Saturday, September 6, 2008

Storm Clouds Gathering

Excerpt from the Manawatu Evening Standard, 5 September, 2008

Article entitled: Push to end protection of ranges.

" Energy companies are pushing the Tararua District Council to loosen the rules on wind farm consents, making it easier to build on the ranges.
Genesis Energy, Trustpower, Meridian Energy, and Might River Power have all made separate submissions to the Tararua council, currently up for review. They are campaigning for new policies to make wind farms a priority in the district, and pushing for a slackening of the present guidelines. In the current policy on environmental heritage, the skyline of the ranges in the district is considered a protected natural feature. Trustpower wants this wording cut, with references to the protection of the "skyline of Tararua Ranges, Ruahine Ranges, Puketoi Ranges, and the Manawatu Gorge", deleted from the plan entirely. Genesis wants the council to recognize the importance of developing the wind resource in the district. It also wants a new policy allowing for coastal wind farms. And the Energy Efficient and Conservation Authority, an independent government advisory body, is lobbying for council to accept the necessity of wind farms in rural areas". "Tararua mayor Maureen Reynolds said wind energy has become a big issue in the Tararua since the last district plan review, 10 years ago. The district plan, a blue print for the district's future, is reviewed only once every 10 years. Summaries of the plan submissions can be viewed online at Objections to any submissions can be made until 3 October".

Imagine the scene behind John in this photo, the steep and high peaks of the Mokai Patea , covered in windmills from end to end. This very well could be the reality of the Ruahine ranges and its future. I never set out or envisioned this blog to addressing issues such as religion or politics, or the environment, but the real truth is when we share ourselves in this format, when we really write from our hearts and souls, we do that anyway. If we are honest we expose who we really are in our beliefs and values.

I have been neither pro or anti wind generation. I have spent more time today reading up on the issue from all points of view and like anything there are pros and cons with issue of wind power in and of itself. What I am against is having big money energy companies ramming policy down the throats of citizens through fairly back door changes to policy regarding their implementation. A district that reviews its policy every 10 years and the citizenry is made aware of potential drastic changes to that policy and given less than 4 weeks to respond? How long ago have these monopolistic companies put forth these proposals and why separately? More chances to succeed I suppose. And just who is the Energy and Efficiency and Conservation Authority funded by? A very heady name for a "lobby" group wanting to deconstruct current policy CONSERVING the ranges.

This is more about money and economics than it is about altruistic reasoning for ad vocation of wind farms. Jobs are created to build the things, roads have to be built and supplied, land has to be leased, and our insatiable need for power grows and grows. This is just progress.

Yet wind power as an answer still falls short of supplying more and more power. The amount of wind mills needed, for instance, to supply power for 600 homes would equate to more than one wind mill per home! And there are issues with wind power as a truly reliable and efficient source of supply. " For starters, wind power is very unreliable. The turbines that produce the electricity work only when the wind is blowing within a specific, narrow range of speed. In its down time the system has to convert to conventional sources, and the switching between wind and conventional power requires an even greater output of energy just to make the conversion". Taken from the Heartland Institute article, Picken's Windy Scheme Will Leave Taxpayers Holding the Bag, written and published August 2008.

In addition are the vast amounts of land required not just for the wind turbine itself, but the grading necessary around each one to prepare for its installation, the roads required, vast power lines, substations, turbines and laydown areas. It simply is not the clean and green solution our friendly power companies would have us believe.

Let me write from my heart. I love the Ruahine ranges. The mere fact they are there makes my soul fill with joy. I wonder how many people actually drive down from Hawkes Bay to Palmerston North, or from Taupo down on the western side, and, on a fine day, really see them. Now as spring only begins to unfold, snow covered majestic and stunning, or more often far off blueish peaks rugged and sharp on and on into the distance. I wonder if the people of the Taraura, the farmers, the citizens of its lovely towns, those who live in back blocks, the truckers who drive the highways and back roads day after day, I wonder how often they might glance at the ranges, even if for a brief second, and appreciate the freedom and wildness and beauty before them. What price do we put on that view? When do we as people stop raping this planet and start actually asking how can we live with less? I know the absurdity of that question even as I write it.

As for me, I perhaps have finally found my cause, my fight, my reason to do what I can to preserve the Mana Heke Iho, Inherent Dignity, of the Ruahine Ranges. They have given me more than I can express in words, they have opened to me a World where my soul found peace, they have restored my own mana heke iho. Now they need me, they need my voice, and yours as well. I can no more turn my back upon them as I could my own child or friend in need.

I apologize in advance for taking this to a place I never intended, and I hope that you lovely people who normally visit here do not roll your eyes and disappear. I will be making an objection to these submissions and would appreciate any feed back or opinions you have in helping me write that objection.

" If wilderness is our true home, and if it is threatened with invasion, pillage, and destruction - as it certainly is - then we have a right to defend that home, as we would our private quarters, by whatever means necessary... Eco-defense means fighting back.....Spread the word". Edward Abbey.


Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Kia Ora Robb

There can only be one answer to wind generators polluting the skylines of the Tararua's and other asscociated ranges. That is a resounding no !

New Zealand has been tardy in developing cost-effective solar energy at household level. With the sunshine hours we have in NZ, household solar energy for heating water and houses would reduce our dependemce on hydro electric power and negate the need for wind generators ruining our national parks, scenic reserves and other important conservation lands.

In the late 60s I was a strong supporter of Paul Powell, the great mountaineer, conservationist and writer who wrote the book, "Who killed the Clutha." He wrote a song to the tune of God sabe New Zealand and some of the lines go:

Flood the Wilkin, dam the Rees,
Will their planning ever cease,
When they reach Aspiring's top,
God Defend New Zealand.

We need to unite to prevent this folly going ahead and look at individual solar energy, sea wave generation and other methods. If we insulated all NZ houses, with bats and double glazing etc., energy saving would be huge.

I want my children and grandchildren to tramp the high ranges without dodging windmills.

If you are getting a petition underway, I would be happy to add my name to it.


Anonymous said...

Amen BOB!!! I really liked your strength is this comment. You can come in my raft any day!! :) :)

Robb I too am behind you. Let us help. I sent you a long email with ideas and suggestions. It sounds like Bob has some good ideas too. Also that third link I just sent you in the email is located in your area. Here is the link again.

We could all help you proof a petition and not only sign it but help you get it up on other sites.

Keep an eyes open for my email. I saved a copy in case it didn't go through, I had trouble sending it.

I am very proud of you!

Anonymous said...

Robb, count me in to help. I am willing to sign a petition, write a letter, and/or post a link to a petition it on my website somewhere permanently. These natural places are so few and far between, now - it's essential that we stand by them and protect them, in any way that we can. Please let me know what I can do. You can write me at

I am a big proponent of solar energy as an alternative resource. I hope that this might be a great feasible form of energy in the future, rather than what you have described here, which alters our land in this way.

I'm so sorry that your beloved peaks are the target of such a change. May they never come to any harm.

Marja said...

Robb I totally agree with you and you already pointed out why. It ruins the beauty. It is unreliable
and to my knowlegde it has never been used as an substitute but just as an addition. In Holland they are placed in stretched areas where not many people live but the opinion is that it is not a solution. There are many alternatives and in the first place NZ has to learn to save energy. They are far behind in that area.

I hope that people will sent their objections. Good luck with it and I will back you up if you need it

Anonymous said...

Hi Robb.

Thanks for posting this. I randomly stumbled on your blog recently and wouldn't have had any idea if you hadn't mentioned it. I'm still trying to get my head around exactly what's going on, and not living in the immediate vicinity I only tend to get that far north four or five times a year and only really know the area by the specific places I've been to. The Ruahines are an awesome place for tramping though -- I was up there a couple of weekends ago with someone who was comparing the experience with the French Alps, which is somewhere I've never been but I'm guessing it was a pretty strong compliment.

Do you have any idea what they're likely to actually be wanting to do? Is it a case of more and larger turbines in roughly the same vicinity to where they are already (but more visible), or would we be expecting 200 metre turbines lining Sawtooth in 15 years' time?

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Thank you for your words and support. I have been in touch with the local support group. I will be putting online a peition to support their trying to prevent the rewording of the policy and try to drum up as much support as possible in this suspiciously narrow time frame. Good to know you are out there.
Ka kite ano,

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Robin,
All I will write here is thank you and you help restore my waning faith in humanity.

Ruahines said...

Tena koe Ophelia,
I will be in touch,thank you for your thoughts and input.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Marja,
Like Bob, your words are wise but it simply seems most of the world is not ready to LISTEN. Progress is still seen as good, even when "Green" solutions trample on our environment. I am trying to find my voice, and I appreciate your support. Kia ora Marja.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Mike,
Cheers, and I hope to return to simply sharing my experiences in these beautiful ranges, rather than having to be so politically charged.
You ask the million dollar question my friend. Right now it appears the changing of the wording sought by the 4 energy companies is to make it open slather on the lower North Island for implementation of wind farms.
Right now the Ruahines, and Tararuas are conservation land under the auspices of DOC. However with a highly likely government change to National I would write the RMA or Resource Management Act would soon be under determined attack. The whole tie in here of course is the closer and closer these wind farms encroach on these areas the bigger, and easier targets they become.
I doubt the more rugged Ruahine and Tararua tops would be targeted, by accessing them via a corridor of huge wind mills could be a potential reality. Stay tuned.
Ka kite ano,

Ruahines said...

Hi Mike,
I meant,but accessing them through a corridor of wind turbines, sorry.
Also, as you wrote about not knowing, neither did I until seeing that article. This is how these power companies operate, and it makes me wonder about the motives of the councils as well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Robb.

This is a co-incidence but I was browsing the September 2008 Wilderness magazine just now and Colin Moore, the magazine's Travel Editor, has written a 2 page opinion piece about wind turbines and landscapes (pages 94-95) titled "Not in My Back Yard". It might be worth a read if you're following up the topic right now. It's probably in shops at the moment, or maybe at a library if you have one nearby. (Otherwise let me know and I'll be happy to photograph the article and email it to you.) I suspect he wrote it without being aware of this specific case, and maybe he's also trying to be provocative to generate some letters back to the magazine.

He seems to be generally supportive of wind farms and trying to argue that claims they invade the landscape are often without much substance compared with the need for sustainable power generation, etc etc. I think his point is meant to be that no matter where energy companies want to build wind farms, small groups of locals will nearly always try to stop them, and in the wider scheme of how things work this is making it impossible to develop them anywhere, especially when wind generation somewhere is probably far more preferable to flooding another large valley somewhere down south. He also reckons that supposedly not everyone thinks wind farms are ugly (himself included), so arguing about "ugliness" by itself might not stand up when trying to convince the wider community that blocking a wind farm is a good idea. (Especially if the wider community doesn't spend much time tramping in and appreciating their own back yard.) The Makara wind farm near Wellington's south coast is one recent example of where there's been lots of controversy, and it's probably the sort of thing he's getting at.

To be fair to the author, he might actually agree with you that they don't belong here. He does state at the end of the article that "wind turbines are utterly inappropriate on many locations, so much so in fact that it should be a non-issue. In any case, many of those iconic landscapes are public or reserved lands with a considerable degree of protection".

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Mike,
I usually do buy the Wilderness magazine but have not this month as things have been a bit busy. Thanks for the heads up.
This is a discussion I have already had with a few people. The brutal fact from these parts is they already ARE in my backyard. I see them everyday in not far off distance. From a simply selfish point then I could say to Mr. Moore, my area has done its bit then for "sustainable" power generation, tell them to look in someone elses "back yard". My beef Mike is not necessarily wind power generation, though the more I read about it the more questions I have about its real cost benefit effectiveness and true evironmental "friendliness". My beef is with the bully boy tactics of the power companies in standing over local councils to change wording of Environmental Heritage policy, to acknowledge in them the economic benefits to the local economies, and turning the lower north island into a giant wind farm. Who exactly benefits economically? The farmers who lease the land, the power companies in tax benefits and future green house gas credits, but exactly whom else? I don't know anyone here raving on about their power bills being any less expensive.
The whole crux in my view Mike, is this "sustainable" issue. As long as we keep demanding more and more power this will be the result we get. More and more wind farms, more dams - there are also Ruahine rivers ear marked for hydro development, another story - until one day even the dreaded N word will start being bantered about. As Bob wrote above, solar power, bats, double glazing, wave generation, all areas that could be better subsidized by our government, and reduce our power consumption meaning less profit pouring into the power company coffers, which they would not like I suppose. Yet to write that is also to be branded a greenie whacko, or against "progress". I just keep asking myself when I see my little son sleeping, what sort of world are we leaving you?
Cheers Mike, please do send that through if you get a moment, and thanks for the thoughts.

Unknown said...


Thank you for being passionate about this! I feel and share your passion and I want to help. I don't want to ever be a bystander in my life, I'd rather be a hero!!

I've been reading the fundamental teachings of Buddha and I want to live with less, sale many of my needless belongings, not buy that which I don't need and preserve that which I have. I want to do this for nature too. If we could all just start living this way, our Mother Earth wouldl be loved and cared for and the human condition might take a turn for the better.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
Unfortunately too many people see living more simply and with less as going backward, not "progressing". And we continue to destroy the earth. I am so concerned about what we are leaving our children. I have to be a voice.
Kia ora D'Arcy for your thoughts and concerns, and I will keep you posted. I am arranging a petition online, with the lovely Ophelia and robin's guidance, to get as many people to express their views.
Stay tuned!

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Robb, this same wind farm issue is happening in Michigan too. I remember the outcry when only two windmills became visible from the Mackinaw Bridge. Many townspeople thought that they marred the landscape. They are still there.

When you stand on the shoreline of Tahquamenon Bay, you can see tons of windmills in the distance on the far landscape.

I have to say, I see a beauty in the movement of the windmill blades and I see the energy produced as a positive way to harness electricity. But, looking at your mountain views, it's hard to image the windmills sticking up in the air there.

Good luck with your endeavors.


vegetablej said...


Alternative power generation like windmills seem to be a positive step when compared to far less friendly things like dams, nuclear stations, and coal burning plants BUT common sense has to be used in locating them.

As the designs stand now they are nowhere near as people-friendly as the Dutch wind and water mills used in the last century. I'm not sure why such monster-sized and futuristic mills were designed, but I suspect the fact that they were developed commercially has something to do with it. Why settle for something small which could serve a few houses when you can centralize and make something that gives a bigger profit?

In fact, I think that is the crux of the issue. Power generation and distribution is no longer a government _service_ but a for-profit activity. I think it needs to be thought of in the former way if we want to get the over-scale, aesthetics, and greed back to a more manageable size.

To that end, I recommend that people and governments get on track with _solar power_. The real estate is already available on people's roofs. We don't need to attack the large natural spaces which are the last haven of wildlife and people seeking a little soul medecine. We don't need to develop much more technology either as it's already in place. We _do_ need governments to sponsor conversions more, though, especially for those that can't afford it. While it is happening slowly, it could be more widespread with a bit more government impetus and people asking more insistent questions of their representatives.

As Al Gore noted in a recent speech, "Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world's energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses."

Even Thomas Edison said, near the end of his life, that he would put his money on solar power.

Selling the mountains, rivers and forests, the birthright of everything living there, for the benefit of a few hasn't worked in Japan or Canada and it won't work in New Zealand. The result is a soulless landscape producing alienation rather than health.

I hope many others will join you as you raise your voice in love and outrage. Together you (we) can make the mountains ring loudly enough that even the politicians will grow ears. Gambatte!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora JJ,
Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder that is true, and part of the grey argument I suppose about what exactly is considered to be Environmental Heritage views. We are all entitled to our "views" on that.
But as I have tried to state above, more or less unilateral moves by power companies to change that definition, or eliminate it from that policy, by strong arming local councils with threats and money I am dead against.
Even a democratic process will be short sighted as the vast majority of people just want to not think about what is behind turning on their lights. But at least let democracy speak.
Until we change how we interact with this planet this will never cease.
Kia ora for your input JJ.

Anonymous said...

Hi Robb.I'll sign your petition. As you know I'm a Greenie and proud to say so. I would never"roll my eyes' and desert your readership. On the contrary I admire people with the courage of their environmental convictions, and look where the eyerolling of the world has left us, when people turn away from these issues.Go for it Robb!

Anonymous said...

..and remember that post that you liked so much, on decisions? In it was the quote "Let the beauty we love be what we do". So do it.Some things are worth fighting for.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora VJ,
You are a wise woman as well as an amazing cook! I love your words about Thomas Edison. I am really starting to believe these large share holder driven power companies do not want to see solar investigated and made more affordable as it will simply cut too deeply into their profits. Yet the madness has to stop. I love the Ruahines too much so I have found the place to "stake myself out" as the old weary Indians used to do in battle. Please see the petition and join us VJ. Kia ora my friend.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pam,
Thanks for reminding me of your post. I hope you are back on line, obviously must be if you are here, so I can return and read it again. Thank you for your words and support, and please follow the link in the above post to the petition. Aroha,

Paterika Hengreaves said...

Kia ora Robb

This presumptuous rape of the New Zealand landscape pains my soul. And Robb I do agree with you. Money gods don't like nothing that is naturally beautiful. I was drawn to the natural beauty of Aotearoa and was delighted when I found out that areas are putting power lines below the ground to preserve the natural beauty of skyline. Open windows to view awesome sunrises and sunsets, moon and the stars, flying things great and small, etc. Folks will be forced to wear earplugs to keep the horrible cries of the windmills from invading their private space, so said. Tourists come to Aotearoa to feast on its natural beauty and pristine places.So sad if such beauty is eroded. Your singing birds, I love the Tui, and so much more. I think it is only right and fair for Kiwis to resist those monopolistic companies from transforming their beautiful land into a Don Quixote wasteland. I hope that commonsense prevails in this matter and the natural beauty of the Ruahine ranges are preserved as national treasures for the now and future generations of kiwis to enjoy...I see heritage tourism as more viable than those ugly metal monstrosities that would wipe out aviary population as well. Oh the greed of man and nations...raping mother earth...evil in every sense of the world. Aesthetic beauty appreciation not their forte. So Sad!

Warm regards

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Paterika,
You rock! I am listening to our resident Tui's sing right outside my window, a song for you Paterika! They are singing thank you for your aroha and beautiful spirit, and for caring about our land. Your rendition of that poem just blows me away. I want to figure out how to put it on my blog. Have a beautiful day my friend.

ghreeblestaff said...

Indeed, your pen has found a mission, although I'm not sure yet that the fight epitomized by Hayduke himself is your most important mission...
As the dear old bastard himself said,
"One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards."
I have seen this one cited as coming from a piece by Ed called 'Joy, Shipmates, Joy', alluding to a very salient poem from another excellent iconoclast, Uncle Walt Whitman. Another story entirely, there, you know.
Anyhow- I have enjoyed many a fight for an ideal that I saw as well worth great effort and sacrifice, and lost a few of them in the scuffle with men and women of power and influence. I have been very discouraged at times, and been weighed down with sorrow and anger.
This is a battle well worth your time, and I don't mean to give advice. I do, however, commend to you this one thing: Please don't let this fight affect your soul or your founts of joy, not in the least.
That would be a victory for them, indeed. We can't let them have that, Robb.
"I don't come to bow, I come to conquer."
Robert Nesta Marley
Yours is a soul that conquers by love and joy, I know.
I am happy for you, Robb. You enjoy much that is worthy of valiant defense.

Gustav said...


As Edward Abbey said "use half your energy to fight for nature but save the other half for enjoying it".

Both are needed. I am with you on both accounts.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Gustav,
Too true brother. To be honest, I would relish just the roaming half with you right now. Just be Pure and Amongst IT with our packs, a map, and each other.