The Hawaiki Cable held a groundbreaking ceremony today at Mangawhai Heads, Northland, to mark the construction commencement of the New Zealand landing station for the trans-Pacific data circuit, connecting New Zealand with the United States and Australia.
Prime Minister John Key attended the ceremony along with Communications Minister Amy Adams and Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti, as well as Hawaiki Cable founder Rémi Galasso, and two of the key investors in the project, Sir Eoin Edgar and Malcolm Dick.
Galasso told the Herald that the cable will be buried in the ground at the beach at Mangawhai Heads, with a landing station being built at a private property, the Bream Tail Farm just over a kilometre away.
From Bream Tail Farm, Hawaiki Cable intends to connect to one of New Zealand's national backbone network providers, Chorus, Vocus or Vodafone, Galasso said. At this stage, Hawaiki hasn't yet selected a provider for the link from Bream Tail Farm.
Costing $500 million, the 14,000 kilometre Hawaiki Cable system is still in the early stages of construction after it clinched financing of the project this year. The fibre-optic cable is being built by Hawaiki's contractor TE SubCom in the United States, and the company needs to conduct marine surveys to find the best route for the link across the Pacific.
The Mangawhai Heads cable installation is expected to start in June next year, with the Hawaiki circuit becoming operational by the middle of 2018. It is expected to add 30 terabits per second capacity over three optical fibre pairs, using transmission wavelengths each capable of 100 gigabits per second.
Minister Adams said the Hawaiki Cable improves New Zealand's resilience against natural disasters when it comes to connectivity with overseas, providing an alternative route for internet data along with the existing Southern Cross Cable System and the Spark/Vodafone/Telstra Tasman Global Access link to Australia.
Adams expects the Hawaiki Cable to contribute to job creation in Northland, and attract data centre providers who require redundant connectivity through multiple circuits.
The government has taken a $65 million stake in the Hawaiki Cable through the Research and Education Advanced Network of New Zealand (REANNZ) which has taken an anchor tenancy contract on the data link.
Once completed, Hawaiki will run from Sydney to New Zealand, and to Oregon in the United States via Hawaii. It will also have branches to American Samoa, with TE Subcom adding "stubs" for future connections from the cable to Tonga, Fiji and New Caledonia.