Ratana Pa goes online looks forward to fast fibre link

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(Source | W(h)anganui Chronicle – Laurel Stowell | The new computer hub has six state-of-the-art machines and is the latest happening place at Ratana Pa.

The ICT hub opened in the village’s old post office building in late September. It’s used by 14 to 30 people a day, facilitator Puawai Hagger said.

“We have been open every day since it started on September 28, except for weekends. We didn’t stop for Christmas or New Year.”

The hub was officially launched on January 24 by Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia.

Twelve computers are also based at the Marton library. Computers and building will be funded by the Department of Internal Affairs for three years, as part of Government’s digital strategy.

Mrs Hagger said the Ratana computers were as good as the ones at Wanganui’s Computer Clubhouse and Whanganui UCOL’s computer graphic design school.

The hub was popular for girls doing social networking and boys playing games.

“They have freedom, but guidance to see that there’s even more amazing things that can be done with a computer.”

Getting beyond entertainment, Cheydon Waitai was teaching a group to use the GarageBand and Logic music programmes and Masters in Computer Graphic Design graduate Arahi Hagger was teaching about programmes used to produce print media, music and film.

And a group of elders was meeting on Monday mornings, to share their IT knowledge.

In theory a part-time person is funded to have the hub open for four hours each weekday. But Mrs Hagger said the pa was a close-knit village and it was being run for longer hours by volunteers.

She was still looking to add more software and envisaged the hub producing print publications, running a satellite radio station and making recordings of music and film. It had 10,000 digitised Ratana movement photographs, dating from 1918 to 1940, available for its use.

“We could take it to another level. It has to become self sufficient. It could be an economic hub,” she said.

The ICT project began with an application to the Community Partnership Fund. It was made by Rangitikei District Council, Te Runanga o Ngati Apa, Rangitikei College and Project Marton.

Waatea News reported that users of a new public access computer hub at Ratana Pa want to see a fibre optic link to the small settlement near Whanganui.

Puawai Haggar, who runs the facility, says the governments rural broadband plan should bring a fibre connection to Ratana Primary School.

Supporters of the ICT hub hope they can get in on the act.

We are really playing cards at the moment to say how about bringing it through especially to the church office and the community. Information communication technology and fibre optics are going to be the future and if we want to continue and be sustainable we definitely have to look at trying to get this into our community as a whole, Mrs Haggar says.

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