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Protest signs gone with the wind

An Eketāhuna resident is tired of having to replace his signs opposing Meridian Energy’s proposed wind farm on Mt Munro, after they’ve been ripped down twice.

The proposed wind farm would see 20 turbines built at the Mt Munro site 8km south of Eketāhuna, which are estimated to generate enough energy per year to power over 40,000 homes.

The resource consent application currently lodged with four surrounding councils has incited concern from a local group – the Hastwell Mt Munro Protection Society – about potential environmental and health issues as a result of the development.

Society member Robin Oliver said the first time he and a neighbour put up signs protesting the proposed wind farm location on a fence beside Opaki-Kaiparoro Rd, they were gone by the next morning.

“They had disappeared completely – been smashed off. The screws were still on the post,” Oliver said. When Oliver and his neighbour set out to put replacements back up a week later, they decided to add some “grunty red dye” to their messages.

“We thought we’d be a bit cunning and cover the backs of them with this dye,” Oliver said.

“Whoever was taking them would be covered in it.”

However, the dye didn’t deter the culprit, because the replacements were removed again within just 10 minutes of being put up.

“We would have only just missed them, but they had been taken down again.”

Extremely frustrated at this point, Oliver has replaced the large sign for a third time and attached a note addressing the sign thief.

“I said I have spoken to the police, and they have advised me that you are breaking the law,” the note read.

“I am done f****** around.”

Oliver said he has full permission from the landowner to have the signs on the fence, and that there are about 25 households that live in the 1.5km radius of Mt Munro.

His neighbour Chris Clarke, who is chair of the protection society, echoed Oliver’s frustration about repeated sign removal.

“It’s pretty darned annoying, actually.”

The signs are a way the community can voice their concerns, with one of them maintaining that the development was the “right energy, wrong place”, Clarke said.

“Making it clear we’re not opposed to having wind power, but we do not believe that putting windmills in the heart of our community is the right thing to do.”

Meridian Energy head of renewable development Rebecca Knott said they recognised that some people were supportive of the project while others were not.

“But we think the best way to express your view is by making a submission on the proposal through Horizons Regional Council.”

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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