Fixing the ‘digital divide” is critically important to the health and wellbeing of rural communities and imperative to growing New Zealand’s prosperity. The 2016 Rural Connectivity Symposium aims to build on the valuable discussions and relationship building started in 2015 between internet service providers, health professionals and the rural end-users of telecommunications.

We are holding this event in conjunction with RHĀNZ and New Zealand Young FarmersThe day will be opened by the Minister for Primary Industries, the Honourable Nathan Guy, followed by state of the nation addresses from agribusiness and banking leaders. We’ll then explore the importance of rural connectivity from three different perspectives: improving rural health outcomes; improving rural liveability and improving rural businesses. Each session will involve a wide range of speakers with expertise and firsthand experience of rural telecommunications. There will also be plenty of opportunity for audience participation in the panel discussions at the end of each session. The day will conclude with an RBI2 update, followed by networking drinks and nibbles.

This is a unique opportunity we have before us to provide a strong unified voice which reflects the voices of rural users of telecommunications services.

Come to Wellington to have your say and help ensure rural communities can fully participate in the 21st Century.

Final Programme 

08:50am Welcome by the Chair - Dr Jo Scott-Jones & Bill Nathan

09:00am Ministerial Opening by the Minister for Primary Industries, Hon Nathan Guy

09:30am Going further and faster for rural New Zealand, Russell Stanners, CEO, Vodafone NZ

09:55am State of the Sector: Economic Outlook, Nathan Penny, Rural Economist, ASB

10:20am What was the output of 2015 Symposium? Craig Young & Dr Jo Scott-Jones

10:45 Break - MORNING TEA Sponsored by Rural Contractors NZ

11:05am Introduction to RHANZ, Michelle Thompson, CE, RHANZ

11:10am Trialling companion robots for patients in rural homes, Dr Elizabeth Broadbent, University of Auckland

11:30am Panel Session with Andy Derleth from Wireless Nation as Chair.  Panelists are: Murray Milner, Chair Health IT Board, Kyle Ford, WellSouth PHO and Mark Eager, Mobile Health

12:15pm Updates on Telehealth (Via Video-conference), Dr John Garrett, Chair Telehealth Forum

12:30pm Table break session - What's changed in a year?

12:50pm Break - LUNCH sponsored by Mobile Health Solutions

01:30pm Introduction to NZ Young Farmers, Terry Copeland, CEO, NZ Young Farmers

01:35pm Attracting young people to rural NZ, Dan Shand, Farmer and Nuffield Scholar

02:00pm Panel Session with Andrew Cushen from InternetNZ as Chair.  Panelists are:  Cole Groves, Former Aucklander farming in South Canterbury, Martin Sharrock, Head of Network Technology, Chorus and Vanessa Mohi-Goodchild, Trustee, Web Access Waikato.

02:45pm Case Study: Plunket programme, Lois van Waardenberg, CIO, Plunket NZ

03:00pm Table break session - What's your #1 priority?

03:15pm Break - AFTERNOON TEA sponsored by ASB Bank

03:30pm Introduction to TUANZ, Craig Young, CEO, TUANZ

03:35pm Innovations in Rural Business Support, Collier Isaacs, CEO, FarmIQ

04:00pm Panel Session with David Walker from Spark Digital as Chair.  Panelists are: Dr Jo Scott-Jones, GP, Opotiki,  Julia Jones, KPMG and Chris Roberts,

04:45pm Day Summary & Closing, Dr Jo Scott-Jones & Bill Nathan

05:00pm Networking Drinks sponsored by Harrison Grierson


Please join us


8.30AM TO 5PM




TUANZ Member $120

RHĀNZ Member $120

NZ Young Farmers Member $120,

Non-Members $250



SPEAKER BIOS (In order of appearance at Symposium)


Dr. Jo Scott-Jones

Jo has been a rural GP in Opotiki for 24years, he has sat on the Rural Broadband Advisory Group since its inception, and is the current chairperson of the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practice Rural Chapter. He is on the executive of the World Organisation of National Colleges and Academic Associations Rural Practice Working Party with responsibility for social media and is @opotikigp on Twitter.

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Bill Nathan, Kaumātua

Bill is from Te Ati Awa Taranaki, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa and Ngai Tahu.


Hon. Nathan Guy

Nathan entered Parliament as a list MP in 2005 and has been Junior and Senior Whip prior to becoming a Minister in 2009. Nathan won the Otaki Electorate seat in 2008 and has continued to grow his majority through hard work and being a strong voice for Horowhenua and Kapiti in Government.  Since 2009 he has been the Minister of Internal Affairs, Immigration and Veteran Affairs, as well as the Associate Minister of Justice and Transport. He has now been Minister for Primary Industries and Racing for over three years.

Nathan had an extensive political career before entering Parliament, previously serving eight years on the Horowhenua District Council. He also has a background in agriculture, having managed the family dairy and beef farm and receiving a Winston Churchill Fellowship to study beef exports to the United States.

Nathan enjoys spending time with his wife Erica and 3 primary school aged children, and keeping fit.

Russell Stanners

Russell was appointed Chief Executive of Vodafone New Zealand in April 2005.  During his time as CEO he has led Vodafone’s efforts to expand into the total communications market – most recently securing the acquisition of TelstraClear – repositioning the business from a mobile operator to a full service communications company with a strong focus on innovation, customer service and value as key strategic platforms.   

Russell joined Vodafone in 2002 as Director of Enterprise Markets to lead its entry into the business market.  He led this division for two years, materially growing revenues and market share.   Outside of the office he is a committed family man.  He is married to Michelle and they have three children.  Beyond the family he enjoys fishing, diving, watching sport and is a very proud supporter of the Vodafone Warriors.

Nathan Penny

Nathan joined ASB as its Rural Economist in 2013, having previously worked at Westpac and the New Zealand Treasury.

Nathan hails from the Kapiti Coast and made the short trip up the road to study at Massey University where he graduated with a Master of Applied Economics.  Nathan also lived and worked in Japan and he is a fluent Japanese speaker. 

His expertise lies in dairy and other commodity markets, trade economics and economic forecasting.  He authors ASB’s monthly rural publication, Farmshed Economics, and is a leading GlobalDairyTrade auction commentator.

Craig Young

Craig is passionate about the communications industry and the opportunity it offers for improving business and personal lives in New Zealand.  He is currently the Chief Executive of the Telecommunications Association of NZ (TUANZ) which as a member based organisation educates and advocates for the improvement of telecommunication services across NZ. TUANZ has a proud history of providing leadership in the area of connectivity in rural NZ.  

In his previous role at Chorus, Craig lead the multilateral engagement with industry stakeholders and customers.  He was heavily involved in providing leadership in several industry sectors including Chorus' rural broadband commitments.  He was responsible for the RBI Advisory Committee and has presented and represented Chorus at numerous Rural conferences.

Michelle Thompson

Michelle was instrumental in helping to establish the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand and was appointed its founding Chief Executive in September 2013. She is an experienced chief executive and senior manager who has provided services to a range of health sector organisations including the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network, the PHO Alliance, General Practice New Zealand, Compass Health, Southern Cross and Kowhai Health Trust. Michelle lives on a farm in Waipukurau running cattle and a few alpacas (not for eating).

Dr. Elizabeth Broadbent

Elizabeth initially trained as an electrical and electronic engineer at Canterbury University to pursue her interest in robotics. She then worked at Transpower, Électricité de Tahiti, and at Robotechnology where she helped make rides for the Time Warp exhibit at Te Papa (such as a virtual bungi jump). After becoming interested in the psychological aspects of robotics and in psychoneuroimmunology, she obtained her MSc and PhD in health psychology.

She received an Early Career Award from the International Society of Behavioural Medicine and Early Career Research Excellence Award from the University of Auckland. She was a visiting academic at the school of psychology at Harvard University and in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, USA in 2010.

Her current research interests include how stress affects our health, how our body posture affects our mood, interventions to help patients make sense of and cope with illness, and human-robot interaction in health contexts. Her work has been supported by grants from many agencies including the Health Research Council, Auckland Medical Research Foundation, Heart Foundation, Oakley Mental Health Research Foundation, Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust, and the Foundation of Research Science and Technology.

Andy Derleth

Andy joined Wireless Nation in October 2014, bringing vast international management experience. He completed his Diplom-Betriebswirt (MBA) in Germany and subsequently led Aldi retail stores as a regional manager in Germany and later on in the UK to success. After arriving in New Zealand in 2008, Andy excelled in various roles at Warehouse Stationery, winning several awards and finishing off with leading the fulfilment centre operation across the country. His strength is building successful businesses by leading operational excellence and strategic planning for the benefit of the customer.

Dr. Murray Milner

Dr Milner has spent over 40 years in the ICT industry. He is widely recognised within his profession for his leadership in ICT development in New Zealand, including being presented with the Chairman’s award by the Telecommunications User Association of NZ (TUANZ) in 2005. He has been awarded Fellowships to work and study in both the UK and USA during his career. He is a Fellow of IPENZ, an active member of IET and IEEE and is on the editorial panel for the Australian Journal of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy.

After spending much of his career with Telecom New Zealand, Dr Milner now runs a busy consulting practice in New Zealand and works extensively with central government, local government and enterprises on ICT strategy, economics and infrastructure development. He is currently Chair of the National Health IT Board and a member of the Capital Investment Committee for health and through these positions is keen to help achieve substantial improvements in ICT capability to the benefit of health care within New Zealand.

Since its initial scoping, Dr Milner has been involved with the engineering and economics of the Fibre to the Premise activities in New Zealand and is currently a Director of Crown Fibre Holdings and Enable Networks Limited. He is also working with emergency services within New Zealand to help improve their ability to successfully use advanced ICT, even under severely adverse conditions. In 2015 he was appointed to the role of Chair of the Whole of Government Radio Network Governance Board, which is responsible for delivering mobile radio services to a wide range of government agencies, including those delivering emergency services.

Kyle Ford

Kyle is from the WellSouth PHO.

Mark Eager

Mark manages the team at Mobile Health Solutions which includes oversight of the Mobile Surgical Bus and the NZ Telehealth Resource Centre. The Surgical Bus performs day surgery in rural towns around New Zealand. Mark is involved with Ministry of Health, DHB and Primary Care Organisations. These services provide education programs to rural health professionals. Ensuring good connectivity in rural communities means better quality healthcare.

Dr. John Garrett

John Garrett is a General Paediatrician who works for the West Coast and Canterbury DHBs.  As he lives in Christchurch he travels to the West Coast regularly, but also makes use of telemedicine on a daily basis.  Children from the Coast are seen acutely, on virtual ward rounds, and for planned appointments.  He is Chair of the New Zealand Telehealth Forum and Telehealth Clinical Leader for Canterbury and West Coast.

Terry Copeland

Terry has been the CEO of NZ Young Farmers for the past 2½ years, an important Primary Industries organisation with over 6000 members and 24 staff focused upon attracting, developing and retaining New Zealand’s best and brightest for the benefit and future growth in agriculture, horticulture, and other significant rural based sectors.

In addition, Terry is a board member for the Primary Industry Capability Alliance since August 2014, and has previously held senior management positions in the wine industry, as well as being recognised as a notable international wine judge and communicator.

Dan Shand

Dan Shand is a 2014 New Zealand Nuffield Scholar who with wife Mandy and two children Amalia and Hugh farm sheep and beef in Culverden in North Canterbury. They also has a beekeeping and honey operation known as Everything NZ Limited.

Dan has a special interest in technology, sustainability and leadership in the red meat sector and wants to ensure that it will become an inspiring industry for his children to want to be involved in.

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Andrew Cushen

Andrew is the Deputy Chief Executive of InternetNZ, and is responsible for leading their Operations and Issues teams. He's really enthused by InternetNZ's mission to promote the benefits and uses of the Internet and protect its potential, and in particular in exploring the massive untapped potential for social and economic change that the Internet can provide. 

Prior to this role, Andrew has over a decade's experience in telecommunications across strategy, public policy and commercial management. He has also undertaken research into the use of the Internet and blog sites to influence New Zealand politics, and currently sits on the Trust Board of the Innovation Partnership. 

Cole Groves

Orginally from Auckland with no family ties to farming, Cole graduated Lincoln University in 2008 with a B.Agr.Sci (Hons) and went straight into managing a 1000 cow property in Dunsandel. For the past 4 years Cole and his wife have been 50/50 sharemilkers in South Canterbury with their 900 cows on 264 ha.

In addition, Cole has been heavily involved in New Zealand Young Farmers. He has been on the NZYF Board for the past five years, being Chairman for the two years only stepping down from that role last year to allow succession.

Martin Sharrock

Technology and business leader, Martin Sharrock has held chief technologist roles in Europe, Asia and Australasia specialising in telecommunications and IT. As Head of Network Technology at Chorus, he and his team, devise the strategy, manage the investment, select and realise new technologies and solutions and then manage the asset life-cycle.

Vanessa Mohi-Goodchild

Vanessa has been a trustee for Web Access Waikato for the past 2 years.  The Trust's mission is to facilitate internet access to parts of the community who otherwise wouldn't have access due to financial, technical or financial barriers. The trust achieves this through delivery of the Computers in Homes programme, SteppingUp training, provision/support of refurbished internet connected computers and facilitation of affordable pre-paid broadband internet access services to low decile communities.  Vanessa has been involved with 2020 Communications Trust off and on since 2005 at a regional level, including co-organiser for Hamilton eDays between 2007 and 2011. 

She works full time for an Industry Training Organisation by day and am enjoying learning more about the telecommunications space.

Lois van Waardenberg

Lois is the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society’s Chief Information Officer and Acting Chief Operating Officer. Plunket is New Zealand’s largest provider of health, developmental, and wellbeing services for children under five. Plunket is contracted by the Ministry of Health to deliver Well Child / Tamariki Ora services to over 90% of new New Zealanders.  This key service area forms part of a wider suite of health, parenting and community services.

Lois is experienced in business management, leadership and transformation across a wide variety of industries, and has a customer outcomes and innovation focus. Having worked for many years in the UK and Australia, she is now settled back in New Zealand, and was Head of Business Information and Technology Services at Z Energy prior to joining Plunket.

Collier Isaacs

Collier graduated from Massey University in 1989 with B Ag Sci and Dip BS. After university he commenced employment as Assistant to the General Manager at the NZ Game Industry Board, concluding at the end of 2000 as Chief Executive. Collier then moved to the broader meat industry as General Manager – Market Services at Meat NZ in 2001. In 2002 Collier joined Landcorp Farming Ltd as Manager – Corporate Strategy concluding employment as National Manager – Services and Strategy in December 2010. Collier was appointed as CEO of FarmIQ Systems, December 2010.

David Walker

David is the Agribusiness Manager at Spark, he leads and offers strategic advice in this sector and well as providing support and mentoring to the wider sales team. David was a Taranaki dairy farmer for 35 years’ as well as holding a number of Board Directorships and Chairman positions. His appreciation of the benefits of technology place him in an ideal position to translate the theoretical into the practical application for everyday use by all in Agribusiness.

Alongside working for Spark, David is a consultant advising on the rural sector to a number of clients including his family investment in Aquaculture . He is the Chairman of Taranaki Dairy Technologies Ltd ‐ investors in HZAH ‐ a China dairy farm presently milking 20,000 cows.

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Julia Jones

Julia works for KPMG as a farm enterprise specialist; helping farmers take their business from good to great by creating sustainable practical business models. She is particularly passionate about driving strong cultures into businesses and believes that understanding how the changing global trends apply is the key to Agricultural industry success. In 2007 Julia completed an Agri program through Harvard Business School in China, and from this she developed a wider interest in international Agriculture. In 2012 she graduated from the Agri Women’s Development Trust governance program and remains involved as the alumni group  Chair.  After joining KPMG in 2013 had an opportunity to spend time working in Russia with the KPMG team in looking Agricultural strategy.   A highlight for Julia was being a co-author for the KPMG 2015 emerging leaders report that focused on the Agribusiness future leaders and what the future consumer will demand.

Chris Roberts

Chris comes from a farming and electrical background and was trained in the high voltage power networks with Orion Networks. He has used his knowledge to build a rural broadband network which covers Kaikoura down to central Canterbury. He has diversified the business to supply FTTH and business, Vodafone RBI and co-lo of server equipment.  He is a director of Amuri Net and has been since 2005.  He has also been a director of the Roberts Dairy Farm in Culverden from 2003-2012.