European settlement of the Murihiku plains began in the mid 1850s. The first flock of sheep arrived in 1853, and in subsequent years large areas of land were cleared for pasture. Since these early days, the Murihiku landscape and its waters have changed signficiantly. Land has been cleared, vast wetlands drained, rivers straightened, a large part of the New River Estuary reclaimed, and major industry developed. This has resulted in economic prosperity for Murihiku, however the cumulative effects of these changes are now manifesting as large-scale environmental degradation and ecosystems under stress.
Murihiku Regeneration is developing a programme of work to address environmental degradation and to bring mana back to our whenua and wai.
Hydrogen and climate change
Hydrogen fuel cell technology has the potential to revolutionise the way we think about energy and transport in Aotearoa.
Emitting only water, vehicles powered by hyrdogen fuel cells provide a clean alternative to petrol and diesel engines.
Find out more about Hydrogen and it’s potential in Murihiku.
Lake Onslow hydro scheme
The Government’s Lake Onslow hydro scheme proposes to effectively turn the South Island rock basin into a massive 5000 gigawatt (GWh) rechargeable battery to power the country during periods of little rainfall or wind, ending its dependence on gas and coal generation. At 5000GWh, Lake Onslow would be capable of storing about the same amount of energy as all the country’s existing hydro schemes combined.
Find out more and the Lake Onslow hydro scheme and the NZ Battery project.
In June 2021 the Climate Change Commission released Ināia tonu nei: a low emissions future for Aotearoa (PDF, 7.38 MB). The report was delivered to the Minister of Climate Change and then tabled in Parliament in June 2021.
It is now over to Government to decide whether to accept the advice, and to show how it will shape climate action in Aotearoa. The Government has until 31 December 2021 to set the first three emissions budgets out to 2035 and release the country’s first emissions reduction plan detailing the policies it will use to achieve the budgets.
Find out more about the Climate Change Commission and Ngāi Tahu’s response to climate change.
On 14 January 2021 it was announced that the Tiwai Smelter will close in 2024. The story of Tiwai is complex. For many years the Tiwai Smelter operated with little disruption, with the owners of the smelter seeming to ‘hold all the cards’ in making sure the smelter remained open and viable. The environmental and cultural impacts of the smelter drew little attention.
Find out more about Tiwai Point, including project lead and team for this body of work:
- Tiwai - cultural significance
- Tiwai - environmental significance
- Tiwai - contaminated sites
- Tiwai - key documents and websites
Green Energy Wānanga
The Green Energy Wānanga was held at Te Whare on 26 June 2021 with our Te Rūnanga Representatives, senior leaders from the Office and Ngāi Tahu Holdings, and relevant kaimahi in attendance to learn about green energy and green hydrogen.
As Tā Tipene described it, the wānanga was a “device to inform ourselves better and understand issues more completely, so we’re better equipped to take policy decisions.”
Meridian Energy’s Neal Barclay (Chief Executive) and Guy Waipara (GM Generation and Natural Resources) provided an overview of renewable energy and the green hydrogen opportunity in Aotearoa. We also had guest speakers (Professor Sally Brooker, Assoc. Professor Aaron Marshall, and Dr Regina Eisert) talk in more detail about green hydrogen, and its uses, benefits and challenges. Minister Megan Woods and Mike Fuge, Chief Executive of Contact Energy, also joined us for the wānanga.
This was the beginning of what will be a much longer kōrero about green energy, green hydrogen, and the issues and opportunities there might be for Ngāi Tahu.