Some good news for rural Maori today, with an announcement by the Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples and the Minister for Communications and Information Technology Steven Joyce that a Maori working group is being established to help steer the rollout of the Government rural broadband initiative. This is an example of the positive things that can be achieved when you work with the Government of the day, rather than existing in ideological opposition.
Why is this an important announcement? Because it means that marae, kura, wananga, and runanga should all expect to receive access to improved internet connectivity. The internet is an incredibly useful tool which can be harnesses to improve Maori education and development in rural areas. It literally has the potential to open up a whole new world to a new generation of rangatahi.
The group to be know as “Ngā Pū Waea” will provide advice on:
• options for maximising coverage and connectivity to marae, wānanga, kura, kōhanga, rūnanga, and other Māori organisations through RBI
• trade training programmes and employment opportunities for Māori through the RBI
• relationship brokerage with Māori at community, regional and national levels to support, among other things, economic development opportunities (including investment opportunities), land access and the use of existing infrastructure for the RBI
• emerging issues identified during engagement with Māori
It may only be small, but it is small initiatives like these that make a big difference.