No-one could have foreseen the impact 2020 (or more precisely COVID) would have on our lives and I am conscious that it has been sometime since I last provided you with an update on the proposal to construct a wind farm on the northern reaches of the Kaimai Ranges at Tirohia.
As a brief recap, in June 2018 Kaimai Wind Farm submitted a resource consent application to the Hauraki District and Waikato Regional Councils to construct a 24 turbine wind farm on the northern reaches of the Kaimai Ranges at Tirohia. The application was publicly notified in November 2018 and around 220 submissions were received by the closing date of 31 January 2019.
Full details of the application (including all analyses) can be found on the Council and Kaimai Wind websites - http://www.hauraki-dc.govt.nz/services/resource-consents/kaimai-wind-farm-project.
In my community update of July 2019 I said that the submissions raised a range of issues which members of the public and stakeholders wanted to understand at a greater depth, and so much of the last 15 months have been spent understanding and responding to those concerns.
The COVID lockdown, of course, affected our ability to engage with people and this had a particular impact on our engagement with iwi.
In the latter half of 2019 we reached agreement with four Hauraki iwi - Ngāti Tara Tokanui, Ngāti Hako, Ngāti Tamaterā, Ngāti Maru and Ngāti Rahiri Tumutumu – to conduct a Cultural Values Assessment of the proposal.
A Cultural Values Assessment is a way to recognise and provide for the relationship of iwi and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, wahi tapu and other taonga and to assess how any adverse effects could be avoided, remedied or mitigated.
Our initial agreement with iwi outlined a six month programme of work which would enable the preparation of the Cultural Values Assessments by July 2020. And then COVID intervened preventing large gatherings and hui.
Currently we are hopeful of the first drafts of the Cultural Values Asssessments being completed by the end of December 2020. This will then allow the Councils to complete their analysis and reports and we are hopeful a Hearing will be held in the first quarter of 2021. The actual date of the Hearing will be advised to to all submitters and the general public.
Throughout the last year we have also continued to engage with individuals and groups wanting to discuss the project including paragliders and fixed wing gliders, ecology, Matamata Piako District Council, reaching agreement in a number of cases which will lead to mitigations and monitoring programmes.
I will come back to you in the New Year with an update on progress but in the meantime, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our Community Liaison, Clare Bayly, at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
CEO, Kaimai Wind Farm Ltd