27 Mar 2010

Maori geothermal owners 'sleeping giants'

1:15 pm on 27 March 2010

The head of one of the country's largest electricity generators has described Maori trusts which own geothermal hot spots as the "sleeping giants" of the New Zealand economy.

Mighty River Power chief executive Doug Heffernan says the state-owned enterprise has been developing Maori geothermal resources for more than a decade.

He says the trusts are increasingly looking to partner with Mighty River Power, rather than just leasing land to it.

"The economic growth that these Maori trusts have had in harnessing the geothermal resource below their land has transformed the interests of the land trusts ... way beyond what their ancestors would have thought of 50 years ago," Mr Heffernan says.

"In a lot of ways they have been the sleeping giant of success in New Zealand business, not only within Maoridom."

Mr Heffernan says Maori trusts are good to work with because they want to develop the resource in a way which is sustainable and benefits their people.