New Zealand High Commission Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Northern Group Renewable Energy Project Underway

The New Zealand High Commission and Cook Islands Office of the Prime Minister today welcomed the announcement of the construction contract for solar photovoltaic systems to be built on all six atolls in the Northern Group.

The project is called “Uira Natura ki te Tokerau”, which means “Natural Light of the North”.

“New Zealand is working in partnership with the Cook Islands’ Government to boost renewable energy use across the remote Northern Group of atolls. The goal is to provide increased access to efficient, reliable, safe, affordable, and sustainable energy services,” said New Zealand High Commissioner Joanna Kempkers. 

“New Zealand company PowerSmart Ltd has been awarded a contract to design and commission eight photovoltaic/diesel hybrid systems across the islands of Manihiki, Rakahanga, Penrhyn, Pukapuka, Nassau, and Palmerston. The project will also install new distribution networks, household cabling and metering. The renewable energy systems are designed for solar energy to meet 95% of the electricity demand, which will reduce diesel use by over 230,000 litres per year”, said the Cook Islands Prime Minister’s chief of staff Elizabeth Koteka-Wright.

“The contract was awarded to PowerSmart through an open and competitive tender process and they will be using local labour to complete the projects, as well as construction sub-contractors Top Energy and McConnell Dowell” said Wright.

“Uira Natura ki te Tokerau is just part of New Zealand’s contribution to renewable energy in the Cook Islands, and rapid progress is also being made on Te Mana o Te Ra, the 960kWp solar project under construction at Rarotonga Airport”, said Kempkers. 

“The Cook Island Government has set itself ambitious targets of 50 percent renewable energy by 2015 and 100 per cent by 2020. The projects on the Northern Group will enable the 2015 target to be reached ahead of schedule”, explained Wright.

“The project will commence this week with a reconnaissance trip to the Northern Group, followed by delivery of goods and construction over the remainder of the year,” said Kempkers.

Renewable energy is a major focus of New Zealand’s support to developing countries. The Uira Natura ki te Tokerau project is in line with New Zealand’s $65 million commitment toward renewable energy initiatives in the Pacific, made at the Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland, 2013.
PowerSmart is a Tauranga-based renewable energy company that has extensive experience developing projects like these in the Pacific. Last week the Government of Tokelau won the 2014 EECA Renewable Energy Award for the Tokelau Renewable Energy Project, a project that was also designed and commissioned by PowerSmart and which provides overt 90% of Tokelau’s electricity needs from renewable energy. 

For further enquiries please contact Joseph Mayhew by phone on 22201 or by email at , or Elizabeth Koteka-Wright by phone on 29301 or by email at

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