Inaugural Technology Job Fair for TKW Pathfinders

On 10. Dec 2018 NIC and Te Kapehu Whetu teamed up for our first joined technology job fair as a pathfinder event for Year 9 – 11 students. This was a direct follow-up of the Hatea River Water Quality STEM project we initiated with ten Year 9 female students since May. For us it is important to show pathways into technology. This is what the first iteration of a technology job fair concept is about.

But beforehand Raewyn Tipene, Tui Shortland, Auriole Ruka from the He Puna Marama Trust/ Te Kāpehu Whetū School invited me to join the blessing of Whare Wananga at the Kupe Waka Center in Aurere, near Taipa. The Te Kapehu Whetu (TKW) school is named after the polynesian/ Maori star compass.


At the Kupe Wake Centre the Maori star compass  has been build in a stonehenge style in the most amazing setting on a little hill overseeing Doubtless Bay.

To tempt to cross the Pacific Ocean in a waka you truly have to be doubtless and fearless. Nainao Thompson was part of the first voyage across the Pacific Ocean in the traditional waka Hokuel’a in 1974.


He and several of the Polynesian Voyage Society from Hawaii especially travelled to Northland for the blessing of the new Whare and to induct two new navigators. The very touching blessing was led by Matua Hekenukumai Busby, Dr Peter Philips and Naiano Thompson. A declaration of kinship between the Kupe Waka Centre, Polynesian Voyage Society and KS Kaʻiwakīloumoku was signed. It was an honour to participate in these celebrations and the exciting discussions about polynesian navigation.

There are many parallels between polynesian navigation and navigating through education and into life & then work life.

Navigation Jobs
Setting goals Direction determination What industry, what role, what organisation, what location, what compensation, other hygiene factors
Checking if you are on target Dead reckoning Regularly review if you are on track to reach your target, right skill for the next job challenge, practice lifelong learning
Adjusting the target Expanding the target Scan for opportunities, take a risk and move closer to your work life balance goals

For the first joined technology job fair Te Piha Tipene, Chipo Fumhanda, STEM Teacher at TKW and Martin from The Northland Innovation Centre teamed up to show some pathways into 21st century digital technology careers. We were joined by over thirty motivated Year 9-11 students and six local companies. After a short introduction to set the scene, Northpower kicked off the event with four of their technical staff to talk about careers as electrical engineer, network manager, software developer. Followed by NorthTec explaining tertiary education pathways. Te Piha from Mahi Dogs shared his teams vision of how digital technology can empower Maori to express themselves and communicate with their peers. Lawrence Levine from Horn, a global web conferencing IT company, stressed the point to rebrand STEM to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) and promote arts as a big part of technology education. Today more and more business is conducting using technology. It is important to provide a great user experience and journey for the user. To be able to do so, art and active listening are key skill sets required. This is an area where in particularly young women excel.

The group touched upon different pathways to find the ideal job and work life balance. The Pakeha culture with its performance and output focus may not only have advantages, as seen in growing mental illnesses and youth suicide rates. Bringing it back to polynesian navigation where I started with, it is important to first identify where you like to go, determine the heading. Then you need to regularly check if you are on track.

In navigation terms, we talk about dead reckoning – checking where you really are vs. where you planned to be at this point in time. Timing is very essential. That is in navigation the sea and also in navigating your career.

It took western navigators til 1713 with John Harrison‘s invention of the marine chronometer to master time and therefore precisely determine the longitude while at sea.

In the meantime Polynesian Navigators have been traversing the oceans for millenia. They used the Te Kāpehu Whetū/ Maori Star Compass, currents, birds and other nature observations to determine their current position in relation to where they wanted to go. Captain Cook took on the polynesian navigator Tupaia on board HMB Endeavour to help navigate the South Pacific Islands. Tupaia, who originated from Tahiti, was able to remember bearings and could navigate around hundreds of Islands (including Society Islands, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau, Fiji). He assisted the British to avert danger many times. Tupaia’s knowledge and ability to navigate without so-called Western technology was a first encounter with polynesian and Pakeha navigation. He assisted with negotiations with Maori  250 years ago (Oct 1769) when Cook first landed on New Zealand soil.


Coming back to navigating careers, the students then had the opportunity to talk to the local technology companies in a speed-dating fashion to learn what jobs are available in Whangarei and what educational options there are after the finish school. We discussed work experience, apprenticeships and study.

In particularly looking across the fence, thinking laterally and developing a growth mindset will be important to find a happy work-life balance and develop your own talent to its full potential.


A person with a growth mindset embraces challenges, sees obstacles as an opportunity to learn, effort as the path to mastery, learns from criticism, finds lessons and inspiration in the success of others. As a result you will reach a higher level of achievement, which will give you a greater sense of free will and options to find a good work life balance. Considering that we spend about 60% of our time working (30% sleeping, 10% doing fun stuff), it is important to enjoy what we do in our jobs/ working life.

One question which was raised a lot during the tech job fair was how much can I earn. We discussed what the most common job in Northland, driving a truck, involves. Typically a logging truck driver starts at about 1am in the morning, works til 5 or 7pm five or sometimes six days a week and earns about $1,000 per week. Stacking boxes in a Warehouse or doing basic retail jobs pays a little about minimum wage of $17 per hour.

Here are some information technology (IT) salary/ contract rate statistics which can help to answer some of these queries:


Two really cool information technology (IT) job opportunities for young talent in Northland are: testing software and developing user experiences (UX). Both roles command a good salary: tester $68,000 per year, UX designer $95/ hour. For UX jobs being good at art and active listening are key ingredients. To upskill into roles like this is actually not that difficult. You can start with taking a few courses online, get an internship in one of the cool Northland tech businesses and learn on the job, or go through a formal tertiary education at NorthTec, Massey (distance learning). With each of these options you can stay in Northland with your Whanau and friends…


If you have any questions or like to discuss some of the topics in this blog, please contact Martin.

Enjoy your day,








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