New Zealand’s regions will be better connected through five new digital hubs being funded through the Provincial Growth Fund, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting Alert Level 4 lockdown has shown that good internet connectivity is crucial. While we were staying in our bubbles at home, a great many of us used the internet to work, shop, pay bills, keep in touch with loved ones, and learn.
“It is something many of us take for granted, yet some communities have limited ability to access the internet or the tools to use it for financial reasons or because of their location,” Shane Jones said.
“Access to the internet is critical for regions’ economies and wellbeing and will be even more so as we seek to recover from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That’s why I am announcing funding of $2 million for five regional digital hubs.
“The hubs will allow people to connect for business development and support, and offer services such as free wi-fi, co-working spaces and guidance on use of the internet for business and skills development purposes.” Shane Jones said.
The following will receive $400,000 each for a new regional digital hub:
- Gisborne, operated by Tairāwhiti Technology Trust
- Katikati, operated by Western Bay of Plenty District Council
- Te Kateretanga O Kura-Hau-Pō, operated by Horowhenua District Council
- Woodville, operated by Tararua District Council
- Murupara Regional Digital Hub, operated by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Manawa Trust
Today’s announcement builds on the $3.6m already announced by the Government for eight other regional digital hubs in Northland, West Coast, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatū/Whanganui/Horowhenua.
Funding for these initiatives comes from the PGF’s local digital connectivity funding package of $21m which, as well as establishing regional digital hubs, helps connect marae to the internet.
“Improving digital connectivity was flagged as a key area of investment for the PGF as it is a catalyst for economic development and wellbeing, lifts productivity and supports the other investments Government is making in the regions through the Provincial Growth Fund.
Today’s announcement is also in addition to up to $15m announced last week by Shane Jones and Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi to improve broadband connectivity to rural households.