Because of escalating power costs, Te Runanga o Ngāti Kearoa Ngati Tuara has turned to harnessing power from a river behind their marae just out of Rotorua, to generate their own power.
A dream that started in 2012 has become a reality for Ngati Kearoa Ngati Tuara descendents. Their marae at Kearoa, south west of Rotorua has become the first in Aotearoa New Zealand to generate their own power.
The micro-hydro unit, which has three turbines producing 2.5 kilowatts per hour, will be used to provide power to the marae, nearby iwi-owned trust farm and to grow vegetables in hydroponic glasshouses on the marae land, explained project manager Eugene Berryman-Kemp to Rotorua’s Weekender.
The unit has been so effective it has saved over $4000 a year in power bills. The three turbines can produce roughly 23,000 kw per year – this equates to slightly more than the marae’s current power consumption as well as the associated farm trust, with the excess being sold into the grid.
Potaiku Stream, and other nearby waterways, have been historically, spiritually and culturally significant to the iwi for more than 100 years, Eugene says.
Ngati Kearoa Ngati Tuara is one of three iwi involved in the Te Arawa River Iwi Trust assigned to help restore the Waikato River, he says.
- For more info contact Eugene at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional reporting by Weekender journalist Mike Watson