Curran names final seven members of digital advisory panel

Frances Valintine

RELATED AUDIO: Frances Valentine on the stigma about having to up-skill our thinking (Nov, 2017)

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Communications Minister Clare Curran has named the remaining members of her digital advisory panel.

They are:

  • Amber Craig: Councillor at Internet NZ, trust chairwoman of Whare Hauora, and chairwoman of Women Who Get Shit Done. Experience working in the ICT sector as a solutions architect. Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Rangitane
  • Cathy Hardinge: Founder and chief executive of Digital Seniors, and capability and change consultant
  • Robyn Kamira:  Founder and chief executive of UAV company Incredible Skies and technology company Paua Interface. Board member of Institute of IT Professionals and Hi-Tech Awards Judge.
  • Gregory Morgan: Head of digital solutions and innovation at Auckland Libraries and member of Library and Information Association of NZ Aotearoa. Former board member and committee chairman of Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.
  • David Moskovitz: Serial entrepreneur (read: Wellington startup Publons sold in multi-million deal), angel investor, company director, philanthropist, mentor, software developer and lexicographer on the Dictionary of NZ Sign Language and several Māori dictionaries. Involved in interfaith community. 
  • Damon Odey: Mayor of Timaru District Council and lead mayor for the digital connectivity work programme for the Canterbury Mayoral Forum.
  • Michael Taitoko: Chief executive and co-founder of Takiwā, a digital analytics and data visualisation firm; former ATEED and Mercury director.

EARLIER / March 17: The first eight people on Communications Minister Clare Curran's digital advisory panel have been named.

The group, which will number 14 in total, will be charged with answering 11 questions (see below) which range from making IT the second largest contributor to GDP by 2025 (meaning the technology sector would have to roughly double in size)to the best way to speed fibre and 5G deployment to closing the digital divide.

The eight named so far are:

  • IT education entrepreneur Frances Valintine, who will chair;
  • self-styled "creative tech cuzzie" Potaua Biasiny-Tule;
  • former Labour candidate and current InternetNZ group chief executive Jordan Carter,
  • ChristchurchNZ director and local TedX booster Kaila Colbin;
  • NZ on Air head of Innovation Brenda Leewenberg (who is never short of attitude on social media);
  • Aussie and erstwhile Crown Fibre strategy head Rohan MacMahon;
  • NZ Rise co-founder Victoria MacLennan (along with co-founder Don Christie, Ms MacLennan battles hard for the government to make the government tender landscape more fair for local companies);
  • Chris O'Connell, who has been laid low after major heart surgury for much of the past year, but is known for successfully battling for the rights of regional wireless internet providers during the Rural Broadband Initiative 2 funding bunfight. 

The panel so far drew universal praise on social media, though Copyright Licensing NZ chief executive Paula Browning did note that she was "Looking forward to seeing more digital content people added in the next phase."

Once the full line-up is named, the IT industry will be watching whether it the panel will be just another jargon-filled gab-fest, or will it actually make clear, hard recommendations — and whether they will be followed through.

Ms Curran is also seeking to fill the new position of chief technology officer for New Zealand. The first attempt at hiring proved a failure, with none of the 60 applicants making the cut.

The 11 questions the digital advisory group will consider

1.What is the current state of the ICT sector and ICT capability throughout the economy, society, and government?

2.What are the possible future scenarios and their relative merits?

3.What would be required to achieve an optimal future state?

4.What should a Blueprint for digital inclusion and digital enablement look like?

5.How might we most effectively work together to build our digital economy, improve productivity and increase the economic benefits of the internet?

6.How might we better understand the ‘digital divides’ between people who can have access to the internet and can use digital tools, and those who do not?

7.What would it take to eliminate digital divides by 2020?

8.How might we identify develop the skill sets needed for the work of the future?

9.Do we need to take steps to accelerate/optimise infrastructure rollouts such as UFBl/2/2+, RBl2 and 5G? If so, what steps could and should we take?

10.How should Government evolve its own ICT use in sectors where it plays a prominent role, such as health, education and justice?

11.What would be needed for New Zealand to:

a.Increase its position relative to other countries in measures like the Networked Readiness index

b.Increase the amount that ICT contributes to GDP so that it is the second largest contributor to the economy by 2025?


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44 Comments & Questions

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Hey maybe a new department as well. After all these new jobs for the boys and girls will need to be housed somewhere.

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Talk festival written all over it.....but I suppose it is hard to get those doing things in the real world to commit time to this sort of thing.

Too much self promotion behind much of this.

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A glaring omission not having Kim Dotcom on Clare's Pet Panel.

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Good lord 14 people/many total Labour stooges and troughers no doubt, to discuss issues Curran should already be on top of, this is utterly ridiculous.

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Based on knowing half of those named I do not expect any 'innovation' to come out of this. Shame really.

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Come on now spill the beans. What are they really like? Dish the dirt. All's fair in love and TV3.

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Based on knowing half of those named I expect some great ideas and actions come out of this.

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No one on the list can speak to Data aggregation and privacy, i'll pass thanks

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Jordan has been involved in policy work (for internet NZ) on privacy, copyright and ll sorts of things around those areas.
Rohan's 10 years in Telstra and other experience most likely covers plenty in those areas.

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There is a difference between someone who has been involved in policy work and someone who has capabilities either in Data Engineering, Data Science or both.

The sheer reality of the technology world is that everything "digital" is effectively data, with massive benefits and consequences to businesses who either get this right or wrong. To not have any person with capabilities in data is completely missing the point and a sign that this committee isn't made up of the right people.

Having generalists attempt to debate specialist subjects is exactly why technology at a government level never goes anywhere.

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Certainly can't complain about gender bias. Although no doubt the usual suspects will anyway (all 8 should have been female).

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Yeah Agree Kim Dotcom would be a real asset to this process.He could, in the tea break, probably rustle up a few "apps" that would double our GDP, and provide 110% employment.

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This reminds me of the Hi-tech project of the early 2000s aim was a 100 software companies doing $100m revenues. What ever became of that ---- zip. So one thing that is required is a dose of reality.....too often we set targets that quickly become irrelevant. Not saying don't be ambitious bowel should be and we should commit.

But I worry this becomes another short term bit of hype that will get lost in a few years.

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We are well on the way to that target. A few over $100m, one closing on a billion and plenty at the $10m plus and growing quickly.

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What total rubbish.....we are nowhere near 100 x 100. It was a failed exercise that was based of hype etc. I think it morphed into the Hi-tech awards.....and the goal was buried years ago.

One thing is guaranteed is any strategy is doomed to fail if you are not honest about where you are starting from or deluded as to what it will take to achieve something game changing.

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I struggle to get to 5 x 100m turnover.

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If you just round 5 up to the next 100 then we are there.

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Where are the tech startup founders, hackers, coders and innovators who actually know how to disrupt industries and create awesomely valuable new ones? Too busy actually doing it, maybe?

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Several (Frances, Rohan, Brenda, and Victoria, at least) have or lead their own tech start-ups of varying stages and sizes. But the group is missing a well known high tech SaaS company leader (for example).

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Nothing above indicates they are leading meaningful tech start ups ...can you she'd some light.

I went to a housing summit it was presented as having all the key groups in attendance. The one that was missing - entrepreneurs and innovators that could actually delivered results.

The organisers I think really believed that industry bodies and government agencies were the answer.

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These consultants will get paid more than the total nett profit of all the very companies they are talking about

Why would you go into real business in NZ now. The costs are high, the risks are enormous and the population low. You are better off financially simply just talking about it

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You're probably right on all counts.

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Nailed it.

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Cullen’s wealth based tax grab, the politics of envy on steroids, will quickly kill off ICT and other entrepreneurship - or at least force it offshore..

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Same old, same old. Not one new perspective.

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I really like the look of this panel. A good mix of talent and experience and a very solid indication of the digital depth we have in NZ.

One thing some of the comments above display is a profound ignorance of the Kiwi tech sector and who is achieving what. Something we need to address.

As a disclaimer, yes, I applied to be part of the panel. There was no indication that there would be any monetary reward but I would certainly hope participants to get recompense for their time. Otherwise this is just another space for the rich and famous.

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I am not sure any of the commentators is knocking the tech sector but are asking what value a government appointed panel will do. And in my case what makes this any different to previous similar exercises.

BTW I love the "tech sector" definition that is now used because it can capture almost anything to make numbers look bigger.

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Really? You must be reading some different comments to me. The ones I have in mind are insulting and ignorant.

Bunch of arm chair commentators who probably could organise a piss up in a brewery.

I'm all that worried what definition is used for "tech sector". The point is that the goal is significant growth.

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As have been previous initiatives that have done very little to shift the bar. Doing the same thing and expecting different outcomes is not a recipe for success in my view.

Hopefully this group proves me wrong. I don't know any of them personally so it is just a gut feel.

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Totally agree with you, Don. I also applied for the panel (prior to knowing there was any form of compensation involved) but wasn't select. I have high hopes that these folks will do us proud - because one thing's for sure, the gov't needs some new ideas from people actively doing this stuff well.

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Take it as a compliment you did not get on this. Last thing government wants are people that might challenge them and expect accountability etc.

Applied for a similar role, one criteria amongst many was industry experience. Did not get an interview.......no one appointed had industry experience - I did. Lesson if you ever want to get on a government board never ever critises any government agency.

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All the people you'd want for the CTO job are busy building their own castles, fulfilling their own dreams. The ones who are career plodders in Wellington are the very ones you don't want doing this job.
That leaves some oddball outliers who would put their hand up because despite the salary being good it's a job with no authority and no power and little chance of success.
Maybe the panel will be able to redefine the scope of work the CTO will undertake but looking at this list I'd struggle to see that. No IT industry representation, no telco sector representation, no real policy reps other than InternetNZ...
We shall see.

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Maybe the critics who don’t reveal their names could disclose their credentials, to support their comments.
This Govt has set aspirational goals for the sector and digital upskilling/equality for all citizens.
In my humble opinion, it deserves support, and positive suggestions as to how success might be achieved and measured.

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First issue - define what is being measured....is it ICT or the tech sector, two very different groups of companies. Probbaly also needs very different people invovled.

Second issue - you say the goal is aspirational - my questions is whether or not it is. Doubling by 2025 means around 10% pa growth (compounded). how does this compare to the current growth rate in the sector, to the growth rate in the sector globally (in our key markets etc). If we grow at 10% pa and key markets grow at 15% we are going backwards.

10%pa on the one hand sounds impressive (GDP growth is around 3%pa), but not sure how this relates to growth in the tech or ICT sectors.

If programmes are put in place lets make sure we measure performance, and not with a whole lot of soft / warm fuzzy observations by people with a vested interest. The data is avaliable via the IRD - they can measure impact on firms over a long period etc.

Please remember that the people that will make this happen are entreprenuers and business owners prepared to take risks - do not load a whole lot of jobs and costs into some form of quasi government body.

If anyone looks back over time and thinks about the true imapct of the Knowledge Wave, Incubators, NZVIF, the High Growth project the results have been at best in my view average and in reality probably a whole lot worse. But of course no real measurement of that investment has been done.

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This committee shows the issue when someone with the background of Claire Curran is expected to utilise her network and knowledge base to build a group of people to lead a technology strategy for the nation.

No experience in data, no experience in hacking/security, a bunch of generalists with hobbyist businesses and hobbyist causes getting a handout by a government that doesn't know any better.

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All hui, no doey on this list... what a joke.

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Another three years of this jobs for the boys and girls and nothing will change only more taxpayer money wasted.

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5 months in: no CTO and half a committee.
Things aren’t looking great for the new Minister.

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Wonder how the Chair is feeling lots of people that are probably closer to 50 and who should get out of the way......apparently.

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15 people to change a lightbulb. A complete waste and w***fest. I am betting KDC could write the report and tweet it in a weekend.

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Except they'd be lucky to even change a lightbulb! Reminds me of the Mythbusters episode where they tried to herd cats - and it turned out the myth is true - it's pretty much impossible!

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Haha. Of course anyone criticising what they do and the committee will be subject to an immediate and vicious Twitter attack from all the luvvies attempting to silence dissent.

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When it comes to IT, Clare doesn't even have a passing acquaintance with Jack

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Could all you posters aka digital experts, just pause a moment and reflect on exactly where is the real genesis of the wherewithal (taxes) that enables all these "committees" to sit around and suck peppermints?
I would be pleased to know any conclusion that any of you might come to.
Please don't be shy, treat it as an in-depth learning exercise.

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