Another river under threat! MOTU RIVER


East Coast hydro dam proposed
NZPA | Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Damming the Motu River to generate income for Maori and improve the East Coast's electricity supply is under consideration.
Opotiki District Council's coast community board has discussed lifting the 1984 conservation order preventing the river's use for electricity generation.
It also hosted a presentation by acting Horizon Energy chief executive Don Lewell on the Motu's generation potential at a July 21 power generation workshop.
Mr Lewell was invited to address the meeting by council engineering and services manager Jim Finlay.
Mr Finlay said the presentation grew out of an earlier meeting held to find ways to reduce the frequency of power outages, which plague coast electricity consumers.
Generating electricity from dams on the nearby Motu River was proposed as a possible solution.
This option was attractive because, through investment, Te Kaha-based iwi Te Whanau-a-Apanui was a potential beneficiary.
Coast community board chairman Haki McRoberts said the Raukokore River was another that offered generation potential.
Building hydro schemes on either river would be "horrifically" expensive, but would be sure to solve the coast's power problems and provide an income to Te Whanau-a-Apanui through electricity sales to the national grid.
He said power outages were a real problem for coast residents.
"We're just getting sick of it," he said.
He said harnessing the Motu's potential was an option that would be explored with coast-dwelling hapu and iwi. However, talks were at an early stage.
He acknowledged the river's status as a wilderness area but said damming it could generate additional boating- and fishing-related tourism benefits.
An assessment of Bay of Plenty hydro-electric possibilities, completed by consultants Sinclair Knight Mertz for Environment Bay of Plenty in 2007, said past studies indicated 290 megawatts (MW) of electricity generation would be possible from four dams on the Motu.
This could be augmented by diverting flow from the Takaputahi River to the Motu River.
Studies have also identified 45MW of capacity from three schemes on the Raukokore River.
At 9am yesterday, Transpower was transmitting 5800MW of electricity to cope with the country's demand for power.
The Motu's national water conservation order was granted under section 20D of the Water and Soil Conservation Act 1967.
Orders made since 1991 to other rivers have been granted under section 214 of the Resource Management Act 1991.
The order requires that the river should be preserved in its natural state and instructs that no right shall be granted to dam for hydro-electric purposes.
Mr Lewell said Horizon Energy, which owns the Eastern Bay's power lines, would like to be involved in any hydro-electric development of the Motu River.
Damming it and transmitting electricity generated to the national grid would "cost billions", but he could see the financial benefit that might accrue to Maori and the improved security of supply to coast electricity consumers.

ali's picture

There was a geothermal well drilled over at Kawarau last year that hit the goods. I have heard it said that she will run a 90odd megawatt station, but is only permited to supply 20% of that????
There are 2 rigs over there looking for the same thing at the moment, and may be there for the next 2 years?? This is clean, and renewable (if water is pumped back down to the Heat source to generate more steam as they do in Iceland) The technology exists, the capacity is being developed. But we are fighting the de-regulated generation industry, where it all comes down to corporate bottom lines rather than sensable usage of the generation capacity we already have. Re-regulation could see and end to "powercrises" caused by squandering reserve capacity to make money exploiting the spot price market. there is an election comming up. lets make some noise!!

p.lab's picture

I started to do a search on policy as I decided that I would vote on the issue of who has the best energy policy and what is going to be best for the rivers..... somehow I don't like our chances of things getting any better as they all seem to be pushing hydro.

There was a couple of good Q and A sessions on this issue one in the latest fish and game magazine and the other in the latest forest and bird mag.

Interesting thing is the party policy does not word the same way they anwser the questions (surprise)
But the questions were very good and interesting to read with some not so good news as far as hydro development is perceeved as a good way to go by most parties-

here they are by party policy (the ones that are poling over 5%-


LABOUR (no new policy since 2005)

MAORI (no energy policy)

marcus.d's picture

Are all the proposed dams a direct consequence of the current Governments mandate to have all electricity generation going forward from renewable resources sush as water, wind, thermal etc. I would say they are. So, perhaps everyone should be considering all the political parties energy policies very closely this election...

cheelanjoe's picture

I think this country will keep damming rivers until the people of this country realise that they don't need to use as much electricity as they do, or until alternative power generation is acquired.

As a group, recreational river users don't hold much weight against the electricity usage habits of a nation. So for us to stand up and say "save the Motu (this river name can be replaced with a multitude of rivers under threat of course) for the recreational kayaker!" is kind of like trying to tackle Jonah Lomu (the 1995 version) around the chest. To take the issue out at the legs we need to adopt and promote power saving initiatives, so the need for hydro power no longer exists.

Check out . It's a black background google search engine that has the potential to save an estimated $75,000 of electricity worldwide a day, simply because it has a black background instead of white. You may have already heard of or seen it or you may even have it as your homepage!

This is not meant to take away the power of the recreational river users because in the same way that a small group can and does make a difference in reducing electricity usage over a nation, as a small group with huge interest in the use of rivers we can make a difference.

We all know that the google search engine 'blackle' isn't going to stop the damming of our rivers, but it is an example of a small step we can all take next time we are searching out out the specs of our brand new plastic creeker...

Ryan Hunt's picture

@!#$ hell, how long will it be till this country is left with no free flowing rivers?????