We began our engagement on the geothermal plan change in the Rotorua area in 2018 and extensive tangata whenua engagement has been undertaken already, including nine hui and additional targeted hui with iwi authorities.
For the Rotorua System Te Ahi Kaa roa working Group, with tangata whenua representatives from Ōhinemutu, Ngapuna, Kuirau/Tarewa and Whakarearewa, has also been established to ensure the voice of these communities is heard through the plan change process. This roopu (group) has been meeting regularly since 2019 providing input into the plan review process, helping with the development of the issues and options discussion documents for the Rotorua geothermal system and more recently preparing the report Ngā wai ariki o Rotorua: He Kohikohinga, which focusses on Hau Kāinga perspectives on the health and wellbeing of geothermal taonga within Rotorua.
In September and October 2019, we met with Māori and with key stakeholders and interest groups to share information about the state of the Rotorua geothermal system and to discuss and gather feedback on issues, objectives and policy options identified in:
Key themes we heard from the community were:
- Protection of geothermal taonga
- Questions about how certain the science informing the plan change can be
- Efficiency, use and innovation should be a focus
- Incorporation of Mātauranga Māori principles in all aspects of management a priority
- Consenting and process barriers need to be addressed
- Governance and ownership an unresolved issue
- Bringing the community together to listen to differing views is important
We have also had early targeted hui with Māori for some other, but not all, geothermal systems.