Iwi may help Taiwanese indigenous people to develop geothermal energy

By Muriwai Hei

Taiwan's indigenous peoples are looking for a partnership with iwi here to develop geothermal energy projects in their homeland.

They are seeking a partnership that might mean consultants to offer advice or iwi investing in the whenua the local people no longer own. The Taiwanese peoples want to learn about whānau-focused economic development that protects and grows land resources. 

Talks of a partnership are underway, discussing the potential opportunities in geothermal energy in New Zealand, Taiwan is Aotearoa's seventh-largest export market. New Zealand dairy, meat, fruit, seafood, and forest products are popular with the Taiwanese. 

“To bring our Taiwanese delegation down here to learn about partnerships, to learn about business structures, to learn about co-management, to learn about how you care for and actively participate and look after taonga tuku iho? This is what the wānanga was about," Taiwan-based NZ Trade director Tina Wilson of Ngāti Tukorehe and Muaupoko descent says.

Taiwan look to Māori for geothermal energy advice.

'They are our tuakana'

Delegates from Taiwan's Council of Indigenous peoples including business leaders, travelled to Aotearoa to learn how Māori are world-leading when it comes to geothermal resources.

“You chuck tuakana and teina into the mix and they are our tuakana ultimately, if we look at whakapapa 5000 year old, plus hononga and history, same DNA for Māori. So that's deep and then you get down here to Aotearoa we're tuakana in our whakaaro and in our business, from our processes and our structures,” Wilson says.

Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the New Zealand and Taiwan partnership and it is the first of its kind to be indigenous-focused.

“We want to help them with participation. They don't own the whenua. They are their kaitiaki of their resource. So you've got that type of dynamic happening.

"Could we co-invest on their behalf and in these geothermal areas have more developments to make sure that the indigeneity and the whakaaro stay in there? These are the things we're going to be thinking about being here.

"What can we do by way of providing consultancy happen to Taiwan be it at a government level or local government level? So government to government space? Or how do we go in and actually just go in and hāpai te iwi whilst in Taiwan,” Wilson says.