Sourcing news and events to keep Coconut Wireless’ 440,000 followers and reach of two million people a week captivated is no easy task for Owner Mary Aue.
Born in Niue, from the villages of Hakupu and Vaiea and raised in Auckland suburbs of Otara, Grey Lynn and Glen Innes before settling in Mangere, Mary runs large self-funded online platform which celebrates and promotes all things Māori and Pacific in Aotearoa, and abroad.
An advocate for Pacific people entering into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) studies and careers, Coconut Wireless is a recent recipient of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ (MPP) Toloa Community Fund, recognised at the Auckland region awards ceremony in Manukau.
Mary first became involved in encouraging students to become involved in STEM subjects, when MPP Senior Advisor Adrian Hipa asked her to run a Mangere STEM programme two years ago.
“With the help of local organisations, the Mangere STEM event was held in June 2017,” Mary explains.
However, a one-off event was not good enough and the community kept asking when the next one would be, she adds.
“The Pacific community wanted actions taken to make STEM more accessible.
“Their suggestions and requests for action included creating an after school and holiday programme; code club; a speaker series; support and pathways to jobs; a STEM club; bigger STEM events; and Digital Literacy programmes for parents to get them ready for when Digital Technology becomes compulsory in New Zealand in 2020.”
Following the event, Mary asked a handful of people (Amelia Moa, Irene Naidu, Ronnie Iosua and Yvonne Daymond) who she knew were passionate about South Auckland, to help her organise and run another Mangere STEM event.
“Without any budget we set about planning the event – my company ended up covering a lot of the costs.”
In February this year, the dedicated group managed to bring together STEM corporate companies, tertiary providers, South Auckland STEM entrepreneurs, speakers, performers, volunteers and the South Auckland community for a successful South Auckland STEM event.
Encouraging Pacific to become involved in STEM has become a passion project for Mary now, she says.
“In terms of STEM there’s a huge need for Māori, Pacific and South Auckland to be part of innovation.
“The jobs our people are in will be affected the most with the Digital Disruption, Automation, Integration of Systems, and AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Robots are already affecting or replacing us.
“South Auckland is not waiting, we must sit on the decision making table, and not be just looking through the window.”
When the opportunity arose to apply for the Toloa Community Fund, which is set up to promote and increase the number of Pacific peoples in STEM related careers, Coconut Wireless applied for the fund to help with the Coding and Mathematics School Holiday Programme it will stage this year.
“The success in obtaining the grant means we can deliver a far better school holiday programme and hire Pacific experts to deliver a better programme with real outcomes including off-site visits for the kids who have booked in to our school holiday programme.”
Mary and her team have many goals they want to achieve in the near future, such as providing opportunities for South Auckland families and making sure they cater to the requests the community have asked for.
Together they are working towards accomplishing some of these goals, as they continue making STEM accessible and a genuine career pathway for South Auckland’s youth.