Te Tatau o Te Arawa chairman Te Taru White is calling for Te Arawa to be at the centre of Rotorua's geothermal energy conversation following National's $150,000 announcement to explore geothermal opportunities in the Bay of Plenty.
For generations, Te Arawa has embraced Rotorua's geothermal landscape and harnessed its energy.
Te Tatau o Te Arawa chairman Te Taru White says, "Te Arawa has always had an unbroken relationship with the geothermal sources. A lot of the ngāwha used for bathing, cooking, all those sort of things, have been unbroken."
However, only 5% of Rotorua's geothermal capacity is being applied to geothermal resources. A number that the Te Tatau o Te Arawa chair Te Taru White says needs to be explored.
"To be able to use a resource that our people have used way back in time to now, it'd be nice to think that we can actually apply it to warming houses, apply it in a way that our people can afford it, apply it in a way to use those geothermal resources for family, for papakāinga housing. For example, being able to zoom in and create heat resources for collective and community uses. Heck, it's a no-brainer."
The Rotorua Lakes Council has confirmed that National's $150,000 commitment will go towards establishing a geothermal business development entity. White says the council should consult Te Arawa.
"I might suggest that Te Arawa will play a prominent role in that space. I know conversations have been had around the table about more involvement of Te Arawa land owners in this conversation, so I expect that to happen."
The development entity, Te Toi Moana Geothermal Economic Action Plan, now has the task of appointing a business development leader.