Whangaehu Marae have new solar panels installed

By Tema Hemi

For the past 6 months the people of Whangaehu Marae have been working towards utilizing a more sustainable energy source to power their marae, and today their hard work came to fruition.

Like the famous ancestor Māui the people of Ngāti Rangiwhakaturia have harnessed the power of the sun. Whangaehu marae has teamed up with Solar City who provides a revolutionary new way to get cleaner, cheaper and smarter energy. Today Solar City installers will install the new solar panels on their wharekai. As part of the deal, Solar City will provide training to locals to install the panels creating employment opportunities for the local community.

Source: Solar City Website

Local marae co-ordinator Hawea Meihana says, "Looking back six months we've come a long way now.  We're at that stage where we're going to be seeing the panels on the roof of our marae, so that was a big step for us at the marae and it's something we always wanted to look into but never had any opportunities to do that. The benefits are huge and there are gonna be on-going benefits but I think the first thing that should benefit us here at home is a chance for us to produce the energy for ourselves. We're talking about reusable energy and sustainable energy, we're moving into a time where solar energy is going to be the new thing."

Kahn Awhitia Piripi Denton Solar City Co-ordinator says, "So there's no installation fee or start-up fee so you don't need any capital back up to get this up and running. It's basically a flat-line monthly service fee that we charge and depending on the size of your panels that's what you will pay. The savings on this marae is $50,000.00 over 20 years."

A Solar City installer Terewa Tamihana says, "A smaller system like this will probably take a day usually, there's a bit of mechanical work in terms of you've gotta put rails up and then the panels go on, we've gotta do a lot of electrical work."