10 May 2012

Iwi celebrate stage one of northern broadband project

10:01 am on 10 May 2012

Three Northland iwi are holding a launch in Auckland on Friday to celebrate completion of the first phase of a $30 million broadband project.

Ngati Whatua, Te Rarawa and Whaingaroa, together with New Zealand companies Datalight and FX Networks, are building a 200 kilometre fibre-optic cable network to deliver high speed internet from Auckland to the Far North.

The project is being bankrolled by China's state-owned telecommunications company China Telecom and contractors have just completed the $8 million first stage from Sky Tower to the Whangarei portal.

Te Rarawa chairman Haami Piripi says the Chinese have been a pleasure to deal with and the project has gone smoothly, confounding some doubters.

He says there was some criticism of the iwi's desire to run the cable up the west coast of Tai Tokerau, as well as the east where all the people and money are.

But Mr Piripi says the aim of the project is to connect isolated Maori communities to the outside world by internet and it doesn't need to make the huge profits a major Telco would demand.

He says the more lucrative Auckland-to-Whangarei link will subsidise the second stage of the project - supplying high-speed broadband from Whangarei to Waitiki Landing, near Cape Reinga.