In recent years, energy dependence has become a large issue in developed countries. There are worries about how much oil is left in the world and fears about how to power homes and businesses. Throughout the world, many alternative have been introduced and with much success. Located just up from the Manawatu Gorge is the Te Apiti wind farm, providing energy to Palmerston North and the surrounding area.
Through a group entitled Operation Friendship, which coordinates social activities for international students at Massey, I had the opportunity to visit Te Apiti and see the “power of wind.” My afternoon began when nearly 50 international students gathered to meet our Kiwi “hosts.” We piled into their cars and began our journey to the outskirts of town. The wind farm is easily visible from Palmerston North and by my estimate I thought our drive would only take about five minutes. Of course, it was a bit longer than that as we made our way across winding roads through the mountains to the pinnacle where Te Apiti is located.
Te Apiti is the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere and has been characterized in tour books as a “celebration of the wind.” Te Apiti can power 900 homes creating a pretty large impact on the Manawatu area. The wind mills have thus become a sort of symbol for the Manawatu area. The motto for Manawatu is “Young Heart, Easy Living” and pictured behind this phrase, wherever you may find it, is a picture of two wind turbines.
Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates wind farms. On my way to the city library last week, there were several people gathering signatures in protest of the wind farms claiming they can create too much noise and that they ruined the skyline. Even standing right under the turbine I could not hear a thing and in reality, I think the turbines add a nice accent when looking out to the mountains. In fact, the wind farm is beautiful because of the power it provides without using petroleum.