Being connected is so important for our tamariki

posted Mar 28, 2018, 3:25 AM by Admin Te Aka Toitu   [ updated Mar 28, 2018, 3:26 AM ]

Subsidised broadband Spark Jump available for Kawerau families

posted Jan 31, 2017, 10:16 PM by Sam Gibson

Today Spark and the 20/20 Trust have announced that subsidised broadband is now available in Kawerau through local trust Te Aka Toitū and the Kawerau District Library.

Spark Jump is an initiative for social change so that more children around New Zealand can use the internet at home to learn and thrive in the modern digital world. Families with school-aged children receive a modem and a subsidised wireless broadband connection and pay $15 for 30GB with no fixed term contract.  

Spark Foundation works with community-based organisations like the 20/20 Trust to deliver wireless broadband in communities with low internet uptake. In Kawerau, the District Library has agreed to help families set up and manage their internet connections. Interested families should contact the library to find out when the next Spark Jump session is being held.

20/20 Trust is active in communities around the country and has played a key role in referring families to Spark Foundation to participate in the programme.

As learning goes digital, Laurence Zwimpfer National Operations Manager for 20/20 Trust says subsidised broadband will help children in Kawerau get online outside of classroom hours to do homework on laptops and chromebooks and keep up with the digital skills necessary for today.

"Access to the internet is critical in getting all our children better placed to succeed in school and later in life. We know that one of the challenges of getting home broadband is affordability and Spark Jump will help families in Kawerau open the door to the digital world for their children." says Zwimpfer.

General Manager of Spark Foundation Lynne Le Gros is pleased the partnership with 20/20 Trust is expanding the reach of Spark Jump to some of the most digitally disconnected communities around the country.

"The demand for Spark Jump shows there is a real need to serve communities around the country with a truly useful product like subsidised broadband. We're thrilled that Kawerau is the latest area for more households to get connected to the internet." says Ms. Le Gros.

Families can check if Spark Jump has a partner in their area by visiting or by contacting 20/20 Trust. Local community-based partner organisations identify and refer eligible customers to Spark.

Tackling the ‘Digital Divide’ in the Eastern Bay of Plenty

posted Oct 24, 2016, 6:44 PM by Sam Gibson   [ updated Oct 24, 2016, 6:59 PM ]

 Today’s youngsters are often called ‘digital natives’ – in other words, they’ve grown up with the internet and instinctively know how to use technology.

But that’s not the case in every community.

A ‘digital divide’ is another term frequently bandied around, and refers to the gap developing between rich and poor households over access to devices and the internet at home.

It’s that gap which Te Aka Toitū is seeking to overcome in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

This new community trust formed in July 2016 and aims to help low decile school students in Kawerau and Murupara obtain affordable devices and internet connectivity at home. Upskilling local teachers on how to make the most of digital learning opportunities is also a key priority.

Education Overhaul

Te Aka Toitū Project Manager Sam Gibson has been a teacher for 10 years and says education has changed drastically because of the internet.

“Teachers used to be the sole source of information but that’s no longer the case. Now teachers are facilitators so their students can focus on learning 21st Century skills like collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication.

“We’re essentially training these students for jobs that don’t yet exist. That’s why those skills are really important. Education is now about teaching students to question things and become good problem solvers. It’s very hard to promote those skills without access to technology at home.”

The last census showed Kawerau households have one of the lowest rates of internet access in New Zealand – around 50 per cent.

“If students don’t have the ability to learn outside the school gates they’re hugely disadvantaged. They should be able to learn any time, any place. We want to give these kids the same opportunities that others get by having a device and internet access at home.”

Digital Partnerships

Te Aka Toitū is now working with Noel Leeming and Acer computers to source touch-screen Chrome books for students from 2017 onwards. “They’ve given us a very good deal and a hugely reduced price which people wouldn’t otherwise be able to get in store,” Sam explains.

Families will be able to buy the Chrome book outright or pay it off over a three year period for as little as $5 per week. The trust is also looking to establish a Wi-Fi network in both Kawerau and Murupara using the ultra-fast broadband connection at local schools so students have affordable internet access at home.

About 900 students aged from Year 5 to Year 11 will initially be invited to take part from Tarawera High School; Kawerau South School; Kawerau Putauaki School; Te Whata Tau o Putauaki; Te Kura Toitu o Te Whaiti-nui-a-Toi; Te Kura Māori-ā-rohe o Waiohau; and Murupara Area School.

Financial Support

BayTrust has also given Te Aka Toitū a $20,000 grant for operational costs to help get their new initiatives off the ground.

“This is our very first grant and it’s so hard to get funding, especially when you’re new,” Sam says. “So this is a huge boost for us to get out heads above water and push on. It’s very exciting and we really appreciate BayTrust’s support.”

Te Aka Toitū is thrilled to have Sir Michael Cullen as its patron, and have established a strong group of trustees to turn these goals into reality.

As Project Manager, Sam is also looking forward to working alongside teaching staff from all seven participating schools to help promote digital learning in the classroom.

“It’s our duty as teachers to ensure there’s a return on investment for the families who are buying these devices. We want to ensure each student is fully engaged and getting the most out of their learning.

“We’ve got a long journey ahead of us but we’re really excited to get things off the ground.”


Te Aka Toitū Community Hui's

posted Sep 12, 2016, 6:31 PM by Sam Gibson

Te Aka Toitū would like to invite parents and caregivers to our Community Hui’s to discuss our exciting initiative.
Our participating schools include: Kawerau Pūtauaki School, Kawerau South School, Te Whata Tau ō Pūtauaki, Tarawera High School, Murupara Area School, Te Kura Toitū o Te Whaiti-nui-ā-Toi and Te Kura Māori-ā-Rohe o Waiohau.
Our partners Credit Union and Noel Leeming will be at the event to discuss how we can move forward to make devices affordable through a rent to own model. 
Noel Leeming has also kindly donated an Acer Chromebook where all those in attendance can go into the draw to win.

Below are the details for the two upcoming Hui’s:

Kawerau Community Hui 
Date: Wednesday 21st of September
Time: 5.30pm
Venue: Tarawera High School

Murupara Regional Area Community Hui 
Date: Monday 26th of September
Time: 5.30pm
Venue: Murupara Area School

Helping Students Live One Life, Instead of Two.

posted Jul 21, 2016, 6:55 PM by Sam Gibson   [ updated Jul 21, 2016, 7:07 PM ]

Guest Post by Dr. Jason Ohler

Our current technological trajectory promises unfathomable, rollercoaster innovation with no braking system. Our challenge is to find ways to teach our children how to navigate the rapidly moving digital present, consciously and reflectively, so they can join the revolution that is defining their generation. How we address this challenge depends on how we address this fundamental question about teaching our digital-age children: Should we teach our children as though they have two lives, or one?

The “two lives” perspective says that our students should live a traditional, digitally unplugged life at school and a second, digitally infused life outside school. It says that the digital technology that kids use quite naturally is too expensive, problematic, or distracting to use effectively and responsibly at school. Further, it implies that we needn’t be concerned with making sure the mobile tools of today’s economic and social landscapes are available to them. In short, we will teach our students the way we were taught, using the tools and perspectives we experienced.

In contrast, the “one life” perspective says the opposite, that it is precisely our job as educators to help students live one, integrated life by inviting them to use their technology to learn at school, as well as to use it to explore the world and pursue their interests as they define them. Further, it says that if we want to celebrate a future that views success not only in terms of abundance but also in terms of the innovation, we must make sure student’s have access to today’s tools, as well as the training and perspective needed to use them effectively, creatively and wisely.

Te Aka Toitū has taken up this challenge with a bold mission, namely: “To provide students…with an affordable device, affordable internet connectivity and quality digital teaching so they have the skills to contribute to their communities and the wider world in the future…”

Te Aka Toitū’s mission places the emphasis where it needs to be: not on the technology but on the student. In preparing students for their world so that they can become more productive community members. Because of this, Te Aka Toitū, like its students will enjoy a bright and productive future.

Dr. Jason Ohler is a professor emeritus, speaker, writer, teacher, and student of the future. He is also a lifelong digital humanist who is well known for the passion, insight, and humor he brings to his presentations, projects and publications. He has spent over three decades leading educators, students and community members in the effective, creative and wise use of technology. He is well known for his work in the areas of art the 4th R, creatical thinking, and digital imagination; digital citizenship and living informed, inspired digital lifestyles; and narrative, literacy and technology. He is first and foremost a storyteller, telling tales of the future that are grounded in the past. For more information visit his web site at:

Te Aka Toitū Launch

posted Jul 21, 2016, 6:36 PM by Sam Gibson   [ updated Jul 21, 2016, 7:08 PM ]

On Tuesday the 21st of June, Te Aka Toitū had our official Launch event at Tarawera High School. It was an honor to have our Patron Sir Michael Cullen speak on his thoughts about the digital divide. It was also amazing to have Pat Snedden, Chairman of the Manaiakalani Trust, speak about the success of their project and how we can achieve the same success and equality in education for our communities. To top off a great night, we received our first donation of $10,000! Thank you to everyone that was present and to all those who have supported us in various ways to date.


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