May 12, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Maori Consortium take leadership role in rural broadband

2 min read have been told that a group of Mori have partnered with Opto Networks to submit a proposal to extend high speed broadband to rural communities through the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

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 Waea’s 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.

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