Rural Connectivity Symposium 2024Rural Connectivity Symposium 2024

Rural Connectivity Symposium 2024

On behalf of TUANZ and WISPANZ, thank you to everyone who joined us at this year’s Rural Connectivity Symposium 2024 in Rotorua! 

With over 200 attendees this was our biggest year yet, a testament to the great work we’re all doing to champion our rural communities in Aotearoa. It was fantastic to hear from our wonderful speakers and for so many of us to come together, share ideas and find creative solutions. 

Keep an eye out for our communique soon!

We look forward to welcoming you to the Rural Connectivity Symposium 2025 – Tuesday 20 & Wednesday 21 May, Claudelands Events Centre, Hamilton

Our Rural Connectivity Symposium 2024 Speakers

Jon Duffy - Rural Connectivity Symposium 2024
Jon Duffy, CEO, Consumer NZ

Jon Duffy became CEO in 2020. Jon has enjoyed a varied career in the consumer protection field including roles as Assistant Privacy Commissioner, Head of Trust & Safety at online marketplace Trade Me and as a Senior Investigator at New Zealand’s competition authority, the Commerce Commission.

Alongside its core work of product testing and review, under Jon’s leadership, Consumer NZ is focussing its research and advocacy efforts on the big issues facing consumers in New Zealand, Aotearoa. Jon and his team also keep traders honest by calling out illegal or unethical conduct when it occurs. 

Jon speaks regularly on consumer issues and is increasingly concerned with how dysfunctional market structures and muted competition in critical sectors are benefitting a small minority and delivering poor outcomes for the rest of society. From supermarkets to transport, banks to electricity, as we respond to climate change and cost of living our consumer landscape needs to change and begin delivering outcomes that are fairer, sustainable and benefit society longer term. Jon and his team are helping to harness the collective power of consumers to achieve this, before it’s too late.

Terry Copeland - Rural Connectivity Symposium 2024
Terry Copeland, CEO, Federated Farmers

Terry Copeland is the Chief Executive of Federated Farmers, having been in the role since August 2018. This role is responsible for 70 staff who provide the delivery of advocacy and policy development on behalf of farmers, continuing the development of the benefits of membership for 13,000 Federated Farmers members and for influencing rural leadership and community resilience.

For the previous five years, Terry was Chief Executive of New Zealand Young Farmers whereby he rejuvenated this next generation membership organisation into a talent attraction provider to the Primary Industries, specialising in school engagement and career focus as well as showcasing agricultural excellence to the wider New Zealand audience. 

From May 2021 to February 2023 Terry chaired the Food & Fibre Leaders Forum Chief Executive Group, 13 primary sector organisations with key issues of commonality to support engagement with Government Ministers.

For most of Terry’s career, he spent more than two decades in the wine industry working on wine quality improvement and developing key export markets. Terry has also been a highly respected and experienced international wine judge since the late 1990’s. 

Tristan Gilbertson, Commerce Commission

Tristan Gilbertson was appointed Telecommunications Commissioner in June 2020. He is a corporate and commercial lawyer with extensive international experience in telecommunications law and regulation. After an early career in private practice, Tristan was appointed Legal & Regulatory Director – Asia-Pacific at Vodafone Group Plc, where he was closely involved in the expansion and diversification of Vodafone’s business. He then joined Telecom New Zealand Ltd where he was Group General Counsel and played a leading role in the structural separation of Telecom and the re-set of the regulatory framework. Most recently, he was Group General Counsel of Digicel Group Ltd, where he focused on transformation and change across Digicel’s 32 global markets. Tristan holds a BA/LLB(Hons) from the University of Auckland and has completed the Executive Leadership Development Programme at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Anna Mitchell, Executive GM, Fibre Frontier

Anna is Executive General Manager, Fibre Frontier. She leads a cross-functional team responsible for the strategic direction and execution of Chorus’ rural strategy and initiatives, including fibre network expansion and retirement of the copper network.

Anna has spent over a decade working in and providing advice on the telecommunications sector, both in relation to policy settings and practical commercial matters for businesses working within a regulated industry. Before joining Chorus, she was senior advisor to a cabinet minister where she provided strategic advice on key policy issues and reforms across a wide range of portfolios, including telecommunications. 

Along with an in-depth understanding of the telecommunications industry and regulatory settings, Anna brings significant experience from both the public and private sector, having previously worked for Deloitte and SweeneyVesty.

Anna has an LLB/BA from Victoria University and lives in Wellington with her husband and two small children.

Justin Tighe-Umbers, CEO, National Road Carriers

Justin Tighe-Umbers is CEO of National Road Carriers, representing 1500 road transport organisations. He is a transport and infrastructure professional, with extensive leadership experience across road transport, aviation and telecommunications. Prior to joining NRC he was Executive Director of the Board of Airline Representatives NZ, where he played a key role in keeping our international airlinks open during the Covid pandemic, and supported 30 airlines flying to New Zealand to navigate our border closures. Before that he worked 13 years in the telecommunications industry in senior management roles, working for Chorus on the Ultra-Fast Broadband roll out, and also with Vodafone NZ and Australia. Justin’s career has been dedicated to getting New Zealand the efficient and affordable infrastructure and supply chain that we need to be a high-performing 21st century economy. 

Craig Young, CEO, TUANZ

Craig is passionate about the digital technology and communications industry because of the opportunity it offers for improving business and personal lives in New Zealand.  He is currently the Chief Executive of TUANZ (the Technology Users Association) which is helping New Zealand make the most of the digitally connected world.  TUANZ is an independent member based organisation representing users of tech which educates and advocates for the uptake of digital technology and the improvement of communication services across NZ including rural and regional areas.  Over more than 35 years TUANZ has a proud reputation of providing leadership in representing the views and needs of the people and businesses that rely on technology every day.  In 2021 TUANZ partnered with MBIE in developing the Digital Boost Alliance, and in his role as CEO, Craig is responsible for leading the work that promotes and manages the operations of the Alliance.  

Craig is an advocate for inclusivity, and equity especially in the digital technology sector in Aotearoa New Zealand.  He was instrumental in the launch of TUANZ’s future leaders programme, FLINT, in 2016.  He is the joint Chair of the Affordable Connectivity Constellation with the Digital Equity Coalition Aotearoa, and a trustee at the 2020 Trust.

John Hanna, Chief Executive, Tuatahi First Fibre

John is a highly accomplished executive with over 40 years’ experience in the technology and telecommunications sectors. As Chief Executive at Tuatahi First Fibre, he has been instrumental in driving the expansion of fibre optic networks in New Zealand, enabling faster and more reliable internet access for businesses and organisations across the country.

With his extensive experience in the technology and telecommunications sectors, John has developed a deep understanding of the industry landscape. His expertise spans a wide range of areas, including network infrastructure, digital transformation, emerging technologies and telecommunications regulations.

John served as the founding Chief Executive of the Crown-owned Network for Learning (N4L) for five years. N4L is a government initiative aimed at connecting New Zealand schools to fast and reliable internet services, enabling enhanced digital learning opportunities for students and educators. Under his leadership, N4L became a key infrastructure provider for educational institutions, ensuring equitable access to technology and fostering transformative educational experiences.

John is committed to leveraging technology for societal advancement and digital connectivity. With a passion for technology, and a dedication to community welfare, John continues to shape and advance the industry, leaving a lasting impact on telecommunications, education, and digital infrastructure in New Zealand.


Ian Hooker, CEO, The RCG

With a 30-year career in the telecommunication industry and having held senior leadership roles at One NZ, Ian provides the ability to lead in the complex and fast-paced world of digital technology and project delivery.

Ian’s passion, dedication, and commitment have been instrumental in RCG delivering the government funded Programmes to rural Aotearoa with over 480 cell sites live.

With Ian’s leadership and drive and following on from RCG’s overwhelming success of the RBI2 and Mobile Blackspot Funds programmes, Ian is leading RCG to continue to deliver and operate essential telecommunications infrastructure.

Mike Smith, Chair, WISPA

Andrew Cushen, MC

Andrew has spent most of the last 20 years working in New Zealand telecommunications, including time with a number of large operators, small operators and not-for-profits.

Andrew now runs Cushen Consulting, his own consultancy practice, providing corporate affairs and strategy advice across a variety of industries and clients. This includes serving as the inaugural Chief Executive of the Climate Forestry Association, Co-Chair of DPMC’s Multi Stakeholder Group to strengthen resilience to disinformation, and strategic advisor to Gravity Internet.

2024 is the fourth TUANZ Rural Connectivity Symposium that Andrew has been MC for, and he is delighted to be back discussing how to drive ever better connectivity for rural New Zealand.

Graham Mitchell, CEO, CIP

Graham Mitchell is CEO of Crown Infrastructure Partners which is responsible for partnering with the private sector, iwi and local government to fund infrastructure on behalf of the Government focused on; telecommunications infrastructure, Infrastructure Funds and Infrastructure financing. Prior to CIP, Graham was CEO at Private Equity and Venture capital funded technology businesses and was also a senior executive of Telecom NZ in New Zealand and Australia.

Antony Royal, CEO, Tū Ātea Ltd

Antony Royal is the CEO of Tū Ātea Ltd (previously known as the Interim Māori Spectrum Commission) which has been supporting negotiations between Māori and the Crown over access to Spectrum. Antony is the Iwi Chair for Ngāti Tāmatera and is an independent member of the Next Generation Critical Communications (NGCC) governance board. Antony has previously been a director on NZQA, 2Degrees Mobile, Whitireia and Weltec. His interests are in Māori economic development, telecommunications, technology and education.

Amber McEwen, CEO, REANNZ

Amber McEwen is a leader with over 20 years’ experience in B2B service industries.  She has a proven track record in generating revenues and creating brand differentiation through the development, implementation and management of services over networks ranging from telecoms to energy.

Driving collaboration at many levels (globally, cross-sector and with customers) is a strength of Amber’s and is key to the success she has delivered. Throughout her career this has been evidenced at a global level while at Vodafone, and at a cross-sector level while at ESR. She says it is building these relationships and delivering outcomes that make a material difference that she finds most personally and professionally rewarding.

Marianne Archibald, Director, Salad Brothers

Marianne Archibald is a long-time advocate for rural connectivity. She submitted a bid to the initial UFB fund, and led the drive for Whanganui to be one of the first places to be connected to fibre in New Zealand. Marianne’s work across regions saw Whanganui included in the world’s Smart 21 communities five times and included in the Top 7 Intelligent Communities in 2016. As an international juror for the New York based Intelligent Community Forum, she has been able to examine the work of the most innovative communities around the world. Now a lettuce farmer in Waverley, Marianne continues to advocate for those rural businesses and families for whom even the phone doesn’t work efficiently. 

Andrew Olsen, CEO, Rural Contractors

For 30 years, held senior management, NZ and International board positions in the travel and tourism sector. Covid created welcome  pivot to the Primary Industry and since 2021 has led Rural Contractors NZ. The current focus in a tough economy is driving quantifiable value to members and working with the new government to ensure the Contractors are seen and heard on immigration, ag transport and agrichem matters.

Brendan O’Connell, Chief Executive, AgriTech NZ

Brendan is Chief Executive of AgriTech New Zealand, which is an independent membership organisation connecting innovators, investors, regulators, researchers, enablers and practitioners. The organisation promotes collaboration across the agritech ecosystem and seeks to advance conditions for growth and impact in and from Aotearoa New Zealand.

Brendan has been involved in technical, commercial and leadership aspects of product innovation at a senior executive level for several international businesses. He has worked in various industries including bio-medical, telecoms, marine/consumer electronics and agritech. He has led product development teams in NZ, Australia, the UK, Europe and the US. 

He likes to open doors, connect businesses with the right people, and provide them with context and insights to identify opportunities they might not have considered themselves.

Over the last 17 years of work in the agritech sector, Brendan has developed a strong affinity with the primary sector: its people and its purpose. He is particularly interested in the role of technology in protecting, unlocking and amplifying value from primary produce.

Kim Connolly-Stone, Advisor, DECA

Kim was one of the founding members of Digital Equity Coalition Aotearoa (DECA) and is one of the authors of DECA’s affordable connectivity study. Her background is in policy and law, working across digital economy, intellectual property, mining, and treaty settlement issues over the years. In recent times Kim has worked for Internet NZ and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. Kim is currently the Policy Director for the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF). 

Madeline Newman, Executive Director, AI Forum NZ

Madeline joined the AI Forum as Executive Director in 2022. She has extensive experience in strategy, transformational change and helping people to see the potential that innovative technologies bring and is excited to be leading the AI Forum of New Zealand as Executive Director at such a pivotal time.

Originally from New Zealand, Madeline spent 20 years working with AI and Tech in mental health, financial services and regulatory sectors in the UK. Her more recent work included helping to shape and deliver the Financial Conduct Authority’s internationally renowned RegTech innovation programme; and Head of Innovation and Product for a science based digital mental health service. She brings new thinking and international experience to our AI community.

Kurt Rodgers, Network Strategy Manager, Chorus

Kurt Rodgers has over 20 years’ experience in the fixed and mobile broadband industry in Europe and New Zealand.  He has a passion for new technology and how it will change and improve our lives. Part engineer, part storyteller, Kurt likes to take the complexity out of emerging technology and explain it in a simple way that everyone understands.  

Kurt has held a wide range of technology roles within service provider and vendor organisations, including network planning, architecture, solution consulting and strategy. Over the last decade he has been closely involved in NZ’s Ultra-Fast Broadband programme and works for Chorus as the Network Strategy Manager and Director of the Chorus Fibre Lab.  

Since 2022 Kurt has a been Board member of the World Broadband Association (WBBA).

Blair Andrews, Paramedic, St John NZ

Blair is a critical care paramedic with a total of 30 years with St John. His experience includes aeromedical, rotary rescue, education, mentoring and staff leadership and management. Blair is a winner of international and national emergency care competitions, and a Serving Member of the Most Venerable Order of St John.

Matt Harrison, Founder and Managing Director, Primo

Matt Harrison is the humble founder and Managing Director of Primo.  After discovering that rural people and businesses in Taranaki weren’t able to access fast, reliable internet Matt decided to do something about it.  So the I.T. specialist started building the Primo wireless network from the ground up.

Matt is not your ordinary MD – he likes to be hands-on and nowadays does more behind the scenes than in front, but occasionally you might even find him out at one of our sites.

As Primo has grown rapidly over the past few years, when not working on the network, Matt is busy planning for the future of the company.

A lover of all things technology, Matt is really good at social media. His other loves include his dogs, island holidays, his wife Jasmine and their three little girls.  What most people don’t know about Matt is that he’s a seriously good cook. If he wasn’t so good at IT, we reckon he’d give Gordon Ramsay a run for his money!

Above all Matt is extremely passionate about Primo and is committed to ensuring that Primo delivers the best broadband services to their customers.

Claire Williamson, Board Member, Mema Poari mō Te Ika ā Maui

I frequently tell people I had the best upbringing in the world, growing up on a sheep and beef farm in rural King Country. Rural values are ingrained into who I am and I strongly believe in supporting those who live in remote and rural areas to succeed and thrive. 

I know I’m well placed to not only help tell the story of Rural New Zealand, particularly in the online space but support and grow RWNZ into the next generation and understand the needs of younger members. I have a wide range of governance experience in not for profits, sport, and business, and I am known in my current roles for putting stakeholders’ needs at the forefront and communicating an organisation’s vision effectively.

I’m passionate about our primary industries with a particular focus on reviving the NZ wool industry and my small business Velma & Beverley (named for my grandmothers) was set up in 2018 to do just that. I want to support women of all ages living on farms and in rural areas to work together, embrace community, and lead fulfilling lives.

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Main room

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FLINT scholarship

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