Thursday, September 28, 2023

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 28/9/23

Govt is energising housing projects with solar power – and fuelling the public’s concept of a divided society

Not long after Point of Order published data which show the substantial number of New Zealanders (77%) who believe NZ is becoming more divided, government ministers were braying about a programme which distributes some money to “the public” and some to “Maori”.

The ministers were dishing out money from this fund, which makes no attempt to camouflage its divisive purpose. It’s the Government’s ‘Māori and Public Housing Renewable Energy Fund’.

When government programmes unabashedly distinguish “Maori” from “public” components of the community, it is hard to see how social unity is among the Hipkins Cabinet’s considerations.

In Napier yesterday, Housing Minister Megan Woods mentioned the role this fund had played in financing the solar technology incorporated in the largest “public” housing development completed in that city for many years.

Today she and Willie Jackson have been in the Far North to announce new community-level energy projects will support more than 800 Māori households.

Not Far North households. Maori households.

Another pitch for votes in that neck of the woods has been made by the PM and ministerial colleague Kelvin Davis, who announced the Government’s approval of new funding to boost resilience and greatly reduce the risk of major flood damage across Te Tai Tokerau.

Latest from the Beehive


Seven more innovative community-scale energy projects will receive government funding through the Māori and Public Housing Renewable Energy Fund to bring more affordable, locally generated clean energy to more than 800 Māori households, Energy and Resources Minister Dr Megan Woods says.

The Government has approved new funding that will boost resilience and greatly reduce the risk of major flood damage across Te Tai Tokerau.


The largest public housing development in Napier for many years has been recently completed and has the added benefit of innovative solar technology, thanks to Government programmes, says Housing Minister Dr Megan Woods.

Talking about the housing development in Napier, Woods said each of the first 16 homes completed have been fitted with individual solar systems. The other eight homes that were completed this month, will feature technology which means electricity generated by solar panels across the complex is taken and shared among the eight homes.

This technology monitors when energy is being used and directs solar power to the home to reduce electricity bills as much as possible, she said.

This can increase the amount of solar used in the buildings by up to 50%, reducing reliance on expensive grid power.

It is the second public housing complex in New Zealand to be completed using this technology. The first was opened in Christchurch in July.

“Both of these have been funded through our innovative Māori and Public Housing Renewable Energy fund.”

In the Far North, Maori will be the beneficiaries.

Woods said the government has already funded 42 small-scale clean energy projects that generate 1925kW of electricity and provides 1121kWh of storage for around 435 Māori households.

In this round, the focus has been on larger-scale projects.

Associate Minister of Housing (Māori Housing) Minister Willie Jackson said the Government’s support has enabled Waingākau Housing Development’s Waingākau’s vision to establish a strong, vibrant and thriving community.

“Waingākau is a community where intergenerational Māori whānau can obtain high-quality housing. Incorporating solar energy systems into some homes enables these whānau to access more affordable power, which can encourage heating homes and lead to better health outcomes.

“We’ve heard that whānau who benefited from the solar energy systems at Waingākau. One whānau had their monthly bill down to $40,” Minister Jackson said.

Once all 49 projects are complete, the Māori Housing Renewable Energy Fund will support energy projects reaching an estimated 1270 households, and generate an estimated 4207kW of renewable electricity with 2839kWh of battery storage.

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment website has more information on the Māori Housing Renewable Energy Fund.

Neither media statement mentioned how much public funding – or should that be Maori-public funding? – was involved.

The PM did mention the amount involved in boosting resilience and reducing the risk of major flood damage across Te Tai Tokerau.

He also made a point of mentioning that marae will be among the beneficiaries.

He said $8.9m will be used to provide some of the smaller communities and maraes that were badly impacted better protection from future flooding.

The bulk of the funding, $4.2m, will go towards reducing the risk of flooding in Kawakawa, Otiria-Moerewa, Kaeo, Matangirau, Whirinaki, and Punaruku, including marae often flooded or at risk from flooding.

Remaining funds will go towards projects including removing fallen and at-risk trees from flood-risk rivers, stormwater upgrades, stabilising work, stop bank repairs, and early warning systems.

Kelvin Davis said:

“We need to focus on building up our infrastructure resilience in the region, with this flood protection work going alongside work around our roading network and other core services.

“Marae also played a big part in responding and helping out the community during the disaster and I’m pleased to be able to provide some of the marae most at risk to further flooding with funding.”

The $8.9m is from the $100m funding announced as part of Budget 2023. This fund was specifically set aside for practical flood protection infrastructure like stop banks as well as other local measures that can protect communities from flooding.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton

1 comment:

robert Arthur said...

Making maori very cosy in communities sharing the same dynamic world view and far from the threat of employment is not in the nation's interest. Solar state housing saves the tenants money but the huge maintenance costs are picked up by the public, not the case with grid power. Little wonder the waiting list is rocketing. Will the heavy users who trigger grid usage incur payment at the grid rate? Presumably Winston and Shane will identify the myriad anomolies.