Maori seek urgent spectrum hearing

Last updated 10:14 07/11/2012

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Maori attending a hui at Ngatokowaru Marae have agreed to seek an "urgent hearing" from the Waitangi Tribunal to obtain a "fair share" of radio spectrum that will be freed up the closure of analogue television next year.

Maori interests including Nga Kaiwhakapumau i Te Reo (the Wellington Maori Language Board) originally lodged a claim for the spectrum, which sits in the 700MHz band and will be pivotal to the launch of large-scale 4G mobile networks, in 2009.

Communications Minister Amy Adams has said it is on track to allocate the spectrum by April next year, through what is widely expected to be an auction. Analysts have suggested it could fetch between $400 million and $1 billion if it sells for the going rate established by similar "digital dividend" auctions overseas.

Adams has so far stuck to the line taken by previous National and Labour-led governments that radio spectrum is not "taonga" (treasure).

Emeritus Professor Whatarangi Winiata who chaired the hui said it had been "widely representative", with attendees from across the telecommunications, media, education and investment sectors.

Vodafone New Zealand chief executive Russell Stanners warned last month that if the spectrum was not allocated by April, that could delay the launch of 4G networks in New Zealand.

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