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NZTech Update – The real digital impact in local schools

Kia Ora

Last week, I had an interesting experience that drove home to me the need to consider more than just computers and the ability to teach digital technology.

I visited Point England School to meet with Russell Burt, the school principal and convenor of the Manaiakalani schools cluster.  If you haven’t heard about this initiative you need to!  The Manaiakalani Project began in 2007 at Point England School, where digital initiatives have been used to help improve the reading, writing and learning outcomes of their students.  Now many other New Zealand schools are participating too.  The study has reported impressive improvements in learning outcomes including independent learning skills, study habits, problem solving abilities, critical literacy and writing skills.  This is supported by a deep digital environment that extends beyond the schools to whanau.  Check out their journey here.

However, when I visited Point England last week, the entire suburb was experiencing a power cut.  At the school, 200 students were sitting at their laptops waiting to begin a test while teachers considered a Plan B?  What this showed me, is that as schools become increasingly more digital they need additional support, beyond firing up servers and WiFi after a power outage.  At Point England School, due to cost factors, there was no battery backup or generator available.  Maybe the Ministry of Education needs to start factoring in power backup in the facilities costs of their schools?  This also got me thinking about how our national power infrastructure may be the weakest link in our cybersecurity plans.  Let’s hope this is part of the refresh of our national cyber security strategy that is currently underway.

In BioTech news, LanzaTech’s Dr Sean Simpson was in New Zealand last week.  It’s great to see how successful Kiwi tech entrepreneurs continue to put effort and investment back into New Zealand.  Read more here.

This week I am looking forward to spending Wednesday with the Board of KiwiNet and others, throwing ideas around on how to increase the flow of research from New Zealand universities and CRI’s into commercialisation and successful companies.

Have a great week.

Ng? mihi
Graeme Muller

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Attend Leveraging Spatial Data for Agriculture on 8 November in Hamilton.  Attend NZSA’s Purpose and Profit – Growing a Social Enterprise on 13 November in Auckland.

Join the New Zealand IoT Alliance’s first Connect Event on 20 November in Auckland.  Discussion will include security analysis and IoT at the edge.

The New Zealand FinTech Summit is 29 November in Auckland.  Early bird tickets are now available for AI-Day 2019.  Next year’s theme, AI is Everywhere!


Meet entrepreneur Craig Heatley at AmCham’s Thanksgiving event on 22 November in Auckland.  Also meet US Ambassador Scott Brown on 27 November in Auckland.

Entries for the 2019 Hi-Tech Awards open on 3 December.  Attend the launch events on 28 November in Auckland,  5 December in Wellington and 6 December in Christchurch.

Strengthen connections in digital health at the HiNZ Conference, 21-23 November in Wellington.   Join the AI Forum at the 31st Australasian Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence 11-14 December in Wellington.


Following the success of ShadowTech for Students is ShadowTech for Teachers on 14 November.  Entries for  #TechRocketshipANZ close 23 November.

Learn more about Google’s  AI for Social Good programme, including the AI Impact Challenge, applying AI to some of the world’s biggest challenges!  Applications close 22 January.

Save these 2019 event dates; Future Government summit, 26-27 February, Tech Marketers conference on 28 February,  AI-Day on 28 March and Techweek 20-26 May.  The 2019 Hi-Tech Awards Gala Dinner is 24 May in Auckland.

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