Growing connections on tour
Queenstown, 6am on Monday 2 July, the first morning of The AM Show on Tour. It’s -2C.
It turns out this was to be the highest temperature the thermometer would read at Earnslaw Park, on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, until sometime after the show ended three hours later at 9am.
Glamour certainly was not the order of the day for the show’s three hosts. Duncan, Amanda and Mark all donned woolly hats, gloves, thermal vests and, in Mark’s case at least, a battery-powered jacket warmer as the de rigueur essentials for the tour.
This is how The AM Show’s two-week, four town tour of iconic New Zealand locations — Queenstown, Nelson, Napier and Rotorua — started. What followed was 30-hours of live programming from two fully replicated studio sets, using four monstrously large outside broadcast trucks and a production crew of about 45 who were duly transported around the country.
For Chorus, it was a great opportunity to get out of the metro centres and into the regions, to talk about fibre and find out what people are doing with better broadband.
Fibre broadband is now available to 1.3m homes and businesses across the country and of those, more than 550,000 are connected. Our Chorus team — in a slightly warmer marquee adjacent to The AM Show set — spent their time over the two week tour, talking about the benefits of fibre to residents and business owners while answering any questions they may have had.
On tour, we met Jana, a busy photographer, blogger and mum living in Arrowtown who is waiting for fibre to be rolled down her street. Jana talked to us about her internet use and how she thinks fibre will “blow her mind,” when it does arrive as part of Chorus’ ultra-fast broadband build.
In Nelson, the local council were really fantastic allowing us to shut off the top end of Trafalgar Street to traffic and create an amazing space. Sport Nelson even came down and provided morning smoothies blended by bike. People were so pleased we’d come to visit - a lot of locals simply came down to see if we were enjoying ourselves and to make sure we were okay. We popped in to see Nathan Davis at Wood Retirement Village, where he told us his residents really demand a good broadband service as it helps them remain connected to their loved ones around the country through easy to use video calling platforms like Skype.
In the North Island, Napier saw our biggest crowds, as each day more and more people came along. The sunrises were amazing, we were in awe of the beauty of the Hawkes Bay. We visited local broadband provider NOW while we were in town. They have a fantastic set-up in the Tech Collective in Ahuriri - a converted woolstore from the 1940’s that has been modernised to house like-minded tech businesses, and start-ups like Now, Xero, Webfox - a specialised in app, cloud and website solution - and Many Hats, a content production company. Fibre connectivity helps support environments like this that create jobs for local talent and attract more people into the region for the lifestyle.
Our last leg of the tour was Rotorua, where we met Matt Browning, one of five co-owners who have set up Digital Basecamp. A shared working space in Rotorua’s CBD, Digital Basecamp opened in 2017 complete with an animation school and an incubator for local business.
Matt chatted to The AM Show team about how better broadband is helping provide opportunities for people in Rotorua.
This is only a small sample of some of the lovely people we met on tour. As Duncan Garner, host of The AM Show said, “For the show, it’s been about connecting directly and face to face with you, our listeners and viewers in person, as well as around the country. It’s been great meeting you. For our partner Chorus, it’s about helping people build global digital connections, genuine connections through the power of fibre and we’ve heard some amazing stories while we’ve been on the road, we’ve met some great people.”