Exclusive Editorial: The Rural Broadband Initiative (RBi) and (some) Maori

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Tangatawhenua.com has learned that the Minister of Maori Affairs announced the appointed of a committee to represent Maori interests on the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI). Rather than seeking nominations from Maori organisations that have been actively campaigned for a better RBI deal for Maori over last year, the Government has chosen to appoint members itself.

It appears that four of the seven appointees come from Te Huarahi Tika Trust and Te Putahi Paho, existing Crown aligned entities. Emails have come to light showing that as late as last week both these groups declined to support a letter to the Government seeking it to urgently address the lack outcomes for Maori in the preferred bids from Telecom and Vodafone.

Also two of the three Te Huarahi Tika Trust appointments were also part of a failed commercial RBI bid by Torotoro Waea last year. Questions are being raised about the potential for conflict of Interest, considering Torotoro Waea could still benefit from initiatives negotiated by the committee.

This begs the question, is the Crown appointing members the right approach? The Wai 2224 claimants didnt think so, declining membership, sighting a rushed process, the exclusion of Maori from the appointment process and a lack of mandate as the reason.

The Digital Maori Forum (DMF) was also excluded. The RBI will change the rural landscape for Maori and taking the time to get the right people on the committee is better than compromising and getting it wrong.

Here is a background link: http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/news/rbi-to-get-input-from-maori-working-group

TangataWhenua.com will keep you informed and updated on these situations.

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