Blog: Kaputī with Mark Imrie

Jun 17, 2021 | latest

Kia ora whānau 

Today we have a kōrero with Mark Imrie who featured in our Hapū Aspirations ZUI last month. His whakaaro re sustainability options for our marae and hapū around power generation resonated so much with whānau that we have asked him to come back this month as a panel member where we will discuss what our whenua aspirations are, and how Settlement can support those aspirations. 

“I grew up in Ōpōtiki with my grandparents, Raikete and Patumoana Amoamo until I was seven.  I was one of the Marae babies (as we were termed) up at Omarumutu back in the early 70's, along with two other cousins who also grew up with their grandparents.  While growing up in Ōpōtiki, I lived in Richard Street and attended Ōpōtiki Primary School and as mentioned spent a considerable amount of time at my Nana's side on the Marae attend various tangi and hui, including the visit by the government (circa 1975, I think) with our tīpuna back then to initiate Settlement claim discussions.

At seven I returned to Wellington to live with my parents Karl and Patu Imrie and brother James and sister Moana.  I spent six years growing up in our family home in the suburb of Lower Hutt where I attended Waterloo Primary and Hutt Intermediate Schools, while forging my part of my family's strong connection to Petone Rugby Club.

In 1983 I headed off to St Stephens School (Tipene) on the Bombay Hills south of Auckland, where I spent 5 years.  I also spent a year during this time as the first exchange student to the Kamehameha Schools in Hawai'i.

Upon finishing High School I returned to Wellington where I briefly attended Victoria University, before acquiring a marketing job at the New Zealand Dairy Board (Fonterra Dairy Company).  I spent three years working and living in Wellington before beginning my OE in Australia in 1990.

After spending the winter at the Ski Fields in Thredbo, NSW I headed for London, where I lived until 1995.  During my time there I held a number of jobs that allowed me to earn money to travel.  I managed to visit most of Western Europe, the Eastern Block (as they were known back then), the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.  While traveling in Portugal I met my wife Michelle, who returned to NZ to live with me in Wellington from 1995 to 1999.

While in Wellington this time I took over the family business (taverns), which we grew and then sold just prior to our departure for Western Australia.  We spent some time traveling through South East Asia before settling in Michelle's home state of Western Australia in a place called Exmouth.  For those adventurer types, the Ningaloo Reef at Exmouth is a must see as the largest fringing reef in the world and sixth largest overall. At 1200kms north of Perth the waters are crystal clear and the environment is as pristine as you'll probably get anywhere on this planet. Its abundance of sunshine and lack of freshwater due to its desert location, is a major reason for what got me into sustainable energy and atmospheric water generation.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, as it is what keeps it pristine) that lack of reliable energy and water supplies means limited economic opportunity, so we moved to Perth.  I have now lived in Perth for 21 years with Michelle and our teenage daughter Brianan, and among other things started a renewable energy business five years ago.  This business is strategically aligned with international renewable energy funders and mandated to develop utility scale solar plants that are both grid connected and stand alone throughout Western Australia.  These plants power regional townships and remote industrial plants, such as mine sites and all the services they require including water generation and treatment plants.

It's my aspiration to impart my knowledge wherever possible in this space to our Iwi and my Hapū as an option for commercial development of our whenua.  While Māori have done a fantastic job in including and preserving our culture to date, we live in a modern global society and economy, and if we can't generate revenue from our existing and future assets, we will find it more difficult to continue this preservation in the future.  Māori have always been connected to the land and environment, and renewable energy and water can provide opportunities for us to live in harmony with our whenua while providing the resources and finances needed to not only preserve but expand our Iwi and culture”.  

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