Meet the team

As more and  more of our society activities are being conducted online, life becomes more and more difficult for people who are not digitally confident. Some are excluded because they don’t have devices, they can’t afford wi-fi subscriptions and they are unaware of the benefits of being able to access services, entertainment and social media. Today online participation is becoming essential for financial independence, democracy, health, social connections, visibility, research, learning and education.

Happily, we are here to help charities, non profits and associations to motivate their members to actively and enjoyable participate in the digital environment.

We do this by providing organisations with the tools, trust and confidence to ensure that their members are motivated to be online.

What is Matakite and NZ Hangouts

Matakite (pronunciation and meaning) means a visionary in Māori. At Matakite Online Trust of New Zealand, we envision to bring every Kiwi into a digital space with trust and confidence. We are a registered charity (CC 60757). NZ Hangouts is an initiative of this Trust to provide an online community platform for all enthusiasts irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity and language to strengthen their confidence, trust and stay safe online.

Our founders:

Heather Newell, Founder and CEO, Matakite Online Trust of New Zealand

Heather Newell started as the EO of the SeniorNet Federation just weeks before the Covid pandemic began. With almost 60 Learning Centres unable to provide classes in person, a solution to keep the national network together was a top priority. In a short period two things came together. Firstly an invitation from Google to talk about possible solutions, and secondly finding a volunteer who could turn the idea into a solution. The solution was an online, real time, daily meeting where seniors could continue to learn in a socially focussed environment. For those in lockdown this proved to be a godsend. Heather entered the digital world in the 1990s completing a Master’s Degree in Communications, focusing on the future of education and learning in a virtual environment. She went on to participate in the 2020 Communications Trust, Wellington ICT and NetDay (which secured volunteers to install Cat 5 cabling into Wellington schools. In 2020 she returned to the sector after a career in professional fundraising working with thousands of non profit organisations. In 2022 Heather was named Tangata Tiriti Educator of the Year by ACE Aotearoa, the peak body for adult learning.

Heather receiving the award



Dr Vinay Karanam, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Matakite Online Trust of New Zealand.

Dr Vinay Karanam has two doctorates focused on sustainable engineering and an obvious passion for learning. His networks and his fluency in multiple languages allowed the virtual online learning portal to become an affordable and well researched digital learning tool. His affable personality and endless patience with learners earned him accolades with the online participants and corporate supporters. In 2022 Vinay’s learning portal was named Programme of the Year by ACE Aotearoa.

Vinay receiving the award

We look forward to seeing you around in the LIVE sessions. Enjoy using technology! Have fun!!

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