Wairoa gets online with a new regional digital hub

Published: 3 February, 2021

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  • Hawke's Bay

One of New Zealand’s least digitally connected regions is getting online with a new digital hub built with funding through the Provincial Development Unit (PDU).

A pair of hands at work on a dark grey computer keyboard.

Wairoa has been one of the country's least digitally connected places in the country - the town's new digital hub aims to change that.

The Wairoa Regional Digital Hub opened in the Northern Hawke’s Bay town in early February this week after the PDU provided the project with a $400,000 grant. 

The PDU funding is part of the government and Wairoa District Council’s drive to improve digital accessibility in provincial and rural New Zealand to support jobs and skills development, at the same time as ensuring all kiwis are socially included. 

The PDU’s Principal Regional Advisor for Hawke’s Bay, Cameron Osmond, says the new facility will be a great boost. 

"Helping smaller towns like Wairoa develop Regional Digital Hubs is a key part of the government initiative," Cameron Osmond says. 

"While Kiwis in bigger towns and cities view their digital connections as vital for modern living, in more isolated areas that accessibility just doesn’t exist. 

"According to Statistics New Zealand, Wairoa has until now been the country’s second most disconnected region with very limited digital capabilities and connectivity at its most basic. This new Digital Hub will help change that and bridge the divide," Mr Osmond says. 

The new hub has been built in Wairoa’s library in partnership with the Wairoa District Council for use by local residents and businesses. It is hoped that it will also offer digital classes and workshops to teach Wairoa people how to get the most out of their new facility. 

"The hub’s location is ideal – it is right in Wairoa’s main street, close to council buildings, local businesses and with good foot traffic," Cameron Osmond says. 

"All this highlights what a huge benefit the new Digital Hub will be to the Wairoa community."

"There is a real appetite for better digital access in Wairoa and this initiative will complement a number of other digitally based projects in the district."

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little says the new digital hub is yet another part of improving the district’s connectivity and digital capability.

"This is a valuable asset that can be accessed free of charge by the entire community, and further extends the services the library is offering.

"This is a great example of Wairoa working with Central Government to achieve positive outcomes for our community.

"I would like to thank the local team who helped make this possible, and the PDU and Central Government for recognising the potential of the digital hub and supporting its development."

The total cost of the project is $793,000 with the $393,000 not covered by the PDU grant being funded through the library’s existing operational budget and other external funding with no additional cost to Wairoa ratepayers.