Fri, Apr 15, 2022 7:00 AM

Fun and games: festival to provide tech pathways for students


Matt Brown

A coding and esport festival is coming to Blenheim in a bid to entice young people into a career in technology.

Lead by the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, the inaugural Empower: Te Rangapikikōtuku Coding and Esport Festival will showcase coding and esport, highlighting pathways into employment through coding, robotics, art and sport.

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce membership and events manager Zoe Gray says the August event has been in the pipeline since October last year.

“We need kids who know how to code and be digitally savvy,” she says.

“It’s the fourth industrial revolution.

“[People are] good at consuming technology, but being creators of it is important for the future.”

The festival will feature workshops across a variety of industries; Digital design, robotics, augmented and virtual reality app design, Minecraft Education, esports and gaming.

“It’s going to be fun,” Zoe says.

The free event is aimed at secondary school students, but Zoe says it’s for parents and teachers, too.

“There’s this stigma it’s kids just playing on computers,” she says.

“But skills such as teamwork, coaching and communication with the technical ability are desirable, real-world skills.”

Backed by councils, a bevy of government departments and in partnership with Iwi, schools and businesses from across the top of the south and further afield are booked to attend what is hoped to be a regular, annual event alternating between Blenheim and Nelson.

Esport titles, run by national esport provider Victory Up and Rotorua-based Digital Natives Academy, include Rocket League, League of Legend and Valorant.

The event has a long list of goals: developing tech and creative skills, providing employment opportunities, addressing digital poverty and establishing a network of engaged technology teachers.

“It’s massive – a lot of work for us pulling it all together,” Zoe says. “My family and friends are all really excited – it’s different and unique.”

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