New Year Resolution: No Wind Farm

So much for a long summer to look forward to enjoying – we had Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day, and now it’s back to normal gusty nor’westerlies screaming down the valley (or gutsy nor’westerlies as I prefer to call them). Happy New Year everyone. Still, all our guests have gone and we had a lovely New Year’s Day lunch outside without being blown away. Fresh paua gathered from Tora, plunged briefly in boiling water after being thinly sliced, then chilled and served with a dipping sauce of Italian white wine vinegar mixed with Tamari soy sauce and grated green fresh ginger on the side. The other salads you see are 1) steamed prawns with avocado sauce (avo’s whipped up in the food processor with sour cream, garlic, honey, tabasco, salt, lemon juice), sliced red onion, fresh lettuce 2) steamed fresh mussels on green mixed leaves with cucumber and tomato with hot & sweet sauce. We also had toast and “caviart”. Washed down with Te Mata Estate Viognier and Chateau Haut Brion 1989. Then sleep.

Over the last week I watched – again – that sweet movie, “The Castle”, an Australian movie about a family fighting to hold on to their house on the edge of Melbourne airport. The authorities can’t understand why they want to carry on living there because they think it’s an “eyesore”. The father is puzzled, to him it’s not an eyesore because it’s full of family memories. A house is not just bricks and mortar, it’s everything that goes on inside, the growing up of the children, all the laughter and tears and so on. And hearing this reminded me of our latest meeting with Meridian Energy, and their inability to understand why many of us in Martinborough do not want a giant wind farm just eight kilometres from the Martinborough town square, sited right next to a site of historical and cultural significance – Nga Waka a Kupe, or the Canoes of Kupe.

To Meridian, this is the best place for wind in the Wairarapa, much like in the film The Castle, the house site they were trying to take by force was the best place to land planes. But to us, Nga Waka a Kupe and its surrounds is more than just wind, it’s a place of unbelievable beauty. When I went up the hill behind our vineyard to catch the horses the other day, I just sat and gazed at the Waka. A hawk was wheeling, crying out as it searched for prey, and I told myself for the millionth time how lucky, lucky, lucky I am to live in such a breathtakingly beautiful place. If I was a tourist visiting this area, cycling around, I would ache to stay here, to just cancel the remainder of my travels, set down my roots, and never move on.

How do you explain all this to the suits who run a taxpayer-owned power company who don’t have to worry about the landscape? I ran into a Wellington friend in Martinborough’s Pain & Kershaws who’d seen our petition against the windfarm. She said she liked them, though her husband didn’t, and he’d signed the petition. I told her that was fine, I’d tell Meridian to put the windfarm on Akatarawa Road where she lives, right outside her back door. The irony, I’m afraid, was lost on her. And that’s the thing – everyone who says they love these giant turbines sidesteps the issue when they’re asked if they’d like them in close proximity to their properties, lowering the value, disturbing their sleep, upsetting their livestock.

Why can’t New Zealand have a national plan for windfarms, and site them well away from people? When we were in Scotland in 2007 we hired a car and drove some 3000 miles all around the coast. In the north, where you could drive literally for miles without seeing any sign of life, we came upon windfarms which were sited on the flats, well away from people. This is what New Zealand should be doing, not sneaking up on people and dividing communities, making them spend good money they can’t afford, fighting taxpayer-owned companies, too arrogant to consult with small, local communities. These are some snaps I took in the north of Scotland:

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