From the sun to the fund to Ōtaki’s bright ideas… 

Money from Aotearoa’s first community-owned solar farm powers up seven energising projects

Energise Ōtaki is delighted to announce the recipients of this year’s — first-ever! — round of the Whakahiko Ōtaki–Energise Ōtaki Fund.

With close to three times the amount of funds available as applied for, the committee had hard choices to make. In total, seven projects are to receive full or partial funding totalling almost $19,000. 

The Whakahiko Ōtaki–Energise Ōtaki Fund committee also decided to give koha to three applicant groups, to support their energy plans.

Ngā mihi to Ōtaki Playcentre; Ōtaki Montessori PreSchool and Te Whare o Rēhia–Ōtaki Toy Library, for all the energy you share with and cultivate in our little ones. 


Dave Timperley: ’GoBox’      $5,800

Building a prototype for a portable electricity storage unit made out of recycled laptop batteries.

Dave Timperley and team plan to design a power source for when the grid goes down, so that people can continue to do the basics – make meals, charge phones, access the internet for news, light up the night etc. 

[Update: Go-Box completed initial investigations for Go Box with part of their funding ($1600) and decided not to proceed. They then fully refunded the Fund.]

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rito: ‘Ngahere Kai’      $2,000

Providing elements including compost and mulch to begin a food forest. 

 Kaiako/ teacher Roimata Baker and team are to start a food forest at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rito. From planting to harvesting, this will take the classroom outdoors – and contribute to their Lunches in Schools program, beginning with fruits, greens and root crops. 

Ōtaki College: ‘Caretaker’s EV’        $3,500

Working with senior engineering students to design and build a solar-charging electric caretaker’s grass-mower/ tools transporter. 

Ōtaki College teacher Chris Georgetti will extend his experience designing solar-powered go-carts with students to coming up with an emissions-friendly vehicle for the College caretaker.

Te Puna Oranga o Ōtaki: ‘Home Ventilation and Drafts’       $3,500

Addressing energy poverty and consumption by helping ’fill the gaps’ in the Warm Up Ōtaki home heating project, including mould removal and repairs for heat retention and efficiency. 

Moko Morris and team at Te Puna Oranga o Ōtaki are already addressing energy poverty by connecting eligible households with highly subsidised insulation and heat-pumps (via Warm Up Ōtaki, with Energise Ōtaki and the Wellington Sustainability Trust). This funding will pay for small fixes to help keep warm air in.

Zero Waste Ōtaki: ‘Harvest Water’       $1,146

Practicing water conservation by setting up a donated water tank to harvest water from Zero Waste Ōtaki’s mains-free site. 


Zero Waste Ōtaki: ‘Composting Toilet’      $1,000

Purchasing a composting toilet for Zero Waste Ōtaki’s on site volunteers; further conserving water and preventing unnecessary infrastructure. 

Zero Waste Ōtaki founder Jamie Bull made two successful applications, both for ZWŌ’s site and furthering their long term plan for the site to be self-sufficient. ZWŌ primarily aims to divert wood from landfill, while educating and employing locals. 

Te Kura ā Iwi o Whakatupuranga Rua Mano: ‘Te Whakahaumanu Taiao’       $2,000

Supporting the continued revival of the Maringi-a-Wai stream, including making use of restoration work as a teaching resource for tamariki at Te Kura ā Iwi o Whakatupuranga Rua Mano.

Kaitiaki Whenua/ teacher Merle Metekingi and team will continue work started two years ago in restoring the stream behind the kura; an ongoing learning opportunity for students. 

Congratulations to all these fantastic, energising ideas. We are very proud to play a supporting role in your plans. 

Soon to come: profiles of all projects in the running for People’s Choice bonus funding.