If a $180 million Kaimai Wind farm gets the green light, the biggest turbines in the country could be visible along the ranges.
A resource consent application has been filed for a 24-turbine wind farm proposed for the northern end, spanning 1304 hectares, bordered by Rotokohu Rd, Paeroa and SH26 Tirohia.
But local iwi say not enough has been done to mitigate the cultural impact of the wind farm.
Ngāti Hako iwi manager Paulin Clarkin said turbines on the maunga, the mountain ranges, would be visible to three Ngāti Hako marae.
“That is significant to Ngāti Hako and other Hauraki iwi.”
The turbines would be at Tirohia, near Paeroa, and the largest would be 207 metres high – with the blade tip standing upright. The country’s next biggest are those at Te Uku, which stand 130m tall to the tip.
A Waikato wind farm was first proposed for Te Aroha 15 years ago, Clarkin said. The proposal has simply travelled along the ranges.
“It’s part of the cultural landscape and the integrity of our people. Over the past 15 years there has not yet been any mitigation provided that meets the concerns of Ngāti Hako.”
“Consultation isn’t the issue. It’s whether regional and district council value the cultural landscape of Ngāti Hako and Hauraki iwi and for the matter, the general community.”
Adrian Baxter, who lives on Rotokohu Rd, questioned how close they should be the street’s properties and what they would gain from the wind farm.
“We get nothing from it.”
He said those who lived outside of a two-kilometre distance from the boundaries had very little idea of what was being proposed.
“The [top floor of the] Skytower is 220m, and the largest windmill is going to be 207m,” he said.
Another Rotokohu Road resident, Andrew Frater, said he was mainly concerned with the noise and how it would visually impact the view.
However, he said one person involved with the project once told him: “If you’re not happy with [the noise], just shut your window”.
Those involved with the farm had “been a bit hush hush” with information and “dancing around the questions”, both Frater and Baxter said.
But not all residents of the street opposed the wind farm though.
Craig Huston said “it’s part of progress in technology – they’ve got to be put somewhere”.
Having the wind farm on top of the hills would not be too bad and the thought of it did not really worry him, he said.
“If they were right on my back fence it might be a different story.”
Hauraki District Mayor John Tregidga said it was still early days.
Tregidga anticipated noise, landscape value and possibly property value would be the biggest concerns for those living nearby.
“I’m expecting a fair bit of interest, people submitting for and against.”
Landscape value would be a tricky issue to solve, Tregidga said. For those opposed to the view, there weren’t many ways around it.
“Personally I don’t mind them. But there’s some things I don’t mind looking at that other people don’t mind.
“I believe [wind farms] are a lot better than coal. So I’m generally supportive of wind farms.”
He hopes the process will alleviate any concerns locals may have. Tregidga couldn’t say when the consent process would be finished but said it’s likely to take months, with an RMA meeting to be held later this year.