Maori promised the earth in cyberspace

Internet seminars for Maori are being promoted with over-inflated promises of high salaries for young, trained people.

Internet seminars for Maori are being promoted with over-inflated promises of high salaries for young, trained people.

Maori, on the whole, have very little knowledge of the Internet and its advantages for their businesses, says Tiopira Hape of Akiwa Maori Resource Analysts (AMRA). He is therefore setting up free training courses specifically targeting Maori, with the help of $25,875 worth of funding from Technology New Zealand, to talk about how people can use the resource.

Hape is making some extravagant, and possibly misleading, claims about the earnings available for Web designers.

In a press release, Hape says "we're pointing out the possibilities for [Maori] in the job market ... A 16-year-old student with good sixth-form algebra, for example, can be trained in six to 12 months in Web site design and maintenance and can earn $80,000 to $120,000 a year".

Not likely, says Candle Recruitment consultant Jan Lattie.

"We see software developers and engineers - with degrees - being hired on starting salaries of $38,000 to 40,000."

Top designers with their own businesses in Auckland could potentially earn those figures, she says, but the 16-year-olds are likely to be disappointed.

When asked to expand on the statement, Hape would only say that qualified Microsoft engineers are "plucked up as soon as they finish" and he bases his figures on that.

Separate Maori seminars are needed, says Hape, because "at most Internet seminars, you see no Maori.

"Unbeknownst to most of New Zealand, going into the Maori network is like going into Japan - people don't know how to deal with the Maori interfaces and so they don't get people to the courses."

Hape says he has built up a network of Maori contacts and key players in the Maori economic development sector over the past 29 years and knows how to get Maori people involved.

Technology New Zealand acting manager Nigel Metge stresses that while "the figures might be a bit overblown, the principal is good.

"The Internet is for everyone, not just the highly educated or technical."

AMRA plans to run courses in Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch, aimed at intending or current Maori business people in areas such as health, education, fishing and tourism.

A Wellington seminar on September 1 attracted 125 people and led to the formation of a Maori IT and Telecommunications Council.

This will work alongside the Maori Council on IT issues like the 2GHz spectrum auction.

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