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)

Pt 2: An open letter to Countdown Greenlane

Last week, I wrote about an incident in a supermarket, and the letter I sent management about it.

I received a response, and responded with more questions. Read on for these.

Perhaps holding businesses to account for safety, or even just encouraging them, can happen from the outside into the business too?

I suppose my point is, speak up. Follow up. Speak up some more. Especially on behalf of those who can’t do so.

Hi Anthea, 

Thank you for your feedback about the incident in store recently, yes I was made of this by my Duty Manager and have coached him on how we could handle this better in future.    We provide team with Conflict training during induction and we do refreshers at various points. Unfortunately it doesnt look like the team have used this training which is disappointing. Our duty managers should lead this during any event so I have added this to our catch up last week.

I do apologise for any inconveinence caused and if I can be of any further assistance please let me know


Paul Maxwell

Store Manager

Countdown Greenlane 9128

I’m publishing this email without express permission, though as I’m doing it in good spirit, I hope if I need to disclose publication or am “found out” it won’t be a big deal.

So, great, the incident was reported, some stuff was done about it. Some people talked a bit. I still have questions, so sent a follow up, I hope it inspires some more action but judging by the hasty email above… Perhaps not.

Hi Paul,

I’m pleased to hear from you. I’d just like to know what procedure should be for your team in this kind of situation? What should they have done?

I have friends who are victims of abuse and/or who are ill, vulnerable and fragile and I want to know how they would be looked after in this kind of situation.

I don’t “blame” anyone for this incident but it’s a really good opportunity to look at a real scenario and take notes to do better for customers and for your staff too.

Thanks for listening,
Anthea Whittle

I’m still rolling this topic around in mind, how can we make public or semi public places safer? And again, talk to me if you like. Here, on Facebook if we are friends there, or on Twitter: @antheaw