[byliner] Eru Rerekura, Te Manu Kōrihi reporter - firstname.lastname@example.org
A Northland marae says an agreement it has signed with an electricity generator will provide positive benefits for the whole community and see Ngāwhā become the geothermal hub of the north.
The Ngāwhā marae komiti has signed a deal with Top Energy that it hopes will lead to development at and around the geothermal field near Kaikohe.
The company is applying for consent to expand its geothermal power plant at Ngāwhā and the agreement addresses concerns the komiti had about the project.
An advisor to the komiti, Chris Webster, said the komiti was inspired by partnerships between Māori entities and commercial parties in the central North Island such as the Tuaropaki Trust and Taupo milk products business Miraka.
She said the agreement recognised that the hapū of Ngāti Rangi had kaitiakitanga responsibilities, and would provide educational grants and employment in an area where jobs were hard to find.
"Ngāwhā Marae Trust will become the geothermal seminar marae of the north," Ms Webster said.
"We've got educational scholarships and we've also got the right to develop the field independent of Top Energy if and when that decision is to be made.
"So, it's a mighty big success for a little marae and it's a mighty big achievement to help turn around the bad statistics of the Far North."
The deal also ensures that Top Energy will make information available to the komiti relating to details of the power station's geothermal resource use.
Top Energy and the Komiti will also work together to investigate the potential for commercial opportunities at Ngāwhā on land collectively owned by hapū members.
"There is a long and successful history of iwi and hapū entities working with power companies to develop resources," said Ms Webster.
Top Energy has also agreed to assist with the restoration of historic sites of particular significance to the komiti.
"We're delighted to have forged the basis for a robust, constructive and long-term relationship with the Ngāwhā marae komiti and wish to particularly thank it and their project advisor, Chris Webster, in enabling this agreement to be reached," said Top Energy chief executive Russell Shaw.