Norman Hill, an environmental officer and relationship group co-ordinator, talks about living with the Huntly Power Station. After some reluctance to having the power station on their doorstep, iwi have formed a relationship with Genesis Energy that aims to benefit both parties.
The kaumātua provided me with their history and their connection to the land and the river and how they felt the power station affected them. Some situations, the power station provided a positive benefit to the local marae community. One of the local marae was established by the old hostels and the old offices of the once ECNZ construction company. So they used those buildings to establish their marae. A lot of my kaumātua also recognised that the power station provided an opportunity for them to secure work and therefore providing food to feed their families.
The late Sir Robert Mahuta said Huntly is the energy capital of New Zealand because we have the biggest thermal power station on our doorstep.
We recognise that Huntly Power Station is of huge significance to New Zealand, and because of its opportunity and its corporate presence here in our community, we maximise on that to ensure that our people have stable and long-term jobs on site.
So we do have a lot of our local whānau and our local marae employed on site. The unfortunate thing is that a lot of them are cleaners and maintenance, and we’re working in a relationship with the Genesis, and they’ve improved over the years to a point where we can get more and more of our people involved at a higher level through management. And we’re maximising the opportunity of cadetships and apprenticeships on site.
Another of the biggest impacts that our local people recognised was its impact on tuna and the migration of tuna. Because one of the cultural concerns that our people had was with regards to any discharge into the river, that it has a direct and indirect impact on the migratory processes of tuna and fish in general. So what Genesis Energy have done is, in the past, they have worked on a eel bypass system to provide for tuna migration. They’ve also put in monitoring stations to ensure that the ambient temperature of the river is not too … it doesn’t have a negative impact on tuna migration.
But we recognise that our relationship with this corporate is until such time that the land is returned to what it once was when our people and our village was here. So we recognise that, whilst the power station in its almighty grandness is sitting in our community, we’re going to be a part of the relationship to ensure that our cultural and kaitiaki values are empowered, whilst also assisting Genesis staff to grow in terms of their cultural understanding. And so my key message is that the relationship between ourselves and Genesis is one that’s improved significantly over the years, and we’re in a comfortable place with our relationship now.
The Waikato Tainui College for Research and Development acknowledges the financial support given by the Waikato River Cleanup Trust Fund which is administered by the Waikato River Authority.
The Waikato River Cleanup Trust does not necessarily endorse or support the content of the publication in any way.