Tongan father Tu’uta ki Tu’atonga had never touched a laptop before until this weekend, when he attended the Kanorau Digital training in Hamilton.
Tu’uta was invited to attend by the Tongan Men’s Group from the Siasi Uesiliana Tau’ataina ‘o Tonga (SUTT) church in Te Rapa, Hamilton. He and other members of the men’s group attended the day course that teaches basic but important technology skills. They were joined by a few women who were representing their husbands. The programme is run by the Manaiakalani Education Trust and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa with support from Pasifika Futures.
Tu’uta and the group were taught by a tutor in their Tongan language, so it made it easier for them to understand and participate in the workshop.
Tu’uta says learning these valuable life skills is important for him to connect with his family in New Zealand and in Tonga.
“For this workshop, I feel happy to be included because it’s the first time I’ve touched a laptop and learned how to use it. It’s important to me because I see my children use it for school, and my friends and family use laptops too.”
Fellow participant, Siosifa Havea, says that upskilling his ability to navigate emails will help him communicate better and help him to navigate important information online.
“This course has really helped me to learn more about computers. I knew a little bit about emails but I’ve gained more knowledge today. It’s important to know these things because nowadays it’s the way to receive key information, for example from the government and from family. “
The programme was initiated by Manaiakalani Education Trust after a report by the Department of Internal Affairs found certain groups, mainly Pacific and Māori, were more likely to be digitally excluded and resulted in a feeling of isolation.
Kanorau (meaning many seeds) Digital is a free six-hour course completed in either one or two days, that teaches people how to identify 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.
Pasifika Futures have been offering the training to its partners from Auckland, Hamilton, and Christchurch, and have started the courses for their matua and other interested Pacific groups.
Digital coach, Sione Vala, says the training helped this group of Tongan men to learn in a safe and comfortable environment.
“Men are usually shy and won’t ask for help. Getting them in a group environment, they feed off each other and they are there to get the help that they need.
Being in a safe space will allow them to ask questions that they would be too shy to ask before.
Some of the easy stuff that we take for granted, these guys are finding it the best thing ever. That’s why it’s important, especially for myself being a Tongan. I can help my own people in our own language.”