Regional | Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whaoa

Central Bay of Plenty iwi help geothermal power station grow

Mercury NZ chief executive Vince Hawksworth believes this is a great opportunity in Aotearoa New Zealand to decarbonise.

Turning the first sod on the project

Ngāti Tahu Ngāti Whaoa, Tauhara North Number 2 Trust and Mercury NZ are adding a fifth generating unit to the power company’s four at Ngā Tamariki Geothermal Power Station between Rotorua and Taupō.

Ngāti Tahu Ngāti Whao Runanga Trust chairman Roger Pikia say he’s is excited to work on relationships between the three groups and capitalise on what geothermal power has to offer to his iwi.

“We demanded we be part of the development and no longer as spectators,’’ Pikia says.

The fifth unit will increase the station’s output to 132MW, which will power an extra 55,000 more homes with renewable energy The station overall will power160,000 homes.

Mercury NZ chief executive Vince Hawksworth believes this is a great opportunity in Aotearoa New Zealand to decarbonise.

Wairea kicks off build

“It helps provide electricity as we stop producing energy through coal and gas and use more renewable sources,” he said.

A wairea was performed this morning at a celebration to mark the way for future developments about to take place on the site.

Turning over of the soil where the building will go was performed by representatives of all three parties.

Tauhara North Number 2 Trust chair Wikitoria Hepi-Te Huia saw this development as a way to not only build a financial purse for the Iwi but also to invest in future generations. “The opportunity to intern our kids, our tamariki or our rangatahi in this arena in this area is the biggest one,” she said.

Mercury NZ and Ngāti Tahu Ngāti Whaoa recently signed a covenant to build on many years of relationships.

Today's wairea

“I think te ao Māori has taught us that this is not just about today, this is intergenerational,”Hawksworth said.

It is hoped this new development will help those faced with recession pressures.

Pikia said he knew it was not a silver bullet, it was not going to solve all of the problems within the iwi but it would be a contributor.

Hepi-Te Huia is happy her iwi is exerting their tino rangatiratanga as mana whenua into this development and is looking forward to what this will bring.

“We will do what we need to do to ensure that there is longevity for Māori for our people, for our rangatahi,” she said.

The build will cost $220 million and they aim to have it completed at the end of 2025.