Letter to MP Scott Simpson regarding connectivity in Papa Aroha

25 May, 2020

Dear Mr. Simpson,

I’m a dual resident of Papa Aroha north of Coromandel, and Auckland. Through the COVID-19 crisis I have relocated to Papa Aroha to be with my family, and have had more first hand experience of the constant struggles they have in regards to internet connectivity. 

I recently wrote a personal blog article about this, with further context of our experience and relating to Government funded infrastructure projects: Rural Broadband Initiative 2011, Rural Broadband Initiative Phase 2, Mobile Black Spots Project and the Ultra Fast Broadband Initiative. The latter was most recently announced in April by Minister Faafoi to have more funding allocated. 

We are still left out of all of these initiatives. With a commitment to 99.8% of New Zealand having coverage by 2022, we are excluded according to all information I have found from Crown Infrastructure Partners. The blog post elaborates on this, but since writing that piece I have been in conversation with my community on this matter, and they have encouraged me to reach out to you for assistance.

Just last week we experienced a major outage from Wednesday evening until Saturday afternoon which left us unable to fulfill our work obligations and my neighbour disconnected from his healthcare providers after having major knee surgery. I travelled to Auckland in order to be able to service my clients.

We don’t lay blame at the feet of our provider, they are a small business here in response to our desperate calls for help and are trying their best to provide internet services. Unfortunately, they do receive anger and abuse from frustrated people who are fed up with being disconnected and the frustration and expense of trying to gain that connection.

Members of our community have met with Chorus in the past to ask when we will have reliable connectivity, essentially to be told that due to low population and cost, “it’s not going to happen”.

There must be a point at which further investment into improving the connection of people who already have reliable access must come second to providing reliable service to those of us who are presently excluded from connection at all.

We have been waiting long enough, and our health, businesses and relationships are suffering. Land in our area is currently being sold, so we expect demand here to rise further. It’s insulting that users of local tourist facilities will have connection before we in our homes and businesses do.

How can we work together to have our community connected to the same services that the rest of the country have access to?

I am available to meet with you, prepared to travel to Thames as required and am very keen to make progress in this area on behalf of our community.

Please let me know how we can progress this.

Thank you,
Anthea Whittle

(All contact details provided but not published)