Electric jetboats from Ngāi Tahu herald a zero-carbon future for tourism

Jul 6, 2022

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu is heading bravely towards a zero-carbon future, pioneering the world’s first electric jetboat designed solely for tourism.

The iwi has unveiled an ambitious 88-point action plan to tackle the causes and effects of climate change and a host of other environmental issues.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai says over the next nine years the iwi will be taking major steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions, embrace renewable energy, optimise resource use, reduce water and ecosystem impacts, and create a resilient future for whānau.

“As mana whenua we are putting into action the core principles of kaitiakitanga and rangatiratanga,” she says. “We look after our whenua, we care for our whānau and we take ethical actions and decisions for the future of our mokopuna.”

Once the jetboat prototype is put into service – the iconic Shotover experience will be a whole lot quieter and more environmentally sound, running on rechargeable electric batteries rather than fossil fuels.

Ngāi Tahu Tourism General Manager Jolanda Cave says the aim is to make all its operations carbon neutral by 2050.

“It is of utmost importance to us at Ngāi Tahu Tourism that we are true to our iwi values. We all have a role to play in ensuring our world is healthier for future generations and while there is a long road to travel, the electrification of our jetboat fleet is an incredible step,” Jolanda Cave says.

The wider 88-point action plan is known as Te Kounga Paparangi – Leading change for the future. It sits alongside Te Tahu o te Whariki | Anchoring the Foundation – the Te Rūnanga o Ngai Tahu Climate Change Strategy, which was released in 2018.

“It’s abundantly clear the escalating effects of climate change across the Ngāi Tahu takiwā (tribal area) are having a profound impact on our interests, activities and whānau,” says Lisa Tumahai.

“We need to rapidly evolve if we are to adapt and thrive in this brave new world.”

As well as tackling climate change, Te Kounga Paparangi encompasses issues such as water conservation, reducing waste, and protecting mahinga kai – traditional food gathering.

“We are taking a Te Ao Māori approach, we recognise all of these environmental concerns are interconnected and we need to deal with them all at once,” says Lisa Tumahai.

She says another vital element of the action plan is protecting whānau, by powering marae with solar energy to make them more resilient and self-sufficient, as well as identifying jobs for Ngāi Tahu whānau in the budding green economy.

“We don’t claim to have all the answers, but our size and influence gives us the freedom to innovate. This jetboat prototype is an exciting expression of what that innovation can achieve,” says Lisa Tumahai.

Media contact: [email protected]

Te Kounga Paparangi

  • Te Kounga Paparangi is a group of 88 initiatives across eight kaupapa: Greenhouse Gas Emissions; Marae and Whānau Resilience; Water; Operational Emissions; Ecosystems; Waste; Renewable Energy; and Education.
  • Its purpose is to mitigate climate change, increase resilience, and enhance sustainable business practices.
  • Te Kounga Paparangi initiatives are timebound and are planned to be delivered no later than 2022, 2025, and 2030, as shown within the Plan.
  • Ngāi Tahu Holdings Company is a signatory of the Climate Leaders Coalition and a member of Toitū Envirocare’s carbon reduce programme.
  • The Board of Te Rūnanga approved Te Kounga Paparangi in August 2021.

Snapshot of targets

  • Te Kounga Paparangi targets a 17% methane reduction from farm animals by 2035, in line with Climate Change Commission recommendations.
  • By 2030, all marae and Papatipu Rūnanga facilities are supported to upgrade to technologies that ensure long-term resilience in energy, water and resource optimisation. Nine marae have solar panels installed with others underway or in planning.
  • By 2030, agri-tech solutions are in place in specific Ngāi Tahu Farming sites to reduce water use. At Te Whenua Hou, our dairy and grazing farm in North Canterbury, we have begun upgrading to a variable irrigation system. Soil sensors identify how much water is needed for a particular area, thereby optimising water use.
  • From 2022, a year-on-year reduction in synthetic feritiliser with paddock-by-paddock soil testing. Synthetic fertiliser produces Nitrous Oxide a powerful and harmful greenhouse gas. The planned reduction will eliminate synthetic nitrogen use by 2035.
  • By 2030, Ngāi Tahu is actively exercising rangatiratanga over freshwater.
  • By 2030, all new developments have ecosystem enhancement plans to protect wai and mahinga kai sites.
  • By 2030, 100% biodegradable/recyclable packaging on all consumer products produced. We are already working with partners to develop compostable poly bins for the transport of seafood to replace, containers made of polystyrene.
  • By 2030, a dedicated fund is established to support innovation and creativity in development of new approaches to address climate change impacts.
  • By 2030, 100% of supply chain vendors are providing emission reporting data and working to reduce their emissions.
  • See all the targets at: https://ngaitahu.iwi.nz/paparangi

Electric Jetboat Prototype:

  • Shotover Jet is one of the multiple experiences on offer from Ngāi Tahu Tourism.
  • The prototype project began in 2019 when Ngāi Tahu Tourism entered a co-funding agreement with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) under the ‘Technology Demonstration Programme’ and was awarded up to $200,000 to convert one of our petrol-powered jet boats to run on electricity.
  • The four main components that form the electrical functionality are the battery packs, battery management system, power delivery, and electric motors.
  • Gasoline has an approximate energy density of 12,000Wh/kg which is 100 times the energy density of Lithium based batteries which can store 100-265Wh/kg
  • Many of the components are common to petrol and electric boats, for example water jet units.
  • Initial water testing occurred on Lake Whakatipu in May 2022, following by tests in the Kimiākau (Shotover River) in June 2022.
  • It will take several years to confirm the commercialisation of the electric prototype.