OWHATA MARAE – SUPPORTING CONTEXTUALIZED EDUCATION IN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

Case Studies | Community Internet

The Challenge

Located on the southeast shore of Lake Rotorua the Owhata Marae had poor internet connectivity with no fibre connections in the area, even though it is within line of sight of the Rotorua city. Looking to enable ubiquitous learning among local children, many of whom attend cultural classes on the Marae, Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru Education Trust (NPeW) contracted Mb3 to create a new network with internet connectivity to support the Marae’s many activities.


The Solution

After consultation with the local community and NPeW, Mb3 planned and implemented a cost-efficient network by creating an over-the-air connection utilizing one of two towers that Mb3 built for NPeW that provide internet coverage across the Rotorua caldera. A tower on the Skyline Rotorua gondola return station relays a signal from an N4L fibre connection at TKKM o Te Koutu Māori school in Rotorua across Lake Rotorua to a tower on a hill behind the Marae, which is then beamed to access points in the Marae complex.

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

The Marae provides an extensive contextualized education program for children in the area built on the reliable connectivity and comfort in using the technology on sacred ground provided by the network. Groups of up to 200 children and adults at a time stay on the Marae for on-campus programs, learning about the environment, who they are, and where they come from, using technology to process and deliver this heritage curriculum, and to enable wider sharing with all Maori and New Zealand children.

The Marae also hosts international groups for cultural exchanges, further sharing local culture and heritage with the wider world.  

The Tech:

Mb3 services:

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

System uptime:

  • 4+ years – installed 2016.

Carrier network:

  • 2.5km wireless xxx link from TKKM o Te Koutu to Skyline Tower. 6km 5Ghz line-of-sight connection from Skyline Tower to Ubiquiti access point radio on xxx Hill, then relayed to the Marae via a hop over the local church using a CBE on the spire.

Deployment network:

  • Tower installation and relay use mains power with a ups (uninterrupted power supply) using a battery back-up.

Additional nodes:

  • 8 access points in the Owhata Marae buildings including an education office, capable of supporting 300 devices concurrently. System supports mesh networking.

Further Information:

Owhata Marae: https://maorimaps.com/marae/ōwhata-0

N4L: https://www.n4l.co.nz/

NPeW: https://www.npew.org