Trust Tairāwhiti has approved $3.5 million in funding for a significant project that combines pool heating and renewable solar energy generation alongside battery storage at four schools on the East Coast.


The project covers Te Waha o Rerekohu Area School at Te Araroa, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Waiu o Ngati Porou at Ruatoria, Hatea-a-Rangi at Tokomaru Bay and Tolaga Bay Area School.

The project was first included within the Trust’s Community Facilities funding commitment, scoped initially to provide sustainable heating for school pools to extend their swimming season by a couple of months each year.

Through engagement with schools, one principal suggested that the project could also enable electricity resilience through off-grid battery storage.

“We know that schools are much more than just a school in their communities. In emergency or Civil Defence situations schools become a community hub – particularly for our coastal townships,” said Audine Grace-Kutia, General Manager Communities at Trust Tairāwhiti.

“This pool heating initiative will add value to the facilities, but having the extra energy source at schools will also help resilience for communities during emergencies or outages.”

The project deliverables include energy monitoring software, community-driven energy retailing options, pool maintenance and swimming education support.

“The school pools resilience project strongly aligns with one of the Trust’s strategic priorities, mahi kaitiaki. This priority is about backing sustainable, reliable, and cost-effective energy systems for our communities now and into the future. It also aligns with our wellbeing framework, He Rangitapu He Tohu Ora, and we know it will positively impact our coastal communities.”

Installation is expected to begin at the first school in April.