Mary Aue, of Vaiea and Hakupu is one of fifteen Pacific Island recipients of the New Zealand King’s Birthday and Coronation Honours List 2023 for her services to education, technology and Pacific and Maori communities.
The daughter of Don and the late Melepepe Aue, Ms Mary Aue has been active in Pacific and Māori leadership and volunteered in her South Auckland community since the early 2000s.
Ms Aue has been a key advocate for getting Māori and Pacific learners into science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) and community development. She has volunteered as lead for Accelerating Auckland Youth and Community Engagement Programme since 2005.
She led a group of women to establish South Auckland STEM (SAS) in 2019, to encourage Māori and Pacific children into technology. She obtained support to establish a South Auckland STEM Holiday Programme and staged the inaugural SAS expo that same year. The holiday programme is a mixed-age student group and encourages creation and problem solving with technology.
Outside of this, she runs a mentorship programme during school terms and organises internship programmes in the industry. Mary Aue has built corporate partnerships with tech companies and the programme now has more than 200 students registered.
She launched Coconut Wireless as a community e-newsletter in 1999, reaching 10,000 subscribers, re-launching in 2014 as a social media platform which now has 900,000 followers and builds global citizens and teaches people to use social media.
In an interview with RNZ Pacific Mary Aue said that she created Coconut Wireless to improve the flow of information to her community.
“There was a disconnect between community and government agencies and there was a disconnect between our communities,” she said.
“There was no communication back then, so I created an e-newsletter.”
The name Coconut Wireless was based on the island concept as a fast way of communicating through word of mouth.
In 2022 Ms Aue volunteered to train more than 200 volunteers to use social media to keep the community connected following a devastating tsunami in Tonga.
Aue told RNZ that she was going to decline the award as there were a lot of people in the community who do not get recognised behind the scenes.
“I have to thank my family, my friends and the amazing community that we’re all part of.”