Joint Media Release
Tablets, smart phones and a fast mobile network are making the Tūhoe Ahurei festival, the longest running Iwi cultural festival in New Zealand, a high-tech affair this Easter.
The biannual three day event offers festival goers Tūhoe kapa haka, cultural debates, sports events, food stalls, clothing markets, and much more. The event kicks off on the Friday morning and culminates in a family entertainment evening on Sunday.
In a partnership with Vodafone, Tūhoe festival organisers are bringing in a range of connected devices to give staff and volunteers the means to communicate freely with each other during the event.
The technology will help staff and volunteers to better support the crowds and manage the festival timetable - while Vodafone’s leading mobile network will give local vendors the choice to use alternative payment methods, such as mobile Eftpos.
Te Komiti o Runa spokesperson, Patrick McGarvey said, “By working closely with Vodafone, they recognise there will be a significant number of people coming into the region for the festival and have agreed to boost the capacity of the local Rūātoki cell site to accommodate the needs of the community.
“We have more than 20,000 people at every festival and there are many more who would like to be here.
“A reliable telecommunications network is very important to us. Not only does it enable us to carry out our mahi more efficiently, it gives the community the chance to freely share their Tūhoe Ahurei festival experience in real time with whānau across the world on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter,” said Patrick McGarvey.
Vodafone spokesperson Caitlin Metz said the Rūātoki cell site was built as part of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), which is a partnership between Vodafone, Chorus and the Government to bring great connectivity services to kiwis living in rural areas.
“Vodafone is delighted to support this important and much-loved event. It is very rewarding to see how this technology benefits rural communities. Each community is different and has different needs. Enabling a seamless and sharable Tūhoe Ahurei festival experience is a wonderful example of this,” added Caitlin Metz.
The Rūātoki cell site went live in early 2015 and since then it has provided extended mobile phone coverage and rural wireless broadband access to approximately 1000 homes and businesses in Rūātoki and surrounding communities.
Patrick McGarvey added, “It is remarkable how our communication behaviours have developed since the Rūātoki tower has been active. People of all ages are now texting and interacting on social media, and we can stay up to date with news.
“The forestry workers and hunters Te Urewera are also benefiting from the cell phone coverage. They enjoy hopping off the grid but also see it as a safety mechanism. They know they can call for help should an accident occur.”
The Rūātoki tower and the resulting cell phone coverage played an important part in a search and rescue operation last year, just days after the tower went live. A young boy had a near drowning accident in a local river, and rescue personnel were guided to the boy’s location on the river by a local on their cell phone.
For more information on the Tūhoe Ahurei Festival visit: http://www.facebook.com/TuhoeIwi/
For more on Vodafone’s Rural Broadband visit: http://www.vodafone.co.nz/broadband/rural/