16 Sep 2015

Approval given for geothermal plant on Māori land

6:16 pm on 16 September 2015

A green light has been given for the construction of a geothermal power plant on Māori land near Kawerau in the Bay of Plenty.

power lines

Photo: 123rf

Eastland Group is in partnership with landowners Kawerau A8D Ahu Whenua Trust to build a plant 2.3 kilometres northeast of the township.

Formal approval has just been given by Eastland Group's sole shareholder to go ahead with the Te Ahi o Maui geothermal generation project.

The group has resource consent to take water from the Kawerau Geothermal Reservoir for 35 years.

Its chief executive, Matt Todd, said the company had spent $9 million so far, and the time was right for the next step of the development.

He said, once completed, it should generate enough electricity to power 20,000 homes annually.

In the past, Ngati Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau has raised concerns about the site being the birthplace of their ancestor - Tuwharetoa.

Mr Todd said the group was focussed on minimising the environmental impact of its project and work had been done with the Ahuwhenua Trust to accommodate their needs as tangata whenua.

The earliest date for drilling is April next year, and the plant should be finished by October 2018.

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