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Te Puna Web Directory – National Library

28 July 2000 Speech Notes

Te Puna Web Directory – National Library

Kia Ora, Greetings, Talofa Lava.

I would like to acknowledge our distinguished guests, Pacific community members and I am really pleased to see our children here today at an event that celebrates information technology and its importance in the Pacific.

The information superhighway is travelling faster than ever before and I do not want Pacific children to be left standing at the kerb watching it go by. Like you, I want our children to be driving along that information superhighway, showing the way forward.

A huge challenge facing all parents and families in the new millennium is making sure our children have access to computers and information technology and the internet.

Making sure our children have books to read is no longer enough. We now need to make sure there are computers to access, web sites to develop, internets to surf.

But not all homes are lucky enough to have a computer hooked up to the internet.

That's a big reason why this year's budget set aside $7.5 million over four years to set up 150 study centres throughout the country. We want schools and communities to work together.

Most importantly - every single study centre will have access to computers and the internet.

The internet is changing the way the world communicates and understands.

I am pleased to see Pacific nations embracing the net.

For Pacific peoples who live all over the world, keeping in touch with our families is becoming easier. It used to be infrequent letters, then expensive toll calls. And now the internet is playing a big part in keeping aiga in touch with goings on back home.

I know the Kava Bowl website that caters for Tongans worldwide gets more than six hundred thousand hits per month – given that there were only ten internet users in Tonga in 1997 most hits have come from elsewhere in the world.
In some cases the Pacific is in the fast lane on the information highway.

And in the case of Niue the sale of their two letter domain, dot 'n' 'u' has provided the capital to deliver free internet access and service for all its residents, the first country in the world to do so.

The University of the South Pacific provides one of the most extensive distance education programmes in the world and now they rely heavily on the internet to keep in touch with students.

There are people living in remote villages in Tonga, Niue and the Solomons who are completing doctorates thanks to the internet.

I would like to congratulate the National Library on its accomplishment today.

The Te Puna Web Directory is unique in that it is free and caters for our communities in the Pacific and in New Zealand. It is an invaluable resource and another gateway through which we can travel, learn, communicate and understand.

Unlike business directories Te Puna focuses on educational, research and cultural sites. It already enables students and teachers to locate relevant sites and the Pacific Islands component is a particular bonus.

Finally I would like to also congratulate the children here from Cannons Creek School in Porirua. I am really thrilled to hear your have your own website and that your website is in English and in Samoan. And as the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs – it is really great to know that thanks to students like you, computers speak Samoan too.

Ia Manuia

Mark Gosche

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