Gigatown HQ goes online

Superfast internet campaign office opens

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 08:12 22/07/2014
Clare Atkins and Matthew Dodd
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Clare Atkins and Matthew Dodd at the opening of the Gigatown Nelson offices in Halifax St.
Clare Atkins and Matthew Dodd
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Clare Atkins and Matthew Dodd at the opening of the Gigatown Nelson offices in Halifax St.

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A team of web campaigners determined to secure ultrafast broadband for Nelson is now working out of an office on Halifax St.

Gigatown is a national competition run by Chorus NZ. It encourages local teams such as Gigatown Nelson to complete multimedia challenges and spread the hashtag #gigatownnsn across social media in return for points. The town with the greatest number of points by New Year's Day will be rewarded with an ultra-fast broadband internet connection.

Nelson is sitting in third place behind Wanaka and Timaru.

Co-chair of the Gigatown Nelson group, Matthew Dodd, said the new office was donated by Rob Stevenson of Achilles Properties, with free branding by HotHouse.

He said the office would be key to Gigatown Nelson's goal of drawing in Nelson residents who may not be well-acquainted with the internet. Having a physical location would increase the campaign's visibility, as well as providing a spot for people to drop in, sign up to the Gigatown challenge and learn about how it worked.

"There's some very important quizzes that are happening, and people can come in and have assistance provided," Dodd said.

He explained that part of the large space would be set up as a shared working area for web-based workers, who would be selected for their ability to help grow Nelson's economy. If the Gigatown Nelson team wins, they will be responsible for distributing a $200,000 seed fund to assist the growth of businesses like these.

Dodd confirmed the team was setting up their working space with this fund in mind.

Co-chair Dr Clare Atkins said it was important for as many Nelson residents to sign up for the Gigatown competition as possible as winning ultrafast broadband could have a huge effect on Nelson's future.

"It isn't really a joke, but we talk about being the Silicon Valley of New Zealand."

Xero chief executive Rod Drury was the keynote speaker at Gigatown Nelson's office launch, while Nelson mayor Rachel Reese and Tasman mayor Richard Kempthorne cut the ribbon.

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Drury spoke of how he had developed Xero into its current position of 830 staff across 17 offices worldwide while still living in Hawke's Bay. He said technology could be "the saviour" of New Zealand's regional economy.

Drury recommended free wifi be made available at Nelson Airport, and said that Nelson businesses should start thinking of their town in terms of its place in the global economy.

"You're not Nelson in New Zealand, you're Nelson; a part of the world."

- The Nelson Mail

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