Jeremy Banks (Ngāti Rārua, Rangitāne ki Wairau, Ngāti Kuia) has been appointed the new Chair of Crown-owned organisation Network for Learning’s (N4L) Board of Directors.
In the past five years, N4L has grown from providing internet connection and a basic firewall service to schools and kura, to become a purpose-driven, values-led organisation that’s connecting, protecting and supporting more than 2,450 schools and 900,000 users (close to 20% of the country’s adult population). N4L now accounts for a quarter of the country’s daytime business internet consumption, has become the largest network of its kind in Australasia and today blocks more than 2.3 million cyber threats a day.
Mr Banks replaces previous Chair, Colin MacDonald, who has completed his term as both Chair and Board member. Mr Banks was previously N4L’s Deputy Chair and HR and Remuneration Committee Chair.
With whakapapa links to the top of Te Waipounamu, Mr Banks is a software developer with experience in growing software startups and holds a variety of governance roles.
Mr Banks’ very first startup had its foundations in his desire to to encourage more people to take up learning the te reo Māori language. Although te reo wasn’t spoken in his family home while growing up, he devised a ‘building blocks’ methodology to help himself learn it, which he adapted to create a successful educational mobile app – Tipu – which has helped people of all ages learn te reo. The success of Tipu led to the creation of his company, Plink Software, which he runs with his wife, Melissa.
“Mānawa maiea te Mātahi o te Tau”
“(Celebrate the beginning of the new year (Matariki))”
“I’m honoured to be appointed the Chair of Network for Learning’s Board of Directors,” said Mr Banks. “N4L is doing some very important work – helping keep schools and kura safer and more secure online, and providing equal opportunity and access to online learning, which can allow all ākonga in Aotearoa to thrive, regardless of their culture, background or geographic location.”
Colin MacDonald served as N4L Chair from March 2019 to 30 June 2023, during which time he helped steer the organisation through the significant challenges and disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic and global supply chain shortages, an ever-growing, ever-changing cybersecurity landscape, as well as a period of tremendous transformation and growth for the technology company.
“It’s been an honour and a privilege to serve as their Chair for the last four years,” says Mr MacDonald. “With humility and hard mahi, N4L just ‘gets on’ with providing a safer and more secure learning environment for schools and kura. Their expertise allows learners to focus on learning and teachers to focus on teaching. N4L has a very bright future and I’m looking forward to seeing what they achieve in the coming years.”
“Colin has been a tremendous leader of Network for Learning, during a time of extraordinary growth and maturity within the organisation,” says N4L CEO, Larrie Moore. “Colin has provided great guidance and support to the organisation, with a particular passion for enabling greater access to and equity in online learning, as well as supporting diversity within the N4L Board. We would like to thank Colin for his outstanding contribution to the organisation and wish him well in the future.”
Some of the organisational highlights of Mr MacDonald’s four-year tenure include:
Support for schools:
- Maintaining N4L’s outstanding customer satisfaction score above 90% year-on-year, coming in at 91% in 2023.
- Supporting greater digital inclusion and equity in schools and kura, regardless of size, location or socio-economic factors.
- Partnering with the Ministry of Education to replace aging Wi-Fi networks in schools and kura across Aotearoa New Zealand. In 2022/2023, N4L supported 337 schools with new equipment warranties and installed the latest generation of Wi-Fi technology in 323 schools across the country.
Navigating change and COVID:
- Supported an increased reliance and focus of schools on online learning, brought into sharp focus and accelerated by the pandemic
- Launched Switch on Safety web filtering capability to respond to the need for greater online security as a result of COVID lockdowns and home learning.
Our people – growth and impact:
- Growth of N4L staff from around 60 employees (as at 30 June 2019) to 170 employees (as at 30 June 2023).
- Consistently high employee engagement ratings, achieving 73% in 2022, well above the average engagement score for IT companies in Aotearoa New Zealand (ave. 66%) and Oceania (inc. Australia, ave. 71%).
- Delivery of world class cybersecurity services and the launch of N4L’s Security Operations Centre
- 95% of schools comply with N4L’s Safe and Secure Internet standard, which is helping schools and kura stay safer and more secure online.
About Network for Learning (N4L)
Network for Learning (N4L) is a Crown owned technology company, delivering a wide range of managed broadband, Wi-Fi and cybersecurity products and services, on behalf of the Ministry of Education, to schools and kura across Aotearoa New Zealand. We provide fully funded internet for all state and state-integrated schools and kura, operating the largest broadband and Wi-Fi networks in Aotearoa New Zealand, accounting for nearly 25% of the country’s daytime business internet traffic. Our team of dedicated network, cybersecurity and service delivery experts help more than 900,000 tumuaki, kaiako and ākonga enjoy daily access to a safer and more reliable online learning environment. In 2022, N4L was awarded Best Customer Support – Broadband and Best Broadband Provider at the NZ Compare Awards: Broadband, Energy & Mobile Awards. Keeping schools safer online is a team effort, made possible by our partnerships in the education, private and public sectors. See www.n4l.co.nz