A Maori working group is to be established to help steer the roll-out of the Rural Broadband Initiative.
Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples and Communications Minister Steven Joyce announced yesterday that the working group, called Nga Pu Waea, will advise on Maori interests and development opportunities in broadband, and work to ensure that marae, kohanga kura, wananga, iwi runanga and Maori health and social service providers benefit from the roll-out of broadband to rural areas.
The working group represents a range of Maori working in the ICT sector, iwi and economic leaders. They will engage with Telecom, Vodafone and the Government.
Joyce says Telecom and Vodafone representatives will be required to meet every two months with the working group and report every six months to him and Sharples.
“The working group will be represented on the National Advisory Committee overseeing the RBI and, if it proves successful, we could consider extending its mandate to other ICT projects.”
The seven members of Nga Pu Waea are: Jeremy Gardner, Daphne Luke, Mavis Mullins, Haami Piripi, Antony Royal, Tuwhakairiora Williams and Richard Orzecki.
The working group will operate for the duration of the RBI contract, anticipated to be six years. Members have been appointed for a three-year term and will be eligible for reappointment for a further term. The group will be funded by the Maori Economic Taskforce.
Around 480 marae will be covered by Telecom’s DSL service at more than 5Mbps, 44 of which will have access to DSL services for the first time. Around 100 marae will be able to choose to connect to existing Telecom fibre or to new RBI-funded fibre to the premise.
Approximately 85% of marae will be covered by Vodafone’s 5Mbps broadband service.