New Zealanders urged to answer world's problems at Techweek2021

COVID-19 brought the importance of technology into sharp focus and young people are being urged to get involved.
COVID-19 brought the importance of technology into sharp focus Photo credit: Getty Images

Every New Zealander is invited to get involved with Aotearoa's largest annual festival of technology and innovation which kicks off next weekend.

Techweek2021 is a series of events, themed 'Connecting for a Better Future', that promises something for everyone - from young people wanting to learn to code, to teaching people the basics of using a smartphone and online banking.

"The programme of events is about inclusion and participation. We want every Kiwi to get involved, get thinking and get motivated," said Graeme Muller, CEO of NZTech, a not-for-profit organisation which promotes and advances technology in NZ .

"This is your chance to plug in, learn and get inspired. And that's especially important for younger people, many of whom will be doing work in the future which doesn't yet exist today."

There are over 300 events around New Zealand during the week, kicking off with TEDxAuckland on Saturday May 22, all designed to show how and why technology is the answer to the biggest problems the world faces right now.

That was brought into sharp focus by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The minute lockdown hit, we all knew it: coping with sudden change depended on technology," Muller said.

"We saw a mad rush to video conferencing, working in the cloud, mobile technologies and more. When the question was how do we keep the country running in extraordinary circumstances, the answer was loud-and-clear: technology."

With Aotearoa nearing some degree of 'business as usual', the Techweek2021 schedule is a combination of physical, digital and hybrid events.

But the return towards normality doesn't mean the country is immune to the impacts of COVID-19, despite low infection rates and the vaccination rollout, Muller said.

"Skills shortages have long plagued the tech ecosystem. With freezes on travel and immigration, the situation is exacerbated - but, once again, answers can be found in technology."

And that's the crux of this year's event, said Muller.

"When we have problems as a society or species, the answers are found with technology – and more often than not, the answer doesn't depend on inventing something entirely new, but instead comes from a novel combination of existing technologies.

"Come along and play your part in shaping tomorrow."

The full calendar of events plus ticketing information can be found on the Techweek website.