Benefits for Ngāwhā locals with Top Energy agreement

By Dean Nathan

A power company in Northland called Top Energy has signed a co-operation and development agreement with the Ngāwhā Marae Trustee Kōmiti, which both parties hope will lead to cultural and commercial development at and around the geothermal field near Kaikohe.

There are not only the health benefits, but soon there could will be a livelihood for Ngawha locals.

Chairman of Ngāwhā Marae Comitte, Richard Woodman says, “We just want to make sure that the water that comes out is going to be just as good as when it went in.  So that was our main take really, mainly about the water and some way of giving some benefits back to the whānau that have been living here for years.”

Top Energy is applying for consent to expand its geothermal power generation plant at Ngāwhā, with the agreement marking the beginning of a formal relationship with the people of Ngāti Rangi.

Woodman says, “We have to upskill our whānau so there is an agreement that there be educational grants available for tamariki that want to prosper in the area of geothermal energy.”

Terms of the agreement are confidential, but it recognises that the hapū of Ngāti Rangi has kaitiaki responsibilities in the Ngāwhā area with representation on matters of compliance with resource consent conditions.

Woodman says, “It’s part of the whanaungatanga with top energy and we're able to be a partner with them, rather than being on the side and watching things happening without our input.  So we're there at the table with top energy.”