“There were lots of really good local stories to tell, particularly in 1996 as a lot happened that year. The ISP business – you had Telecom coming in with Xtra – but it was still enough of a cowboy industry to make it really entertaining to cover. If I needed a story I would just ring Nick Wood at ihug and keep him on the line until he said something crazy or interesting and there was my story!
One thing that was really characteristic of that era where the Internet really started to mainstream in New Zealand, around the mid-‘90s, was the size of the personalities. You had guys like John O’Hara at Voyager, the Wood brothers at ihug who were just wonderful rascals and this guy Chris Tyler, who was the founding General Manager of Xtra. Rod Deane had found him presenting at some conference in America, thought he was a genius and brought him back. Chris Tyler was an extremely unusual person. He was unusual to work with I gather and unusual to interview. Man, we got some stories out of that! At one point he just disappeared and Telecom wouldn’t tell us where he was! You had the so-called ‘ISP wars’ where Voyager discovered some really deeply alarming security flaws in the security system that Telecom had paid for for Xtra. It didn’t exploit them in a criminal way but in a taunting way and that caused all sorts of alarm.”