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Case Study | Community Internet

The Challenge

Located on the volcanic Mamaku Plateau under the Horohoro Cliffs 15 km southeast of Rotorua, the Kearoa Marae and local community had limited internet connectivity, which compounded the isolation of individuals and impacted the sense of the community in the area. To overcome these connectivity challenges, Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru Education Trust (NPeW) contracted Mb3 to create a new local network with internet connectivity utilizing Network for Learning’s (N4L) fibre connection to the local Horohoro school.

The Solution

After consultation with the local hapu and NPeW, Mb3 planned and implemented a cost-efficient network by creating an over-the-air connection between the school fibre terminal and an access point radio on the roof of the wharekai at the Marae. The signal is then beamed to access points around the Marae and the nearby Kohanga Reo Māori immersion kindergarten. Compared to fibre, this network has advantages in lower initial cost, reliability, and speed, as well as ease of maintenance as all equipment is above ground. Mb3 troubleshoots the system and provides 24/7 support through our dedicated Zendesk ticketing system. Because the internet connection is provided by N4L’s Managed Network for schools/kura, it incorporates the security and integrity of industry-leading filtering and firewall services.

The Benefits

For the community members who frequently use the Marae, the connectivity allows them to connect and communicate among each other and the wider community, organise meetings and social gatherings, as well as digitising the community heritage to make it available to a worldwide audience. It also enables and supports new community initiatives including linking sensors monitoring oxygen levels in the river, a key to understanding the environment that surrounds the marae, and monitoring a micro hydro-generator on the Pokaitu Stream that powers the Marae including the network.

It also supports the Marae’s drive to connect our people back to our heritage on and around the river, hosting school groups for overnight stays, which provide immersive experiences in local history and heritage, learning about and contributing to local environmental initiatives. The connectivity facilitates collaborative and ubiquitous learning, and connecting to families through online services and social media. In addition, a free hotspot in the Marae provides connectivity for visitors passing through. 

The Tech:

Mb3 services:

  • Consult, plan, install and maintain Kearoa Marae network.

System uptime:

  • 4+ years – installed 2016.

Carrier network:

  • 5Ghz line-of-sight connection from the local school fibre terminal to Ubiquiti access point radio on the roof of the Marae wharekai.

Power source:

  • Mains utilising power generated by the river system.

Deployment network:

  • 4 access points around the Kearoa Marae, capable of supporting 30-50 devices concurrently. System supports mesh networking.

Additional nodes:

  • PTMP (Point-to-Multipoint) link to 4 access points on Marae, and 2 access points at Kohanga Reo Māori immersion kindergarten.

Further Information:

Te Arawa River Iwi Trust:




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