Wind turbine for Te Rau Aroha Marae

Sumaria Beaton of Awarua Synergy and Te Runaka o Awarua chair Hana Morgan with a section of a wind turbine to be erected at the Bluff Marae next month.

Bluff’s Te Rau Aroha Marae is getting its very own wind turbine, thought to be a first for New Zealand.

“We wanted to support (Awarua Synergy) and put our money where our mouth is”, Te Rūnaka o Awarua chairman Hana Morgan said.

Owned by Te Rūnaka o Awarua, Awarua Synergy specialises in efficient energy solutions for homes, farms and businesses in Southland.

The 9-metre high Kingspan 3kw wind turbine arrived from Scotland in February, and is expected to be installed and operational by April.

Mrs Morgan said she believed the Bluff marae was the first in New Zealand to install a wind turbine. In a bid to be more energy efficient, the group also plans to install panels and LED lights to power the marae and its neighbouring early childhood centre, Te Rourou Whakatipuranga o Awarua.

The turbines and solar panels would cost at least $70,000, funded using the groups’ own resources, Mrs Morgan said.

It was hoped the new systems would generate sufficient electricity for all of the marae and childcare centres’ needs, and the cost be recouped within about three to five years, she said. At present, their annual electricity bill was about $30,000.

“If we can reduce that significantly, we will be happy”, Mrs Morgan said.

A small battery-operated generator was also being installed and would be charged using any surplus energy generated by the turbine.

Awarua Synergy general manager Sumaria Beaton said the generator would act as a backup in the event of a civil defence emergency, enabling the marae to provide a safe and warm place for members of the community, particularly the elderly and children, to find comfort and shelter, she said.

The type of turbine was chosen in part because it was still able to operate in wind gusts, she said.

In addition to the economic benefits, it would also be good for the early childhood centre children to learn about wind power and being energy efficient, Miss Beaton said.

The turbine will be placed at the back of the marae, near the early childhood centre.
This article and photo was re-produced with the permission from the Southland Express and author, Petrina Wright.

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