Nethui 2019 Report by Emani Lui

NetHui is New Zealand’s version of IGF (Internet governance Forum).  It provides a platform for multi-stakeholders from various sectors to individuals to get involved in the discussion about “internet”, relevant to everyday community happenings.

Two of our Board members Emani and Maureen were able to divert their schedules and attend NetHui in Wellington earlier in October.  It was exciting to see Jackson from Vanuatu as well as Save our ICANN Oceania rep.  Some of the other PICISOC members were from Australia and those from NZ.

Some of the sessions that we attended had discussions topics that are similar to what our island communities experience everyday. 

Data & Privacy in Small Communities focused on topics of Mental Health, Improving Child Wellbeing, Supporting Maori & Pasifika aspirations, Building a Productive Nation and Transforming the Economy.  It was an interesting discussion around how data was sourced or used and how the privacy is protected in small communities.  Especially in small island nations where it may not seem important to us but data is what big organisations, businesses, online platforms and governments increasingly gather and use.  Sometimes it is used with well meaning purposes but the outcome may not be aligned with our cultures, traditions, ethics, requirements, beliefs, environment, flora and fauna.

Rural Access was also at the forefront and this resonated with us from the Pacific.  Some of the issues revolved around accessibility of which the government’s UFB (Ultra Fast Broadband) and RBI (Rural Broadband Initiative) continues to not cover the rest of rural and remote communities.  Some WISPs (Wireless ISPs) play a major role in connectivity for those remote regions but they also depend on funding or spectrum licensing in some cases.  Small operators in the ISP industry are hoping to test 5G.

Technology & Maori Community Wellbeing discussed advancements of technologies in Maori health, education, communications, transportation and other areas.  The facilitators are part of the Trust involved in the initial 2Degrees Mobile company setup.  It was the spectrum obtained by Maori that 2Degrees used.  As an observation, there is a disconnect between communities and those in the steering and leadership roles.  If one was in a Maori community that have accessibility issues to the internet, one would at the very least expect 2Degrees to have a part to play in facilitating the connectivity in either funding or delivery of the connection.  Some were disappointed and suggested a change with younger and vibrant forward thinkers.

We would like to acknowledge InternetNZ for the sponsorship and also grateful for Jonathan Brewer for beginning the discussion of having PICISOC at NetHui 2019.

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