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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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Rural Women New Zealand National President, Fiona Gower presented at the annual meeting of the International Leptospirosis Society meeting in Palmerston North in late November.

Her speech is below: “I would not wish this on my worst enemy. I was so ill that I thought I would die.”

“We had to leave the farm, our friends, the kid’s schools and their friends. We bought a house in town facing some fields but it was never the same. We never recovered financially.”

These are just two quotes from Rural Women New Zealand members when asked to tell their stories about their experience of leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis is a disease with widespread consequences. What is astounding is the emotional pain that remains long after the physical illness has passed.

Rural Women New Zealand too has been involved in the leptospirosis fight, having run two very successful campaigns, the first in the 80’s which raised over $150,000 for research in to leptospirosis in the dairy and pig industry by Massey University. This led to a huge drop in cases as the value of vaccinating stock became well known and implemented.

In 2007-2008 the second fundraising and awareness campaign was undertaken, raising over $107,000 to be used in the research by Massey into leptospirosis, in particular freezing workers. The awareness raised in groups such as farmers, rural workers and medical professionals was priceless.

This long term partnership between Massey University and RWNZ representing science and community is incredibly valuable, as it allows the strengths of each to support the work of the other.

It hasn’t just been the funding and the research, it is the long term partnership that has been the strength, that we can turn to each other for support or backing or information sharing. RWNZ is a member of FLAG – Farmers Leptospirosis Action Group and has attended other Leptospirosis forums. I had the privilege of addressing the NZ Veterinary Association in 2012 on the effects of Leptospirosis on rural families and communities and the importanceof disease prevention to them.

By working together, we can prevent more cases occurring and having families saying to us: “Our family had to be split up as we were unable to care for the kids. They were strangers by the time we could get them back again. It is really affecting our relationship. Whatever the cost to inoculate, it costs nothing compared to your life.”

Awareness of the disease which has been raised, and where further work can be done, how to prevent stock getting infected, and importantly what practices rural workers can put into place to lower the risk of them contracting leptospirosis. This is something that community organisations such as Rural Women New Zealand can collaborate on, to raise further awareness to all groups such as rural workers, employers and health professionals. As one rural doctor said after our awareness campaign: “I have never tested much for leptospirosis, but now I will take it more seriously”. We also know that those who have become aware of the disease are more likely to pressure for the test if they are ill.

The recent very wet weather and floods have shown up cases in those involved in the clean-up, contracting the disease from the infected water and mud. We have been working with Rural Support Trusts to ensure the message is disseminated about staying safe at these times is disseminated is vital.

Like that famous phrase says, “it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen,” we have seen the results from the combined research and awareness campaigns. Let’s keep it up so less of our stock is infected, meaning better returns for our farmers and less of our rural workers and families contracting leptospirosis, leading to healthier, happy families staying on the land and keeping having strong rural communities.

Pictured is Jackie Benschop of Massey University, RWNZ Board Member Janet Williams and National President Fiona Gower.

Leptospirosis Society Presentation

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Rural Women New Zealand National President, Fiona Gower presented at the annual meeting of the International Leptospirosis Society meeting in Palmerston North in late November. Read More

It is exciting to have a busy year of activities for the 125th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage, and celebrating the diverse women who have been championing social change in New Zealand?


125 years ago New Zealand women were vigorously campaigning to achieve the right to vote and would finally win that right in September of 1893. Now, as we remember, celebrate and look to the future, the Ministry for Women, Te Minitatanga mō ngā Wāhine is proud to be coordinating activities and events which will mark this significant milestone. These celebrations will recognise New Zealanders from diverse cultural backgrounds that have contributed to progressing women’s rights.


Organisations throughout New Zealand – and the world – are preparing to lead events. There will be range of events for people to take part in and contribute in their way to the celebrations.


The Suffrage 125 Events Page and supporting pages can be found on the Ministry for Women's website and acts as a hub for all Suffrage 125 celebrations. These are across the country and provide a launchpad for pointing traffic to the home locations for each of the submitted activities. 


To show your interest, please submit your events to be included on the page. They will be sharing events on their social media pages (Facebook, Twitter) so be sure to keep up to date with what's going on. 



Hold a Suffrage 125 event

As part of our work, we are connecting national and regional activities celebrating the anniversary under the umbrella key phrase of “Suffrage 125”. We invite all New Zealanders to get involved by hosting Suffrage-related events, sharing those with us and being part of a nationwide celebration of our history and our future.

If you are planning an event or activity related to Suffrage 125 you can:

  • submit a Suffrage 125-related activity on our event page
  • share your Suffrage 125 event details and other information on our Facebook page (/Suffrage125) or use the hashtag #Suffrage125
  • use the Suffrage 125 symbol to help promote your event
  • connect with other organisations in your region or city celebrating Suffrage 125.



If you have not already, like the Suffrage 125 Facebook page where you can follow for updates and post your events. 


Bring on the 2018 Suffrage celebrations!


(Image source: www.nzhistory.govt.nz)

Women's Suffrage 125 Years

Friday, February 02, 2018

It is exciting to have a busy year of activities for the 125th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage, and celebrating the diverse women who have been championing social change in New Zealand?
 Read More

Rural Support Trust representatives are working closely with farmers to monitor well-being and directing them to relief assistance for flooding and other adverse events.

The Rural Support Trust advise farmers to ensure stock and domestic animals have food, water, and shelter where necessary, and are secure. Ensure that all stock injuries are promptly attended too, after human needs are met.

If your farm or rural property or stock has been affected by an adverse event and you need assistance, contact your local Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP) with information on the impacts on your farm, or requests for help.

The Rural Women New Zealand Adverse Events and Relief Fund is available to individuals, communities and groups, with a particular emphasis on rural women and children. The fund provides financial assistance to persons or groups, where there is an identified urgent need due to recent adverse events such as drought, fires, floods or earthquakes.

Click here to read more about applying for the fund.

Contact details for support agencies:

The Rural Support Trust (RST organise community events and one-on-one mentoring, as well as targeted support services in emergency situations)  
http://www.rural-support.org.nz Ph: 0800 787 254.

DairyNZ: Sharemilkers support http://www.dairynz.co.nz/farm/tactics/support-for-sharemilkers/

Federated Farmers http://www.fedfarm.org.nz/ Ph: 0800 327 646 or drought feedline 0800 376 844.

Doug Avery’s Resilient Farmer http://www.resilientfarmer.co.nz/

Farmstrong http://www.farmstrong.co.nz

If you just want to talk, or know someone who is at risk, there are a range of support options available, including counselling services:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 - Provides 24 hour telephone counselling

Youthline: 0800 376 633 or free text 234 - Provides 24 hour telephone and text counselling services for young people

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 - Provides 24 hour telephone counselling.

Women's Refuge: 0800 REFUGE (733 843) a 24/7 crisis and support line provide advice and information.

Shakti New Zealand 0800SHAKTI (0800 742 584) If you are in a situation of domestic violence call our 24-hour crisis line, and multi-lingual staff will provide information.

Tautoko: 0508 828 865 - provides support, information and resources to people at risk of suicide, and their family, whānau and friends.

What'sup: 0800 942 8787 (0800 What’s Up) is a counselling helpline for children and young people, aged 5-18. Phone Mon-Fri 1-10pm, Sat-Sun 3-10pm.

Kidsline: 0800 543 754, it is a 24/7 helpline for children and teens, run by specially trained youth volunteers.

Thelowdown.co.nz - Free Text 5626, watch videos or contact for support. 

depression.org.nz National Depression Initiative (for adults), 0800 111 757 - 24 hour service 

Ministry for Children Oranga Tamariki If you're worried about a child or family that you know, there are ways you can help, contact Child, Youth and Family.

For information about suicide prevention, see http://www.spinz.org.nz .

If it is an emergency, or you feel yourself, or someone you know is at risk, please call 111.

Rural community support services

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Rural Support Trust representatives are working closely with farmers to monitor well-being and directing them to relief assistance for flooding and other adverse events. Read More

This is an annual event, where women’s groups in many countries organise walks in their communities along local tracks and trails, to raise funds for the Associated Country Women of the World.

It’s a great way to come together, catch up with friends and have some fun and healthy exercise along the way.

The date for the event is Sunday 29 April– ACWW Day - though walks can take place at other dates around that time if more convenient.

Here’s What You Do:

1.Decide on a walk for your group. It can range from a stroll around the park, a hike through the bush, an amble around a neighbourhood or along a walkway.
2.Invite others. This is a great way to reach out to new potential members, and include families and friends.
3.Go to the registration form , fill it in and email [email protected] or post to national office before your walk, so we know what walks are taking place and can promote them.
4.Fund raise through sponsorship, a gold coin donation, or perhaps an afternoon tea or sausage sizzle afterwards.
5.Tally up the number of people who attend and the distance walked.
6.Take photos and send to national office so we can publicise your walks and use on our website and Facebook pages. Email [email protected]
7.Send your funds raised, and details of kilometres walked to national office.




More About The Work Of ACWW

ACWW connects and supports women and communities worldwide by:

• Working in partnership with member societies to offer mutual support
• Connecting at international level through UN representation
• Funding community development projects
• Supporting agricultural initiatives
Find out more about ACWW here.

Women Walk the World 2018

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

This is an annual event, where women’s groups in many countries organise walks in their communities along local tracks and trails, to raise funds for the Associated Country Women of the World. Read More



RWNZ have released a press release calling for changes to be made to improve the safety of children, especially those living in rural areas. 


As schools return this week, Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is reminding drivers about their legal responsibilities and renewing their call for mandatory signage and flashing lights on school buses.


“RWNZ urges the new Government to implement mandatory 20km/h signs and flashing lights on school buses, especially given recent trials have proven both are vital to reducing the speed of traffic passing school buses,” says National President, Fiona Gower.


“Rural children are especially vulnerable when drivers speed past school buses, and children have been involved in a number of serious and fatal incidents.


“We are back into the swing of the school year, and drivers must remember to follow the Road Code and slow down to 20km/h when passing a school bus that has stopped to pick-up or drop-off children.


“As advocates of safer rural roads, RWNZ also asks drivers to watch out for children cycling or walking to school, particularly along highways and main roads, and always remember to slow down to the speed limits indicated in school zones.


“It is time to up the game with keeping our rural children safe – let's just do it,” says Ms Gower.'


For further information, please contact:


[email protected]



Rural Women Renew Call For Bus Signs

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

 Read More

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) are saddened to hear of the death of a nine-year-old boy whilst riding a quad bike in rural Waikato last night and our thoughts are extended to friends and family.


“It is very sad, but it need not have occurred. We need to prevent families and friends from the heartbreak of losing a loved one in such tragic circumstances,” says National President, Fiona Gower.


“RWNZ are concerned on two levels, one is children riding age appropriate quad bikes unsupervised and the other is children under the age of 16 riding adult-sized quad bikes.


“Last nights’ incident is an unfortunate but timely reminder of manufacturers recommendations that children under the age of 16 should not be riding adult-sized quad bikes.


“Children do not have the weight, strength or judgement to be operating these vehicles.


“Or if young children are riding age appropriate quad bikes, they need to be wearing a helmet and be supervised at all times.


“RWNZ encourage that anyone planning to use any form of machinery on farms receive training, and learn safe practices.


“It is heart breaking to receive news like this,” says Ms. Gower.


To find the media to which we have responded, follow the link here




Please contact us for further information

[email protected]


(photo source: www.nzherald.co.nz)


Another Preventable Rural Tragedy

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) are saddened to hear of the death of a nine-year-old boy whilst riding a quad bike in rural Waikato last night and our thoughts are extended to friends and family. Read More