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Matahina changes hands

In on-going power sector restructuring, the Energy Corporation of New Zealand (ECNZ) sold its 72MW Mata-hina hydro power station to privately owned TrustPower on 30 November 1998 for NZ$115.5M, just 14 days after it was formally recommissioned. The mid-November recommissioning marked the end of a two-year NZ$60M project to strengthen the dam across the Rangitaiki river in the Bay of Plenty area. In 1992 the dam did not meet international safety standards for a 7.2 Richter-scale earthquake.

Originally commissioned in 1967, the station normally generates some 295GWh/yr, but in June 1996 the reservoir was emptied and 1.3M m3 of rockfill was removed from the dam’s shoulder to be replaced by 1.8M m3 of new material. The dam’s new buttress will withstand very large earthquakes, even 1 in 5000 year events. Power generation resumed in September 1998, two months before the hand-over ceremony.

The station has resource consent to operate to 2009. Its sale represents the third ECNZ hydro divestment under its 1995 Memorandum of Understanding with the government. Other hydro power station sales have included Mangahao and Coleridge.