An undisclosed Bream Bay site has been confirmed as New Zealand’s landing point for a $400 million undersea cable carrying huge amounts of electronic data from around the globe.
Regional economic development agency Northland Inc says it is thrilled with the announcement by Hawaiki Cable Ltd – backed by its major New Zealand investor Sinclair Investments Group (SIL) – it will forge ahead with the New Zealand link of its international submarine cable project landing in Whangarei.
The cable could potentially be operating by 2017 and will be the second fibre optic cable network and third physical cable linking New Zealand with the rest of the world. It will be able to carry vast quantities of electronic data between Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and the west coast of the United States directly, but will open up connections globally.
Northland Regional Council Chairman Bill Shepherd and David Wilson, CEO of regional council-funded economic development agency Northland Inc, say confirmation Bream Bay will be the cable’s landing site represents a big win for both the Whangarei district and the wider Northland region.
Councillor Shepherd says improving the economic performance of Northland generally is a key regional council goal.
“Projects like the cable initiative are tangible examples of how this can be facilitated using relatively small amounts of public money in a careful manner through council’s investment in Northland Inc.”
Mr Wilson says Northland Inc has long felt the Hawaiki Cable project is a critical piece of infrastructure that will attract further information and communication technologies (ICT) investment to New Zealand and Northland.
“That’s why we were quick to offer support as an equity partner some time ago,” he says. “We’re delighted that a significant New Zealand investor such as SIL has taken up the opportunity and that we can now work on leveraging the opportunity.”
Mr Wilson says Northland Inc has enjoyed working with Hawaiki CEO Remi Galasso and his team on the project and is helping to firm up a landing site.
He says three conditions helped Whangarei win out as the preferred site; the fact it is geographically well removed from New Zealand’s existing submarine cables offering security of supply in the event of a natural disaster; access to multiple existing land-based data transfer networks and the availability of ‘green’ power for future development.
Councillor Shepherd says both the regional council and Northland Inc believe there will be significant flow on benefits for Northland in having increased diversity in its connections to the rest of the world.
“This greatly increases the attractiveness of Northland and New Zealand for ICT, science and knowledge-based industries.”
Mr Wilson says it’s hoped that as well as accelerating the development of potentially lucrative technology based industries, the cable project will provide much improved internet services for end-users.
Councillor Shepherd says as well as the regional council, a number of other key players have supported the project including the Whangarei District Council, Northpower and other key business partners.
Meanwhile, Mr Wilson says the Hawaiki announcement is perfect timing for consideration of Northland’s bid for increased broadband capacity with central government.
“We will now work with partners to finalise a Northland Digital Strategy to take advantage of the incredible opportunities that this announcement affords both Northland and New Zealand.”