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Source: New Zealand Government

One hundred and fifty Māori households will benefit from clean, affordable and locally generated power through Government support for 16 small scale solar projects, Energy and Resources and Housing Minister Megan Woods and Associate Minister of Housing (Māori Housing) Peeni Henare say.

“Our effective economic management is helping us to recover quicker from the pandemic than from the GFC – but that doesn’t mean whānau aren’t doing it tough. That’s why we’re doing all we can to find practical ways of creating warmer, more energy-efficient homes,” Megan Woods said.

“This third round of the Government’s Māori Housing Renewable Energy Fund gives yet more targeted support to households with insecure access to power, or who are experiencing energy hardship, while many more will benefit from the sharing of surplus power through community energy networks or micro-grids.

“It’s great to see we have a good regional spread of recipients. Of the 16 projects, seven are located in Te Tai Tokerau/Northland, one is in Te Tai o Aorere/Tasman and the others are spread around Te Ika-a-Māui/North Island. All projects generate solar power but differ in how they store and share energy,” said Megan Woods.

 “Projects from earlier funding rounds are reporting that installing equipment like solar panels and household batteries can make a huge difference to whānau struggling with their power bills. Some have had theirs drop by 30 to 50 per cent,” Peeni Henare said.

“These 16 projects are really exciting. One will install solar panels on eight marae along the eastern coast of Northland, creating a virtual network to support rural households under the Kaupapa of Te Poari o Ngātiwai, known as Te Rangi Paki o Ngātiwai. Another in the Bay of Plenty is installing a solar smart grid across 35 homes in a papakāinga that will share a community battery,” said Peeni Henare.

“It great to see some projects also developing the knowledge and skills of the local community. For example, Te Āhuru Mōwai*, a Ngāti Toa-owned community housing provider, received funding from the earlier round, and is now collaborating with Victoria University researchers to support community houses with innovative solar energy solutions. They’ve also teamed up with SolarZero, which is looking to use, train and support an iwi-affiliated company to help with the installation and are working with a local Māori electrical trade business,” said Megan Woods. 

“As we transition towards a net-zero carbon future, it’s important to fund projects like this that test new ways to share and store off-grid renewable energy to see at a micro-level what works well, and better understand the costs, benefits and challenges. This will be valuable when considering future projects, such as the new $16 million community-scale renewable energy fund that was announced in this year’s Budget,” Megan Woods said.

Notes to editors

  • This fund is one-half of the $28 million Māori and Public Housing Renewable Energy Fund.
  • In Round 3, 16 small-scale projects will share $3 million in funding that will directly support around 150 households
  • Round 3 also includes a further $5 million to fund larger-scale projects. Applications are currently being assessed.
  • Kāinga Ora is administering the remaining $14 million to trial solar panels on public housing and is making great progress on its goal to install solar panels on 1000 public homes by 2024.
  • Kāinga Ora have installed solar panels on public homes across Porirua and Lower Hutt, Napier, Whangārei and Nelson, with further installations in the pipeline for four other centres. Solar benefits differ slightly between regions and households, but on average Kāinga Ora customers are anticipated to receive between 20–30% of their electricity from solar. The trials began on stand-alone homes in the Wellington region where customers are expected to save approximately $700–$850 annually per household.
  • Te Āhuru Mōwai installations began in August with the aim of having 20 homes fitted with solar panels and a community-scale battery system in place by the end of the year. The project aims to make a meaningful difference to the general wellbeing, including financial, to the tenant whānau supported by this initiative.