Bitcoin Wananga and how Maori whanau have come to embrace crypto-currencies

It all started innocently enough.

Bitcoin! Hell yes I thought.

Now I had seen bitcoin appear more and more on social media but have been watching since as far back as 2012. It was a new thing on CNBC and Bloomberg so we would watch whenever my missus and I took our tamariki back to visit Oma and Opa in Los Osos. We’d watch it rise spectacularly and then fall the next week.

In 2014 I had the opportunity to attend Kiwifoo and bought $40 worth of Bitcoin from the bros ATM.

Minibits I think they were called. It was one of the few times I had gotten my hand on some modern tech stuff (unlike Google Glass, Occulus Rift or Snap glasses) and went straight home to to my wife and gifted it to her. She said thanks, put it away in a safe place and we haven’t seen it since. We estimate Bitcoin was worth $800 then, which puts that piece of paper at $1000 today. So yea – one day we’ll be rich once we find it.

Anyway, Kods dad came the next day with his 2 sons and launched into a life changing workshop. Bitcoin had evolved since I had last seen it. The range was greater, the language richer and the landscape financially lucrative. Over the course of an hour, Kods dad spoke about how he came to be introduced to block chain and bitcoin through USI Tech. They talked about putting a little bit of money into crypto a year ago and were amazed at the performance and returns. It was frikkn cool.

Livestream link – https://www.facebook.com/potaua/videos/10154864011081759/

So cool that my dad and aunties signed up and demanded I host another bitcoin hui.

Thus the digital gold rush within our whanau had started.

The following week another email came down, asking if I wanted to meet Mark Pascall from BlockchainLabs in Wellington. I briefly spoke to Mark and he sent me his presentation. We organised for Thursday (2 days away) and I started advertising.

The next day, a bro from school Mitch dropped in and was excited to hear that we had started. He had checked out our live stream and wanted to attend the next meeting. With luck, I mentioned that the Bitcoin Wananga was the next day and so we shook hands, smiled and got prepared.

Mark spoke about the Blockchain and Bitcoin and absolutely blew everyone away.

Mark talked about how this was a revolution and that new opportunities awaited those who moved their thinking into digital currency and Blockchain.

Livestream link #2 – https://www.facebook.com/tony.james.94043/videos/1150748341723898/

Mitch spoke next and really got onto everyone’s wave length immediately. With his simple korero and easy to understand manner, Mitch took us through his personal journey of getting involved in bitcoin. This time, some of our whanau who had also invested, spoke. The 1 Hour session was magic.

The momentum was building but our whanau still needed more time so they went away to digest the information.

We called the next Bitcoin Wananga two weeks later. This time, some of the whanau were interested in moving beyond packages and wanted to buy their own digital currency. They started to set up wallets and register within exchanges.

Here we learned about the range of coins available, how the market goes from boom to bust, dumps and pumps, FOMO, shitcoins, HODL and let it ride to the moon. Fun terms but oh so serious when considering the market cap and how much money was being poured in.

Our next Digital Wananga demonstrated the attraction that bitcoin had managed to draw our whanau in. As I had hosted and live streamed the Wananga, I was the expert and so started to receive daily questions on crypto. By now 2 whanau has purchased Ethereum and there was growing online interest in attending a big group meet up.

Since there’s no time like the present, we called the Bitcoin & Crypto Wananga for Friday 12th Jan @ Digital Basecamp.

I knew this would be big as a group turned up at 1pm for a pre-meeting meeting. This workshop again covered the basics but this time, we met Mark and Julian who were both investors and traders, but were also into mining crypto. That was exciting. After an hour korero, I invited them all back to the 6pm hui.

So there I was rushing about to set up, organise the venue and food, settle my kids and welcome guests as they arrived. This time, the cost was a plate of kai to share. I called upon uncle Hone Thompson snr to open our hui with a karakia, to which he deferred to Ratu Tibble. We started with the protection of our tupuna and atua and got underway.

Again Mitch opened, this time taking us back to the beginning of the Peer to Peer system that had been theorised by Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto in his infamous White Paper. The start of the bitcoin movement accelerated at a pace, with an initial 0.005c value slowly making its way up toward $27,000 by Christmas 2017. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity to buy into the future of trade, investment and purchasing things. He showed us the retailers who accepted crypto (as well as fielded an excellent question about buying items and the problem of price fluctuation and volatility), we saw a Mike Tyson Bitcoin ATM and encouraged whanau to keep sharing information.

We stopped for a kai and then resumed with a talk from our bro Matt Dawson and his experience with mining. He’s such a passionate Uber geek that he can make the complicated sound simple and he was open about what he does, how and why. He was also keen to partner with anyone keen to get into mining.

It just so happened that Mark and Julian from the previous day session had returned and also spoke about mining. They talked about their way of doing things, making some profit and even getting scammed. The bros were passionate about ICOs and getting together with like minds.

Finally, I put the bro Kodee Ngatai on the spot to speak. Now the bro is super intelligent when it comes to IT and when he started to speak, all the korero of the previous 2 hours started to come together. He spoke from the heart and shared his ideas, tips and hints with the whanau. He had been so impressed with the range and level of expertise in the room and encouraged us to keep meeting and to keep growing.

After a nice Q&A session, we closed our wananga with a karakia snd everyone started opening wallets, trading and talking about our next meet up. I cleaned up, farewelled everyone closed an hour later. The hum in the room after was electric. Everyone came up and hugged me for the event. The look of hope in everyone’s eyes was magic.

So today I have been receiving messages all day. I met with some of the bros tonight and they were still buzzing. They way to get into trading and mining, as they see the future for the whanau and land trust is probably better in mining and sustainable energy than cows and farms. We have an idea for an ICO and will be bringing a big Maori Bitcoin Conference together in a couple weeks. Which is like dog years in the real world.

All the same, I have been thoroughly impressed at first, the amount of people who see a better future and second, the encouragement felt by those who come together, either online or inperson.

I’m not sure where this will take us but the positive experiences, learning and goodwill has been incredible.

Oh and My wife finally took pity on me and gave me $300 Ethereum.

This time i won’t put it in a safe place that can never been found lol.

If you’re interested in knowing more, please email me Potaua@gmail.com.

Awesome whanau and mean bitcoin mean!

Writer. Animator. Activist. Entrepreneur. Papa. Husband. I have a passion for sharing geeky things and love to challenge the unknown. Please join me...