Maori consortium shortlisted for Rural Broadband Initiative

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Three proposals for the Rural Broadband Initiative have been short-listed, with New Zealand Rural Fibre Group left out in the cold.

Communications minister Steven Joyce announced today that the three are from Torotoro Waea, a consortium of Iwi and other Maori entities; the FX Networks/ OpenGate consortium, which includes Kordia and Woosh Wireless; and Telecom/Vodafone.

Antony Royal, spokesman for the Torotoro Waea Partnership described the bid as an expression of kaitiakitanga by the tangata whenua. Mr Royal explained that Maori are the only other intergenerational investor (besides the Crown) in Aotearoa New Zealand and this proposition is an example of Iwi taking a proactive role in the health and wellbeing of rural communities.

The consortium has 24 members at this time, representing Iwi, other Maori entities including Wananga and industry partners.

The Torotoro Waea partners collectively have existing capability and experience in backhaul fibre, wireless, satellite, mobile and community networks. Industry partners led by Opto Networks are involved in the design, construction and delivery of a range of ICTT infrastructure and services.

These companies provide the technical capability to complete the work across the country. Opto Networks Director, Roger MacDonald advised that Torotoro Waeas plans are to build Genuine Open Access broadband networks across the breadth and length of New Zealand, specifically designed to simplify connectivity and minimise the cost of broadband to rural communities.

It is not about the revenues to be gained from the rural sector it is all about providing cost effective communication roadways into rural communities to provide the connectedness and opportunity for communities to improve education and health, create sustainable jobs, and stimulate innovation and economic development. As well as providing for the connectivity of rural schools, health providers and rural communities; up to 1000 marae are planned to be connected during this rollout.

Mereana Selby of Te Wananga o Raukawa says that the inclusion of 1000 marae is critical as it will enable Maori communities to explore high speed connectivity and will enable marae to be the base for delivering educational programmes. Ms Selby advised that currently, 60% of Te Wananga o Raukawa students receive tuition at their home marae.

For those areas best served by high speed wireless, Torotoro Waea plans to build a single set of independent 3G/4G towers that will allow all three existing mobile providers to deliver their services efficiently without impacting on our community landscapes. Mr Royal said that true open access spectrum sharing towers are used elsewhere the world and should be the future for Aotearoa New Zealand too. Maori believe it is critical to build high speed, cost-effective broadband access to enable transformation within our rural communities. Torotoro Waea has as its single focus, the best outcomes for rural communities. The consortium continues to gather participants.

1 COMMENT

  1. Well I thought you guys were educated. Torotoro Waea did not apply for RBI funding it was OPTO Networks who is owned by a select few. Torotoro Waea is just the Maori face for a small percentage of what they call Maori. But good on them for trying but Maori should not expect any favours because it will be a national telecommunications business that eats money like theres no tomorrow, just 2Degress of which the initial 100% owned by Maori now is only 2 to 3 percent.

    After a Torotoro Waea presentation I also asked if their group didn't receive any of the RBI funding would they still finish their planned roll-out and was told that it wasn't about money so they would still do it.

    But what I am skeptical about is that some of the same people who have represented Maori in 2Degrees have key roles in pushing this kaupapa.

    The word Maori has been the vehicle to funding for the last 70-80 years are our own now becoming the users of the word for funding as well.

    We will soon find out after the name has been drawn from the hat.

    What I don't understand is why you so call leaders are only listening to one story that can help our people in this ICT sector when there an so many others being done by our people without you's knowing.

    Good luck to them and hope it doesn't become another 2Degrees where Maori becomes the diluted partner till they very little share.

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