From the Momentum Waikato Annual Report 2021 - see full report in PDF.

The Kimihia Lakes project initiated by Murray and Jennifer Allen at the former Huntly East open cast mine achieved critical legal and resourcing milestones during 2021.

Momentum Waikato first connected with the Allens in 2020, becoming an advisor to their Kimihia Lakes Community Charitable Trust, taking aboard the Huntly Karioi Trust Fund set up to support outdoor education at the new lake, and underwriting the cost of planning required to access the mine’s rehabilitation funding.

The escrow money held by Treasury had been collected via a levy on the coal mined over decades from the huge hole north-east of Rahui Pokeka-Huntly and its release required the preparation of a full site rehabilitation plan and committment.

Through 2021 quantity surveyors Hatch Consulting and technical consultants Boffa Miskell lined up principles, workstreams and costings to chart how the mine’s ecological restoration can be achieved.

Criteria satisfied, the escrow release agreement was finally signed with the Government in November, giving the Allens and their project manager Charlie Young a financial launchpad for the rehabilitation, and realising the goal of Momentum’s initial bridging underwrite.

The other challenging prerequisite facing the team through the year was securing the re-zoning of the former mine site in the local District Plan, so it can be used for outdoor education and recreation and associated service facilities can be built. Preparations for the key Council hearing in September needed to answer a huge range of issues, from roading, to hazards, to three waters. The effort paid off, with the new zoning come through at the start of 2022.

Even while these huge opening hurdles were being cleared, community collaborations were already getting underway at the new lake. An MOU was signed with the Te Whangai Trust, a work and life skills enterprise, to develop a tree and plant nursery on site, with its spot identified soon after and their students then starting work.

An MOU was also signed with Wintec to facilitate Kimihia hosting a wide range of their applied programs. Trainee arborists were the first on site, clearing pines before the rising lake level reaches them, and producing mulch for the new nursery, a win-win synergy all round.

Momentum is proud to support the Kimihia Lakes Project and to manage the Karioi Fund, a great example of how its ‘connect and convene’ role can enable and accelerate exciting philanthropic and community initiatives.