Future looking bright for Tairāwhiti’s first solar farm

Work is progressing well at the site of Tairāwhiti’s very first utility scale solar farm, Te Ihi o te Ra, in the Gisborne Airport precinct. With an installed capacity of 5.2 MW it will, on average, generate enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of 1,000 typical homes.

The solar farm is being developed by Eastland Generation, which is part of Eastland Group.

Eastland Generation's development and construction partner Infratec - together with its contracting team of Downer NZ, Earthwork Solutions Ltd and PPS Fencing Limited – are currently refurbishing access tracks, installing fencing and levelling the site to provide a building platform for the solar farm.

The majority of the civil enabling works should be completed by Christmas, ready for piling to begin in January. The installation of approximately 8,000 solar panels will start in April.

Areas of the Waikanae Stream are being cleaned out, with extensive riparian planting planned for the solar farm boundary beside the stream.

The project is expected to be completed by September next year.

The solar farm was gifted the name Te Ihi o te Ra by Ngai Tāwhiri, who hold mana whenua over the area.

Ngai Tāwhiri Working Group member Thelma Karaitiana was recently shown around the site by Eastland Generation site manager Peter Swann and Infratec site manager Corrie Scheepers.

“I so enjoyed meeting the people who have started to breathe life into the solar farm concepts that Steven Follows, Eastland Generation’s commercial manager, shared with us,” said Ms Karaitiana. “It's such a privilege to see the ones who literally lift his words off the paper.

“From a cultural lens I am moved by the positive transformation occurring with our whenua and also our awa. The mauri of the wai is slowly but surely healing itself and this is evidenced by small but significant areas of clear, flowing water, the presence of tiny inanga like fishes, and the varieties of birdlife.

“This is an awesome collaboration, and I can't wait for the next visit.”



Contractors are levelling the site to provide a building platform for the solar farm.


Image to right: Thelma Karaitiana, from the Ngai Tāwhiri Working Group, being shown around the site by Eastland Generation’s Peter Swann.