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As part of its aim to introduce private sector investment into the energy sector, the NZ Government offered for sale three hydroelectric power stations – Kaitawa (36 MW), Tuai (60 MW) and Piripaua (42 MW) using water from Lake Waikaremoana and the Waikaretaheke River and a number of its tributaries. The then community-owned electricity retailer, Bay of Plenty Electricity, now Horizon Networks sought to bid for the hydro scheme and wanted to create a competitive advantage by working with current landowners and lake owners in the region.


A growing number of businesses are understanding the competitive value of adopting alliances with indigenous people as a part of their strategy for long term corporate survival. This approach aligns with society's changing expectations about what constitutes socially responsible corporate behavior, the growing indigenous population with increasing affluence and level of education, and the rapidly growing pool of natural and financial resources coming under the control of indigenous people as a result of government making amends for previous illegitimate alienation of the indigenous people of their resources. Our innovative approach was to bring in the original indigenous landowners where the three hydro-station were located into a workable consortium, comprising a neighboring community-owned energy retailer and the landowners, and involved assisting the community-owned energy retailer navigate local contextual issues and developing a management and communication strategy.


While ultimately unsuccessful given that the government withdrew the assets for sale before a general election, we were able to demonstrate the benefits of energy companies linking in with indigenous and local community-owned enterprises. Close alliances between the private sector, community-owned enterprises and indigenous peoples shows demonstrable benefits to all involved. Research undertaken at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College in 1997 showed the benefits of companies linking in with indigenous and local community-owned enterprises, providing a community, social, cultural, and environmental context to their investment.

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