One of these connections began as a casual conversation between a Kāinga Ora Senior Stakeholder Relationship Manager Rebecca Kinloch and Jodie Matenga-Philips who facilitates an innovative course that tackles digital inclusion – Kāinga Connect.

“While meeting about something else, Rebecca and I spoke about how I facilitated the programme and how many of my learners were also Kāinga Ora customers. Rebecca immediately wanted to explore how more Kāinga Ora customers could participate,” says Jodie.

Run by 20/20 Trust and facilitated locally by Highbury Whānau Centre, Kāinga Connect is all about giving participants the skills and confidence needed to navigate an increasingly digital world and help them stay connected to both whanau and their community.

With a focus on helping remove barriers to access, Kāinga Connect provides participants with a Chromebook, 12 months subsidised internet connection, as well as 30 hours of digital literacy training covering everything from how to use the Google platform (including emails, sheets and docs) and Zoom through to internet security.

Recognising that many of the whānau they worked with in Palmerston North would benefit, Kāinga Ora helped 40 local customers take part in the programme – including Dion, a Kāinga Ora customer from Roslyn.

“Technology is advancing and everything is moving to digital so it is important to keep up,” says Dion.

“I think if you are older it can be really beneficial for your mental health and open up your world. It can get you out there so you are not stuck inside staring at four walls. I have been in that position in the past and it was really difficult and isolating.

“Now I can keep up with the grandkids through social media and I have been able to access services like my GP online, which is so much easier and saves sitting on the phone for ages,” Dion says.

And the programme is also benefitting younger members of the community, with many whānau who took part doing so because they were struggling with changes that came as a result of COVID-19 like accessing online learning with their children. To help combat this, Jodie and the Kāinga Connect team made sure that several of the courses were targeted at school communities.

“Many parents were digitally disconnected – they did not have access to the internet or a device to help their children with online learning,” says Jodie.

“The programme gave both parents and children the tools they need to participate in online learning – and, perhaps most importantly, gave parents the confidence to help their children navigate a digital environment.”

While the course centres on technology and digital inclusion, the classes themselves offered much more.

“Those who attended made connections, supported each other outside of the course, and developed lasting friendships – I know a few learners who went on to do other things together, like gardening. And for new members of the community it created a way to make those first important friendships. It’s not just about computers it is about community,” says Jodie.

“It was great to see people of all ages in the course. It was so nice chatting and meeting other people in the community and I would recommend it to anyone”, adds Dion.

Recent participants finished their training with a graduation and afternoon tea which was attended by Kāinga Ora staff including Regional Director, Graeme Broderick.

“It is wonderful when we can come together in partnership with others working in the community and offer an opportunity that can help our customers live better in their homes and make valuable community connections,” says Graeme.

“I am pleased to say we will have more customers taking part in the programme going forward.”

This is just one of the many ways Kāinga Ora supports customers and build connection in their local communities.  

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Page updated: 27 September 2022