Primary industries minister Nathan Guy addresses Flaxbourne farmers at the Ward Community Hall on Thursday. Marlborough had a very ministerial day on Thursday, with three senior cabinet ministers flying in to the region. Economic development minister Steven Joyce, communications minister Amy Adams and primary industries minister Nathan Guy were all in Marlborough.
Joyce and Guy attended a meeting with wine industry representatives at WineWorks, in the Riverlands Industrial Estate, where they were briefed about the impact of the earthquake. Some wineries and vineyards sustained damage as a result of the earthquake, which industry experts say was worse than the previous large shock centred in Seddon three years ago.
* Government announces $5m aid package for quake farmers
* Marlborough wine companies assess damage and count losses following 7.8 magnitude earthquake
* Seddon misses out on wage subsidy package to help businesses stranded by earthquake123
Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith said the meeting was a chance to see what assistance the Government could provide to the industry, which was facing capacity constraints because of tank damage.
“It was about how the Government can assist the wine industry to deal with its tanks and logistics issues as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he said. This could involve sourcing stainless steel from overseas for storage tanks, as well as looking at the logistical challenges posed by the new, longer freight route through Lewis Pass.
Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens said the meeting was a good chance to update the ministers on the situation in Marlborough. New Zealand Winegrowers had formed a Marlborough earthquake response team to act as a central point of information to keep members updated, Pickens said. At the meeting industry representatives also decided on how to inform their members and the wider public about the scale of the situation, which was expected to be announced next week.
Guy also visited farmers near Flaxbourne to see how they were coping after the earthquake, which damaged water supply schemes in the area.
“Their water schemes have been badly affected by the earthquakes, they’ve got damaged tanks, pipes and fittings,” Smith said. It was important the schemes were repaired before summer, when creeks and other sources dried out and stock were in need of more water, he said.
Farmers could apply for financial assistance through the $5 million package the Government announced last week to assist primary industries in earthquake-effected areas. The communications minister was in Marlborough to mark the installation of a new high-speed broadband internet and cellphone service facility for the Waihopai Valley.
Adams visited the site of the facility, 800-metres above sea level on Big Hill, along with Smith, who said the service would benefit residents in the area.
“The opportunities that efficient, fast broadband and cellphone service will provide for these rural residents, farmers and businesses are many and varied,” he said.
– The Marlborough Express
- ^ Government announces $5m aid package for quake farmers (www.stuff.co.nz)
- ^ Marlborough wine companies assess damage and count losses following 7.8 magnitude earthquake (www.stuff.co.nz)
- ^ Seddon misses out on wage subsidy package to help businesses stranded by earthquake (www.stuff.co.nz)
- ^ Ad Feedback (www.stuff.co.nz)
Last updated 15:35, March 2 2016
Fibre optic cables are laid at Lakings Road in Blenheim. Blenheim has one of the highest uptakes of ultra-fast broadband in the country, but some residents are not impressed with the service. Chorus completed the fibre network in Blenheim last March, which typically provides download speeds of around 100 megabits per second.
People in Marlborough have been posting their complaints about ultra-fast broadband on Facebook, with some not reaching advertised speeds or randomly disconnecting.
A poll conducted by Stuff, showed some respondents were dissatisfied with the quality of their internet after switching to fibre.
The results of the poll showed 34 per cent had occasional problems with speed and connection; 19 per cent had lots of problems; 12 per cent had no problems; 14 per cent had not connected to fibre; and 21 per cent did not have access to fibre. Chorus stakeholder communications manager Nathan Beaumont said fibre was faster and more reliable than the old copper network. However, speed and connectivity issues could still happen, because of factors such as internet connection plans, modems, computers and the wiring in homes and business, he said.
If people were having issues with ultra-fast broadband, their first step should be to contact their internet provider, he said. Marlborough District Council libraries manager Glenn Webster said people often tested wi-fi speeds at the Blenheim and Picton libraries before upgrading at home. In February, there were 4571 wi-fi users at the Blenheim Library and 3165 at the Picton Library.
“Sometimes people complain about it being a bit slow but if we didn’t have fibre, we’d grind to a halt,” Webster said.
Many people in rural Marlborough also used the libraries, to check their emails and use the internet, because access and speeds were a problem for them, he said. The fibre network in Blenheim was the result of government investment in the Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative, which saw 33 towns and cities around the country get fibre networks. Beaumont said, of the networks Chorus had installed, Blenheim had the highest uptake of ultra-fast broadband in New Zealand.
Around 12,500 houses, businesses, schools and health centres had access to fibre, and 3100 had taken up the service, he said. The government also had a Rural Broadband Initiative, to use copper, fibre and wireless networks to improve rural internet. Before Chorus started improving the networks in Marlborough, 1277 rural households had broadband services.
This had increased to 1674 households.. The average broadband speed in Marlborough had increased from 5.9Mbps to 13.6Mbps, Beaumont said. Last September, the government released a list of towns that might be included in the extension of the Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative, including Picton, Renwick and Kaikoura.
The fringe areas of Blenheim not covered by the network were also included in the proposed extension. Blenheim man David Hix said he had applied to his internet provider to switch to fibre. However, he shared a driveway with three neighbouring properties so needed their consent to get connected.
One of his neighbours declined and Hix was forced to wait another six months to apply again.
Hix said he was frustrated by the temperamental speeds on the copper network, which could drop as low as 2Mbsp.
– The Marlborough Express