Aust & NZ
page looks at digital divides in New Zealand.
It covers -
Conceptualisation of digital divides in New Zealand is a
reminder for Australians that questions of access and use
should not be reduced to debate about the adequacy of rural
The New Zealand population is roughly a quarter of that
of Australia, in a country that is less than 5% of the latter's
area. Like Australia there has been a substantial movement
from rural areas (particularly remote rural areas) over
the past fifty years and by 2001 only 14% of New Zealanders
lived in the 'bush'. Thinking about 'the digital divide'
in New Zealand has centred on opportunities for access (eg
through schools and community centres) and variation in
access associated with geography, income, ethnicity, age
In 2000 the government's aspiration statement indicated
New Zealanders, either as individuals or as members of
communities, have the opportunity to access and effectively
use current and emerging information and communications
technologies. This will enable individuals and communities
to participate fully in the economic, social, educational,
cultural and democratic opportunities available in an
The December 2000 Closing the Digital Divide report
offers New Zealand government perspectives on the nature
of digital divides within the country and the shape of particular
responses, primarily education and access through community
Barbara Crump & Andrea McIlroy note
in a 2003 paper on The digital divide: Why the "don’t–want–tos"
won’t compute: Lessons from a New Zealand ICT Project
that the NZ government's 2002 Connecting Communities:
A strategy for Government support of community access to
information and communications technology identified
more likely than others to be left behind in the information
revolution. These groups include Maori and Pacific peoples,
those on low incomes, sole parents, older people, people
with no or low qualifications or poor literacy, the unemployed,
people with disabilities and people living in rural areas
that lack a sound telecommunications structure.
snapshot of key indicators as of 2001 is here.
In 2004 Statistics New Zealand, the national statistics
agency, noted differences in access to telecommunications.
It indicated that
of households did not have access to a landline phone,
fax or the net
of households owned a computer as of 2001, up from 7%
in 1986 (see Graph 2
of the PDF here).
of households had net access in their dwelling.
in metropolitan centres were more likely to have access.
with lower rates of internet access than the NZ average
included the poor (1 in 9 of those with an income of NZ$10,001
to NZ$15,000 had access to the Internet), single parent
families (30% have access), single person households (16%
have access) and households who rented from a government
agency (10% had access).
of Maori or Pacific ethnicity had lower household access
(25% and 20% respectively had access).
also continued to be important, with 1 in 6 people aged
65 years and over living in households with net access.
2004 government Digital Divide report
on characteristics that influence household net connection
indicated that -
household income had the single largest effect on whether
a household would be connected, with the proportion of
households having net access rising with total income.
proportion of households with personal computers increased
with income, as did net expenditure.
qualification was the second most important variable determining
whether a household was connected
households and single-parent households with dependent
children were less likely than all other household types
to access the net at home.
of households with two children under the age of 15 were
connected, in contrast to households with no children
where only one in three was connected.
was a significant variable, with access levels declining
significantly in the older age groups. Households with
a youngest occupant in the 10-14 years age cohort were
most likely (56%) to have access.
households with a home computer peaked at 63% for households
with at least one person in the 45-54 age cohort.
with at least one person who identified as Asian were
more likely than all other households analysed by ethnicity
to record having a home computer and report net expenditure.
When the effects of income were removed, household access
was the same regardless of whether the occupants were
in full-time or part-time employment (42%).
Auckland and Wellington regions had the greatest proportion
of households with access (44%). The West Coast and Gisborne
regions were the least connected (25%). Households in
the minor urban areas of New Zealand were the least likely
to be online, with only 25% connected.
Bronwyn Howell's upbeat 2000 paper
The Rural-Urban "Digital Divide" in New Zealand;
Fact or Fable? (based on NZ colour pages listings) concluded
that there is no significant divide in New Zealand. Remoteness
from major urban centres was for example identified as an
inducement to engage in e-commerce.
The July 2000 report
on Maori Access to Information Technology for the Ministry
of Maori Development identified internet access as a key indicator
of Maori usage of digital technology. It was based on quarterly
ACNielsen surveys and is consistent with a report on The
Digital Divide & Maori (PDF)
commissioned by the New Zealand Maori Internet Society, a
body that has gained most attention with
calls for a separate Aotearoa dot-aa ccTLD.
Maori respondents reported significantly lower levels of computer
ownership, use of the net and familiarity with the net. The
study includes statistics on net usage by Maori business,
Maori tertiary computing education, infrastructure and bandwidth
The 1998 Toward Network Literacy: Public Access to the
World Wide Web in New Zealandís Public Libraries: A Research
by Anna Chalmers considered community access points, highlighted
in the 2000 report
by Marianne Doczi for the Ministry for Economic Development
on Information and Communication Technologies and Social
and Economic Inclusion - Addressing the Social and Economic
Implications of Limited E-Literacy and Access to Information
and Communication Technologies.
Delwyn Clark's 2001 study
Net Readiness in New Zealand Industries: Empirical Results
offers a broad analysis of connectivity and net use in the
business services, education, exporting, manufacturing, primary
production, retailing, tourism and transportation sectors,
building on an earlier study
University of Waikato Management School on Adoption and
Implementation of E-Business in New Zealand and a 2000
from the Ministry of Economic Development.
The Waikato report covered a survey of enterprises with over
ten employees, finding that 'e-readiness' was lower than in
Australia, a conclusion consistent with a 2000 Deloitte Touche
Tohmatsu e-Business Survey report.
We have noted elsewhere on
this site that on a per capita basis New Zealand has a greater
number of 'business' domain name registrations than Australia
(illustrated in Graph 9
of the PDF here).
For infrastructure see Christina Enright's 2000 study
Strategic Behaviour of Internet Service Providers in New
Zealand & the Performance of this Market. The 2001
to the Ministry of Economic Development on the Review of
Telecommunications Infrastructure to Provide Access to Data
Services in Small Communities and Towns offered a stocktake
of existing infrastructure serving 250 rural and small urban
towns. It concluded that 50% need only minor expenditure to
deliver broadband access and that significant investment in
upgrading the backbone network infrastructure is required.
Ministry of Economic Development's November 2001 report
E-commerce - Building the Strategy for New Zealand Progress
Report, One Year On is similar to reports from Australia's
Treasury Department, the National Office for the Information
Economy and state/territory government agencies.
There is probably more value in the 2000 scoping study
by the New Zealand Institute for the Study of Competition
& Regulation on E-Commerce Performance Measurement
Research for New Zealand which questioned the emphasis
on quantifying technology and transactions.
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