Ngāti Whakaue marae harness energy efficient technology

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Ngāti Whakaue Assets Trust has doubled its asset base to $18.3 million since it began in 2010. It plans to distribute over $460,000 to its beneficiaries in the coming year, including support for marae sustainability initiatives.

The ancestral house of Tamatekupa will soon become more energy efficient.

“The marae has a lot of lights, which is a problem,” said Papaiouru marae chair, Hemana Bennett.

“Electricity prices are also high, but through this energy saving initiative we can lessen the costs by 80 percent. That's excellent for us.”

As a pilot the Trust supported the tribe’s coastal marae of Maketū to install solar panels for water heating last year. The marae has since seen a reduction in their electricity costs.

“Many entities, government agencies do not support our marae,” said Ngāti Whakaue Asset Trust chair, Katie Paul.

“Most of our communities, our whānau, hapū, iwi have been fundraising for years. We decided to tautoko the marae committees, many of the buildings needed upgrading. They struggle with insurance bills, let alone paying for maintenance costs, hence our attempts to help them with getting marae sustainable, off the grid.”

Locals say their electricity bill has been over $1,000 some months. However installing new LED lighting will see that bill reduce to at least $300.

Papaiouru marae will also install solar panels to further reduce electricity costs.

“We will install the solar panels on this side of the roof,” said Bennett. “When the sun rises from the east, it passes across to the other side. So this is the best place to capture the suns heat.”

“We really looked at what the Tūhoe building at Taneātua how that designed,” said Paul. “And we looked at their solar hot water heating and the way they use materials.”

The Trust will look to invest in solar power batteries for their marae to be off the electricity grid within five years.