Maker movement putting power in young people’s hands

Last Updated : 20 Apr 2017
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Creative champions and technology have come together to design an initiative that uses technology to influence the future of work for young people.

The Makerhood is a group of young people in South Auckland, started a year ago by The Southern Initiative.

This movement wants to help people rediscover the art of making, and they’re encouraging people to tinker, fix and make stuff rather than consume it.

Young people need a maker culture

Makerhood member Ayla Hoeta (Tainui, Ngati Tahinga) lives in Manurewa, where she says there has always been a strong culture of making.

Studying Māori development and digital media at AUT before returning to South Auckland, the 27-year-old says she absolutely loves that she gets to apply everything she has learnt and pass it in to her own community. In a way Ayla illustrates how the future of work for young people may require them to create a job.

Based at the Manukau offices of Auckland Council, Ayla and her colleague Joel Umali have been building a relationship with local Manurewa High School. The school understands the unique challenges their students are facing and has even developed an internal business academy.

Creating a maker culture is one way to engage students in learning, and Joel wants to ensure young people have that attribute for the future. “We want to raise MacGyvers!” he says.

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Students at Manurewa High School take part in a Makerhood activity.

Manurewa High School gets on board

The belief is that to get students ‘work ready’ for jobs that don’t even exist yet, there will need to be a change in the way they are taught. This is necessary in order for students draw on each other to be creative and entrepreneurial, show resilience and be able to not only face complex problems, but find alternative solutions.

In 2016 Ayla and Joel introduced design thinking to 13 to 15-year-olds at the school. The teachers contributed and requested they too be part of the co-design workshops.

Design-led thinking with technology

Using maker tools for learning and development, Ayla and Joel along with other Southern Initiative staff provided the digital technology expertise. Other maker organisations like The Roots Collective provided systems and tools for making everything from T-shirts to upcycled products, such as lamps from plastic bottles and furniture from tyres.

The Makerhood have accumulated assets, and developed a system to book them. Computers, virtual reality (VR) hardware, or robots sit in different spaces, such as libraries. The Makers have meet ups, often in the local library, to encourage new volunteers.

“They are people who are passionate about this stuff, people from all walks of life,” says Ayla.

A year of success

Reflecting on their progress, Ayla and Joel say 2016 was a huge year for Makerhood.

“We did 10 activations, we did cycle repair pods, growing pods, a tech pod,” says Ayla.

“This year we want to consolidate our learning so we can move from maker ‘hood’ and aspire to maker ‘city’!”

Through their website and Facebook page, Makerhood encourages its partner organisations like schools and libraries to tag each other and grow the comunity of makers.

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The Manurewa Maker Market 

Manurewa High School hosts a Maker Market in the school boulevard about once a month. The area is transformed with a stage, cafe and many community stalls showcasing hand-made cultural jewellery and food alongside the products students have made.

A few students have created useful digital tools, too, such as an app for the school diary.

Ayla and Joel say that Maker Market communicates a philosophy and a movement – a culture of thinking, making, fixing, tinkering helping us all consider ‘to make, not consume’.

About the Southern Initiative

The Southern Initiative (TSI) champions, stimulates and enables social and community innovation in South Auckland.

It is a place-based regeneration programmes established in the Auckland Plan and covers the local board areas of Māngere-Ōtāhuhu, Ōtara-Papatoetoe, Manurewa and Papakura.


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