Friday, December 3, 2010
Speech Delivered by Louise Cole, DIA Regional Manager, on behalf of the Minister
Computers in Home Taranaki Graduation Friday, 10 December 2010, 10:15 am
Speech: The Maori Party
Thursday 9 December 2010; 3.30pm
Computers in Home Taranaki Graduation
Delivered by Louise Cole, DIA Regional Manager, on behalf of the Minister
I acknowledge the significance of this location in the rohe of Ngati Ruanui; and recognise also the peoples of Tangahoe and Pakakohi.
Your honour the Mayor, Ross Dunlop, Trustees of Taranaki E-learning; Graduates, tutors and whanau.
There is a by-line on the South Taranaki District Council website which brands South Taranaki as being ‘alive with opportunity’.
This week is an absolute demonstration of the veracity of this claim.
Just over 48 hours ago, the Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Steven Joyce announced that Hawera, alongside of New Plymouth and Whanganui, will be among the first places to benefit from the government’s rollout of ultra-fast broadband.
It was great to see your Mayor, Ross Dunlop, immediately spring into action expressing his enthusiasm for the potential of this ultra fast fibre network.
And it is indeed something to be celebrated - that broadband will be delivered at speeds of at least fifty times faster than what is currently available, bringing with it of course a direct boost to productivity across this region.
But of course it is not just Hawera that has brought fame and fortune to South Taranaki.
I was really fascinated to learn about all the ‘firsts’ that have happened right here in Eltham.
It was in Eltham in 1887 that the first dairy factory was built.
It was in Eltham in 1906 that Bridge Street became the first tarsealed road.
And it was in Eltham that the first concrete power poles were used.
So you are well used to putting Eltham on the map.
Today you expand that list further, through this special Computers in Homes in Taranaki Graduation.
I am only sorry that I am unable to be with you, to share in the excitement of this moment.
And it seems so appropriate that there will be students from Te kura kaupapa Maori o Ngati Ruanui, and Patea Area School, along with other members of the wider South Taranaki community to share in the buzz of this graduation.
Because fundamentally, what is so exciting about the Computers in Homes project is that it builds an expectation within families that being digitally literate and connected is a critical means of opening up access to the information highway.
The Taranaki project has been working with your schools to identify families who do not have a computer in their home. These families are provided with a computer and twenty hours of training, a free Internet connection for six months, and technical support.
But of course resources on their own will never make the difference.
This is all about whanau taking the control into their own hands.
In many ways, what has been happening with Computers in Homes is Whanau Ora in action. It is about building whānau capability, strengthening whānau connections and supporting whānau leadership to achieve the best outcomes for them.
And that’s why I really love the Computers in Homes concept.
Because it’s all about connecting parents with their children’s learning and providing families with the skills and confidence to use technology. The key to the success of the programme is the involvement of the whole whānau.
Of course Computers in Homes is not new to the Taranaki region. CIH was piloted in Taranaki in 2005, and in 2007 Eltham Community Care successfully extended the pilot project to a further 100 families with funding from the Community Partnership Fund. In fact I recall coming here to a graduation just a couple of years ago.
In November 2008, the Taranaki E-Learning Trust was formed to take over the Computers in Homes project from Eltham Community Care.
The Trust was granted $316,000 through the Community Partnership Fund to implement Computer in Homes to 150 families in South Taranaki; and in doing so, we know Eltham is well on the way to being a local leader at the forefront of the digital age.
And I want to mihi to Karen Cave, the Chair of the Trust, and the wonderful diverse range of trustees that are gathered together in this project. You have everything from students to senior citizens, graduates to grandparents, Councillors and the Clergy and even one of the local MPs, tena koe Chester.
There are many outcomes associated with Computers in Homes. Endless research reports confirm that digital literacy and smart, connected communities are critical to future and that reducing the ‘digital divide’ is key.
It was the challenge of digitally disconnected communities that I drew on in the case we put forward during Budget 2010 for some $8.345 million over three years for digital literacy and connection. And it is graduations like today, that remind me, just how important this investment will be in our ongoing advances as a nation.
In the Taranaki region the 2006 Census reported that some 37% of households (approximately 1000 families) do not have access to the Internet.
This flies in the face of the commitment to digital literacy - what the New Zealand Computer Society has described as being the right of every New Zealander.
A report they produced this year also suggested that addressing ICT competence in New Zealand would bring an annual productivity gain of $1.7 billion so there are clearly some tangible fiscal benefits that flow from this project.
But I think one of the most wonderful outcomes is quite simply in every family home.
This programme is community driven, and encourages families to learn together, irrespective of age.
Parents who participate in the programme receive twenty hours of basic computer training at their children's schools. This includes word processing, emailing and using the Internet for homework as well as for general family information.
Tamariki can support their parents with the skills needed to use computers and the internet. Parents in turn support their children’s learning, leveraging on the expanding array of digital technologies.
So I want to focus on the sixty or so families who are graduating today, and to say how proud we all are of your achievements.
You have taken up the challenge to get connected, to surf the net, download documents, google search, and cut and paste. You are now confident in browsing the information highway, in emailing with attachments, and you know the importance of saving as you go.
All of these skills demonstrate your open attitude to learning, your willingness to upskill and your enthusiasm in taking a whole of family approach to achieving outcomes you all want.
I congratulate you all, I salute the tutors and the coordinators who have invested in your future, and I wish you all the greatest success in the journey ahead.