Scene setting for NetHui 2015

Here is the prepared-for-delivery version of my Scene Setting speech at NetHui 2015, for those interested. Transcripts and video of all sessions are coming later - check for that material in a few days. Time pressure meant the words spoken on the day aren't quite as written.

Kia ora ano.

Thank you for being here.

What a wonderful crowd.

I’d like to begin this morning with one of my favourite proverbs:

Kī mai ki ahau, he aha te mea nui o te Ao?

Māku e kī atu, he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.

In English, it translates roughly as follows:

If you were to ask me, "What is the most important thing in the world?"

I would reply, "It is people, people, people.”

People are central to NetHui.

I acknowledge all those who have gone before us.

All of us here in this room, we are in some way an embodiment of all of our ancestors.

I’d like in particular to acknowledge the recent passing of Richard Orzeki, a well known colleague and friend, whose tangi was recently at Wehiwehi.

Richard was a key advisor to past colleagues of mine who established this very event, this NetHui.

Richard has passed on, he has now become one of the stars in the sky – kua whetu rangi tia.

And that is an appropriate thing, in this season of Matariki – the rising of the stars.

Richard, you, me: we are people. We are people who have been living in an incredible time, with the rise of the Internet.

Today, truly, the Internet is everybody’s business.

So I say again, welcome to NetHui. This is your event.

You haven’t signed up to a conference.

You aren’t going to get lectured.

There aren’t slides to read later.

Being on Twitter isn’t a problem.

This event is one where you, the participants, make it or break it.

Your ideas, suggestions, arguments – all the energy and passion you bring to NetHui makes it what it is – a chance to learn other perspectives, share ideas about new topics, and meet new people interested in Internet issues.

This NetHui also marks something of a milestone: it is NetHui #5. Every year for five years this event has happened in July.

Some things have changed over the past five years.

There’s less “streaming” of sessions into topic areas going on, and more mingling of people, perspectives, topics and ideas.

No longer are education, business, technology topics segregated away from each other.

Glamourous international keynotes have come and gone.

Some things have stayed very much the same.

The foundation of NetHui orgnaised around two ideas: “Ngā Kōrerorero” or The Discussions, and “Te Kotahitanga” – the Being Together As One” – are still very much in evidence

Some of the topics are perrenial – the first programme in 2011 had topics like:

  • Barriers and Bridges to Digital Inclusion
  • The Future of Content and Media in a digital world
  • Human Rights and the Internet
  • Market structures in a UFB World
  • Net Neutrality: legacy issue of essential for the future of the ‘Net?

Not unfamiliar issues, but the things we are saying about them sure aren’t the same.

  • UFB market structures aren’t hyphotheticals any more.
  • Content wise – we have domestic video content and some of the international players have arrived

You can think of more ways the debate has advanced.

And so here we are, in year five. The theme in 2015: the Internet is everybody’s business.

Whether you are a regular user, a sometimes visitor, a reluctant guest or a fanatical Luddite, the Internet is a fact of life in the modern world.

It helps shape our world.

So we gather at NetHui to help shape the Internet’s development, together.

The theme this year is this universality: the Internet is everybody’s business.

It is that because:

  • It affects us all
  • It provides opportunities to all, should we take them
  • It provides challenges to us all, from time to time
  • It stands as a platform of change and innovation that can’t be put back in the box.

What are some current examples of topical Internet matters?

  • What was the last time you went into a bank to pay a bill?
  • Have you been following the debate about the Harmful Digital Communications Act, past by Parliament only a week or two ago?
  • Did you hear about Global Mode, and the court action that led to it being withdrawn from service from 1 September?
  • Have you noticed the rise of cloud applications firms – perhaps TradeMe or Xero being the most famous local examples?
  • Is there some relevance in the American decisions on Network Neutrality from earlier in 2015 that flow through to our own domestic debate?

In different ways these questions touch on the theme.

The open, uncapturable Internet that InternetNZ exists to stand up for is the foundation on which so much has been built.

We all have an interest in that foundation, whether we know it or not.

That foundation is shaped globally as well as locally.

In the global environment, the slow progression of responsibility for the Internet’s domain name system from the United States’ unique role is coming to an end.

Intense debate has seen the Internet community globally – and InternetNZ along with others raising a voice for New Zealand – working out a plan to transition stewardship of the Internet’s domain name system to the whole Internet community.

On broader topics, the United Nations, ten years after the World Summit on the Information Society, is deciding later this year whether or not to continue with the Internet Governance Forum – a discussion event that helped inspire NetHui.

Here in New Zealand, there have been some changes to core Internet standards. In the last year, you’ve started being able to register domain names direct at the second level in .nz. And InternetNZ remains as a guardian of the open and uncapturable Internet, open to all who want to help with or support that cause.

[you can join online – it’s easy! See for more.]

Gobally or locally, decisions about the Internet or the things we do on it can work to keep it open and free, or they can aim to choke and close it down as a platform for innovation.

My perspective is simple.

The open Internet is a powerful tool for all of us.

Many of the changes it brings are positive for people.

Some of the challenges it creates are not.

It is well within our grasp to deal with the Internet’s challenges in proportionate, sensible ways that don’t damage its foundations as an open platform for innovation.

Those are the approaches we need to stick with.

That’s what will see us all gaining the most from the Internet – socially, economically, in every respect.

The Internet is everybody’s business because everyone has an interest in making sure it can keep delivering on that potential.

Whether it’s for a start up idea, or better ways to drive educational excellence, or better understanding of our environment through big data, or the more efficient delivery of public services – it’s everybody’s business.

Which is why I am glad you are here.

I’m also glad to acknowledge the presence here of a global organisation, known simply as The Internet Society.

Often known as ISOC, The Internet Society is a caused based organisation that believes in a very simple proposition:

The Internet is for Everyone.

They’ve held over the past 24hrs a global event – InterCommunity 2015 – that has brought together people from all around the world to talk Internet.

If you like, a global variant, done online, of our NetHui.

Congratulations to Kathy Brown, the Chief Executive and someone we will hear from soon in a keynote talk, the ISOC Board and staff, and all those members who made InterCommunity a huge success.

I have three more things to say this morning – an announcement, a reminder of the kaupapa of this event, and a set of thank yous.

First the announcement.

InternetNZ will be opening two funding rounds later today:

  • An Internet Projects Grants round of $100k, and
  • A Conference Attendance Grants round of $15k

These funds are for people who have an innovative Internet project in mind who need a bit of help getting it over the line, or for those who could attend a conference with a little support in return for a solid report-back to the local Internet community on their return.

Details and application forms are on our website: Applications for both rounds close on 30 July.

Second: our Kaupapa. It’s helpfully on screen, but I will read it anyhow.

NetHui is a community event where everyone’s opinions and ideas are equally valued. The event is open to all people regardless of age, background, gender or ethnicity.

A respectful, open attitude towards others is expected from all participants, speakers, exhibitors and volunteers. Harassment of any kind will not be tolerated and may result in your removal from the event.

There will be a session after Morning Tea where Martin Cocker will speak with us all about how the Kaupapa will be managed in practice this year.

Finally: the thank yous.

I’d like to start with our sponsors, without whom this event simply wouldn’t happen. First, our Gold sponsors:

  • The Internet Society
  • Facebook
  • SiteHost
  • Spark
  • Google
  • Intellipath

Our Silver sponsor, Huawei.

Our Bronze Sponsor, APNIC.

Our fabulous Lanyard sponsor; MYOB. 

Our fellowship sponsor, ICANN.

And our other sponsors:

  • GlobalMode
  • TradeMe
  • The Department of Internal Affairs
  • Wigley & Company

I also want to mention our amazing Community Supporters:

  • IITP
  • NetSafe
  • Creative Commons Aotearoa NZ
  • Rural Women NZ
  • Crown Fibre Holdings
  • Network for Learning
  • 2020 Communications Trust
  • Core Education

And of course my own organisation – InternetNZ. We were formed 20 years ago this November with a belief that the open Internet can help build a better world.

Thank you all very much.

When you see someone from a sponsor here, say thanks to them if you can.

And so.

To all the facilitators,

Those helping with the kaupapa,

The keynote speakers,

The panellists,

You participants here in the room,

Those following online,

All the NetHui community,

And to the staff and contractor team at InternetNZ who have pulled this event together over the past year, 


Finally: remember.

The next two days are what you make of them.

Add your voice. Have your say.

Enjoy NetHui 2015 everyone.

Thank you very much.