up to 30 tamariki and rangatahi at a time.

“It means we can continue to illuminate career pathways and provide a space that helps nurture and grow these most precious taonga, our children.”

Rotorua Trust Chairman Stewart Edward says DNA’s training programme will expose participants to an array of pathways, both digital and hands-on.

“In a post-COVID environment, it is more important than ever to explore new industries and career paths for future generations.”