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The Department of Internal Affairs’ Service Innovation team Principal Advisor, Kirk Mariner, reflects on the year’s milestones and action plan for 2020, plus the CONNECT Forum.

Kia ora koutou

Welcome to our end-of-year blog post about the Digital Inclusion Blueprint — Te Mahere mō te Whakaurunga Matihiko, the New Zealand Government’s strategy for digital inclusion.

With just a few weeks to go until Christmas, it’s a great time to reflect on the year and look at what’s coming up in 2020.

Digital Inclusion CONNECT Forum — your feedback

Firstly, a big ngā mihi nui (thank you) to everyone who came to our first Digital Inclusion CONNECT Forum in Wellington on October 26, 2019.

We had a great turnout thanks to our excellent speakers. Nanogirl Labs’ Dr Michelle Dickinson, Hīria Te Rangi (Whare Haurora) and Jolie Hodson (Spark) were joined by tech advocate Eteroa Lafaele and tech specialist and company director Mike O’Donnell for a panel discussion.

We received some constructive feedback, which we’re using to plan the March 2020 hui. Here’s a snapshot of what you told us:

  • Overall, it was a great day — people enjoyed themselves, however, there’s plenty of room for improvement.
  • Most people attended the event to network and meet new people interested in digital inclusion.
  • But people wanted more time to interact and collaborate.
  • Attendees most enjoyed the forum speakers and a chance to connect with others.
  • Attendees were interested in the government’s direction, thinking and what government is planning and wanted government to share more information.

CONNECT Forum highlights

For those of you who couldn’t make it, here’s a short video of key highlights from the forum.

The video — Digital Inclusion CONNECT Forum, 2019 ( 2 mins, 27 secs) — features comments from organisations such as:

We look forward to seeing everyone again at the next one in 2020.

Video 1. Digital Inclusion CONNECT Forum, 2019
Video transcript


[Image: National Library of New Zealand building in Wellington appears on screen.]

[Text on screen: Connect forum, 2019. Digital Inclusion. Department of Internal Affairs]

[On camera: Three New Zealand public servants from the Department of Internal Affairs setting up a table at a public event called the Digital Inclusion CONNECT Forum 2019]


[On camera: A New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) translator and the conference MC signing the words ‘nice to meet you’ to one another inside the conference auditorium]

[On camera: A man in a suit talking to the camera]

[Text on screen: Laurence Zwimpfer, Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa]

[Music and voice over: Hi, I’m Laurence Zwimpfer. I chair the Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa. We’re a group that’s committed to promoting digital inclusion, so we’re delighted to see this day and delighted to see how many people are actually interested in this space.

[On camera: Dozens of name tags, shot of two conference organisers talking to each other in the auditorium, shot of Government Minister Hon. Kris Faafoi recording a speech for the conference and shot of conference presenter Karl McDiarmid, General Manager for Service Innovation at DIA]

[Music and voice over: The fact it was sell-out shows people wanting to come. For us, that’s the empowering thing]


[On camera: Conference keynote speaker Dr Michelle Dickinson of Nanogirl Labs casually talking to a woman in the conference auditorium, then on stage giving a conference presentation, while people are clapping]

[On camera: A woman wearing glasses talking to camera]

[Text on screen: Jess Wilson, Good Things Foundation Australia]

[Music and voice over: Hi, I’m Jess Wilson. I’m the national director of Good Things Foundation in Australia. It’s been amazing to be here today in a different context in New Zealand hearing about digital inclusion. I think one of the things I heard from today is that there is an incredible amount of passion in the room].

[On camera: Spark chief executive Jolie Hodson presenting to the conference]

[Music and voice over: But also a real, um, energy for making things happen and action].


[On camera: A woman talking to camera]

[Text on screen: Cathy Hardinge, Digital Seniors]

[Music and voice over: Hi, I’m Cathy Hardinge. I’m with Digital Seniors. And today I got to meet a lot of players in the digital inclusion space.

[On camera: Conference panellists on stage speaking and a presenter’s video screen playing a video of a New Zealand child using technology and an interview with Maria Green from the 20/20 Trust].

[Music and voice over: We’re all trying hard to turn around the issues that exist socially at the moment with technology, and to make sure that all New Zealanders can contribute and participate in digital].

[On camera: A man wearing glasses talking to camera]

[Text on screen: Mike O’Donnell, tech commentator and director]

[Voice over: A good start today but also some learnings: the DIA can’t try to boil the ocean on this. There are a million things they could do and a million ways they could spread their resources. They should pick the one thing that can have the most effect and devote their resources towards that.

[On camera: Jolie Hodson from Spark, a keynote speaker, on stage presenting to the audience. Panellist Eteroa Lafaele speaking on stage. Keynote speaker Hiria Te Rangi speaking on stage. Group of three speakers (Dr Michelle Dickinson, Hiria Te Rangi and Jolie Hodson) and a member of the audience (Raewyn Hailes) posing for a photo on stage]

[Voice over: They shouldn’t try to out manoeuvre the thousand odd other things going on in the private and voluntary sector. But rather they should work with them so they remain relevant.

[On camera: A woman wearing glasses talking to camera]

[Text on screen: Raewyn Hailes, CCS Disability Action]

[Voice over: A great day, with some really great presentations. Very enjoyable, very well hosted, some great ideas have come out of it. I think there’s still a really large digital divide that we have to address]

[On camera: A man talking to camera]

[Text on screen: Antony Royal, Ngāti Tamaterā]

[Voice over: I’m really keen to be here today and appreciate the opportunity to be invited. But certainly there’s a lot of work to do in this space]

[On camera: A man talking to camera]

[Text on screen: Ryan ‘The Lion’ Ashton, CONNECT Forum MC]

[Voice over: The thing I left the event with is the thought that like in corporate where we go into In’V [Innovations and Ventures], we need to give the government the ability to go into In’V – so they can be agile and lean and move fast]


[On Camera: Image of the Department of Internal Affairs and New Zealand Government logos and words]

[Text on screen: Digital inclusion on]


Research, research and more research

This year was also about building the foundation for digital inclusion in New Zealand and generating the research evidence agencies, organisations and businesses need to collaborate, plan and make funding decisions.

This year we published:

We’re also pleased to share a new report shedding light on the eight groups in New Zealand most in need of digital inclusion. Written by Motu Economic and Public Policy Research for DIA, Digital Inclusion and Wellbeing in New Zealand is available online and PDF. Please read it and use the findings in your work.

Report author Dr Arthur Grimes summarises the key findings in his latest blog for People with disabilities and in social housing among the least digitally included.

Digital Inclusion Action Plan for 2020

Right now, we’re working on the Digital Inclusion Action Plan for next year. The plan will identify the government’s areas of focus for 2020. Once finalised, it will be published in on in the New Year.

The 2019 Action Plan featured 13 actions. It set the scene for working toward the vision of the Digital Inclusion Blueprint and featured actions such as developing evidence-based measures and evaluation guidelines; identifying priority areas for focus; identifying intervention and policy gaps; and testing and reviewing small scale interventions.

For more information about the Digital Inclusion Action Plan, email the team at:

Meri Kirihimete 

Meri Kirihimete and a very happy New Year from the Digital Inclusion programme team at DIA. Wishing you all very best for a safe and happy summer break. We look forward to working with you in 2020.

Join the Digital Inclusion Blueprint conversation

Keep up-to-date with what’s happening in digital inclusion by subscribing to our mailing list

For more information on the Digital Inclusion Blueprint or to get in touch, check out:

You can also email the team at

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