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Faster rollout of broadband and mobile will improve connectivity to rural homes

The Government has announced that an extra $270 million will be spent on improving rural broadband and bridging cellphone blackspots in regions throughout New Zealand.

$130m will be spent on expanding fibre-optic ultrafast broadband (UFB) to another 60,000 homes and businesses in 190 towns.

$140m will extend the number of subsidised wireless broadband services to another 74,000 homes and businesses, as well as deliver mobile coverage to approximately 1000km of rural highways and more than 100 tourist areas.

Once completed, UFB will be available to 87 per cent of the population and 99 per cent will have access to high speed internet by 2022.

“The benefits of extra spending to expand connectivity for rural communities are immense. The services will lead to greater economic growth and better access to online education, social services and health information,” says Fiona Gower, National President of Rural Women New Zealand.

“Rural residents will feel safer with better mobile coverage, and the connectivity will reduce the feeling of isolation for those living in remote areas.”

In the past few years, RWNZ has been involved in discussions with nationwide broadband and mobile service providers and government agencies to ensure that rural connectivity remains a top priority. RWNZ is a member of the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ) and has provided feedback to Crown Fibre Holdings on the social and economic benefits of improved rural connectivity.

RWNZ policy work includes submissions on the RBI 2 and mobile black spots programmes, the draft Digital Technologies education curriculum and the Review of the Telecommunications Act 2001.

While the majority of the roll out contract has been won by Chorus and a joint venture between Spark, Vodafone and 2 Degrees; smaller wireless internet providers (WISPs) will receive work worth $13m.

Click here to read more about the roll out.

We spoke to Bridget Canning who is the operator of Wizwireless which is a provider of high speed wireless internet broadband for the Wairarapa region. 

“WIZwireless supports the Government in addressing the need to improve the broadband services that remote kiwis rely on and we will provide more and better services throughout the Wairarapa Region," says Bridget.

“WIZwireless is delighted that the Government has recognised the vital role that Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) already play in getting reliable and effective broadband to many rural and remote New Zealanders.

“WISPs all over New Zealand are going to deliver fast, modern broadband, that will meet or exceed the Government's target rural broadband specifications by using the latest fixed wireless technologies, this is how tens of thousands of rural kiwi's already get their broadband internet connections including WIZwireless.

“WISP's have proven themselves to be reliable, robust and resilient, during last year's Kaikoura earthquake Amuri Net was the only telecommunications network to come through intact and provided the community with vital connectivity in the days following the earthquake.

“This additional investment by the Government will allow us, the WISPs to upgrade our existing networks and build new sites that will expand our coverage to even more rural and remote internet users who are desperately in need of modern broadband connectivity.

“Individual WISPs who are participating in RBI2 will release their own plans for their local RBI2 programs, we are local businesses who know our communities very well and we are excited by the opportunities that will be created by improved broadband in our communities.”

Bridget received a Certificate of Special Recognition as an Enterprising Rural Woman, at the 2015 RWNZ Enterprising Rural Women Awards for her business success to date.


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(Pictured above: Minister Damien O'Çonnor meeting with RWNZ Chief Executive Officer Penelope England, National President Fiona Gower, National Chair Penny Mudford and Manager of Government, Public Sector and Academic Relationships Angela McLeod.)


Rural Women New Zealand has released a media release supporting the recent announcement to reintegrate rural proofing into policy development. Please read the media release below. 



Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is pleased to see rural proofing is back on the table and being included in the Government’s policy work.

“Understanding the impact that Government policies, service delivery and business behaviour have on our rural communities is not only vital to the success of the rural economy, it builds and maintains our rural social fabric,” says RWNZ National President, Fiona Gower.

“RWNZ has been calling for rural impact analyses to be carried out in both the public and private sector because decisions have, and are being made that have a detrimental effect on rural communities.

“As a member of the advisory group that supported the development of the Government’s new Rural Proofing Guide for Policy Development and Service Delivery Planning, RWNZ is encouraged by the final document.

“RWNZ will continue to work alongside the Government, its agencies and entities to ensure successful implementation of the Rural Proofing Guide.

“The Government’s new rural proofing policy guidelines will go a long way to alleviating poor policy development and service delivery, and RWNZ is looking forward to seeing better outcomes for rural communities,” says Ms Gower.



For further information, please contact National Office:

[email protected]





Rural Proofing Back On the Table

Thursday, June 14, 2018

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The Government has announced the decision of phased eradication of Mycoplasma bovis (M.bovis). The announcement was made yesterday afternoon, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister Damien O'Connor, alongside RWNZ National President, Fiona Gower and representatives from Federated Farmers, Beef and Lamb NZ, and Dairy NZ (pictured above).

RWNZ encourages anyone needing assistance to contact the Rural Support Trust and recommends following updates from MPI. It is important to support others in your community through this eradication phase.

Read below our media release following yesterday's announcement. 




Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) will continue to support communities following the Government’s decision on phased eradication of Mycoplasma bovis (M.bovis) from New Zealand.

“RWNZ is collaborating with the Government, MPI, Rural Support Trust, and industry leaders to support our rural communities, families, women and children given today's decision," says RWNZ National President Fiona Gower.

“The decision to phase eradication of M.bovis has been made by Cabinet after consultation by Minister O'Connor with industry leaders.

“RWNZ is committed to ensuring there is wrap-around welfare support for those affected – we understand that high stress in times of crisis can lead to a breakdown of our social rural fabric.

“Strategic, regular, and thoughtful communications between decision makers, support networks, and communities is vital.

"By working together, we can do this," says Ms Gower.


Rural Support Trust Chairperson, Neil Bateup says that Rural Support Trust and RWNZ will be working together to support our rural communities.

"Rural Support Trust is available 24/7 for free, confidential support on 0800 787 254. The welfare of farmers, their families and staff are of upmost importance to all of us. Do not be afraid to reach out if you need us," he says.


For a full list of support services visit our here

Read the Prime Minister and Minister's full media release here for further information regarding the decision.

Read Fiona's media statement here.



Mycoplasma bovis announcement

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

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Rural Women New Zealand has released a media release following the announcement this morning that the Government are giving a funding boost to help improve child and family wellbeing. 


Read the relevant media here.



The announcement this morning that the Government will be giving family violence services a boost of $76.2 million is a step in the right direction for our women and families, says Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ).

“New Zealand’s rate of violence against women and children is unacceptable – it is great to see the Government increasing support services for women, families, and communities in need," says RWNZ National Chair, Penny Mudford.

The Government also announced that additional funding in 2019/2020 would enable services to expand into areas where there is currently no support.

“Women and children living in rural New Zealand have particular challenges and can be vulnerable to physical and psychological abuse due to their geographic and social isolation.

“For some, living rurally means they are some distance from their families and whānau and do not have the support that the wider family can provide.

“Family violence victims in rural New Zealand do not have the same level of access to psychological and legal support as urban women and children do, due to living rurally.

“RWNZ hope that this boost announced by the Government will be used to empower our rural communities by giving women and children who are victims of violence the help and support they so badly need,” says Ms Mudford.


Rural Women New Zealand have released a media release raising our concerns for how data is being collected in this year's census.

Please read the media release below.


This year’s census is in danger of not providing the data needed to make good decisions, says Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ).

“Whilst we understand and support the excitement of capturing our census data online, our concern is that many people still do not have access to internet while others might not have the capability or capacity to do so,” says National President, Fiona Gower.

“The timing of the delivery of access code letters, which indicate that New Zealanders can opt for paper forms presents challenges for our rural communities, given that delivery of mail is taking longer and might only be delivered three days a week.

“The chances of a rural household without internet or with unreliable internet, receiving census paper forms in time for Tuesday, 6 March is slim, and that is concerning.

“RWNZ is doing everything possible to ensure our networks are aware of the new way of doing the Census although surely more thought should have gone in to how the valuable information about the lives and status of New Zealanders would be collected.

“Maybe this year, there could have been a concerted effort to use both electronic collection and paper collection to ensure integrity of the data,” says Ms Gower.



Please contact the National Office for more information.



National Office

Rural Women New Zealand


[email protected]

04 473 5524



(image source: www.census.govt.nz)

Census Data Collection Integrity Questioned

Monday, February 26, 2018

Rural Women New Zealand have released a media release raising our concerns for how data is being collected in this year's census.  Read More

Rural Women New Zealand has today released a media release following the announcement that the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) will move to shut down if it does not receive funding.

Read the announcement here.  




Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) are saddened to see that the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) will cease operating if it does not receive government funding next week.


“RWNZ supports the work already done by RHAANZ in bringing together various rural groups and rural health providers to develop initiatives for rural communities,” says RWNZ Board Member and Health Portfolio Convenor, Margaret Pittaway.

“Remarkable work has been done to deliver the Rural Health Road Map which sets out a plan and priorities for achieving healthily rural communities.

“Being geographically isolated, often with significant distance to the nearest town or health centre means that rural communities have an immediate need of affordable and reliable access to all health services.

“The Government has committed to rural proofing government policy, and RHAANZ has a vital part to play in this development – without the continuation of RHAANZ, and the work it does, rural communities will go backwards.

“There is no other place where issues impacting the health and wellbeing of rural communities are considered concurrently, and the loss of achievements met and efforts made by RHAANZ will be detrimental for our rural people.

RWNZ urges the Government to recognise the good work that has been done by RHAANZ and to support its continuation," says Mrs Pittaway.




Another setback for health and wellbeing of rural communities.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Rural Women New Zealand has today released a media release following the announcement that the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) will move to shut down if it does not receive funding. Read More

Rural Women New Zealand has released a media release regarding our involvement to help support communities affected by the M.bovis outbreak. With 38 farms currently infected, and others under movement control, we encourage farmers to contact their local Rural Support Trust and visit MPI’s website for advice and support.


Read more about this here.

Read the media release below.




  Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) has offered their full support to the Government for communities that are affected by the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) outbreak. This announcement was made in a meeting earlier this week with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Agriculture and Biosecurity Damien O’Connor, and Waikato dairy farmers, then reiterated with industry leaders.


“Our rural communities are really hurting in this unprecedented biosecurity outbreak – it is vital they are supported throughout this response, no matter what future plan is decided next week,” says RWNZ National President Fiona Gower.

“From what I saw on Monday and what we are hearing from our members and others in the industry, it is clear that the response to M. bovis is upsetting and we are pleased to have been able to offer our support.

“Since 1925, RWNZ members have been the glue that holds rural communities together and nearly 100 years later we continue by working with Rural Support Trusts, visiting farming families, and offering funding for adverse events.

“The decision to offer our full support comes from recent meetings with industry leaders and the Minister, and from our many years’ experience supporting rural communities.

“We are pleased that RWNZ can continue our tradition of charitable giving and we look forward to working with the Government and industry to ensure rural communities are fully supported through the M. bovis outbreak,” says Ms Gower.