Growing Our Region

Connect Tararua – A collaborative community driven project

Tararua district is working towards better telecommunications infrastructure solutions and the project is being driven solely by the local community.
Connect Tararua is a community driven collaborative pilot project, focused on building telecommunications infrastructure for cell phone and internet connectivity across the Tararua district.

The catalyst for action was an acute failure of telecommunications infrastructure in areas of the Tararua district – an example being Kumeroa, where landline, cell phone and internet services consistently failed or were unacceptably poor, for 30% of the 2016 calendar year.

Above: Connect Tararua Governance Group Chairman, Tim Poulton
Recognising the issues were not unique to them, the Kumeroa community working group Connect Kumeroa proposed a tandem strategy for telecommunications solutions, not just for their local area, but also across the length and breadth of the Tararua district – the seed idea for Connect Tararua.

Connect Tararua has a volunteer governance group of nine representatives from across the district, each bringing a unique set of skill sets, expertise and experience to add value to the project.

Although this project is community driven and independent from the Tararua District Council, Mayor Tracey Collis said she and the Council are supporting Connect Tararua.

“We have 100% confidence in the Governance Group and are throwing support behind the them wherever we are able, and Accelerate25 have articulated their support of the project and have offered seed funding of $5,000 to help get the project off the ground,” says Mayor Collis.

Connect Tararua Team Leader Mel Pouton said the need is so great across the Tararua district that when those frustrated by poor connectivity services hear about Connect Tararua, there is already a natural motivation to become involved.

“A unique feature of the people of Tararua is that they are very solutions focused, practical and progressive people and Tararua district takes pride in these resourceful motivated people,” says Mayor Collis.

In November Connect Tararua hosted five community meetings around the district to promote the project, and to find volunteer community champions to undertake some baseline work for the project in their own communities.

“As a result, community champions are now located throughout the Tararua district,” says Mel.

“The project is in the early stages of establishment; however everyone involved is very clear that the objective is to improve cell-phone coverage and internet connectivity across the district.”

The previous Government earlier this year announced the RBI 2 (Rural Broadband Initiative Phase 2) rollout with the delivery of only one cell phone tower to the entire Taraura District, connecting fibre in the Eketahuna township, while the remainder of the district would be served by Wireless Internet Service Providers who could not supply cell phone coverage.

“We are working to get far better outcomes than that announcement, across Tararua,” says Mel.

Central Government and Crown Infrastructure Partners are critical stakeholders in this pilot project, as the bulk of the funding required for the infrastructure build will come from Central Government.

“As a district wide community, we are mobilising to remove the roadblocks to infrastructure investment by the Government, Telco’s and other stakeholders,” says Mel

“And this will ensure reduced financial outlays per site enabling the investment to stretch further.”

Crown Infrastructure Partners have suggested the RBI2 rollout will be completed by 2022. Connect Tararua are attempting to work within that timeframe.

To learn more about Connect Tararua please visit the Connect Tararua Facebook Page or Gigaregion@Connect Tararua on Twitter.

A website is currently being designed and will hopefully be up and running shortly.