A proposal to construct a 41 turbine wind farm on the Tītīokura/Te Waka range situated near Te Pohue on the Napier-Taupō Rd could face further delays with a petition and the Covid-19 pandemic pushing the project back.
The petition was started by Maria Rahui as she and its 374 signatories strongly oppose the location of the wind farm.
Hastings District Council has given consent to Meridian Energy for the project.
"Tītīokura/Te Waka mountain range is a significant landscape for people of the wider Hawkes' Bay community and it also holds significant cultural and spiritual values for Māori," she said.
"The spiritual and cultural values linking mana whenua to the maunga (mountain) are as strong and meaningful as they always have been."
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Various claimant groups including mana whenua (authority group/s of the land), have already successfully defended this matter twice in court and stopped a previously planned wind farm from being built.
In 2007, claimant groups challenged the council's decision to grant Unison Networks Limited resource consent to construct a wind farm on Tītīokura/Te Waka range.
The Environment Court ruled that the mountain range is a significant landscape feature and the proposed wind turbine farm would significantly adversely affect both the landscape and the cultural and spiritual values of mana whenua.
On those grounds, the resource consent was overturned.
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In 2009, Unison challenged this decision, however, the High Court upheld the original findings of the Environment Court.
Unison than sold these consents to Meridian Energy in 2010 and in 2019 the Hastings District Council approved Meridian Energy's proposal to build a wind farm on the Tītīokura/Te Waka range.
Council said that although the court threw out previous consents from Unison, Meridian's consents were given as the site they had chosen on the eastern side of the range had previously been approved by the Environment Court.
An application for a site on the western side was declined.
Both the council and Meridian are working closely with those with issues with the wind farm but Covid-19 restrictions have delayed progress.
A Meridian spokesperson said the company was still committed to developing the wind farm and had even produced simulations on what the site would look like. It was open to discussing any issues around it.
If constructed, Meridian said that the wind farm would generate enough renewable energy to power around 70,000 average Kiwi homes.
Rahui said that those who have signed the petition aren't against the wind farm - just the location, and believe another site must be chosen.
"We do not oppose wind farms, we do not oppose commercial activities," she said.
"We oppose Meridian Energy's wind farm proposal because a wind farm on the Tītīokura/Te Waka range has already been successfully rejected from claimant groups for the reasons given by the New Zealand Judiciary that a wind farm on this maunga significantly and adversely affects both the landscape and the cultural and spiritual values of mana whenua."