18 August 2020
Connect Tararua Governance Group, Mavis Mullins, Henare Kani, Caitlin Metz – RCG, Jessica Lethaby – RCG, Mel Poulton, mayor Tracey Collis, Callum Skeet, Sharon Wards, Tim Poulton, Alison Franklin, Richard Murfitt with men in the high viz gear who will be building all the towers in the Tararua District for the RBI2 rollout.
After more than three years hard work, Connect Tararua has finally had success in lobbying Government for better 4G cellphone connectivity for the Tararua District.
As the first spade went in the ground at Ahiweka, the team were present to bear witness to the blessing of the site by Henare Kani. For the team, this was the culmination of their years of hard work.
Mayor Tracey Collis accompanied the team to the site, together with Caitlin Metz and Jesse Lethaby of the RCG (Rural Connectivity Group).
“It was very moving for us all to be present for the karakia and the blessing of the first site. It was gratifying for me as mayor of the district to see the years of work put in by this dedicated team finally result in some runs on the board. They deserve the kudos for their tireless efforts on behalf of our people,” Tracey said.
The countless hours of volunteer work put in by this committed team resulted in an additional nine cellphone towers allocated in the RBI2 rollout. The original allocation by Crown Infrastructure Partners and the Rural Connectivity Group was only one tower, which was destined for Pongaroa.
But now, with absolute dogged determination, Connect Tararua has finally achieved a great result for their efforts as the first of the 10 new cellphone sites begins construction.
Team lead Mel Poulton said the RCG is committed to providing additional connectivity to serve Tararua rural residents and lease negotiations, power design and site design work began before lockdown and now the build to ensure efficiencies in the Tararua District, has begun.
“When the RBI2 rollout allocations were first announced, we were disappointed to find that our district was only allocated one additional tower, so you can imagine our excitement when we learned that the our year’s of hard work researching and providing statistical information that enabled the RCG to look at our district with a new lens, had finally paid off,” Mel said.
“And now here we are, witnessing the first spade in the ground at the Ahiweka site which fortunately already has power to site as all the Districts emergency services communication technology are already located up here.”
Mel said the Connect Tararua Governance Group do still have some ongoing concerns.
“Given the modelling work provided, it looks possible that this government funded RBI2 rollout will still not meet the needs of the whole district. There is a risk that there will be pockets of communities and households that still may not get the digital connectivity that they need. Connect Tararua is very mindful that there is likely more work to be done once these towers are built.”
Mel said it won’t be until after all the towers are up and running that Connect Tararua will be able to ascertain where the gaps are and what the quality of service is actually being delivered across the district.
“Until then we can not determine what the scope and scale of work will be to connect those of us who may miss out, however, one thing we can assure everyone of is, that progress is being made, the build of cell phone towers for Tararua in under way and this will make a huge difference to many people and businesses across the district,” Mel said.
“This is a considerably better outcome to the one tower that was originally assigned to the Tararua District for the RBI2 Government rollout. The build will make a substantial and positive difference for a significant portion of the district.”