Marae encouraged to get digitally-connected

By D'Angelo Martin

A great opportunity for marae across the country to be more connected - digitally.

Marae are able to receive a digital upgrade, and for five years the funding for connectivity will be paid for.

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) recognised the important role that marae play in the community and saw that being digitally connected could continue to support marae in moving 'into the future'.

The programme delivers broadband right into the marae and also supplies some hardware cameras, routers and other useful tools to utilise the connection.

This is a collaborative initiative between Business and Innovation Employment (MBIE), Te Puni Kōkiri (TPK) and will utilise the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).  

In order to support the initiative, $13mil has been set aside from the PGF.

Currently, there are 250 marae who have registered with the programme since its launch in February 2019.

The director for the Marae Digital Connectivity Project, Alison Thom, says that "We can take another 150-200 more registrations so it's not going to go on forever.

"It is important for people, if they are interested to get their registration in quickly. 

"The companies on the ground - the Sparks and other local providers will make a direct connection with the marae to organise a time to make sure the connection goes in."

Thom says COVID-19 has been a prime example for people to remain connected via online and wants to work with marae to show them the benefits of technology.

"This will be a one-off only opportunity, marae can slowly work out how you use technology so it does suit your tikanga and your thinking around the operations of your marae. But it'll be a shame to miss out and then decide further down the track when it is all dried up, "Oh we should have signed up."

One key focus will be on getting this resource out to remote, rural areas.

"Often rural broadband is very expensive and still is very expensive for whānau so maybe this will breakdown barriers to access and connectivity by whānau being able to go to the marae for kids to do their homework or their research," Thom adds.

She says that marae have approximately three more months to register.

Click here for more information on the Marae Digital Connectivity Project.