More Māori developers building Māori things for the Māori world

Written by Emma McKenzie

Maori in tech new zealand

Introducing Dougal Stott, the new Kaiāwhina Māori at Enspiral Dev Academy. Dougal was born and raised in Ōtautahi Christchurch and now lives in Kaitaia and is affiliated to Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Ngāpuhi. He is on a mission to enable more Māori to share the benefits and opportunities of working in technology. With Dev Academy’s 42 new Te Uru Rangi Māori scholarships on offer, Dougal’s role is integral to supporting the learning of Māori students in web development.

Dougal’s background is a teacher by trade, predominantly in Māori student achievement and transition. Over the past 4 years his haututū has led him into working as a freelance graphic designer and videographer for Moana Creative, which he co-founded with his wife Carolyn. What really attracted him to the Kaiāwhina Māori role was the opportunities being provided to Māori in general. “My dream and my hope is to see more Māori developers building Māori things for the Māori world.”

A common thread throughout Dougal’s journey is his passion for helping and supporting Māori into opportunities. He states that there is a need to break down some of the blocks like the inner critique that can prevent Māori from feeling that certain opportunities, such as working in tech, are not for them. This was clear in his experience at NetHui a few weeks ago, where, despite the incredible achievements of Māori in the tech space, he met many individuals who felt like “a bit of a fraud.” This ‘imposter syndrome’ is incredibly common in tech, and Dougal is striving to break down these blocks for young Māori, by showing them that the IT sector is not just about the technical knowledge, it’s about the interpersonal relationships and values that are just as important. He wants to show people that there is a place and need for everyone in the tech sector, where everyone has something valuable and beautiful to offer.

“I’ve experienced a lot of what our students have experienced, that self-doubt and not thinking that you’re good enough. Thinking that ‘this is a white middle aged male industry that I don’t have a place in’. But yes you do.”

A huge part of Dougal’s role at Dev Academy is to provide personal support to every Māori scholarship student throughout the whole 18 week bootcamp process. Relationship building with these students is a really important and rewarding part of his role, checking in with students every week. This is very different to the type of pastoral care expected at universities. He states, “Our staff have so many touch points with our students, it’s more than just a teacher and student relationship, we’ve got an invested interest in you succeeding”.

His role not only includes building relationships with students, but extends to building relationships with iwi nationwide, in order to connect with prospective students and communicate the vast benefits of investing in young people to move them into the tech sector. He believes that there are amazing opportunities in software development for iwi to build and create things that are needed and wanted within iwi, in Aotearoa and worldwide.

“It’s not just about bums on seats, it’s not just about students making money, it’s about providing outcomes. That is probably one of our biggest selling points for Māori communities. It’s about that excitement that is opening up to Māori communities in the sector.”

Another part of Dougal’s role is to provide advice and counsel Dev Academy around how to better serve Māori participation in the sector, how they can understand and respect the Treaty, and how to provide an environment that enables Māori to learn as Māori. He states that Dev Academy’s core values of “integrity, effort and kindness” are all transferable values to a Māori worldview and way of seeing things. He loves that every graduation is opened up with a mihimihi and karakia and has received a lot of great feedback from Māori about how receptive Dev Academy are to Māori students in doing the best they can to support them.

In going forward, Dougal is looking to help Dev Academy include te reo Māori in the curriculum in future. Dougal notes there are benefits of this to all students, because if you know a little bit about te reo or are receptive to a Māori worldview then that creates a whole lot more opportunities in Aotearoa. The integral purpose of Dev Academy is creating developers that have both extremely sharp technical skills, and important human skills such as working in a team, empathy, receiving and giving feedback, resilience and many others. Dev Academy believes in the importance of te reo Māori as both taonga and another of these human skills. Dougal states, “I put te reo Māori in that same basket. It is another skill to add in your kete, your bag of knowledge. That makes you more employable.”

Here at Dev Academy we are excited about welcoming new students into our whānau. If this junior web developer experience sounds like it could be for you, apply now for the next cohort. If you identify as Māori, apply for one of our Te Uru Rangi scholarships and Dougal will be in touch for a kōrero about your options.