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The Aotearoa People's Network Kaharoa (APNK) has won the Australia and New Zealand Internet Best Practice Award 2010 in the 'Best Access Initiative' category which awards "initiatives that aim to combat the digital divide, facilitating access for groups such as the elderly, disabled or socially disadvantaged".
The Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa is managed by the National Library of New Zealand and provides free access to broadband internet services in public libraries so that everyone can benefit from accessing, experiencing and creating digital content. Dargaville Library has been apart of the Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa, a thriving network extending from Kaeo in the north to Stewart Island in the south, across 42 local authorities and in 127 libraries and three marae, for almost 18 months,
“Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa is invaluable,” says Dargaville Library Manager Paula Guy Stuve. “It has totally transformed the way our library operates and has opened up a different world of access to our customers. Without Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa there is no way we would be offering what we do now. The five internet computers at the library are in high demand, and the wifi service is increasingly popular, so there is definitely a need for Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa in our community.”
Paula says that it is great to see Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa recognised by winning the Internet Best Practice Award. “We are lucky to be a part of such a great initiative and appreciate the massive amounts of work put in by the Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa team. Without their support and funding we would be unable to provide the service we do,” says Paula.
The Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa is a collaboration between the National Library of New Zealand and public libraries, with initial funding received from the Government's Community Partnership Fund. The funding covers equipment, networking, training and access to web-based tools and services.
“Smaller communities like ours can easily be disadvantaged by lack of digital services, and those in the lower socio-economic areas often miss out the most. Digital literacy and connectivity are so important now – for business and communication to socialisation and entertainment, and Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa means that we can be part of that world.”
Paula acknowledges that there have been challenges with behaviour and demand since the installation of Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa, but overall it has been a great experience.
“Whether a child is using the computers for gaming, or an adult is using them for genealogical research - what ever they do they are all learning the skills of digital literacy that are central to success in today’s world.”