A programme to connect marae around the country to the internet has received $1.4 million to expand to include urban marae as well.
The funding announced today 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.
“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,” says Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.
“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.
“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.”
Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi says the country’s response to COVID-19 had shown digital connectivity is 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.”
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 Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will be eligible to apply for a connection.