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New Zealand’s Digital Economy and Digital Inclusion Advisory Group starts to take shape

New Zealand’s Digital Economy and Digital Inclusion Advisory Group starts to take shape

New Zealand’s Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and
Digital Media and Government Digital Services Clare Curran announced
the first eight members of the Digital Economy and Digital Inclusion Advisory
Group on 16 March 2018.

The Government sought
expressions of interest for the Group in December 2017. The Group will advise
the Government on how it can build the digital economy and reduce digital
divides. It will bring together innovators and leading thinkers from urban and
rural New Zealand, NGOs, Māoridom, industry, and community groups. 

The Ardern Coalition Government has specifically stated an
aim to close the digital divide by 2020 and it has committed to the objective
of ICT being the second largest contributor to GDP by 2025.

The Group will eventually consist of 14 members, and a
Chair.  Membership of the group will change over time, and additional
subject-matter experts may be called upon to advise the Group as its work

The Group’s input will be sought to identify and support the
selection of a new
Chief Technology Officer
following a widening of the initial search that
took place earlier this year.

The first eight members of the Digital Economy and Digital
Inclusion Advisory Group are:  

  1. Frances Valintine (Chair), Founder and Chairperson at The Mind Lab, and Founder/CEO of Tech Futures Lab (The Mind Lab by
    Unitec is an education collaboration between a public education provider and a
    specialist education lab dedicated to enhancing digital literacy capability and
    the implementation of contemporary practice in the teaching profession, while
    the Tech Futures Lab is a business and technology accelerator for professionals.)
  2. Potaua Biasiny-Tule, Co-Founder of Digital Natives Academy,
    Digital Basecamp, 4 Company B, and CEO/Managing Director of (
    Ltd. is a Māori Information Communication and Technology company.)
  3. Jordan Carter, Chief Executive of InternetNZ (InternetNZ is a non-profit and
    open membership organisation, which
    works on behalf of all Internet users across the country and is the designated
    manager for the .nz Internet domain.)
  4. Kaila Colbi, Co-founder and Chair of Ministry of Awesome, Curator of
    TEDxChristchurch and SingularityU NZ and
    Australia Summits, Deputy Chair of CORE Education, Director of ChristchurchNZ
  5. Brenda Leeuwenberg, Head of Innovation at NZ On Air (an
    independent government funding agency delivering New Zealand public media
    content), Board Member of Women
    in Film & Television
    , and Director of Nomad8
    (a boutique consultancy)
  6. Rohan MacMahon, Management consultant and involved in
    business development for digital technology companies. Previously Strategy
    Director at Crown Fibre Holdings
  7. Victoria MacLennan, Co-chair of NZRise, Managing Director and CEO of OptimalHQ Group, Trustee and Board Chair of Code Club Aotearoa, Chair of the Digital Skills Forum, Investor and
    Director (NZRise is a group of business leaders from NZ-owned IT firms which represents
    the interests of NZ-owned digital technology businesses, while Code Club is a
    nationwide network of free volunteer-led after-school coding clubs for kiwi
    kids. OptimalHQ is the Parent Company of: OptimalBI focused on data, analytics
    and insight; Optimal Labs focused on application and product development;
    Optimal People focused on small business support, event management and book
  8. Chris O’Connell, Director of Heartland Connectivity
    Taskforce Ltd, extensively involved with broadband rollout.

“This Government wants to see every New Zealander able to
participate fully in our society and it’s clear that our future will be a
digital-rich world. The economy and everyday interactions will be increasingly
driven or supported by digital technology,” said Minister Curran.

Over 300 people applied for positions in the Group and Ms
Curran expressed hope that the first eight highly qualified members will assist
in the selection process for the remaining seven members, while keeping other
interested people involved as the Group’s work develops.

The first task of the group will be to provide advice to the
Government on the development of a Blueprint for digital inclusion and digital
enablement. The advisory group will bring immediate focus and a plan to ensure
all Kiwis have affordable access to digital services, and the motivation,
skills and trust to fully participate in our digital world.

The group will consider possible future scenarios and
identify what’s needed from government to enable everyone – businesses and
individuals – to take advantage of the opportunities provided by digital

Minister Curran added, “It is in this spirit of openness and
dynamism that I hope they will approach their ongoing work to develop a
blueprint for digital inclusion and digital enablement. Members will be
reaching back into their communities for broader input and innovation rather
than a more traditional monthly attendance at a meeting. What we need is a
highly collaborative team who see their own stakeholders, colleagues,
communities and the public, as virtual members of the Group.

“We aim to bring all New Zealanders with us, and enable them
to share in the rewards and opportunities ahead. As such I’m inviting those who
expressed an interest in participating in the Group to be part of a broader
digital economy and inclusion network – we’ll be letting people know more about
that in the coming weeks.”


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