Innovating Energy

Helping reconnect whānau with whenua at Ohaki

Energy Futures

Two years ago, GNS started working with a local land trust at Ohaki to better understand the sustainability of their land to establish an eco-friendly papakāinga (housing settlement) in degraded geothermal environments.

The Tahorakuri A1 Section 30 Ahuwhenua Trust wanted to reconnect their community with the geothermal land and unlock the value of resources of the land while ensuring its restoration.

A GNS Science team has applied their expertise to review environmental issues associated with geothermal development at the Ohaaki Geothermal Power Station. Two years on, much work has been done to understand the land capacity for development and reconnect hapū and whānau with their whenua.

Project leader for GNS Science, Dr Anya Seward, said the two-year project combined geoscience with mātauranga-a-hapū, to develop a better understanding of the land, its history and cultural significance in order to safely establish income-generating eco-papakāinga as a means to protect, preserve and develop the area.

“The project collated geothermal, fresh water and cultural resources to inform economic development opportunities for the hapū and geothermal field operators,” Dr Seward said.

Ohaki Power station
Image caption: Ohaki Power Station. Credit: Lloyd Homer.

“We are excited to work in partnership with GNS Science on this important first step towards recovering and healing our whenua, in addition to understanding more about our options for sustainable eco-development,” Tess Kora from the Trust and hapū said in 2019.

The project has involved the collation of existing geological knowledge, geophysical datasets, groundwater models and historical photography to provide an understanding of the physical landscape of the Tahorakuri A130 land block and its surrounding area. Focus groups were held and hapū oral histories captured with a view to underpinning future development of the Tahorakuri A130 block.

GNS’ work was funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment’s Te Pūnaha Hihiko: Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund which invests in programmes that help Māori development for the benefit of New Zealand.

Image caption: Ohaki. Credit: Tahorakuri A1 Section 30 Ahuwhenua Trust

Image caption (top): Ohaki. Credit: Tahorakuri A1 Section 30 Ahuwhenua Trust

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