Closing the digital divide with Taitech and The Sunrise Foundation

The ‘digital divide’ isn’t just a buzz phrase.  It’s a growing challenge that so many people grapple with as technology moves so fast, but doesn’t take everyone with it at the same pace.  It is increasingly leaving many of us behind, and if we aren’t given the opportunity to keep up, or catch up – it can feel overwhelming, no matter what age we are.

That’s where amazing organisations like Taitech come in.  Tairawhiti Technology Trust (Taitech for short) are worth their weight in gold when it comes to making people feel connected, keeping in touch with their loved ones and giving them a sense of achievement.

Taitech is the recipient of funding from The Sunrise Foundation.  The work they do is making a real difference to the wellbeing of all who participate – young and old.  Taitech is a local computer hub that offers workshops, computer training and advocacy support, particularly in rural communities.  They work with all ages from 10 to 92 years-old and are receiving great feedback from all ages who attend.

The Sunrise Foundation recently supported an initiative called ‘Smartphone and Computer Tutors’ which was offered to seniors and Kaumatua in the Tairawhiti area.  The courses are proving to be extremely popular and participants increased from 147 in 2020, to 257 in 2021 – with over 3276 visits to the hub.

Taitech works alongside local community partners to deliver more tailored programmes too.  Many members of the community can be vulnerable when it comes to digital technology and free courses are run for seniors.  Workshops are offered to explain what sata and WIFI is, how to do online banking – and how to communicate with friends and whànau on Facebook and Messenger at no charge. Many participants have said the courses have been life changing for them.

A 70 year-old participant said: “I was talking to my landlady at Mitre 10 about her WIFI. I wanted an upgrade. As I walked to my car a guy came up to me and said “ I overheard your conversation – go and see Taitech at the Kaiti Mall about Skinny Jump” I did! Now, not only have I got access to cheap WIFI, I am also learning how to drive my phone – and I get a cup of tea!”

A 92 year-old participant said: “I came in for a chat and got help straight away. I have had three mentoring lessons with a volunteer tutor and have a notebook to write it all down. My confidence is getting better.”

Another student said: “When I came in, I knew nothing about my laptop. Now I can start it and shut it down, I know how to use a mouse and I practice at home. I am looking forward to moving to the next stage. Its scares me but I will try. I just turned 92!”

Taitech is providing real solutions to real problems for the young and old.  The mahi they are doing is giving students of all ages confidence and keeping them connected to their loved ones and their communities.  Ka pai Taitech!  This story warms our hearts.