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Wairarapa tech scheme leads the way

Henry Isaacs, of Kuranui College, left, talking with Minister for Digital Services Clare Curran, and his Digital Seniors “student”, Bob Bargh, during Thursday’s prime ministerial visit. PHOTO/CAL ROBERTS

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrived at noon for an invitation-only ‘High Tea and Tech’ Digital Seniors Trust event, a pilot project designed to help Wairarapa’s senior citizens connect in the digital age.

While the more than 200 attendees tucked into their finger food, Ardern addressed the crowd.

She expressed gratitude to all involved in the project, saying the Government had a lot to learn from the pilot.

“Thank you for modelling some of the work we know we need to do.

“I pledge to you that we will keep trying to keep up with the pace of change and making sure that we keep an eye on the digital divide when it comes to our older citizens too.”

The trust’s slogan is, “We Can”.

Henry Isaacs, 15, is part of a group of Kuranui College students who help with Digital Seniors.

He has been teaching Bob Bargh, 88, for six weeks, showing him how to use an iPhone.

Isaacs wanted to challenge the perception that seniors were beyond learning how to use new technology.

“If you teach them, they are more than willing to learn – you’ve just got to start them, and they’re right into it.”

Bargh said his young tutor was “a force to be reckoned with”.

“I think I am too, so we don’t always hit it off. But through it all I’ve learnt a lot about the phone.

“It is an excellent service and they know their way around the phones, which is really helpful.

“And you get food there, which is cooked by the Kuranui students, which is win-win.

Bargh stole a moment to speak with Ardern after her speech.

“I said thanks for being a wonderful prime minister, and so refreshingly different.”

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