Marae makes history by generating own power



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.

[quote_box_center]Potaiku Stream, and other nearby waterways, have been historically, spiritually and culturally significant to the iwi for more than 100 years, Eugene says.[/quote_box_center]

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.

Additional reporting by Weekender journalist Mike Watson


  1. If he was in America, he’d be sent to prison or found dead, the generator would be dismantled, Nestle would claim rights to the sacred river and the whole town would dry up and blow away, but you’d never hear a word about it on the news.

  2. But if some honky farmer applied for consent to do the same thing I bet the Iwi would block it saying the river is “too sacred”

      • No farmer, white or otherwise, has ever sold any irrigation water rights to any bottling company, foreign or otherwise, in any region, Ashburton or otherwise. .. so I’d suggest you do a bit more research before you embark on this kind of dog whistle comment

        • Muz, let’s not leap to turn this into a racially charged issue. This is a simple article about innovation and the use of technology that has the potential to loosen the vice-like grip power companies have on us all. I hope this will become an option for Whites and Maori alike, but like anything, it also has the potential to be ruined by greed. Strict criteria should be put in place to ensure it doesn’t turn into an environmental disaster caused by commercial interests, but trusting the govt to handle that task in a smart way would be like trusting a rapist to run a women’s shelter!! Iwi are doing nothing that white society hasn’t been doing all along; fully utilizing options available exclusively to them.


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