The site of the big kiwi in Eketahuna was chosen to announce the Government's $60 million spend on upgrading digital connectivity on Saturday, October 10.
Standing next to Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis and Labour MP Kieran McAnulty, Minister for Broadcasting Kris Fafafoi made the announcement.
"Digital connectivity is more important than ever as New Zealand makes a successful economic recovery from the impacts of Covid-19, and the Labour Party is committed to investing in world-class digital infrastructure to support that," said Kris Faafoi.
"In Tararua, some of the connectivity issues have been here for a long time, the community has been asking for some flexibility. Some of the frequencies released will allow the radio waves to travel better over rural land.
"The Covid pandemic has highlighted the vital role digital connectivity plays across New Zealand, including for our rural primary producing industries that link to some of New Zealand's more remote, hard-to-reach places where internet services can be patchy.
"During Covid lockdown we all needed to move online, and it is critical that our rural businesses and households have access to fast and reliable internet in order to work, learn and socialise.
"Commitments Labour is making through a new $60 million infrastructure fund will help boost connectivity capacity and upgrade backhaul connections that link a main network to the edges of it. internet services are provided to customers from the 'edges' of networks.
"This $60 million infrastructure fund is targeted at increasing connectivity in our worst connected regions to deliver faster, more reliable internet connections.
"The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will be responsible for leading this work and will identify the worst affected areas with a focus on Gisborne, Manawatū-Wanganui, Auckland rural area, Otago, Hawke's Bay (including Central Hawke's Bay), West Coast, Taranaki, rural areas of Wellington, Wairarapa, and Southland.
"This will build on the wider digital programmes we have rolled out in government and expands on the $50 million Crown Infrastructure Partners funding already announced with a priority focus on Te Tai Tokerau, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, top of the South Island and Canterbury.
"It's about targeting regional areas where we need tailored solutions to address lack of connectivity."
"We know there is no longer a 'one-size-fits all' approach and this infrastructure fund will be used to roll out investment which delivers capacity upgrades. It provides backhaul upgrades and replacements (the link between the main network and the edges of the network, which is where services are provided to customers.) This enhances infrastructure in areas of need.
"New Zealanders are demanding more and more data and faster speeds to run increasingly sophisticated applications and this requires higher capacity in our networks. This growing demand is already putting pressure on some areas, where existing government programmes, such as the first phase of the Rural Broadband Initiative, are no longer meeting expectations.
"This funding will help address that and provide a much needed further technological injection for our regions, which have fallen behind levels of connectivity in our urban areas."
Labour will also commit $10m to open up suitable radio spectrum for rural communities where broadband capacity and coverage is under pressure.
"Funding suitable spectrum to rural communities which rely on mobile network services, will mean those services can reach greater coverage.
"In this day and age, we need to do everything we can to make sure rural and remote communities in New Zealand are part of the connected digital world we all live in now," Kris Faafoi said.
"It's got the potential to unlock what Tararua has to offer," said Kieran McAnulty, Labour MP.
"There are businesses based here in Eketahuna that export and sell all around the country. They are demonstrating what could be done here if the technology was there. The announcement builds on what the government has already done, but it also acknowledges the work that Tararua has done as a community.
"The district council, under the leadership of mayor Tracey Collis, has embraced this along with Connect Tararua, under the leadership of Mel Poulton. (Connect Tararua was formed from Kumeroa being without any cellphone services at all.) It demonstrated that this community is willing to work together and alongside government to get things underway.
"I think it's only appropriate we have made this announcement in Eketahuna. Its personally satisfying with my family connection to Eketahuna," he said.
"When we talk about the social well-being and the economic productivity of the Tararua District, the connectivity plays a pivotal role in that," said mayor Tracey Collis.
"We talk about our ag tech and increasing productivity - as the farmers get connected, they utilise the capacity more and more.
"Also, in the Mangatainoka Valley at the moment there is a cellphone tower going up which will increase reception right through to Pahiatua with the RBI-II roll-out (Rural Broadband Initiative Phase II.)
"There are still parts of our district that have been left without that coverage. We're committed to working with them and the Government is committed to working with communities and rural New Zealand to make sure that we get that connectivity to all of these parts - its really important. It opens up some better environmental outcomes as well with data monitoring."
"WISPs warmly welcome the Labour Party promise to continue boosting connectivity for our regions," said Mike Smith, chairman of WISPA.NZ, the Wireless internet Service Providers Association.
"The planned $60 million infrastructure fund will expand city-grade connectivity still further into our regions. WISPs already provide broadband to more than half New Zealand's farms with the numbers increasing daily, so this further investment will take us into even more remote areas.
"We especially welcome the commitment to release more radio spectrum. Spectrum is crucial to meeting the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth, driven by increasing automation of farm systems and general internet usage, and accelerated by increased online study and work from home.
"The announcement is timely and will continue the movement to make New Zealand's rural communities world-leading for broadband services."