Iwi wants Huntly power station

By Yvonne Tahana

Huntly can supply up to one-fifth of national electricity needs. Photo / Dean Purcell
Huntly can supply up to one-fifth of national electricity needs. Photo / Dean Purcell

Tuku Morgan has told the Prime Minister Waikato-Tainui wants to buy the Huntly power station if a National Government decides to sell.

The tribe has more than $500 million of property-focused assets and for the past two years Mr Morgan has been pushing iwi ownership of important national infrastructure.

Last Friday, John Key visited the tribe's Endowed College in Hopuhopu on business related to the recent Waikato River settlement.

Mr Morgan used the opportunity to tell Mr Key the tribe was "dead-set" on the station, which is owned by state-owned enterprise Genesis Energy.

Waikato-Tainui has rights of first refusal over the 1448MW station because of its Treaty settlement legislation but Mr Morgan said the iwi was not wholly convinced that future governments would honour the tribe's front-of-the-line position, if it came up for sale.

"Obviously we're very keen on it, we're dead set keen on it," Mr Morgan told the Herald.

"There are all sorts of ways that governments can move on this."

Huntly is New Zealand's largest thermal power station and can provide up to 20 per cent of national supply.

Mr Morgan said the tribe understood the key role the station, which is powered by coal and gas, has in power production. Any deal would come with an important rider, aimed at protection, he said.

"We'd lock it up and specify that we wouldn't sell.

"In relation to the Huntly power station we've been very clear that should the Crown sell we want to buy because iwi are the best investors because we won't sell - we're here forever. We're the face of the public interest in this country."

Future investment in another SOE, Solid Energy, which operates mines out of Huntly, was also something the iwi would be interested in, Mr Morgan said.

The Government has said it will not sell any assets in its first term.

"Tukoroirangi Morgan did raise the issue with the Prime Minister, but it's not on the Government's agenda," a spokeswoman for the the Prime Minister said.

A spokesman for Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee said he had nothing to say about the issue as the Government was not contemplating selling.

Genesis owns the Tongariro and Waikaremoana hydro Schemes as well as the Haunui windfarm in Wairarapa.

A Genesis spokesman said the company had no view on the matter.

Huntly Station:

* 1488MW

* Can supply 20 per cent of national supply

* Coal and gas fired

Waikato Tainui:

* Assets worth more than $500 million

- NZ Herald

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