Jo Whittle1

Introduction

The 1000 megawatt (MW) Huntly Thermal Power Station was built on the lower Waikato River from 1973 to 1983. It is the largest thermal power scheme in New Zealand and its construction brought enormous changes to the small town of Huntly and the surrounding rural landscape. The power scheme was constructed in an area that few people considered to be scenic and its construction did not provoke a national-scale environmental protest. This part of the Waikato region, however, was a place where many people lived and worked and where they fished, boated and swam. At Huntly a small number of groups attempted to use the new language of environmentalism to articulate their own views of the impacts that the power station would have on the local area and in particular on the Waikato River. Their representations helped make tangible to the wider community an invisible landscape of water and air pollution, thereby forcing subtle changes in the operation of the completed power station. They strongly asserted that the impacts on people’s lives of a big development scheme were relevant when considering environmental impacts, and used nascent formal environmental planning processes to articulate cultural connections with the land and the river.

The 1969 to 1972 campaign against raising the levels of Lakes Manapouri and Te Anau in Fiordland is commonly accepted as New Zealand’s first national environmental campaign. While not seeking to negate the importance of that campaign this article challenges its singularity in New Zealand’s environmental and environmentalist histories. The widespread protest against development at Manapouri was predominantly a scenery preservation campaign that was also shaped by an emerging popular ecological and environmental consciousness. Occurring at almost the same time, controversy over the Huntly Power Scheme was conducted in terms of potential environmental impacts expressed within the framework of newly created environmental planning procedures. Events at Huntly had a considerable influence on the development of environmental policy and therefore merit inclusion in the history of the emergence of environmentalism in New Zealand.

Electricity development in the environmental era

The Huntly Thermal Power Station is highly visible to travellers on State Highway One between Auckland and Hamilton. The power station was built from 1973 to 1983 and was designed to burn both coal and gas. From the late 1960s, as commercially viable sites for further hydro-electricity development were becoming scarce, government power planners focused their attention on thermal generation as a way to meet increasing peak electricity demand.2 With a maximum capacity of 1000 MW Huntly is the largest power scheme in the country, and generates more electricity than all the hydro-electric schemes on the Waikato River combined.3 A large, angular edifice with two tall chimneys, the station is starkly conspicuous among green paddocks on the western bank of the Waikato River. Cross the river, and the impacts of the power station on the small township of Huntly and on the neighbouring Waahi Marae become more obvious. It was built in an environment that was already highly modified, among farmland and coal-mining communities at a point on the Waikato where the river already served multiple purposes including water supply, water disposal and recreation. Concerns about the Huntly proposal were largely localised in nature, of issue to shop-keepers, coal miners, farmers and local Maori.4

Previous studies of the emergence of environmentalism in New Zealand have focused on the history of nature conservation,5 in which story the Save Manapouri Campaign is accorded iconic status as the first and most influential environmental campaign in New Zealand.6 From 1969 to 1972 Manapouri was the focus of New Zealand’s most renowned environmental campaign, during which a significant cross-section of society was moved to protest against the potential damage to the scenic beauty of Lakes Manapouri and Te Anau in Fiordland from government plans to raise lake levels as part of the hydro-electric power scheme. Scholars have made large claims for the influence of the Manapouri campaign on the development of environmental policy and resource management legislation.7 ‘The trends for the two decades after 1965 may be summed up in one word: Manapouri’, writes David Young in his history of conservation.8 This article was inspired by an examination of the construction of a power scheme begun at the time that the Manapouri Campaign was at its height but in a very different environment. It proposes the broadening of the history of the development of a national environmental consciousness beyond a narrow focus on controversy associated with developments in natural environments, and challenges the dominant influence of the Save Manapouri Campaign on the history of environmentalism and environmental policy in New Zealand in the later part of the twentieth century.

The Huntly thermal scheme raised issues reflective of the international environmental movement in the 1970s, including the consequences of air and water pollution for human and ecological health, and cultural impacts of development. Thomas Dunlap notes that an inclusive meaning of the popular use of the term ‘environment’ was characteristic of New Zealand and Australia from the late 1960s onwards, in contrast to North America where the word typically was interpreted as referring to ‘natural environment’.9 His claim is borne out at Huntly where the definition of what was included in an assessment of environmental issues was consistently broadened beyond the physical environment to include social and cultural concerns. This paper also highlights the pivotal importance of place as well as time in the environmental history of electricity developments. It argues that distinctive manifestations of environmentalism occurred in response to specific development proposals in unique locations.

By the late 1960s proposed electricity schemes routinely faced new challenges as a result of the emergence in mainstream New Zealand society of an ecological and environmental consciousness. A popularised understanding of ecological concepts and environmentalism offered those members of the public who contested these developments new ways of interpreting major landscape change and of expressing values associated with the existing landscape. Questions of scenery preservation, water pollution and energy efficiency were all expressed as ecological and environmental issues.

A number of international writers chronicle the popularisation of ecological concepts in Western countries in the 1960s and 1970s, whereby a previously scientific term became part of a popular conceptualisation of the natural world.10 In its migration into popular language the strictly scientific meaning merged with normative values about the way humans should relate to all life on earth, and thereby developed increasing political authority.11 In New Zealand scientific ecology, which principally developed in relation to the control of agricultural pests, became popularised in the form of a partially-grasped conception of natural systems as a complex, interconnected whole.12 Ecological concepts first began to be popularly associated with landscape change in relation to electricity generation schemes of the 1960s.13

From 1970 ecological ideas were incorporated into a new conception of ‘the environment’, and together these concepts provided an increasingly compelling context for interpretation of the landscape change associated with large electricity projects. The term could be applied in a variety of situations, not just with respect to pristine natural environments but also in the places where most people lived out their daily lives.14 Environmentalism ‘widened the terms of debate’ over the value and impacts of development to include ‘not only the whole natural world but also the physical surroundings in which people lived’.15 As expressed by Arnold Berleant, environment ‘is the natural process as people live it, however they live it. Environment is nature experienced, nature lived.’ 16

Historians have written extensively on the rise of environmentalism as a global phenomenon of the 1960s and 1970s.17 Young describes an ‘enormous and permanent shift in consciousness’ in New Zealand in the early 1970s,18 and James Belich places the development of an environmental consciousness in the context of major changes in societal attitudes in New Zealand from the late 1960s.19 In 1973, the year when construction of the Huntly station began, conservation advocate Lance McCaskill complained about the number of people climbing ‘on the environmental band-waggon [sic]’ who could be heard ‘talking glibly about conservation, pollution, ecology, and other generalisations’.20 That same year the editor of the Otago Daily Times informed his readers that ‘every human being and every society is totally dependent on the global environment for life’.21 Concerns about scenery destruction, water pollution, noise and dust from construction or habitat loss were placed in a broader context through the global language of environmentalism which, as Libby Robin found in Australia, provided ‘a background against which activism made sense on a different level’.22

First impressions: Jubilation and fear

The power station is located near to the township of Huntly, 30 kilometres north of Hamilton. The township is situated on both banks of the Waikato River, with the main shopping centre on the eastern bank off Highway One. Once a busy centre for the Waikato coal-mining industry, the population of the town declined in the 1960s following the closure of many of the mines and in 1971, when the government was seeking a location for a large thermal generating station, it stood at slightly over 5000.23 It was considered an appropriate location for the scheme by virtue of its ready access to plentiful supplies of coal and cooling water, and its proximity to an efficient connection for transmission to the consumption centres of the upper North Island, especially Auckland. The government’s decision was also influenced by a belief among officials that Huntly would be a reasonably uncontroversial choice given that the citizens of a declining coal-mining town would be ‘likely to find the power station and the associated coalmining operation more acceptable than the inhabitants of most other communities in the North Island.’24

In the early stages of scheme planning the government’s assumption of a ready acceptance of the scheme appeared confirmed, as the first response of Huntly residents was largely favourable.25 There was said to be ‘jubilation’ in the town in July 1972 when the government announced that Huntly was the preferred location for the biggest power station in New Zealand,26 and there were high hopes that its construction and associated coal mining activities would bring increased employment opportunities to the town and the wider region.27 During the following year local support became tempered by uncertainty about possible negative impacts on the township and the surrounding countryside. In August 1973 the editor of the Waikato Times, the major regional daily, assessed the attitudes of Huntly locals as being hopeful that construction would stimulate business in Huntly, burn its coal and be ‘tremendously beneficial from a prosperity point of view’, but, he asked, ‘at what cost?’ He noted the multiplying list of questions inhabitants had about ‘side effects’ on soil, air and water quality, and fears about the social impact on a relatively small community of the influx of a large number of construction workers.28 According to Michael Minogue, Mayor of Hamilton City, the people of the Waikato ‘want the power station to be established but not on any terms, and at any price.’29

Figure 1. A view of the Huntly Power Station in 1979, seen from the suburban area of Huntly East. Source: T.W. Fookes, Expectations and Related Findings 1973-81, Monitoring Social and Economic Impact: Huntly Case Study, University of Waikato, Final Report Series No.4A, Hamilton, December 1981, p 4.

Figure 1. A view of the Huntly Power Station in 1979, seen from the suburban area of Huntly East. Source: T.W. Fookes, Expectations and Related Findings 1973-81, Monitoring Social and Economic Impact: Huntly Case Study, University of Waikato, Final Report Series No.4A, Hamilton, December 1981, p 4.

At the time that the Huntly scheme was announced consistent pressure for greater public involvement in decision-making over Manapouri and other electricity developments had made an impression on the government, and officials were aware that in constructing a large scheme in a populated part of the country, relevant local and regional organisations and authorities would need to be kept closely informed. In 1970 E.B. McKenzie, the General Manager of the New Zealand Electricity Department (NZED)30, sent out a circular to his district managers that noted ‘a tendency for members of the general public to take a much greater interest in technical decisions than in the past.’31 An internal committee was therefore set up to work out a clear set of goals for the operation and management of thermal stations, including public relations measures aimed at reducing ‘unfavourable impact factors’ and minimising controversy.32

This was a learning process for all those involved that developed over the early years of planning and construction. Engineers and officials at Huntly went to considerable lengths to ensure that residents and other interested parties were informed early about the potential impacts of the scheme. In 1972 NZED officials met with representatives from the Huntly Borough Council, the adjoining Raglan County Council, and the regional Waikato Valley Authority (WVA), as well as with various community representatives and other local and regional interests including the Huntly Progressive Association and the Lower Waikato Conservation Authority.33 Officials attended public meetings in Huntly during 1972 and 1973 and provided information about the power scheme to as many local people as possible. NZED engineers also regularly attended the Huntly Planning Forum which was established in 1974 in response to local pressure for greater information about the scheme. The forum was strongly supported by Ministry of Works and Development (MWD)34 staff as an innovative means of improving communication over matters of concern to Huntly people, and its membership included elected representatives from local and national government and spokespeople from Waahi Marae, local businesses and rural advocacy group Federated Farmers.35

Figure 2. Map showing the power station site. The Waahi Marae occupies 12 hectares of land directly south of the power station. The state highway can be seen parallel to the Waikato River and railway line. To the north is the Rakaumanga settlement and school (since relocated), while to the west of the station site are the lands of the Te Kauri community. Source: NZED, Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement, p 3.

Figure 2. Map showing the power station site. The Waahi Marae occupies 12 hectares of land directly south of the power station. The state highway can be seen parallel to the Waikato River and railway line. To the north is the Rakaumanga settlement and school (since relocated), while to the west of the station site are the lands of the Te Kauri community. Source: NZED, Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement, p 3.

Despite the attention given by NZED and MWD to keeping local people informed, information about the project remained limited and unsubstantiated rumours abounded.36 In the absence of any architectural designs at this early stage it was difficult for officials to convey a realistic impression of the size of the scheme, and the MWD architectural team admitted that the massive scale of the buildings was therefore difficult for locals to comprehend.37 Questions posed to engineers at a public meeting in July 1972 could be answered only in the most general terms, which created unease among the local community. Asked whether the station would be noisy an NZED official replied that ‘probably noise will not be too bad.’38 Information on air pollution was similarly vague and presented in an abstract, technical form that offered little certainty to concerned residents. They were worried that the new power station would produce large amounts of ash and smoke, and they referred to the grim example of Meremere, a coal-fired power station 32 kilometres downstream from the Huntly site. Constructed in 1956 to 1958, by 1970 the station represented outdated technology and the grit and ash emitted from its chimneys often cast a brown haze over the surrounding farmland.39 Engineers assured locals that Huntly would produce nowhere near as much air pollution as Meremere, but they did not appear to understand how to communicate technical information in a way that could allay the apprehensions of people who would be living near the power station. One official predicted ‘no hazard to health’ but that there would be ‘some increase in background dustiness around the town’, while another presented this assurance in more precise technical terms, but with equal lack of clarity, in his explanation that ‘dust emission at Huntly will be 1-1¼ times [that from] Meremere, but will be diluted 20 times.’40

Similar uncertainty existed about the potential effects on the Waikato River of the scheme. The power station would extract river water for its once-through cooling system, and would then discharge that water, considerably warmer, back into the Waikato. When the Chief Engineer of the WVA raised concerns about the effects of discharging warm water into the river, an NZED spokesperson failed to allay concerns with his response that this was a technical engineering problem which could be discussed later.41 Engineers insisted that this process would have only minor environmental impacts; however the government had not carried out any biological research and little was known about the possible impacts on river fauna and flora.

The Huntly inhabitants with the most to lose were the 350 residents of the Waahi Marae and the associated communities of Te Kauri and Rakaumanga, who were the nearest neighbours to the power station (see Figure 2).42 They had great difficulty in asserting any influence on the way the scheme was designed. They accepted the rationale for locating a thermal power station in the Waikato region but considered that the chosen site, less than 500 metres from their homes, was totally inappropriate. Waahi Marae, the principle marae of Ngati Mahuta, was the home of the Maori Queen, Dame Te Ata-i-Rangikaahu.43 During scheme planning Waahi people expressed anxiety over, among other things: noise from construction and from the operational power station, the possibility of dust from the coal used to fuel the station, loss of privacy, and loss of recreational areas and access points along the riverbank.44 They were also greatly concerned about negative impacts on the health of the Waikato River, central to Tainui’s historical and spiritual well-being, and an integral part of the Waahi marae complex.45 They petitioned the government for direct input into power station planning, arguing that Maori cultural values should be acknowledged and protected as an integral and yet separate part of the public interest.46

Government officials made a genuine attempt to engage with the people of Waahi as a distinct group within the Huntly community and the government offered compensation in the form of money and structural improvements to the marae.47 Officials still had much to learn about how to consult effectively with Maori, however, and their assumption that advising on construction proposals equated to meaningful consultation led to dissatisfaction.48 In 1974 when Robert Mahuta, Tainui elder and Waahi spokesperson, accused government departments of a reluctance to consult, NZED manager W.J. Shanks reacted in angry bewilderment, exclaiming: ‘[w]e’ve been talking to them since 1972’.49 Reflecting on the process some years later Tainui expressed resentment about the assumption by local and government authorities that the concerns of Maori were no different from those of members of the general public, as well as the lack of attention paid to the special meaning to the iwi of their land and of the Waikato River.50

Hot water: The debate over the discharge of cooling water into the Waikato River

While NZED and MWD were grappling with the question of how best to consult with local communities at Huntly, the departments were also coming to terms with the need to represent the scheme in terms of its environmental impact. The growing political prominence of environmental issues from 1970 resulted in the expansion of government departments and agencies with environmental responsibilities. Scientists, media and environmental experts within local and central government exhorted engineers to plan electricity developments in ways that showed a greater sensitivity toward issues of pollution and ecological destruction.51 New, formal environmental planning procedures were gradually instituted from the late 1960s, motivated as much by the environmental concerns of those within government as by pressure from outside of government.52 The potential impacts of the Huntly power station were debated within this new framework and the scheme therefore became what one engineer described as ‘a “guinea-pig” for the new emphasis on environmental protection’.53

Huntly was one of the earliest government projects affected by the legislative framework of the Water and Soil Conservation Act (WSCA) 1967, under which government departments were required to apply to the National Water and Soil Conservation Authority (NWASCA), chaired by the Minister of Works, for the right to use ‘natural water’ as part of any large development.54

The WSCA included in its purpose the requirement to make better provision for the use and quality of natural water, and to promote and control the multiple uses of water.55 The Act constituted an unwelcome constraint on NZED’s automatic right of access to water for the purposes of electricity generation, and on its primacy in determining the location of power schemes.56 NWASCA made the decision on whether to grant water rights, and individuals and organisations who were directly affected had the right to challenge its decisions through the Town and Country Appeal Board.57

Early in 1973 NZED submitted an application for the right to extract, use and discharge the water of the Waikato River for the Huntly Power Station. It requested the right to extract 34,200 tonnes of water an hour – up to 27 percent of the river’s flow at Huntly – for cooling purposes, and to discharge this water back into the river at approximately eight degrees centigrade above ambient river temperature.58 In June 1973 NWASCA granted the department these rights, subject to conditions designed to limit negative impacts on water quality in this intensively developed water resource.59 Media reports on the water right and associated conditions raised public awareness of the issues associated with the power scheme. Under the WSCA affected parties had the right to appeal the decision, and this presented a formal opportunity for them to influence the environmental impacts of the scheme. There were two appeals made to the Town and Country Appeal Board, of which the first, by the Environmental Defence Society (EDS), was motivated by concern for the ecological condition of the river. Formed in Auckland in 1971, the EDS was modelled on the Environmental Defence Fund in the United States where lawyers and scientists and other expert witnesses volunteered their time to put together cases against projects that ‘would grossly harm the natural or social environment’.60 The EDS, ‘dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and rational use of the environment’, was a semi-professional lobby group. Its membership was made up of experts in scientific debate, environmental law and lobbying, who were collectively described in the media as ‘environmentalists’.61 Its appeal at Huntly was made on the grounds that NWSCA should not have granted NZED the water rights as the potential effects of heated water on the ecology of the river were unknown, and it sought specific amendments to the conditions of the water rights in order to protect river biota.62 At the appeal hearings in September 1973 expert witnesses for the EDS – lawyers, biologists and botanists – challenged the technical evidence given by government experts and undermined NZED assurances that the government had sufficient evidence that the discharge of heated water would have no adverse effects.63

The emphasis on technical matters presented a challenge to the Huntly community who were following the debate. According to the Waikato Times, local people at Huntly were ‘acutely ecology and Waikato River conscious’,64 but it considered that the less scientifically-minded struggled with the technical details about water quality.65 Evidence presented by the EDS was of a highly technical nature, and issues of mixing zones, the growth rates of blue-green algae and dissolved oxygen levels66 created the impression among non-experts of a hidden landscape of discharges into the river that were unquantified but potentially harmful.

The second appeal against the water rights was made by Tainui elder Robert Mahuta on behalf of Ngati Mahuta and the Tainui hapu of the Huntly area. Mahuta had grown up on the marae and was, in his words, ‘personally acquainted’ with the land and with the Waikato river at Huntly.67 He declared that granting the water rights would have social and economic impacts on Waahi Maori as users of the river, as landowners and as the customary protectors of the Waikato. He linked his unease about the cultural wellbeing of the community to concerns that the discharge of heated water into the river would be detrimental to fish and plant life and to water quality.68

The Waahi appellants experienced difficulties in translating their cultural connection with the river into the language of water resource management. The appeal board dismissed most of Mahuta’s evidence as irrelevant on the basis that it stated ‘generalities’ rather than demonstrating specific effects on water quality. It also ruled that, despite the scientific focus of its appeal, the EDS did not actually have a right of appeal as it was unable to demonstrate that it was directly affected within the narrow terms of the WSCA. Nevertheless the board was impressed by the weight of scientific evidence the EDS presented, and by Mahuta’s apprehension about how little was actually known about the biological conditions of the Waikato River at Huntly and how the power station might affect the river. The combined appellant testimony served to raise considerable doubt over assertions that the power scheme would not impact on water quality.

Construction was already underway at Huntly by the time the appeals were heard and therefore the appeal board was limited to imposing stricter conditions than those in the rights as originally granted.69 It required NZED to carry out a full biological survey of the river prior to commissioning the power station and subsequently to monitor the effects of the discharge of cooling water against pre-existing biological conditions. It ruled that the survey and the results of monitoring programmes were to be made freely available to the public.70 The EDS and Mahuta therefore had a direct impact on the future effects of the power scheme on the Waikato River. The Herald considered the board’s decision to be a ‘victory’ for the appellants and, furthermore, that it established a precedent whereby NZED would need to carry out ‘environmental studies’ in advance of any future applications for water rights.71 NZED in its turn moved quickly to commission the additional information required under the revised conditions and, in doing so, it somewhat restored public faith in the department’s attitude toward the river. 72

The first Environmental Impact Report

In addition to the water right application, Huntly Power Station was also the first power project – and one of the earliest government projects – to be tested under new environmental assessment procedures.73 When Cabinet approved construction of Huntly in 1972 it made this approval subject to receiving from NZED a statement on the environmental impacts of the scheme.74 This was an unprecedented stipulation and it indicates the level of environmental concerns at the highest political levels.75 The scope and purpose of environmental impact reporting was still in the early stages of policy development at that time. Government ministers envisaged the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) as a confidential written statement by NZED that assured them that any environmental impacts had been identified and addressed.76 With planning for the scheme already well underway, any environmental assessment could have only limited impact on its design, but the Huntly EIR was nevertheless an important test case for the impact assessment process. It proved a steep learning curve for NZED which made a serious attempt to address the issues of concern to the public; however, the EIR on Huntly was based on minimal ecological and hydrological investigation.77

In 1973 Cabinet accepted NZED’s report but requested the department to submit a supplementary EIR once the required biological and environmental studies had been completed. Meanwhile there were calls for the current EIR to Cabinet to be publicly released. D. Williams, the director of the EDS, argued that ‘the environmental impact of public works such as power stations is a matter of concern to all citizens and therefore Impact Statements should be open to public scrutiny.’78 He was supported by the editor of the Herald who called upon the government to release the report so as to avoid giving rise to ‘public suspicion’ about potential environmental impacts.79 Thomas McGuigan, Minister of Electricity, resisted publication on the basis that the word of Cabinet ministers that environmental impacts would be dealt with should be sufficient for the public and that the report was too technical anyway for the general public to understand.80 By contrast his colleague Joe Walding, Minister for the Environment, urged Prime Minister Kirk to publish the report, a move he saw as being ‘crucial to Government’s relations with the environmental movement.’81

Bowing to public pressure in June 1973 the government released the EIR after reworking it into ‘language more suitable to the lay man’.82 Publication opened up the government to criticism of the information that it had relied upon in assessing the environmental impacts of the Huntly scheme. Environmentalists and scientists denounced the report in the media as ‘hastily-prepared and far from all-embracing’, and there were calls for the focus of the environmental assessment to be widened beyond the physical river environment to include social impacts.83 Of wider implication, the government announced that all future EIRs on government projects would be published and, in addition, they would be made available for public submissions which would be considered before any decision was taken to proceed on large government projects.84 Another significant change was the recognition among government engineers that environmental studies should be carried out much earlier in planning for all future projects and before approval was given to begin construction.85 The Huntly EIR, as well as the water rights appeal, considerably raised the bar for the range and quality of environmental information that would in future be required to satisfy an increasingly environmentally-conscious society. Thus policy changes resulting from the Huntly debate in 1972 and 1973 directly shaped the context within which future government projects were constructed.

The second water right application

Increasing familiarity with the use of ecological and environmental concepts expanded the popular audience for the technical aspects of environmental studies. Local communities distrusted evidence presented by NZED and they turned instead to the expertise presented by independent scientists and environmental groups. In 1975 the editor of the Dominion warned the government that, unless it was seen to be showing strong leadership in environmental issues, it would find itself supplanted ‘in the public regard as the guardian of the environment’ by ‘ecology groups’ to which ‘the public has begun increasingly to look for guidance’.86 This increased pressure on NZED to provide early information to the public on proposed projects and to present evidence to support any statement about how its activities would impact on the environment.87 Within government, too, there were a growing number of government agencies scrutinising the environmental impacts of electricity developments including the Commission for the Environment, the Clean Air Council (established under the Clean Air Act 1972) and the Water and Soil Division of the MWD.88 NZED struggled to meet the demands of environmental groups and government agencies for sufficient scientific evidence to demonstrate how any environmental impacts of its projects would be dealt with. At the same time it had to find a way to communicate complicated engineering and environmental information to affected locals unfamiliar with technical language but who were anxious about the impacts of power projects on the quality of their home environments.

These challenges were amply demonstrated in 1975 when NZED applied to NWSCA for a second water right, this time to discharge waste water into the river that contained toxic chemicals used to clean the boilers in the power stations. Its application was supported by studies by scientists in the government’s Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) which demonstrated that these chemicals would be rendered harmless once they became diluted in the river.89 NWSCA accepted this evidence and granted the rights, but its decision was appealed by two regional water control authorities (the WVA and the Auckland Regional Authority or ARA), and again by the EDS, and by Mahuta, this time on behalf of the Tainui Maori Trust Board.90

The WVA, ARA and the EDS challenged the recommendations of the DSIR scientists with contrary evidence of their own. Ronald Bailey, who had replaced McGuigan as Minister of Electricity the previous year, assured locals that chemicals in the boiler waste would be harmless,91 but he was contradicted by evidence from EDS that the discharges would ‘materially detract from the condition of the River’.92 The EDS and the ARA accused NZED of failing to make the toxic properties of some of the chemicals clearly known,93 and the situation was made more menacing by evidence from an independent chemist asserting that the discharge would be so poisonous as to kill trout in the river.94 The issue became a battle between scientific experts, while words like ‘toxicity’, ‘poisonous chemicals’ and ‘toxic effect’ made people who were dependent upon the river for their water supply understandably fearful about the effects of these pollutants.95 One local asked a DSIR scientist whether he himself would willingly drink water from the river after the boiler cleaning chemicals had been discharged, and another sought reassurance that it would be safe for her to water her vegetable garden with river water following such a discharge.96

The supplementary EIR

In 1976 NZED published the second or supplementary EIR on Huntly as required by Cabinet in 1972.97 The supplementary EIR had been undertaken in a constructive spirit, as the department now appreciated the value of the process as an opportunity to reassure the public, and it sought to include any information ‘which would serve to emphasize how the project is being designed and managed with a view to minimizing any adverse impact on the people in the area as well as on the local ecology’.98 The supplementary report demonstrated greater sophistication by the NZED in commissioning appropriate environmental research than had been the case with the 1972 report, and the department had responded to calls to broaden the contents to include effects on the community as well as on the physical conditions of the Waikato River.

There was still criticism however that the supplementary EIR was too technical,99 and Mahuta criticised the focus on ‘the physical environment’ and a corresponding lack of emphasis ‘on social impacts such as the effect on employment opportunities, housing, community life and recreational amenities.’ He could find no adequate picture of the importance of the Waikato River environment and Huntly area as home to local Maori, and described the EIR as a collection of technical papers ‘for discussion and information of other technical experts’, the accuracy of which he was unable to judge.100

Living with the power station

The social impacts of the scheme had not been identified in any systematic way prior to development but they soon became evident once construction began. The attitude of Huntly townsfolk toward the scheme, largely positive at the time the power scheme was announced, became increasingly ambivalent as they began to grasp the dominating presence of the power station.101 One of the biggest single construction jobs ever undertaken in New Zealand, it employed 2000 people at its peak. It took more than two years just to drive the several thousand foundation piles. The main building rose 20 storeys high and covered an area of nearly three hectares,102 and by 1975 the twin chimneys, 50 storeys high, were a Waikato landmark.103 Residents had difficulty retaining a sense of control over their home landscape as township, marae and local farmland were progressively transformed into an electric landscape over a construction period of more than six years. Although different sectors of the Huntly community were impacted on to a variable extent, their lives were disrupted by heavy construction traffic, noise and dust, and by less tangible impacts on local services and social patterns.104 ‘It has only just filtered into our consciousness that this project is so big it is out of our league’, said D. Carey, the local Federated Farmers spokesperson in 1977.105

Construction of the station dominated life in Huntly and, in all the chaos of construction, locals blamed it for what were potentially quite unrelated problems.106 A parent attributed hearing loss among pupils at a nearby school to engine noise from heavy trucks, and farmers blamed test-drilling for coal to fuel the power station for a sudden drop in the level of water in wells on their land, despite a lack of any evidence that the events were connected.107 Officials did their best to respond sensitively to such issues but found it was difficult to resolve such complex community debates within the parameters of engineering an electricity scheme.108

The Waahi community, living ‘at the giant’s feet’,109 had good reason to fear that their marae would be ‘completely overwhelmed’ by the power project.110 From the meeting house steps the station’s chimneys towered above the roof of the house of the Maori queen like ‘giant pakeha phalluses raping the land’ in Maipi’s graphic description.111 Some felt dissatisfied with the opportunities available to express their particular understanding of the landscape through formal planning procedures and they sought more direct means of expression. A group created a new haka dedicated to Maori rights issues, and in particular ‘the deep Maori resentment towards the Huntly project’. Waahi residents also threatened to take direct action such as blocking road access to the power project, which created tension between Tainui and government officials.112

Figure 3. The Huntly Power Station as viewed from Waahi Marae. Source: Fookes, Expectations and Related Findings, p 4.

Figure 3. The Huntly Power Station as viewed from Waahi Marae. Source: Fookes, Expectations and Related Findings, p 4.

In September 1977 George Gair, Minister of Electricity and Energy Resources, confirmed that, as ‘destiny’ had made the marae and the power station close neighbours, the government would give favourable consideration to claims by Ngati Mahuta for compensation for the impact of the project on their traditional way of life.113 It was agreed that compensation would be in the form of a major upgrade to the marae, along with new housing, community, and recreation facilities.114 The Government also accepted Mahuta’s suggestion to redevelop Waahi land between the power station and the marae to create a landscaped ‘buffer zone’ between the two.115 In 1981, with the power station almost complete, Waahi celebrated the completion of the reconstructed marae, ‘a model of modern redevelopment design’ that, according to some, had actually raised the mana of Tainui.116

The issues at Huntly were not those of scenic beauty and indigenous ecology but water and air pollution, noise, traffic and other disruption to the health and safety of local communities; in other words, issues of the environment as ‘nature experienced, nature lived.’117 Debates between environmental groups, locals and the government shaped the way the Huntly power scheme was built and operated in various subtle ways. Concerns expressed through two appeal processes resulted in strict conditions to protect water quality, and monitoring provisions revealed and controlled the previously unseen and feared landscape of water pollution and chemical discharges. Early unease about air pollution from the huge station gave added impetus to the desire by engineers to install effective air quality control technology.118

The Huntly experience also provided a robust test for new environmental assessment procedures, and prompted considerable refinements in their implementation. The input of local authorities, environmental groups and spokespeople for the Waahi Marae demonstrated the ability for local people to shape their own concerns in the language of environmental impacts and to define the meaning of ‘the environment’ in relation to their own situation. By participating in formal environmental planning procedures the Waahi community had helped to promote some understanding among engineers and the wider public about Maori connections with their ancestral lands and waters, an issue that would become more prominent in environmental debates of the coming decades.119

Local authorities also received grants from the government as compensation for the negative impacts of construction, and these made it possible to carry out major improvements to civic facilities, roads and recreational facilities.120 As the name of the town became subsumed into that of the giant electricity scheme it was accepted that the future of Huntly was inextricably linked with the power project.121 In the assessment of social scientist Tom Fookes, the fears and expectations of the community in the early years of construction had calmed as the ‘idea’ of the power station became visible in the form of large buildings, tall chimneys and transmission lines.122 When the station was completed and the inconvenience of construction activities had dissipated, some Huntly residents not only became accustomed to the new feature in their landscape but even proud of it.123

Figure 4. Huntly Power Station today, as seen from the north bank of the Waikato River. Photograph: Mr J.P. Whittle, 2013.

Figure 4. Huntly Power Station today, as seen from the north bank of the Waikato River. Photograph: Mr J.P. Whittle, 2013.

Conclusion

At Huntly, the meaning of ‘the environment’ developed in relation to the unique circumstances at that place to include the complexities and intangibilities of social impacts such as quality of life and community health. While debates on natural environments such as national parks spoke to a national sense of identity, issues of air and water pollution occurred in the places where people lived and revealed ‘the environment’ as a local and even a domestic domain. Local communities and environmental groups brought matters of environment and ecology home, and increasingly defined what could and should be considered as environmental issues. Their voices both influenced the design and operation of the Huntly power station, and helped shape the development of environmental policy and in particular the foundation of the environmental impact assessment process.

From 1972, when the power scheme was announced, until the end of the decade, local and regional interests attempted to assert some control over the electricity scheme emerging in their midst. The history of Huntly also reveals the extent to which local, non-expert voices contributed to extending the boundaries of environmental concerns to include social issues. It was an early example of the way in which Maori began to voice their concerns in the language of environmental impacts, thus redefining environmental issues to include cultural perspectives. Much of the public input into scheme planning was channelled through a series of water rights application processes and new policy initiatives for assessing the environmental impacts of government projects. Within these formal procedures decision-makers tended to give greater consideration to evidence about ecological and biological effects, and at times people had difficulty in determining between contradictory assertions presented by rival experts. However some groups managed to express their own concerns within these new frameworks and, in so doing, they helped to make visible potential threats from water pollution to the health of the river. For these reasons Huntly has at least as much right as Manapouri to be considered New Zealand’s first electricity development in the environmental era.


[1] Dr. Jo Whittle works as a research officer at Southern Institute of Technology, Invercargill. This article is based on part of her thesis Electric Landscapes: Electricity and Environment in New Zealand, 1902 to 1980, completed in 2011.

[2] John E. Martin (ed), People, Politics and Power Stations: Electric Power Generation in New Zealand 1880-1998, 2nd edn, Wellington, 1998, pp 140-41. Large electricity generating schemes built in New Zealand through the greater part of the twentieth century were constructed and operated by the central government. The government also built and operated the transmission network or National Grid. Local distribution was the responsibility of publicly owned electric power boards and municipal electricity departments.

[3] Huntly Power Station remains the largest single generating station in New Zealand, providing up to 20% of the country’s electricity. Additional units commissioned during the 2000s increased maximum output of the station to 1,448 MW. Genesis Energy, ‘Huntly Power Station’, online, available at http://www.genesisenergy.co.nz (20 January 2012).

[4] The impacts of the power station on the Huntly area and in particular on the Maori community were researched during the 1970s and 1980s. Of particular note, Tom Fookes of the University of Waikato School of Social Sciences published a series of reports and working papers on the social and economic impacts of the power scheme on Huntly. See also: A.R. Ngaparu, ‘A discussion on the planning of public works in relation to Maori marae, using Waahi Marae Huntly as a case study’, Research Essay, University of Auckland, 1978; Evelyn Stokes, Coal Mining Settlements of the Huntly Region, Huntly Social and Economic Impact Monitoring Project, University of Waikato, Working Paper No. 9, Hamilton, November 1978; University of Waikato Centre for Maori Studies and Research, He Aaronga na Tainui: Mo Ngaa Mahi Whakatuutuu Wharehiko I Roto o Waikato. The Development of Coal-Fired Power Stations in the Waikato: A Maori Perspective, Centre for Maori Studies and Research, University of Waikato, Hamilton 1984; Peter Horsley, ‘Recent resource use conflicts in New Zealand: Maori perceptions and the evolving environmental ethic,’ in Peter Hay et al (eds), Environmental Politics in Australia and New Zealand, Hobart, 1989.

[5] For example: David Young, Matahina: Power in the Land. The Story of a Hydro Dam in a Dynamic Landscape, Wellington, 1998; Ross Galbreath, Working for Wildlife: A History of the New Zealand Wildlife Service, Wellington, 1993; Geoff Park, Nga Uruora [The Groves of Life]: Ecology and History in a New Zealand Landscape, Wellington, 1995.

[6] Roger Wilson, From Manapouri to Aramoana: The Battle for New Zealand’s Environment, Auckland, 1982, p 10; Michael King, The Penguin History of New Zealand, Auckland, 2003, p 441; David Young, Our Islands, Our Selves: A History of Conservation in New Zealand, Dunedin, 2004, p 168; Nicola Wheen, ‘A history of New Zealand environmental law’, in Eric Pawson and Tom Brooking (eds), Environmental Histories of New Zealand, Melbourne, 2002, pp 261-74, p 261.

[7]In particular, see Wheen, pp 265-66; King, p 441. Some historians are more cautious. For example, see Galbreath’s analysis of the impacts and meaning of the campaign (p 168); also Philippa Katherine Wells, ‘Uncovering “Regimes of Truth”: Locating and Defining Discourses Associated with Hydro-Electric Development in New Zealand’ PhD, Auckland University of Technology, 2004, p 276.

[8] Young, Our Islands, Our Selves, p 168.

[9] Thomas R. Dunlap, Nature and the English Diaspora: Environment and History in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, Cambridge, UK, 1999, p 315.

[10] Donald Worster, Nature’s Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas, 2nd edn, Cambridge, UK, 1985 (first published 1977); Anna Bramwell, Ecology in the Twentieth Century: A History, New Haven and London, 1989; Libby Robin, Defending the Little Desert: The Rise of Ecological Consciousness in Australia, Victoria, Australia, 1998; Noël Sturgeon, Environmentalism in Popular Culture: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and the Politics of the Natural, Tucson, 2009, p 65.

[11] Worster, p 332; Bramwell, pp 4-6; Samuel P. Hays, Beauty, Health, and Permanence : Environmental Politics in the United States, 1955-1985, New York, 1987, pp 27-35.

[12]Dunlap, pp 249, 64-65; Paul Star, ‘New Zealand environmental history: A question of attitudes’, Environment and History, 9, 2003, pp 463-75, p 467; Young, Our Islands, Our Selves, p 168.

[13] For example, in relation to the Tongariro Power Development, see: The Daily Post (TDP), Rotorua , 30 July 1964, in Auckland Electric Power Board (AEPB) Papers, Series 11, Item 28, Newspaper Cuttings, ARC Archives, Auckland; letter from President, Tongariro and Lake Taupo Anglers Club Inc, Turangi to T.P. Shand, Minister of Electricity, Wellington, 18 September 1964, in Electricorp, AANU 7740, W3214/8, 6/0/10/4, part 12, Technical Investigational Surveys – Waikato River Basin – Tongariro Scheme, Archives New Zealand (ANZ), Wellington; Evening Post (EP), Wellington, 7 July 1964, p 19; letter from Deputy Prime Minister, Wellington to S. Harrison, Palmerston North, 21 July 1964, in AANU 7740, W3214/8, 6/0/10/4, part 10, Technical Investigational Surveys – Waikato River Basin – Tongariro Scheme, ANZ, Wellington. In relation to schemes in the Waitaki Basin, see R.S. MacArthur, ‘Summary review’, Soil and Water, 2, 4 June 1966, pp 24, 26.

[14] Rom Harré, Jens Brockmeier and Peter Muhlhausler, Greenspeak, London, 1998, pp 185-86, 77.

[15] Galbreath, p 146.

[16] Arnold Berleant, The Aesthetics of Environment, Philadelphia, 1992, p 10.

[17] See for example David Pepper, The Roots of Modern Environmentalism, London, 1984; Sturgeon; T. O’Riordon, Environmentalism, London, 1976; Phil Macnaghten and John Urry, Contested Natures, London, 1998, p 73.

[18] Young, Our Islands, Our Selves, p 168.

[19] James Belich, Paradise Reforged: A History of the New Zealanders from the 1880s to the Year 2000, Auckland, 2001, pp 515-16, 18-19.

[20] L.W. McCaskill, ‘Soil conservation and landscape’, Soil and Water, 9, 3, March 1973, p 1.

[21] Otago Daily Times (ODT), Dunedin, 5 June 1973, in Electricorp, AANU 7740, W5055/268, 38/11, part 3, Policy: Problems of Pollution of the Environment 1972-1975, ANZ, Wellington (hereafter: Electricorp, 38/11 pt 3).

[22] Robin, p 42.

[23] Stokes; T.W. Fookes, Huntly Power Project: A Description, Monitoring Social and Economic Impact: Huntly Case Study, University of Waikato, Final Report Series No.2, Hamilton, December 1981; New Zealand Herald (NZH), Auckland, 7 July 1977 in Electricorp, AANU 7740, W5159/101, 21/90/5, part 3, Power Station – Huntly – Newspaper Cuttings 1976-1977, ANZ, Wellington (hereafter: Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 3).

[24] Comment by R.R. Harcourt, Division of Public Health, Department of Health to Chairman, Officials Committee for the Environment, Wellington, 2 November 1972, in Ministry for the Environment, AAUM, W4043/69, ENV 8/2, part 1, Huntly Power Station 1972-1973, ANZ, Wellington (hereafter: MfE, 8/2 pt 1). A similar conception was recorded in ‘Notes taken at Meeting Held in Huntly Borough Council Chambers…’, 12 July 1972, NZED, Hamilton, Appendix E in NZED, Huntly Power Station: Environmental Impact Statement, Unpublished Report, Wellington, October 1972.

[25] NZED, Huntly Power Station: Environmental Impact Statement, p 18.

[26] Waikato Times (WT), Hamilton, 2 August 1972, p 4, in Electricorp, AANU 7740, W5159/101, 21/90/5, part 1, Power Station – Huntly – Newspaper Cuttings, ANZ, Wellington (hereafter: 21/90/5 pt 1).

[27] ‘Statement of Huntly Borough Council Deputation’, 2 August 1972, in NZED, Huntly Power Station: Environmental Impact Statement, pp 51-52. Other Huntly interests also expressed firm support: Appendix E in ibid, p 48; WT, 14 August 1973, quoted in T.W. Fookes, Public Participation Initiatives, Monitoring Social and Economic Impact: Huntly Case Study, University of Waikato, Final Report Series No.5, Hamilton, December 1981; TDP, 15 August 1973, in Electricorp, 38/11 pt 3.

[28] WT, 16 August 1973, p 4, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1.

[29] WT, 29 March 1973, p 1, in ibid.

[30] The New Zealand Electricity Department (NZED) was the government department responsible for the generation and supply of electricity and for the planning and electrical design of electricity projects. Martin, p 329.

[31] Memorandum from Mackenzie, General Manager, NZED, Wellington to all NZED Districts and Superintendents of Electric Power Stations around New Zealand, 28 July 1970, in Electricorp, 38/11 pt 1.

[32] NZED, ‘Extract from interim report for circulation to thermal station superintendents…’, 15 February 1974, in Electricorp, AANU 7740, W3223/2, 26/2/2/1/1, part 1, Thermal Power Stations 1970-1973, ANZ, Wellington (hereafter: Electricorp 26/2/2/1/1 pt 1).

[33] Appendix E in NZED, Huntly Power Station: Environmental Impact Statement, pp 38-39.

[34] The Ministry of Works and Development (MWD) was the government department responsible for investigation, civil engineering design and construction of electricity generating schemes. Martin, pp 329-330.

[35] Huntly Press, Huntly, 6 March 1974, in Electricorp, 26/2/2/1/1 pt 1; MWD, Huntly Power Project, Wellington, 1979, p 12; T.W. Fookes, Generalisations drawn from the Huntly Monitoring Project, Monitoring Social and Economic Impact: Huntly Case Study, University of Waikato, Final Report Series No. 6, Hamilton, December 1981, p 14. For a full description of the membership, purpose and effectiveness of this group, see Fookes, Public Participation Initiatives, pp 7-11, 19-22.

[36] Auckland Star (AS), Auckland, 9 March 1973; NZH, 2 October 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1; T.W. Fookes, Conclusions. Salient Conclusions drawn from the Proceeding Volumes in this Final Report Series, Huntly Monitoring Project, University of Waikato, Final Report Paper No. 12, Hamilton, December 1981.

[37] Notes by Peter Sheppard, Senior Architect, MoW, Wellington, 13 June 1973 and November 1973, in Peter Sheppard, ‘Family of Forms’, Ministry of Works and Development, 1989; AS, 30 September 1971, p 8; 22 August 1972, p 3; NZED, Huntly Power Station: Environmental Impact Statement, p 4.

[38] Appendix E in ibid, pp 40-43.

[39] AS, 26 July 1973, in Electricorp, AANU 7740, W5162/2, 21/71/5, part 2, Meremere Power Station – Newspaper Cuttings 1959-1987, ANZ, Wellington; Martin, p 238; NZED, Huntly Power Station: Environmental Impact Statement, p 29; NZH, 12 August 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1.

[40] Appendix E in NZED, Huntly Power Station: Environmental Impact Statement, pp 40-43.

[41] Ibid, pp 43, 49; Fookes, Conclusions, pp 2-4.

[42] Ngaparu, p 17.

[43] T.W. Fookes, Expectations and Related Findings 1973-81, Monitoring Social and Economic Impact: Huntly Case Study, University of Waikato, Final Report Series No.4A, Hamilton, December 1981, p 17.

[44] EP, 3 October 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1; Power Development Division, NZED, ‘Environmental Impact Statement: Huntly Power Station’, October 1972, p 6, in Electricorp, AANU 7740, W5159/96, 21/90/2 part 2, ANZ, Wellington (hereafter: Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 2).

[45] Centre for Maori Studies and Research; Ngaparu, p 15;

[46] EP, 3 October 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1.

[47] Centre for Maori Studies and Research. AS, nd (c. March 1973), in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1.

[48] T.W. Fookes, Social and Economic Impact of the Huntly Power Station: First Year Progress Report, Huntly Social and Economic Impact Monitoring Project, School of Social Sciences, University of Waikato, Working Paper No. 2, Hamilton, March 1977; MWD, Huntly Power Project, p 10; Centre for Maori Studies and Research; AS, 22 March 1973; WT, 22 March 1973; 15 June 1973; 2 October 1973, in Fookes, Expectations and Related Findings 1973-81, p 4.

[49] WT, 7 May 1974, p 26, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1.

[50] Centre for Maori Studies and Research. Historical assessments of the relationship between the government and Tainui Waikato at Huntly can also be found in Fookes, Generalisations drawn from the Huntly Monitoring Project, p 16; Fookes, Conclusions, p 9; and Horsley, p 131.

[51] For example: R.H. Wilson, ‘Environmental planning in New Zealand’, New Zealand Engineering, 28, 11, 15 November 1973, pp 330-31; H.R. Williams, ‘Opening address: Engineering and ecology – What is at issue?’ Proceedings of the New Zealand Ecological Society, 19, 1972; D. Scott, ‘A possible set of ecological guidelines for engineers’, Proceedings of the New Zealand Ecological Society, 19, 1972, p 7; Ian G. Crook, ‘Engineering and conservation in the Snowy Mountains, Australia’, Proceedings of the New Zealand Ecological Society, 19, 1972, pp 16-22.

[52] Michael Roche, Land and Water: Water and Soil Conservation and Central Government in New Zealand 1941-1988, Wellington, 1994, p 106; Ron G. Lister, ‘The Clutha Valley: Multiple use and the problems of choice,’ in The Land Our Future: Essays on Land Use and Conservation in New Zealand in Honour of Kenneth Cumberland, A. Grant Anderson (ed), Auckland, 1980, p 187.

[53] A.V. Hatrick, ‘Huntly Power Station: Certain aspects of civil engineering design’, New Zealand Engineering, 31, 5, 15 May 1976, p 150.

[54] C.R. Hannah, ‘A decade of hydrological data management in the Waikato’, in Carol Cramp and Geof Ridall (eds), The Waters of the Waikato: Proceedings of a Seminar held at University of Waikato, 20-22 August 1981, 2, Hamilton, 1981, pp 401-15, p 403; A.W. C.R. Hannah, ‘A decade of hydrological data management in the Waikato’, in Carol Cramp and Geof Ridall (eds), The Waters of the Waikato: Proceedings of a Seminar held at University of Waikato, 20-22 August 1981, 2, Hamilton, 1981, pp 401-15, p 403; A.W. Gibson, ‘The National Water and Soil Conservation Organisation in New Zealand’, in Craig Duncan (ed), The Waters of the Waikato, Hamilton, 1971, pp 37-45, pp 38-40.

[55] Roche, p 105. For the background to the WSCA 1967, as well as a full summary of the membership, functions and powers of NWSCA, see ibid, pp 98-108.

[56] File note, 8 November 1971; briefing note from General Manager, NZED to Minister of Electricity, Wellington, 18 November 1971, in Electricorp, AANU 7740, W5184/44, 34/1, part 2, Water Control – Policy 1970-1973, ANZ, Wellington.

[57] Roche, pp 103-06.

[58] Martin, p 250; Hatrick, p 149; NZED, Stage Environmental Impact Statement for Huntly Thermal Power Station, Wellington, June 1976, p 4.

[59] AS, 6 June 1973; WT, 29 March 1973, p 1, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1; National Water and Soil Conservation Organisation, Water Right No.221, MoW, Wellington, in Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 1; B. H. Pyle, ‘Towards a better understanding of the Waikato River’, Soil and Water, 11, 1, September 1974, pp 15-16.

[60]Alvin Smith and Gary Taylor (eds), Conservation in New Zealand: A Citizen’s Guide to the Law, Auckland, 1985, np.

[61] Evening Star, Dunedin, 30 May 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1; NZH, 22 May 1975, in Electricorp, AANU 7740, W5159/101, 21/90/5, part 2, Power Stations – Huntly Newspaper Cuttings, ANZ, Wellington (hereafter Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 2); Wilson, pp 7-8. The society had already taken other cases against Waikato River polluters and had previously brought a successful prosecution against the Huntly Borough Council over its permit for the temporary discharge of raw sewage into the river (ODT, 27 April 1974, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1; Young, Our Islands, Our Selves, p 198; A.H. Brown (ed), ‘EDS Newsletter’, 2, Environmental Defence Society Inc, Auckland, nd. (c. 1972) in R.J. McLean personal papers, Invercargill).

[62] Appeal to the Town and Country Planning Appeal Board, 12 October 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 1.

[63] WT, 12 September 1973; WT, c. 3 October 1973; NZH, 12 September 1973; WT, c. 8 September 1973, p 3; WT, 13 September 1973, p 26, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1.

[64] WT, 30 March 1973, in ibid.

[65] WT, 29 June 1973, in ibid.

[66] WT, 12 September 1973; NZH, 12 September 1973, in ibid.

[67] Statement by Robert Te Kotahi Mahuta before the Town and Country Planning Appeal Board in the Matter of Water Rights No. 220 and 221, 6 July 1973, p 2, in Ministry of Justice, Tribunals Unit, AADM 7538, W2896/965, TCP 272/73, R.T. Mahuta and others – National Water and Soil Conservation Authority, 1973, ANZ, Wellington.

[68] Appeal to The Town and Country Planning Appeal Board, Wellington, lodged by Thomas Wilson, Solicitor, Auckland, on behalf of appellants Chiefs, Elders and Spokesmen representing sub-tribes of the Waikato tribes, June 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 1.

[69] Martin, p 250. EP, 27 September 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1. Decision of Town and Country Planning Appeal Board, A571, September 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 1.

[70] Decision of Town and Country Planning Appeal Board, A571, September 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 1. WT, 15 October 1973, in Electricorp 21/90/5 pt 1; Fookes, Generalisations drawn from the Huntly Monitoring Project, p 14.

[71] NZH, 16 October 1973, p 6, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1.

[72] Officials enlisted the aid of government advisors and scientists, keen to establish ‘meaningful studies’ (Memorandum from D.H. Jones, NZED to Director-General, DSIR, Wellington, 5 November 1973 and other memoranda from 1973 to 1974 in Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 1). See also: EP, 16 October 1974; WT, 12 August 1974, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 2.

[73] Galbreath, p 160. For a background to the international adoption of environmental impact reporting procedures, see O’Riordon, pp 193-99. For a discussion of the adoption and purpose of environmental impact reporting in New Zealand, see Alvin Smith and Gary Taylor (eds), Conservation in New Zealand: A Citizen’s Guide to the Law, Auckland, 1985, pp 129-35.

[74] Memorandum from Minister for the Environment to Cabinet, 31 October 1972, in Ministry for the Environment 8/2 pt 1; memorandum from Robert G. Norman, Chairman, Officials Committee for the Environment, MoW to Minister for the Environment, Wellington, 7 May 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 1.

[75] Martin, p 250.

[76] The language of environmental impact assessment was still being developed at the time the Huntly EIR was announced. The first report by NZED was known as an Environment Impact Statement but in order to avoid confusion, I use ‘Environment Impact Report’ or EIR, which became the officially accepted term from 1973.

[77] NZED, Huntly Power Station: Environmental Impact Statement, pp 4-5.

[78] Letter from Dr. A.R. Williams, Director, EDS, Auckland to T.M. McGuigan, Minister of Electricity, Wellington, 21 May 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 1.

[79] NZH, 23 May 1973, in ibid. Other newspapers urged the government to release the report, for example: Taranaki Herald , New Plymouth, 7 June 1973, in Electricorp, 38/11 pt 3; NZH, 14 May 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1.

[80] Thomas McGuigan, Minister of Electricity, quoted in WT, 3 May 1973; also 18 May 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1.

[81] Memorandum from J.A. Walding, Minister for the Environment to Prime Minister, Wellington, 25 May 1973, in MfE, 8/2 pt 1.

[82] WT, 30 May 1975, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1.

[83] TDP, 15 August 1973, in Electricorp 38/11 pt 3. Similar comments were made in: WT, 7 June 1973; NZH, 8 June 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1.

[84] Directive from Secretary for the Cabinet, Prime Minister’s Office to Minister for the Environment, Wellington, 6 June 1973, in Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 1.

[85] Memorandum from P.W. Blakely, General Manager, NZED to Director-General, DSIR, Wellington, 3 August 1973, in Electricorp, 38/11 pt 3.

[86] The Dominion, Wellington, 24 February 1975, in ibid.

[87] Letter from Brian T. Coffey, Scientist (Aquatic Weeds) Ruakura to W.J. Shanks, District Manager, NZED, Hamilton, 7 November 1975, in Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 2.

[88] By 1976 there were some 12 government bodies with a specific interest in the environment (WT, 17 February 1976, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 3).

[89] NZH, 24 July 1975, in Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 2.

[90] The ARA was motivated to appeal by a concern about the impacts of the boiler cleaning chemicals on the quality of water. It was deemed an affected party under the WSCA on the basis of its intention to take drinking water for Auckland from the Waikato River at some point in the future (The Evening Standard, Wellington, 8 October 1977, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 3). Full information on the water rights and appeal processes can be found in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 2 and pt 3.

[91] Gisborne Herald, 25 July 1975, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 2.

[92] D.A.R. Williams, Environmental Defence Society Incorporated, ‘Notice of Appeal Pursuant to Section 23 of the Water and Soil Conservation Act 1967’, p 3, in Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 2.

[93] Manawatu Evening Standard (MES), Palmerston North, 8 October 1977; WT, 11 October 1977, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 3.

[94] NZH, 1 August 1975, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 2.

[95] AS, 17 July 1975, in ibid; MES, 8 October 1977; WT, 11 October 1977, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 3.

[96] WT, 11 October 1977, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 3.

[97] NZED, Stage Environmental Impact Statement; NZED, Supplement to Stage Environmental Impact Statement: Huntly Thermal Power Station, Wellington, June 1976.

[98] Memorandum from D.H. Jones, Project Liaison Officer, NZED to Project Engineer, NZED, MoW, Huntly, 13 January 1975, in Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 1.

[99] Letter from J.C. Fitzpatrick, Hamilton to the Commissioner for the Environment, 30 August 1976, in Ministry for the Environment, AAUM, W4043/69, ENV 8/2/A, part 1, Huntly Power Station – Submissions – 1976, ANZ, Wellington (hereafter: MfE, 8/2/A pt 1).

[100] R.T. Mahuta, Director, Centre for Maori Studies and Research, University of Waikato, ‘Huntly Thermal Power Station: Comments on N. Z. Electricity Department Stage Two Environmental Impact Report June 1976’, Hamilton, August 1976, pp 4, 7 in ibid.

[101] NZH, 28 May 1974, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1; Barry Denton, Project Engineer, NZED, Huntly, quoted in AS, 31 July 1975, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 2.

[102] Ministry of Energy Electricity Division, Huntly Power Station, Wellington, 1982, np; Martin, pp 252-53; notes by Peter Sheppard, Senior Architect, MoW, Wellington, November 1973, in Sheppard, np.

[103] Barry Denton, Project Engineer, NZED, Huntly, quoted in Transcript, 6:00pm Evening Report, 2YA Radio, 19 December 1975, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 2.

[104] Records of the Huntly Planning Forum provide ample examples of multitude local concerns, as do the social monitoring reports produces by Fookes and his team at the University of Waikato. Information from these innovative programmes can be found in MWD; Fookes, Public Participation Initiatives and Conclusions.

[105] D. Carey, Rotongaro Federated Farmers, quoted in NZH, 6 April 1977, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 3.

[106] MWD, pp 10-11.

[107] NZH, 12 April 1977, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 3; WT, 2 October 1973; 3 November 1973, quoted in Fookes, Expectations and Related Findings 1973-81.

[108] R.T. Mahuta, Director, Centre for Maori Studies and Research, University of Waikato, ‘Huntly Thermal Power Station: Comments on N.Z. Electricity Department Stage Two Environmental Impact Report June 1976’, Hamilton, August 1976, p 17; NZH, 18 November 1975, in MfE, 8/2/A pt 1.

[109] AS, 27 August 1977, p 18.

[110] Transcript, TV News, 7:00pm, 8 October 1974, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 2.

[111] AS, 27 August 1977, p 18. On the issue of the effects of construction of the power scheme in breaking up Maori kinship groups, particularly by the closure of the local Rakaumanga Primary School, see Centre for Maori Studies and Research, p 45.

[112] WT, 6 May 1974, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 1; The Evening Star, Dunedin, 11 April 1977; EP, 12 September 1977, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 3. The vocal protest at Waahi Marae occurred at a time of increasingly overt activism in Maori society in the 1960s and 1970s. See Belich, p 478.

[113] EP, 12 September 1977, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 3.

[114] EP, 9 October 1978, np, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 4; Martin, p 251.

[115] Memorandum from J.C. Wilson, Head Office, MWD, Wellington to Project Engineer, Huntly Power Project, MWD, Huntly, 7 April 1977, in Electricorp, 21/90/2 pt 2. Mahuta had made the suggestion in ‘Huntly Thermal Power Station’, August 1976, p 8, in MfE, 8/2/A pt 1.

[116] Northern Advocate, Whangarei, 13 February 1981, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 4.

[117] Berleant, p 10.

[118] EP, 6 March 1975, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 2; G.H. Robinson and R.G. Whillock, ‘Huntly Power Station: Some aspects of plant design’, New Zealand Engineering, 31, 5, 15 May 1976, p 137; Electricity Division, Huntly Power Station, np.

[119] Horsley, p 131. Morris Te Whiti Love, ‘Dealing with the Maori Cultural and Spiritual Imperatives in the 21st Century in Water Resources’, 12 November 2003, pp 1-3, online, available at http://www.iiirm.org/publications/
Articles%20Reports%20Papers/Cultural% 20Resources%20Management/ATT00004.pdf
(1 October 2010).

[120] NZH, 22 September 1977, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 3; Fookes, Conclusions, p 5; MES, 8 October 1977, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 3. After negotiations with local councillors, in 1977 the government granted Huntly Borough Council $1 million towards providing public amenities, and Raglan County Council received $590,000 for a major sports complex (T.W. Fookes, Answers to Peoples’ Questions, Monitoring Social and Economic Impact: Huntly Case Study, University of Waikato, Final Report Series No.1, Hamilton, December 1981, p 31).

[121] NZH, 7 July 1977, in Electricorp, 21/90/5 pt 3.

[122] Fookes, Huntly Power Project: A Description, p 2.

[123] Fookes, Answers to Peoples’ Questions, p 53.