27.1 Introduction

27.1.1 The Waikato region is an electricity generation hub for New Zealand. Natural resources such as the sun, fresh water, coal, coal seam gas, geothermal energy, natural gas, and wind contribute to generating the electricity required to run the nation. In future other natural resources or activities, such as tidal activity, may be used to generate electricity. As technology advances other methods may become increasingly viable such as the beneficial re-use of waste to generate electricity, or mini-localised electricity generation schemes.

27.1.2 Waikato-Tainui recognises that the effective and efficient availability and security of electricity supply is critical to the region’s and the nation’s survival and prosperity. Waikato-Tainui is concerned to ensure that this prosperity includes the environmental, social, cultural, spiritual, and economic prosperity of Waikato-Tainui.

27.1.3 In generating or providing electricity, Waikato-Tainui resources and interests are often put at risk or compromised. The infrastructure required for electricity generation and transmission has significant impact on Waikato-Tainui, as discussed in Chapter 26, ‘Waihanga Matua – Infrastructure’. Waikato-Tainui recognises that electricity generation may require the mining of minerals, including hydrocarbons (coal, coal seam gas, natural gas, oil). Mining is considered in Chapter 28, ‘Keri Oopapa – mining and quarrying oil, gas, minerals’.

27.2 Issues

Electricity generation and transmission

27.2.1 Coal mining and power generation schemes have contributed to the pollution and deterioration of the health of the Waikato River, and other rivers, the surrounding environment (e.g. ground subsidence from underground mining). These operations have significantly impacted on the fisheries and plant life of rivers. Upstream containment hydro dams have significantly altered the physical, metaphysical, and spiritual health and wellbeing of the Waikato River. Transmission lines impact the spiritual relationship that Waikato-Tainui has with waahi tapu and sites of significance within their rohe. In some cases, Waikato-Tainui marae and hapuu have historically had spiritual connections to their rohe severed by generation plants or transmission lines while themselves being without power.

27.2.2 Existing electricity generation schemes are long life key infrastructure and operators of these schemes have an ongoing part to play in managing the effects of their operations. It is not sufficient to wait until consents expire as there needs to be an ongoing effort to investigate ways to minimise the adverse affects of electricity generation.

Alternative electricity generation sources

27.2.3 Waikato-Tainui is supportive of, and would like an increased focus on renewable electricity generation providing the social, cultural, spiritual, environmental, and economic effects of the activity are managed in partnership with Waikato-Tainui. Waikato-Tainui is supportive of micro-renewable electricity generation schemes that provide localised community benefit. Similarly Waikato-Tainui is supportive of alternative electricity generation, such as waste to energy initiatives, again, providing adverse effects are managed.

Local cost, local benefit

27.2.4 Waikato-Tainui considers that ultimately, it is the Crown that determines and controls the nature and overall direction of electricity generation and transmission in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The Crown’s actions, including land confiscation led to lack of access and opportunity for Waikato-Tainui to participate in electricity generation development. his has had a detrimental flow on effect in the ability of Waikato-Tainui to provide for their social, cultural, spiritual, and economical wellbeing.

27.2.5 Often the benefits of these electricity generation and transmission activities are mainly distributed nationally or even internationally with the exports produced using electricity generated from resources within Waikato-Tainui. However, the costs of such schemes are borne locally including customary ways of life being forever disrupted. Therefore Waikato-Tainui is keen to ensure local benefit from local electricity generation and transmission.

27.3 Objectives, Policies & Methods

Objective – electricity generation and transmission

27.3.1 In partnership with Waikato-Tainui, existing and new electricity generation activities, and the structures and operations to transmit electricity to end users, effectively manages adverse social, cultural, spiritual, environmental, and economic effects.

Policyelectricity generation and transmission

27.3.1.1 In partnership with Waikato-Tainui, to ensure that existing and new electricity generation activities, and the structures and operations to transmit electricity to end users effectively manages adverse social, cultural, spiritual, environmental, and economic effects.

Methods

(a) Electricity generation and transmission activities are developed or operated in a manner consistent with the parts of this Plan that are relevant to the proposed or existing electricity generation or transmission activity.

(b) Electricity is sourced and distributed locally wherever practicable.

(c) Efficient conservation and use of electricity ensures electricity wastage or leakage from electricity generation or transmission is minimised.

(d) Hydro-electricity generation allows for safe fish passage and enhances and creates habitats for indigenous aquatic and land species.

(e) By-products of energy generation are returned safely to their source so that effects of returning the byproducts are managed. For example:

(i) Coal ash is safely returned to the ground, in underground capsules, to prevent seepage to surrounding environments; and

(ii) Geothermal discharges are re-injected back into the land.

(f) In designing new transmission lines, upgrading, or replacing transmission lines, alternatives to overhead lines, such as undergrounding, will be the preferred option provided there are no adverse effects on cultural or spiritual sites.

(g) Large transmission structures shall not be located in close proximity to marae, culturally or spiritually sensitive sites, or in the river and its environs (such as banks, floodplains, estuaries, or bed).

(h) Other than as required for safety purposes, electricity transmission lines and supporting infrastructures blend in with the surrounding environment. (such as by control of colour, use of vegetation cover, undergrounding infrastructure, minimising visual profile, and minimising size)

Objective – alternative electricity generation sources

27.3.2 Alternative sustainable forms of electricity generation are developed, provided any adverse effects on the environment, particularly on the Waikato River or culturally and/or spiritually sensitive sites, are managed. Note: Due to the adverse environmental, social, spiritual, and cultural effects of such structures, Waikato-Tainui does not consider containment hydro dams, such as Karaapiro and Arapuni Dams, an alternative sustainable form of electricity generation.

Policy – alternative electricity generation sources

27.3.2.1 Ensure that preference is given to the development of sustainable forms of electricity generation, provided any adverse effects on the environment, particularly on the Waikato River or culturally and/or spiritually sensitive sites, are managed.

Methods

The following methods are subject to any adverse effects on the environment being managed to a level suitable to Waikato-Tainui.

(a) Generally encourage the development and use of sustainable alternative forms of energy generation.

(b) Encourage the development and use of small domestic-scale renewable energy production for domestic, community facilities, papakaainga, and marae use.

(c) Encourage the beneficial re-use of waste and other by-products for electricity generation.

Objective – local cost, local benefit

27.3.3 Electricity generation and transmission activities demonstrate a direct community benefit for the communities near their activities.

Policy – local cost, local benefit

27.3.3.1 To ensure that electricity generation and transmission activities demonstrate a direct community benefit for the communities near their activities.

Methods

(a) Existing or impending electricity generation and transmission operators work with Waikato-Tainui to determine what initiatives could demonstrate a direct community benefit.

(b) Electricity generation and transmission activities are able to demonstrate a direct community economic, social, spiritual, and/or cultural benefit.

(c) his direct community benefit extends beyond providing direct employment for the community including partnering with the community to develop other economic opportunities in the event of a decline in electricity and transmission activities.