Tech Alliance Logo

The New Zealand Tech Alliance is a group of independent technology associations from across New Zealand that work together to ensure a strong voice for technology.

Visit Tech Alliance
Loading Events

Bridging the participation gap of Māori in Aotearoa’s tech sector

The 2023 NZTech Digital Skills Aotearoa Report identified that there is a significant participation gap of Māori in the tech sector, with Māori accounting for 4.8% of the tech workforce (an increase of 0.8% since 2021). Further research, Te Au Hangarau: The Wave of Technology examined which factors influence participation and success of Māori in the technology industry.

Join our discussion as we reimagine a tech sector where Māori feel a deeper sense of belonging and desire to participate. We’ll take a closer look at the research findings to help inform systemic changes across the tech ecosystem.

Our discussion will explore the key enablers to foster a sense of belonging, including enhancing Māori leadership and profile, creating culturally safe and literate workplaces, and providing culturally anchored support networks in tech firms.

Please register to attend our panel discussion and networking event to discuss the key learnings and opportunities for Aotearoa’s tech sector.

Event Deatils:

  • Date: Thursday 24 August
  • Time: 5.00 – 7.30pm
  • Location: Conference Centre, Spark City, 167 Victoria Street West, Auckland CBD
  • Event Type: In person
  • Cost: Free for members and non-members

Speaker Details:

  • Spark People & Culture Director Heather Polglase
  • Auraki Group co-founder Naomi Manu


  • NZTech CEO Graeme Muller (Moderator)
  • Te Matarau The Māori Tech Association CEO Lee Timutimu
  • Spark Kaupapa Māori Lead Rhonda Koroheke
  • Te Pūkenga Academic Centre and Learning Systems Deputy Chief Executive Megan Gibbons

Supported by: 

We respectfully ask that all participants planning to attend an in person event are healthy and well. Should you be unable to attend due to illness or isolation we request that you stay home. Please let us know if you are unable to attend by emailing with your name and the event date.


Heather Polglase - Director - Spark People & Culture
  • Heather was appointed HR Director in September 2019. Heather joined Spark in 2013 and has over 20 years international experience as an HR professional, with a proven track record for business transformation, talent management, leadership development and succession planning across a range of industries including FMCG, retail, hospitality, technology, and telecommunications. 
  • At Spark, Heather has held various senior HR positions and delivered a number of critical initiatives, including being a key architect of Spark’s Leadership and Development programme to build high-performing teams and leaders. 
  • Prior to joining Spark, Heather was a senior HR leader for almost a decade within Progressive Enterprises then spent two years in Australia leading HR, People Strategy & Change Management at Dan Murphy’s. She has a Bachelor of Business Studies Degree (Hospitality Management) from Auckland University of Technology.
Naomi Manu - Co-founder - Auraki Group
  • Naomi Manu is one of Aotearoa’s premier thought leaders in Māori STEM capability and leadership. Naomi’s STEMM capability programmes have won both international and domestic awards. 
  • Naomi was most recently named the winner of the Change Maker category in the inaugural Te Matihiko Awards receiving recognition for her work from Te Hapori Matihiko which is Aotearoa’s foremost Māori tech community. 
  • An Obama Foundation Global Leader, Naomi’s infectious energy will motivate and inspire change.
Lee Timutimu - CEO - Te Matarau The Māori Tech Association
  • Lee Timutimu (Ngāti Awa, Ngati Te Rangi, Tūhoe, Ngāti Porou)
  • Lee has worked in the IT industry for over 20 years, primarily in the IT support services space. He has deep networks and relationships into the Māori tech ecosystem and public and private sectors in Aotearoa NZ. He’s also the Founder of Arataki Systems and Te Reo Wainene o Tua, Co-Founder of Ko Maui Hangarau, Te Hapori Matihiko and Tumu Labs, and CEO of Te Matarau - the Māori Tech Association. Lee was born and raised in Whakatāne, but now lives with his whānau in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton).
  • Lee is on a mission to help increase both the representation and participation of Māori in tech. A lot of the mahi (work) he does sees him leading and advocating in this space.
  • "Visibility and representation of Māori in tech is vital, because it plays an important part in inspiring the next generation of Rangatahi Māori onto pathways into digital and tech. I believe any opportunity where we can come together to connect and represent our Māori communities in tech is an important opportunity."
Rhonda Koroheke - Kaupapa Māori Lead - Spark
  • ETHNICITY / WHAKAPAPA (Nō Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Maniapoto, me Te Whānau-ā-Apanui ahau)
  • MY CAREER PATHWAY: Over 20 years leading multiple diverse technology teams at all levels of the organisation including: • Mobile • Fixed Network • Voice Network • Provisioning • Workforce Management • Over the last seven years I have lead Spark’s Diversity,  Equity and Inclusion strategy • I have just been appointed to the Kaupapa Māori Lead role
  • EDUCATION / EXPERIENCE:  25+ years varied business experience – from Technology to People and Culture • Agile Leadership Programme alumnae • Post-graduate Diploma in Business Information Systems from Auckland University • Certificate in Management from Waikato University
  • MY BIGGEST LESSONS: Be open to change, opportunities come in many forms • Failure is a stepping-stone to success• Never lose sight of who you are and where you come from – it’s your greatest asset
  • ABOUT ME • My whānau are my “why” -everything I strive for is to ensure they enjoy success in the future (so they can afford to look after me in my old age!)
  • • WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO MAORI/PASIFIKA YOUTH TODAY? • Mauria te pono!  “Believe in yourself” • Tūwhitia te hopo, mairangatia te angitū! ”Feel the fear and do it anyway!”
  • HOW DOES BEING MAORI/PASIFIKA CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR SUCCESS AT WORK: The value I bring as a Māori is my ability to: • share a different perspective • Keep it real • Connect with others • Lead with humarie (humility)
Megan Gibbons - Deputy Chief Executive - Te Pūkenga Academic Centre and Learning Systems
  • Megan is a successful educator who won the Ako Aotearoa National Award in Excellence in Tertiary Teaching in 2016. Prior to her appointment as Chief Executive of Otago Polytechnic in 2020 she was the Deputy Chief Executive for People and Performance. 
  • Megan has expertise in academic leadership, with strengths in curriculum development and leadership development. She completed the Educational Leadership Programme at Harvard University in 2019. 
  • She is a New Zealand Athletics coach, and well recognised within Otago Sport. She is a judge for the annual Otago Sports Awards.


Aug 24
5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Type
Is this event run by the Tech Alliance?


Conference Centre
Conference Centre, Spark City, 167 Victoria Street West, Auckland CBD + Google Map