Māori DEV: We are – and always have been

Empowering the next-generation of Māori software developers

Words by Dougal Stott. Dougal, Enspiral Dev Academy’s Kaiārahi Māori, coaches preparation mindset and bootcamp human skills at the newly located Tāmaki Makaurau campus in Newmarket, Auckland. His mahi informs the Māori in Tech speaker series, the Te Uru Rangi scholarship programme, and Māori business development.

Dougal Stott (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāpuhi)

As I steadily move towards one year at Enspiral Dev Academy it has been both eye-opening and life-changing to say the least. It’s also instilled in me a sense of optimism and excitement about the offerings we as Māori, should we choose to, can share with the technology world.

I say choose because without a doubt we still need to hack a number of kaupapa in order to see true cultural and gender parity. Interesting enough these include but are not limited to: a consistent and informed approach to digital kaitiakitanga, data sovereignty, and accessibility to education and training.


This kōrero is not intended to solve or debug these themes, as I’m sure many would agree they are very complex ideologies especially when looking at them parallel to tikanga Māori. What I will attempt to do though is to discuss the kaupapa: we descend from adaptable natural innovators and entrepreneurs; we have an understanding of the mana of software; and, why our design is heavily influenced by tikanga-based values and inherent characteristics. These champion our participation in a competitive and until now, a predominately white male industry. We are in a flux of change.

Within my role I have the privilege of walking beside students as they enter a stage of self discovery, achievement of personal goals, embrace vulnerability, and of course learn the fundamentals of code and software development.

Culturally at Dev Academy, I’m daily witness to the unassumed practice of whanaungatanga, aroha ki te tangata, manaakitanga, and kaitiakitanga. All underpinned by the values of integrity, kindness, and effort. I’m very much a part of that culture now and afford my colleagues all the beautiful things I love about not just belonging, but belonging to something special, whānau.

Enspiral DEV Academy staff away week 2017.

Adaptable Innovators

We are — and always have been. From stories and learnings from our atua and tūpuna, these guide us and describe a blueprint for our success in te ao hangarau. It’s a natural fit. We are great explorers, inquisitive and curious, informed by our tikanga we forge ahead in this ever-changing world, always for the betterment and retention of our culture and attempting to incorporate and leverage today’s tools.

We adapted to this wonderful slice of paradise many, many years ago. We surveyed our environment and developed a lifestyle according to the resources that surrounded us. Our society encompassed whānau, collectivism, and shared values. We designed things and made calculated decisions according to the māramataka and council with tōhunga. In my mind I think of the challenges this may have presented, but I’m also encouraged — not by how or when we arrived in Aotearoa — but who?

It makes perfect sense to me that, should or if you decided to move your whānau half way around the planet, across Te moana nui a Kiwa, by little more than a “yeah bro, looks good over there,” and then follow a celestial pathway here, you would have to be confident in the expertise and knowledge required to ensure cultural survival on arrival.

This makes perfect sense again — that we are all naturally descended from tūpuna who possessed and passed down to us something of an entrepreneurial nature, poised in tikanga, and an abundance of innovation. We are — and always have been.

Mana of Software

When we participate, we bring everything. Nothing is half — we participate as a whole. This means we bring what is unique to us as Māori. One of these is wairua — the spiritual nature that connects us all as humans and that to all living beings and our environment. Another is aroha — the ability to empathise, communicate, and support each other. Then whanaungatanga — collective planning, execution, and achievement together. Let’s eliminate ego.

Within my role I have observed our Māori students connect with their learning in a way that honours the power of software engineering and of course their innovative tūpuna.

“The vision of not only changing the face of NZ tech, but aiming to provide a realistic and complimentary pathway for future Māori developers is genuine, evident and authentic.”

Students have a willingness to not just learn code or to build games and applications, but how they can make the world a better place for the people in it. The open source philosophy at Enspiral Dev Academy fits like a glove. We encourage students to be more than a good dev, be a great dev!

Build things that improve the livelihoods of you and your community. Things that build oneness, things that build social cohesiveness, that build equality, that empower voice, and increase participation and accountability. The mana of software.


I’m on a mission. This mission is important and of significance to every whānau trust, every runanga, every iwi, every hapu, every whānau, every nanny, every papa, every mokopuna. In the fastest growing industry in New Zealand, we are here, we belong, and we are the future. I say we, because I’m not just talking to rangatahi. I’m talking to us all. There is a perception that the tech game is a young person’s game. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The oldest student to complete our bootcamp this year was 60+, the youngest, early 20s. Life experience, emotional intelligence, and resilience factors are just as important as technical ability. The days of “I’ve never been good at maths” or “My teacher said I should be a labourer” are over my friend.The things we are constantly looking for in applicants and future developers are;

  1. Ngākau — Passion for technology
  2. Whakamātau — Exposure to technology
  3. Mataora — Current life situation
  4. Pūkenga tangata — Human skills

All of these with a dash of resilience and a big helping of continued tautoko and support, you will do amazing things. We are — and always have been.

Get involved with Dev Academy: Contact Dougal Stott today or apply now for a Te Uru Rangi scholarship.