Aotearoa People's Network

Aotearoa People's Network Kaharoa turns 5

23 Nov 2012

Friday 23rd November marks the fifth anniversary of the Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa.  

The APNK provides free access to broadband internet services in public libraries so that everyone can benefit from accessing, experiencing and creating digital content. The free service is available to anyone who has access to a public library.

Kawerau was the first library to install the service in November 2007 and will be sharing a celebratory Skype session and morning tea with the APNK team who are based in Christchurch[1]. The APNK manages a network of over 700 computers and 140 Wifi hotspots in 147 public libraries, involving 46 local authorities, reaching from Kaeo to Stewart Island[2]. The programme is a partnership between the National Library of New Zealand and public libraries[3].

The Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa has won several accolades in recognition of its service[4]. The service continues to grow with new libraries joining the network or increasing the range of services that they offer to include scanners, a Kete digital repository and GOGO (“Get on, Get off” time management system). The latest offering is the Kōtui shared library management and resource discovery service.

The service has been found to have a profound effect in enhancing employment, educational and social opportunities for users whilst also significantly boosting library membership and usage[5]. An additional aim of the service has been to create opportunities for library staff to increase their skills through digital technology.  Key findings in the 2011 independent evaluation report include:

  • APNK users report clear benefits in terms of finding jobs (44 per cent of users), financial use (41 per cent), increasing computer literacy (47 per cent), accessing local council services (39 per cent) and in education related activities ( 56% participated in computer courses or learning and 30 per cent had used the service to complete assignments or training).
  • The programme is proving a significant tool for Maōri training and employment by providing Internet access where none existed before.
  • APNK is seen as an essential library service, with more than two-thirds of those surveyed regarding it as an essential part of the library/ marae.
  • Library staff expressed almost unanimous satisfaction with the service and library membership has increased by an average of 30 per cent at participating libraries.

As well as configuring the PCs in the Christchurch office before installing the equipment on site, APNK staff train library staff in supporting users and basic troubleshooting. The APNK team provide helpdesk support to library staff, covering library opening hours, with the exception of national holidays.

Online digital training to frontline library staff is delivered through the learn@apnk programme. Incisive and topical information is circulated to staff and customers via Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. The network was interrupted for 20 minutes following the February earthquake, after which the team continued to operate remotely from their homes and temporary accommodation before moving to their new offices in November 2011.



Contact Chris McClement, Aotearoa Peoples Network Kaharoa and Kōtui, Manager

[1] During the Christchurch earthquake on February 22nd the APNK network was offline for just 20 minutes.



[4] Australia and New Zealand Internet Best Practice Award 2010, the 3M award for innovation in libraries 2009 and the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Extra Touch Award 2009.


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