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Rural Connectivity Symposium 2024 registration opens, TUANZ leads
Tue, 27th Feb 2024

The Tech Users Association (TUANZ) officially opened registration for the Rural Connectivity Symposium 2024, which is to be held on 7-8 May in Rotorua. Carrying the theme "Looking out for the good and the bad", it serves as a platform to celebrate advancements in technology and communications in rural regions while recognising the hurdles that still exist. Coming after a national election, these challenges in rural communities have escalated as a central political discourse.

Craig Young, CEO of TUANZ, expressed concerns about the accessibility of vital services in rural communities as more of them transition online or moved to city hubs. Young said, "There are concerns, especially in rural communities, about access to essential services like healthcare, business support, and Government assistance". He added, "We need a comprehensive, long-term plan involving various technologies, spanning multiple years and providers, to ensure rural communities aren't left behind."

As Young stressed the need for a robust plan, he also underscored the importance of unity. He stated, "Now is the time to unite strong rural voices to engage with decision makers in the provider, vendor and Government sectors. This is our goal for this year's Symposium, which promises to be even more impactful."

Mike Smith, Chair of WISPA, re-emphasised the importance of adequate technology and high-quality connectivity for rural communities. Highlighting the role of innovative service providers in meeting these needs, he said, "Every day, this challenge is being met by innovative providers operating both in the regions and from a far. Technology now offers solutions to almost every connectivity problem or need."

Apart from improving connectivity, Smith also mentioned the need to educate residents about these developing systems. "The key challenges lie in educating our population and ensuring that regulations and Government investment support innovators across Aotearoa," he said.

Smith expressed optimism about the upcoming symposium's potential impact on future growth. "Our Symposium this year has all the potential to be a catalyst for continued, accelerated and sustainable growth. It's my hope that we can put a line in the sand and take the dreams, schemes and plans from great conversations and convert them to action," he said.

TUANZ is partnering again with WISPA for the two-day event, which will feature a blend of shared sessions and more specific breakout sessions. These sessions will either be user-focused or technology-focused. Further details regarding the programme and speakers will be provided nearer the time.