Fo Di Daniels, winning the education category of the NEXT Woman of the Year Awards is more than a personal accolade.
“I was stunned when they announced that I had won.
“I’m incredibly appreciative of the award but to me its greatest value is that it highlights the importance of both digital inclusion and the urgent need to recycle and re-use electronic equipment to keep e-waste out of landfills.”
Di, from Raumati South, is programme director for Digital Wings, a charitable trust that works with business and public sector organisations to donate quality IT equipment to charities and community organisations, particularly those working with youth transitioning to employment.
A former teacher, Di has long been a champion of the undeserved and socially excluded.
Fifteen years ago, she recognised the increasing influence of digital technologies and led the Computers in Homes programme from a one-school pilot into a national initiative supporting 20,000 families.
Working largely pro bono for two years, she worked alongside computer recyclers RemarkIT to create the Digital Wings Trust which links corporate and government organisations with the community for the donation of surplus computer equipment.
In 2018 she became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to digital literacy and education. “Our world is changing fast and the technologies we need to navigate it are evolving just as rapidly. No one should be left behind.”
Di is a fervent advocate for the recycling, and, preferably, the reuse of all kinds of e-waste.
“New Zealanders generate 80,000 tonnes of electronic waste every year, that’s around 20kg per head of population, one of the highest rates in the world. But we can reuse most of that waste. For example, RemarkIT is able to divert 98 per cent of the e-waste it receives away from landfill.”