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Ōtara 4.0 - Māori & Pasifika Creative Tech Speaker Series

Māori and Pāsifika only represent about 2% of those in the creative tech sector. We all want this to change!

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Ōtara 4.0 - Māori & Pasifika Creative Tech Speaker Series

Date and time:

Wed 18 May 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

In person


Hillary House Leadership Centre, 2 Franklyne Road, Ōtara, Auckland 2023


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Ōtara 4.0 - Māori & Pasifika Creative Tech Speaker Series

Ōtara 4.0 is a series of exciting and innovative Talanoa sessions allocated over five consecutive Wednesday evenings in May and June 2022. We kick off with the theme of Animation & Visual Effects for the first session during Techweek on Wednesday 18 May.

Each guest from the creative technologies sector will share their career stories and provide insights into their chosen career path. In addition to having a background in creative technologies, all speakers will be of Māori or Pacific heritage, and in most cases, have a personal link to South Auckland.

The after-school sessions will be held at the rear of the Hillary House Leadership Centre, the iconic family home of NZ mountaineer, explorer and innovator Sir Edmund Hillary. The relaxed and casual sessions will be hosted by local MC and digital producer Jesse Gibson, who recently featured in TVNZ's O'Town Dreaming.

Media Design School and the Ministry of Education are primary sponsors of Ōtara 4.0, which was initiated by Pasifika artists/creatives Iokapeta Magele-Suamasi, Ali Cowley and Andrew Tui, with South Auckland youth at the heart of this collaboration!

The event will run from 3-5pm, with the talks scheduled for 3.30-4.30pm.

Wednesday 18 May - Animation & VFX
Guest speakers:

Ali Cowley (Samoa), Creative Director
Evo Leota-Tupou (Samoa/Tonga), Pacific Kids Learning
Kennedy Kioa Toi Faimanifo (Samoa/Māori), Manatoa Productions

Further post-Techweek sessions:

Wednesday 25 May - Gaming
Amber Taylor (Māori), Ara Journeys
Ray Cocker (Tonga), GameTan

Wednesday 1 June - Media Design (Graphic Design/UX/UI)
Hulu Tuinukuafe (Tonga), Digital Arts Network
David Parkinson, TBWA
Anaua Tuihalagingie (Tonga), Digital Arts Network

Wednesday 8 June - Digital Art/Esports/Wrestling
Michel Mulipola (Samoa), Bloody Samoan

Wednesday 15 June - AI / VR Production
Nanai Jr (Samoa), Soul Machines
Thomas Greentree (Samoa), Game Developer
Ali Cowley (Samoa), Media Design School

NOTE: All sessions will be outside, on the lawn of Hillary House Leadership Centre. In the event of rain, we have contingency venue nearby.


Ali Cowley

Creative Director

Ali Cowley (Samoan) is an Auckland based animator, illustrator and director. He has worked in the creative industry for over 20 years and has directed music videos, animated for TV and short films, illustrated for corporate videos, developed content for an app called Play Kindly and specialises in production design and storyboarding for animation and film.

Ali was an animation director on prime time animated show Bro’Town for four seasons and is currently working with Media Design School in the community to engage Polynesian students interested in art and creative tech as a career choice. He also successfully curated an art exhibition featuring Pasifika/Māori Media Design School alumni in his home town of Māngere.

Ali was also a participant in the Loading Docs 2019 ‘Power’ collection and directed Meet Munch Jr, his first short documentary. He has written a short film script which he is currently developing using Unreal Engine.

Evo Leota-Tupou

Founder and Director - Pacific Kids’ Learning (PKL)

Evo Leota-Tupou is Founder and Director of Pacific Kids’ Learning (PKL), a start-up business specialising in providing creative solutions for language and literacy learning for young Pacific learners. Evo and her team successfully piloted the 'Pacific Digital Stories' project in 2021, working with 3 South Auckland schools, workshopping storytelling techniques using stop motion animation. These stories were then adapted into proper animation and showcased for parent and school engagement. As an added bonus of the project, the stories will also be used as a classroom resource in the form of eBooks and printed books. The PKL team are now preparing for the 2nd Pacific Digital Stories showcase, an annual event that aims to empower learning through technology.

Kennedy Faimanifo

Creative Director, Manatoa Productions

Kennedy Faimanifo is a Samoan/Māori born and raised in South Auckland, New Zealand. Growing up his parents worked in factories in Manurewa. Ken is of Ngapuhi/Te Roroa decent and his samoan heritage is from Iva, Savaii.  

Over the last 13-14 years Ken has been working in a variety of different creative industries. Highlights being Bro Town, Kung Fu Panda TV Show, Monsters vs Alients TV Show, Mortal Engines, Game of Thrones, Maze Runner, Marvels upcoming SheHulk & James Camerons upcoming Avatar the way of the water. 

In 2021 he completed his Masters in Design and developed a social enterprise called Manatoa Productions to support Tangata Moana into creative tech employment. A creative business designed by Tangata Moana for Tangata Moana to thrive within an industry where Maori & Pacific people are under represented.