No case for change in New Zealand

I have been in the UK for just over a year, and now that I'm back in New Zealand for good, I have noticed quite a few changes.
Written by Darren Greenwood, Contributor

I have been in the UK for just over a year, and now that I'm back in New Zealand for good, I have noticed quite a few changes.

While recession is biting deep in near-bankrupt Britain, in New Zealand things seem to be fine in comparison, and the tech sector is playing a valuable role in staving off recession.

I am currently visiting the North Island centre of Hamilton and while the city is booming thanks to the dairy sector, its thriving tech businesses can claim a growing share in generating economic prosperity.

Decades ago, the internet first came to New Zealand via the University of Waikato, which is now helping foster a raft of tech-related new businesses, with many ventures having a link to the region's predominant agribusiness.

Earlier this month, I reported the healthy growth in exports and jobs, something that looks set to last.

Last week, IDC also reported that it expects the "spending drought" to end in New Zealand this year, with the business IT spend expected to grow by 4.1 per cent a year until 2015, creating a NZ$6.2 billion market.

Furthermore, we also hear the country's computer games sector is also growing rapidly and creating jobs, albeit from quite small levels. Job growth of 46 per cent was reported last year, with growth set to continue, and the country claiming some very innovative operators.

In addition, comes news of Unisys creating technology jobs in Wellington and the nearby Kapiti Coast.

Recruiters also report growing skill shortages, with renewed efforts to attract candidates from overseas.

Kiwi voters went to the polls last week and resoundingly voted the National Government back in. It's not so surprising. Compared to the UK, US and Europe, New Zealand is doing all right.

On the tech front, the National-led government has delivered on the bulk of its promises. It is delivering ultrafast and rural broadband, we have seen Telecom New Zealand split, so it can take part in the work, and we have seen action on mobile termination rates.

National didn't really announce an ICT manifesto wish-list for this election, but rather a statement on what it has achieved.

Labour, by contrast, had to announce its promises and aspirations, which together added up to a single powerful regulator for broadband and broadcasting, a review of the Copyright Act, review of the broadband program and a push for open source within government.

Of course, while its ICT spokesperson Clare Curren has talked the talk, showing a firm and excellent grasp of the issues involved, her opponent Steven Joyce has walked the walk and delivered much, with perhaps only a deal on TransTasman his only missing present.

I won't go so as far to say that a Labour-led government would have ruined things despite Clare Curren delivering some sound ideas in her portfolio, but there is much to be said that in these uncertain times, it is good that New Zealand has not changed course.

Editorial standards