When Alma Paewai returned to Dannevirke after 30 years living in Auckland, she saw a town she believes has stagnated.

"To me Dannevirke hasn't grown. It's a lovely town and I'd love to see it flourish," she said. "The key answer for me would be tertiary education based here."

However, Tararua district councillor Tracey Collis said the lack of connectivity was one of the things which would hold our district back if solutions could not be found.

"It really concerns me because people won't come to this district without decent cellphone and internet coverage," she said.


Fellow district councillor Jim Crispin said more people were approaching members of the group set up last week to drive connectivity in Tararua. "I'm being asked, 'why the hell are we being abandoned'?" he said. "Boy, when we start putting pressure on the politicians ..."

Mr Crispin said the reality was that connectivity for people in Tararua needed to be on the agenda of the Government. "It's not about us building a business plan for this, already rural Tararua and the farming sector are contributing in a big way to the economy of New Zealand and coverage should be provided on the basis of needs, otherwise the economy suffers. Being connected is vital to our police, rural fire and other emergency services, the Government has to understand."

Dairy farmer Will Findlay said the answer to growing business here could lie with a change in government thinking.

"We could do with some relocation of government agencies into areas like Dannevirke," he said. "We now have the national animal identification and tracing scheme fully operational and it would be a government department which could be based here. We've cheap buildings to rent and there's no need for everything to be based in Wellington."

Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott said there was no disadvantage for businesses in being based in Tararua. "I know an accountant in Dannevirke who has clients in Japan and China."