Digital connectivity boost for urban marae

A programme to connect marae around the country to the internet has received $1.4 million to expand to include urban marae in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today.

The funding for the Marae Connectivity Programme is in addition to the $21m announced in February 2019 to connect more rural and provincial towns and marae to the internet. The programme is funded through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

“Digital connectivity is a key enabler for economic activity. While New Zealanders were locked down at Alert Level 4, this became more apparent as people used the internet to work, for education, shop, bank, pay bills and keep in touch. As we begin the economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19, it is essential that as many people as possible are able to access the internet.

“For the past year we have been connecting rural and isolated marae in a bid to provide the same opportunities for the people in those communities as elsewhere and we are now expanding that successful programme to include some urban marae,” Shane Jones said.

“Better digital connectivity through urban marae will not only help friends and whānau stay connected, but supports iwi to play a stronger role in their economic recovery.”

Kris Faafoi said the country’s response to COVID-19 had shown digital connectivity was more important than ever.

“It has highlighted the importance of having sound digital connectivity that’s able to withstand the digital demands of New Zealanders. All New Zealanders should be able to access a reliable broadband connection and this new investment will assist in further bridging the digital divide,” Kris Faafoi said.

As well as the connection, the programme also provides hardware to set up Wi-Fi around the marae, as well as other equipment, training and technical support, and free broadband access for five years.

The marae digital connectivity programme is run in a partnership between Crown Infrastructure Partners, the Provincial Development Unit and Te Puni Kōkiri. The programme has already connected 123 marae around the country. A further 43 marae in the three main centres will be eligible to apply for a connection.

Note to editors:

The Marae Connectivity Programme assists whānau, hapū and iwi to achieve their goals and aspirations including social inclusion, cultural connections and participation in the wider community through digital connectivity.

To date, about 250 applications have been received from rural marae. More than 120 have been connected and the remaining applicants are at various stages of installation.

Urban marae have previously not been included in the Marae Connectivity Programme as the primary purpose of the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is to support regional New Zealand.

It is likely that urban marae will be able to connect to the Government funded Ultra-Fast Broadband network.