The roar of the Shotover canyon could soon sound very different as Ngāi Tahu electrifies its jetboat fleet.
Prototypes of the carbon-free jets have been making a splash around Lake Wakatipu and up the Kimiākau river last month, however the electric boats have managed to keep a low profile.
The project was developed with a $200,000 grant from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, to make the first prototype. Now Ngāi Tahu, who operate three jetboat attractions around Queenstown and Taupō, are set to begin converting from petrol to lithium-power. It's a journey that could take nine years.
"It's a huge commitment from the iwi and it's what we need for our future," says Cliff Baker, Shotover Jet Training and Technical Manager.
Baker has been helping retrofit the prototype to electric power. A huge challenge given the batteries just 1 per cent of the energy density of fossil fuels.
Ngāi Tahu Tourism General Manager Jolanda Cave says the fuel-hungry jetboats were an obvious priority for the iwi's new climate initiative, Te Kounga Paparangi.
"It is of utmost importance to us at Ngāi Tahu Tourism that we are true to our iwi
values," says Cave.
"We all have a role to play in ensuring our world is healthier for future
generations and while there is a long road to travel, the electrification of our jetboat
fleet is an incredible step."
The move to electric boats is part of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu's plan to tackle drivers of climate change in the iwi's businesses. The iwi has pledged to make its operations carbon neutral by 2050.
Lisa Tumahai, Kaiwhakahaere of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu says this is the latest step in a journey to cut the iwi's impact on the climate and whenua.
The initiative Te Kounga Paparangi covers everything from tourism operations, solar panelling of marae to methane reductions from farmland.
"We need to rapidly evolve if we are to adapt and thrive," says Tumahai.
"It's abundantly clear the escalating effects of climate change across the Ngāi Tahu