Open Collective
Open Collective
Karanga Mai Taranaki...
Published on June 10, 2024 by Te Waiora Wanoa-Sundgren

 Kia Ora tatou,

In March we were deeply privileged to host Hal Aronson, the co-founder and designer behind the solar suitcase kit at We Share Solar USA, Barry Neal, a dedicated board member championing the programme in Aotearoa, and Keith Scoles, our trusted technical advisor from Orion, in Taranaki, Aotearoa.
From left to right: Sarah Grant, Te Waiora Wanoa-Sundgren, Cheryl Neal, Huia Lambie, Barry Neal, Hal Aronson, and Keith Scoles.

Our mission was to re-design the solar suitcase kit, tailoring it to fit the needs of Te Āo Māori and Aotearoa. To achieve this goal a co-design workshop was hosted at our partner kura (Māori immersion school) in Taranaki, bringing together over 20 students aged approximately 13-16. The kura warmly welcomed us, starting the day with a beautiful whakatau (welcome ceremony).
We developed and shared a design narrative based on Te Ao Māori concepts, with thanks to Hemi Sundgren. We dedicated time to building connections and learning from each other through games and photos of the wider global context and We Share Solar's work. Different activities were conducted to build on prior knowledge around energy, draw wiring diagrams, and introduce the basics of solar energy. Each of the four groups built a different version of a new solar suitcase from scratch to test engagement with different electrical components. We then captured the hopes and ideas for the future of the programme.

Additionally, a second successful event was hosted with support from Te Aranga, a collective working group of the 8 iwi Māori of Taranaki.  Approximately 30-40 people from different parts of the energy and education sectors attended to learn more about how this project can support iwi workforce development plans in alternative energy and see the current and new suitcase ideas. Hal and Te Waiora then created V2 of the next suitcase from the 4 that were tested to take into the next stage of testing.

A quote from a student sums up the success of the workshop and why we are all involved: 
““Call me when you need a new worker!””
Now, you may wonder about our next steps..

Regarding the Suitcase Design, we have a promising Version 2 prototype, along with additional ideas and options to be tested in subsequent sessions this year with other kura. Exciting times lie ahead, and we eagerly anticipate where this initiative will lead us.

Reflecting on our time in Taranaki, one big takeaway hits home: the power of building genuine connections. These relationships have been the key to our success.  Whether it's forming strong partnerships with the local community or teaming up with people from around the world, every relationship has been invaluable in shaping our journey.

When we truly connect with others, it opens doors to collaboration across generations, cultures, and even continents. These connections lay the groundwork for transformative initiatives like our STEM programme, We Share Solar.
From left to right: Hal Aronson, Huia Lambie, Norah Puketapu, Sarah Grant, Te Waiora Wanoa-Sundgren welcoming Hal to Taranaki.

We've included video footage from the workshop for your viewing, it is truly inspiring.