Waitaha Run Of River Hydro Scheme

Partnering with Poutini Ngāi Tahu for future generations of West Coasters.

Waitaha River and proposed run of river Waitaha Hydro Scheme

The Waitaha River is the treasured taonga of Poutini Ngāi Tahu (Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae) and is located in South Westland on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

Westpower and Poutini Ngāi Tahu are close partners in developing the proposal for the Waitaha Hydro Scheme.

We have shared values around the role of tangata whenua and the long term kaitiaki of resources, including how they will sustainably benefit future generations.

We are proposing a 20MW (enough electricity to supply 12,000 homes) run of river hydro scheme with a small weir (no dam or storage lake). We have successfully done this before, with the Amethyst Hydro Scheme in South Westland – this Scheme stands as an example of an environmentally sensitive hydro scheme which has been successfully operating on a wild West Coast river since 2014.

The Waitaha Hydro Scheme will provide real improvements to the security and reliability of electricity supply to the West Coast and beyond.

We recognise and appreciate the beauty of Department of Conservation administered land in our region. Westpower and our partners Poutini Ngāi Tahu, share these values, and want to keep it this way.

You can view supporting documents here

Hear about the project from our team on the ground

The bigger picture… climate change and biodiversity loss

We are facing a crisis of global warming and massive biodiversity loss due to human induced climate change.

Every week, both in New Zealand and around the world, we are seeing climate events which provide clear evidence that this is happening.

Addressing climate change is a difficult task and it is going to require a careful and considered approach to our natural resources.

Renewable energy (including run of river hydro) has a key role to play in reducing carbon emissions and protecting our biodiversity.

Fortunately, as well as being a ‘no-brainer’ for the environment, run of river hydro on the West Coast makes good economic sense.

We must electrify our economy and move away from the vast quantities of fossil fuels burnt in New Zealand.

New Zealand needs more renewable electricity generation – including hydro.

Working together with Poutini Ngāi Tahu we are forward-looking (Te Tirohangaroa). We have partnered with Poutini Ngāi Tahu to request the Department of Conservation undertake a reconsideration of concession for the Waitaha Hydro Scheme – as we believe it’s the right thing to do not only for now but for future West Coast generations who chose to live, work and play in our beautiful region.  We are committed to the same outcomes for our community, sustainability and resilience.

Why does New Zealand need more renewable electricity?

New Zealand has committed to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050[2]. To do this, substantially more renewable electricity will be needed. About 15%-20% of electricity in New Zealand comes from fossil fuel (gas or coal)[3], with the remainder coming from renewable sources.

But decarbonising means going so much further than getting to 100% renewable electricity.In the wider energy sector (where petrol and diesel are used for transport, coal and gas are used directly for manufacturing and space heating) it’s a much bigger challenge.

About 60% of New Zealand’s wider energy supply comes from fossil fuels[4].Cutting emissions from how people and goods move around the country and around the world, how things are made, kept warm, kept cold – everything, effectively, that uses energy – means increasing the country’s renewable electricity supply.

Transpower, the state owned enterprise which owns, maintains, and operates the national grid, predicts that at the base case electricity supply in New Zealand will need to increase by about 70% by 2050 to meet the needs of decarbonisation[5]. Earlier predictions have estimated an increase of 100%[6].

New Zealand electricity supply by source 2022
Projected electricity demand growth, Transpower

What would the Waitaha do for electricity supply and emissions reductions?

In 2022 customers in the Westpower generation area (Grey District and Westland District on the West Coast) used 218 GWh of electricity. With Waitaha’s annual estimated output between 110-120 GWh, it could supply up to half of the electricity needed in the region. This would also reduce transmission losses which occur when electricity is imported to the West Coast from Canterbury and elsewhere.

In reducing the need for fossil fuel powered generation (from coal and gas), Westpower estimates the emissions reductions achieved would be between 65,340 and 119,460 tonnes of CO2 per year, about the equivalent of taking between 24,502 and 44,797 cars off of the road.

We care about the West Coast community

Our community is at the heart of everything we do. We believe everyone will benefit from the Waitaha Hydro Scheme:

  • We are community owned.  Every single West Coast consumer has a part ownership in Westpower.

  • Westpower is here to provide long term sustainable solutions and to keep the power on for our community, the people of the West Coast.

  • Any profits we make go back into supporting the community of the West Coast – multiple generations of families, farmers and businesspeople.

  • The Waitaha River is the treasured taonga of Poutini Ngāi Tahu (Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae)

  • Poutini Ngāi Tahu are the kaitiaki (guardians) of the natural and physical resources of the West Coast.

  • Poutini Ngāi Tahu are close partners with Westpower and are committed to work in the spirit of collaboration (Mahi Tahi) of the Waitaha Hydro Scheme – we have shared values around the long-term preservation of our natural resources including how they will sustainably benefit future generations for decades to come.

As forward-looking partners (Te Tirohangaroa) we are committed to the same outcomes for our community, sustainability and resilience.


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Waitaha Hydro application for concessions submitted

In July 2014, Westpower submitted an application for concessions from the Minister of Conservation to enable the proposed scheme to progress.

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Friday, July 1, 2022

Waitaha Hydro Submission for reconsideration

We have partnered with Poutini Ngāi Tahu to prepare a submission for reconsideration of concession to build Waitaha Hydro Scheme in South Westland. We provided our submission to the Department of Conservation on 31 May 2022.

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Friday, September 2, 2022

Reconsideration of concession

In August 2019 Minister for the Environment, David Parker, declined Westpower’s application for concessions from the Department of Conservation to construct and operate a run-of-river hydro scheme on the Waitaha River, about 36 kilometres south of Hokitika on the South Island’s West Coast.

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Stay informed

We will be providing more information in the weeks and months ahead.

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We’d love to hear your feedback on this proposal. Share your ideas with us by emailing us down below. For media enquires, contact Peter Armstrong at media@electronet.co.nz

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