As if on cue, the Kawakawa steam train chugged past to provide a fitting backdrop to the opening ceremony of the town's fast-charger for electric vehicles (EVs) on Sunday.

Speaking to a gathering of about 100 in the carpark next to the Star Hotel, Craig Salmon, one of the prime promoters behind the installation of a fast-charger in the Bay of Islands, was quick to highlight the juxtaposition of old and new technology.

"It's called progress," he said, thanking ChargeNet NZ, which installed the charger, and Far North District Council for their roles in extending Northland's electric highway.

Before cutting the ribbon, Mayor John Carter described the fast-charger as "one of the most exciting things" to happen in the Far North for a long time.


"This is the future and the fact that you are allowing Kawakawa and the Far North to be part of it is amazing," he said. "As we move forward as a nation and as the world, this [electric transport] is going to become the norm.

It will solve a lot of problems that we are facing in the world.

"We are fully grateful for the fact you haven't forgotten Northland, and the Far North in particular."

ChargeNet has backed Northland as the place to begin a national saturation of fast-chargers because of the region's rapid uptake of EVs.

It believes the region has the highest per capita rate of EV ownership in a country which has just passed the 1000-mark for plug-in vehicles.

Mr Carter, a former National MP, admitted that Mr Salmon, a Greens supporter, was his cousin "not that Craig tells anybody we're cuzzie-bros".

Those attending were able to have rides in some of the 18 EVs, mainly Nissan Leafs, at the event, with some lucky ones, including Mr Carter, getting a chance to experience the super-quick, upmarket Tesla.

"We did three donuts in Moerewa," Mr Carter joked.

The Kawakawa fast-charger opens up the Far North to EVs, adding to ones in Kaiwaka, Dargaville, and Whangarei as well as one ChargeNet has just installed at Paramount Plaza in Tikipunga. The network of fast-chargers also now extends south to Albany, Auckland and Hamilton.

"This station is the continuation of a robust Electric Vehicle loop that will give entry-level EVs more access to the winterless North," said ChargeNet's Dee West.

"Kawakawa is the latest town to host a fast-charging station that can top up an electric vehicle in minutes, and help keep New Zealand charging forward with this exciting new transport technology."

Northland was "punching well above its weight" in the EV stakes, she said.