Photo: Keepa Digital – Tū Mai Rā Solar Solutions panels

“Where would you find three Māori businesses and a Vietnamese company offering international solar solutions?” asked Darrin Apanui, General Manager of Tū Mai Rā Investments.

In Gisborne, also appropriately known as the ‘first place in the world to see the sun.’

Tū Mai Rā Solar Solutions panels Photo: Keepa Digital

Tū Mai Rā Investments have partnered with Ice Solutions, Poutama and Solar BK, Vietnam to open the development facility in Gisborne, offering international solar solutions.

Tū Mai Rā Investments, the investment arm of Rangitāne o Tamaki Nui a Rua & Wairarapa, brings expert knowledge in investments and asset management to the partnership.  They also bring a strong commitment to grow their iwi aspirations with a desire to train and develop Māori solar engineers.

(From left to right) Richard Jones – Poutama CEO and Rangitāne Tū Mai Rā Investments Chair, Warwick Gernhoefer – Rangitāne Tū Mai Rā Trustee and Director, Yvette Grace – General Manager, Rangitāne Tū Mai Rā Trust, Khoa Nguyen – Rangitāne Tū Mai Rā Investments Director, Darrin Apanui – General Manager, Rangitāne Tū Mai Rā Investments.  Photo: Keepa Digital

Ice Solutions is the Clarke whānau run business.  Specialising in electrical and refrigeration system design for more than 30 years.  Ice Solutions with whakapapa to Ngāti Porou and Rangitāne provide the expert engineering and project management component.

(From left to right) Richard Clarke, Craig Clarke, Jocelyn Clarke, Kieran Irving, Sam Phillips, Dion Cordiner, Rebecca Swann, Andrew McDonald, Liam Berney.  Photo: Keepa Digital

The third Māori partner, Poutama, has been developing and connecting ideas and Māori businesses since 1988.  Poutama has been supporting the development of Māori/Iwi businesses for more than 30 years.

Solar BK, Vietnam is an inter-generational whānau business led by CEO, Tuan Nguyen with 40 years of continuous research and development experience of renewable energy.  Solar BK is the largest privately-owned Solar company in Vietnam.  It has state of the art design, marketing, research, recycling and manufacturing facilities.  They also have offices in Asia, America and Europe.

The Māori business model resonates with our Vietnamese colleagues with the focus on whānau and inter-generational business expertise, practice and knowledge.

Calling in to Vietnamese partner – Solar BK, Vietnam.  Photo: Keepa Digital

At the launch of Tū Mai Rā Solar Solutions Sir John Clarke, older brother to Richard Clarke and Uncle to Craig Clarke presided over the opening.  Not only is he the kaumātua to Tū Mai Rā Solar Solutions, he also brings a wealth of knowledge in government legislation and development, treaty settlement processes and Maori business development.  Underpinning these skill sets is an unwavering in-depth knowledge of te reo me ona tikanga a iwi and connecting us all through whakapapa.

The partners: Richard Jones – Poutama, Sir John Clarke – Our Solar Kaumatua, Craig Clarke – Ice Solutions, Darrin Apanui – Tū Mai Rā Investments

Following the opening of the solar solutions development facility, Tuan says, “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be part of this great journey.  My family and our team are both very excited and appreciated this strategic partnership.  Let us make great things happen as a big family.”

Collectively these four companies bring an impressive record of expertise, practice and aspirations for creating clean, green sustainable energy, along with the aspiration of contributing to the development of Māori, communities and commercial businesses.

The Tū Mai Rā Solar Solutions development facility will offer:

  • Solar research and performance
  • Testing of new innovations in solar use
  • Develop new ways of generating ice, water and heating and cooling solutions powered by solar
  • A hub to train solar engineers of the future

General Manager, Darrin Apanui said, “Tū Mai Rā is excited to offer solar power solutions for the commercial sector, businesses of all sizes, and communities like papakāinga, schools, and marae.”

“We can offer heating, cooling and ice solutions powered by solar for hospitals, supermarkets, food and beverage processors, marae, hotels and retirement villages,” says Mr Apanui.

According to MBIE report, as at 31 December 2017, solar accounted for a mere 0.27%, compared to 89.76% for hydro for generating electricity (Source: MBIE Energy in New Zealand Report 2018).

Tū Mai Rā Solar Solutions anticipates that solar energy development in NZ will only increase.  That there will also be a growing need for solar powered businesses and communities to share their stories of sustainability and caring for the environment.

Their approach is to be an energy generating partner with businesses and communities so that they oversee their energy needs.

For example, Tū Mai Rā Solar Solutions are working with schools to enable them to be educational leaders in renewable energy.

While the customised solar system design will be optimised to closely match the energy needs of schools, consideration is also given to how the solar system can enable schools to be an educational hub for students.  Our goal for the development of students is to let them learn the science involved in sustainable energy and our responsibility to protect the environment.

Educational and monitoring dashboards have the potential to provide real-time information on solar irradiance, water consumption and class temperatures to enable and encourage students to reduce unnecessary waste.

Tū Mai Rā Solar Solutions will provide similar type custom designs to the commercial sector and communities so that they can also monitor and plan their energy usage to meet their sustainability goals.

As Richard Jones of Poutama says, “We are democratising energy, putting power back in your hands, through monitoring and controlling and enabling the option to share and gift to others.”

Ice Solutions Director, Craig Clarke supports this further, “With these solutions, you can monitor and control your use, you can gift your surplus power to your local marae, school or community group.  Additionally, you can buffer out the load, when the sun isn’t shining.”

Solar producing ice Photo: Keepa Digital

“We are partners for the life cycle of the panels and beyond” says Craig.  “We are not just a provider, we are a partner for environmental, sustainable and renewable energy in our communities.”

Tū Mai Rā Solar Solutions are committed to being a driver and participant in Aotearoa-New Zealand’s transition to a circular economy.

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