Antony Royal has been appointed director of 2degrees, following the resignation of Brian Leighs.
Royal is a trustee of Te Huarahi Tiki Trust and a director of its commercial arm the Hautaki Trust. The Trust was given a stake in 2degrees, partly in return for the radio spectrum it was allocated as part of a Treaty of Waitangi claim. In addition, it was recently disclosed that the Hautaki Trust has borrowed $2.6 million from 2degrees’s majority shareholder Trilogy International to maintain its stake in New Zealand’s third mobile operator.
Royal is also a member of Nga Pu Waea, the national Maori working group formed to advise on Maori interests and development opportunities in the governments broadband projects. Royal denies there is a conflict of interest in being a director of 2degrees and a member of Nga Pu Waea.
“The role at Nga Pu Waea [is about] enhancing connectivity in rural New Zealand and the urban areas, working – developing opportunities for skills and employment which is something which is good for all of New Zealand. And all telcos have been very keen to work with on that. There is no conflict with 2degrees.”
Royal also advises claimants in discussions with the Crown on Treaty of Waitangi claims on radio spectrum.
“There is a separate group that is advocating directly with the Crown over 700MHz, the claimant group, and we naturally advise the claimant group,” he says. “We have some views about how we can align the interests of Maori, along with 2degrees and along with the other telcos as well.”
Royal contributed to the Te Huarahi Tiki Trust submission on the allocation of 700MHz spectrum, which suggests that each of the three mobile network owners – Vodafone, 2degrees and Telecom – receive an equal block (10MHz paired) but that the Trust be given 15MHz (paired), which would mean the telcos would have to negotiate with the Trust to get more spectrum.
He says reaction to the proposal has been positive with people in the telecommunications industry “quite respectful about the position we take.”
“There’s no argument about Maori position any longer inside telecommunications. The question is about how we manage that relationship.”
However, where Royal does see a conflict of interest with the 2degrees directorship is his position on the TUANZ board. He says, as he interprets the constitution, the director of a carrier cannot sit on the user group's board and “more than likely I will have to resign.”