Whangārei's Native Bird Recovery Centre is no longer facing hefty power bills after the charity won $40,000 worth of solar panels.
Last weekend a team from Lightforce Solar, an Auckland-based company that has an office in Kerikeri - installed the panels atop the roof of the recovery centre, in Maunu.
Robert Webb, from the bird recovery centre, was thrilled to win the solar panels, saying they would save the facility about $8000 a year that it currently spent on electricity.
''That's money we can instead use for our services of helping birds and educating the public. It's such an amazing thing to happen and I was blown away when I found out.''
Earlier this year Lightforce teamed up with The Hits Northland radio station to find a suitable charity to give $30,000 worth of solar panels to. After listeners gave suggestions, Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre was chosen as the deserving charity to get the work.
This is what one of The Hits' callers, Sonya Costello, had to say about the centre: "They are volunteers and look after all the sick and injured birdlife in Northland. They come out at all times 24/7 to care for all types of birds from kiwi to ruru. They don't get any govt funding, only sponsorship and fundraising, and live on the smell of an oily rag. Most deserving in my view. They are always happy to show people through the centre and visit schools educating children."
Webb said the cost of installing solar panels had been too great for the centre to contemplate, but getting them for free was amazing.
''It was a real hive of activity on Saturday when they came to install them and we're so grateful for them. Anything that reduces our costs is always welcome and it's money we can put back into the animals,'' he said.
''They are not cheap. For example, we had a mollymawk in that needed feeding regularly at $80 a time. And it's so important to have a secure supply for when we are incubating kiwi eggs.''
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Webb said the centre relied on donations and did not receive any public funding so anything that reduced costs was welcome.
Lightforce chief experience officer and co-founder Kat Rundle said the bird recovery centre was such a deserving winner that the decision was made to upgrade the package to $40,000, with back-up battery storage to ensure it never ran low on power.
''That's crucial as they often have kiwi eggs in incubators and you can't have the power go out on them,'' she said.
''They receive no public funding and they do such an amazing job that they were a good choice.''
She said the Lightforce staff enjoyed meeting Webb and getting introduced to some of his avian charges, including Sparky the resident kiwi.