Silver surfers could boost Gigatown chances

02:53, Aug 14 2014
SECRET WEAPONS: SeniorNet tutors and Gigatown Nelson volunteers are getting behind the region's bid for superfast internet.

Nelson's high percentage of elderly residents may turn out to be its secret weapon in the battle to be New Zealand's most-connected town.

Gigatown is a national competition run by Chorus NZ. It encourages 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 ultrafast broadband internet connection.

Nelson slipped to fifth place in the latest round of competitions, which means it will have to work hard to remain one of the five finalists. Finalists will be chosen a month from now on September 15.

Tutors from the SeniorNet community training network pledged their support at Gigatown's new office in Halifax St yesterday. The group boasts around 650 members, each of whom will be asked to sign up to the Gigatown competition, choose Nelson as their hometown, complete the quizzes, and recommend that their friends and family do the same.

"Because we slipped to fifth place, we thought, ‘Help!"' said Gigatown volunteer Sue Jepsen.

"[SeniorNet members] have lots to offer, heaps of experience, and they're not all unaware of social media and technology."


SeniorNet chairman Lindsay Hunter has been challenged to get on Twitter - once his wife gives her permission. He supports Gigatown because he feels increased internet speed could dramatically improve Nelson's economy, which may then encourage older people's grandchildren to stay in Nelson by providing them with jobs.

"We think we should get in behind Gigatown because it has the potential to help us and our retirement group, which is a big part of Nelson."

Gigatown member Helen Gowland said the new office was working well and people were popping in and out to sign up. She said it was great to have a central location in which to hold meetings, and talks would be held with several other community groups to seek their support.

The group is holding several competitions to boost participation.