Newstalk ZB host Mike Hosking has slammed the Ministry of Education over "wastage" as he revealed that one of his children had somehow made the list for being a student who needs a free modem.

In an article from the Herald this morning, principals slated an $87 million scheme to provide IT equipment to children during lockdown as a "disaster" and a waste of money.

Hundreds of unwanted modems have arrived at wealthy schools that don't need them, because their students already have Wi-Fi - and in any case are now back at school and no longer learning from home.

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At the other end of the income scale, many students who need computers and access to internet are still waiting for them more than three weeks after all students returned to classes.

The Government earmarked much of an $87.7m Covid-19 education package to giving computers and free six-month internet packages to 82,000 homes with school-aged children that were not online when the country went into lockdown on March 25.

Hosking, who is married to NewstalkZB host, Kate Hawkesby, said on air that a school one of their children attends, sent him an email saying that the Ministry of Education contacted them with a list of students that they had identified as requiring internet access during the lockdown and that they made the list.

"We are unsure how the list was created," Hosking quotes the school's email.

"The Ministry of Education is in the process of organising the distributing of modems for families who are unable to connect during the lockdown period."

The breakfast host reiterated that they did not need a free modem as they have access to the internet at home and remained bemused as to why their child was added to the list.

 Mike Hosking has slammed the Ministry of Education over
Mike Hosking has slammed the Ministry of Education over "wastage" as he revealed that his child had somehow made the list for being a student who needs a free modem. Photo / Michael Craig

Going over the point he made, he said: "One, they have a person's name on a list that shouldn't be there. Two, they are suggesting we don't have internet when we do. Three, they can give us a modem when we don't need one. Four, they are doing this during lockdown which we are now not in.

"That's the Ministry of Education, how much wastage do you think there is in that particular department?"


It comes as decile-10 Rangitoto College principal Patrick Gale said only two of his 3300 students did not have home internet access - yet 45 modems have turned up at the school in the past week including one addressed to his own daughter.

Decile-9 Macleans College principal Steve Hargreaves said his reception area was full of about 50 "high-spec modems that have no use to us or the students for whom they are intended".

Auckland Grammar headmaster Tim O'Connor, whose school is also rated decile 9, said he had received 137 unneeded modems.

Meanwhile, decile-2 Aorere College, which had students who missed out on computers because they were sent to the wrong addresses in the lockdown, says only about 70 of its 440 students who needed devices have received them.

And at decile-1 Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, principal Kiri Turketo said just under 400 devices and internet connections were still being delivered to her students.

The ministry's chief digital officer Stuart Wakefield said the ministry has sent out 23,242 computers to students who needed them and has 400 requests outstanding for the top priority group, students in Years 11 to 13 in deciles 1 to 3.

"We have further devices on order with delivery from overseas confirmed. We currently expect them to arrive in late June, and to be dispatched to students in early July," he said.

"The ministry has arranged 51,710 household connections to the internet. We estimate that there are around 30,000 still to be arranged and we expect to arrange these by June 30."

He acknowledged that "we didn't always get it right", but said nothing would be wasted.

"Modems not required can be returned and reallocated. If in cases the modem/router wasn't required, it won't be wasted - either another household will use it or we will return it."