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Hi-Tech Trust and Perpetual Guardian bring fresh talent into local tech sector

Posted on 31-Mar-2021 14:40 | Filed under: News


Hi-Tech Trust and Perpetual Guardian bring fresh talent into local tech sector

From an 18-year-old with 11 siblings to a solo mother retraining after two decades in a different field, the first six recipients of the inaugural 2021 He Whetū Mārama Ngā Karahipi / Leading Light Scholarships represent the future of a more diverse and inclusive tech industry. The 2021 winners are receiving a total of $30,000 in financial assistance to support their journeys into tech, consistent with Hi-Tech Foundation’s mission to reduce barriers and inequities within the tech sector.

 

These are the first scholarships since the registered charity and new endowment fund was born out of Hi-Tech Trust and leading trustee company Perpetual Guardian in 2020.

 

Vaifoa Lam Sam (18), is preparing to enter study this year to pursue a career in tech with a dream of one day working in the gaming, animation and design industries. Vaifoa, one of 11 children in his family, was born in Sāmoa and moved from Apia to Auckland with his family at four years old. 

 

His fellow recipient, Ramari Heperi, is a proud Māori wāhine and mother from Whangarei who is using the scholarship to upskill after a 20-year professional career. On becoming a mother, Ramari found new motivation to pivot her career and is now in her final year of studying a diploma in Software Development and Web Development. Ramari is passionate about growing the tech sector in Northland and increasing representation of Māori in tech.

 

Ramari says, “I started my journey with The Developers institute when my son was five months old. As a solo parent I need a steady and reliable income source. I need the flexibility to be able to work from home when unpredictable things are thrown my way, and this is one of the only industries that will allow me to do this.”

 

Hi-Tech Foundation Director David Downs says, “It’s wonderful to hear the personal stories from the recipients of the inaugural scholarships. The impact of these scholarships will be to allow people who have talent to thrive in the tech sector. It’s important to recognise that while talent is distributed across the population, opportunity isn’t always.

 

“While the tech industry has benefited from substantial growth over the past 20 years, societal inequities and socioeconomic barriers have stopped many people from entering the sector, resulting in a dire lack of diversity and inclusion. The Foundation is aiming to change that for good, and the hi-tech sector is collaborating to ensure everyone has a chance to get involved.”

 

Perpetual Guardian is the largest non-Government philanthropic entity in New Zealand, and the largest trustee of charitable trusts. Kirsten Taylor, one of the philanthropy managers at Perpetual Guardian, says, “It was important for Hi-Tech Trust to work with a professional trustee such as Perpetual Guardian to establish Hi-Tech Foundation as an independent governance, and compliance specialist with extensive philanthropic experience and networks.

 

“This is a great example of philanthropy that will play a measurable role in creating a thriving landscape for the career development and pathway of a diverse stream of technology students, professionals and others wanting to enter the tech sector in Aotearoa New Zealand. Everyone involved in establishing Hi-Tech Foundation and the scholarships shares a clear vision for better pathways for Kiwis from all backgrounds to access and flourish in tech, and Perpetual Guardian is pleased to have helped facilitate the journey of the six recipients into education this year, which has a significant impact at grassroots.” 

 

The 2021 He Whetū Mārama Ngā Karahipi / Leading Light Scholarship Recipients

 

Vaifoa Lam Sam is 18 years old and preparing to enter study this year to pursue a career in tech with a dream of one day working in the gaming, animation and design industries. Vaifoa was born in Sāmoa and moved from Apia to Auckland with his family at four years old. He is one of 11 siblings. Vaifoa says, “I feel really grateful to receive this scholarship, which has helped me to purchase the resources I need. My family is really thankful and proud. My parents have done so much for me and I just want to give back to them.”

 

Ramari Heperi (pictured) is a proud Māori wāhine and mother from Whangarei who is using the scholarship to upskill after a 20-year professional career. On becoming a mother, Ramari found new motivation to pivot her career and is now in her final year of studying a diploma in Software Development and Web Development. Ramari is passionate about growing the tech sector in Northland and increasing representation of Māori in tech.

 

Ramari says, “I started my journey with The Developers institute when my son was five months old. As a solo parent I need a steady and reliable income source. I need the flexibility to be able to work from home when unpredictable things are thrown my way, and this is one of the only industries that will allow me to do this.”

 

Another strong Māori wāhine moving into tech, Jasmine Turketo is also studying a diploma in Software Development and Web Development in Whangarei. Jasmine is qualified as a carpenter and has also worked as a labourer, truck driver, and cabinet-maker. Jasmine is now following her dream of one day working in cybersecurity. She says, “You never know, so try. If you’re sick of the life you’re living and want to get ahead, get into tech. That’s where the future is.”

 

Huni Yerkovich is a mother of four living in Hawkes Bay. She recently graduated with a Bachelor of Information Science. Huni’s Tongan background motivated her to want to remove barriers and grow representation of Pacific people in tech through leading by example. After 15 years working in the public and private sector, Huni is now searching for a dream job in Data and Analytics or Business Intelligence.

 

Huni says, “During my first year as an internal student at Massey, it was disheartening to see that I was the only Pacific Island female in class for every paper I undertook. While that was not entirely surprising, it was real cause for concern.”

 

Jonson Hikaka is a passionate learner with a dream of one day working in the gaming industry. Raised in a Fijian whānau, his mind was opened and inspired to learn how technology could be used to serve his community, and this year he is studying a Bachelor of Creative Technologies at AUT. Jonson says, “It was a huge honour to receive the scholarship. I gave it a try, put my hat in the ring, and now I realise that I’m truly worthy of both a scholarship and a career in tech.”

 

Alfred Pama is a talented aspiring engineer and committed member of his local church. A love for science came at a young age for Alfred, who is currently in his second year at the University of Auckland studying a conjoint degree in Bachelor of Engineering and a Bachelor of Commerce. On his journey into the tech sector, Alfred wants to help other Pasifika students’ pathways into careers in technology. “If I can get there, and then make it hopefully easier for other people to get there, I would love that.”

 



More information: https://www.hitech.org.nz/foundation/leading-...