For anyone planning to visit the Wairarapa and more specifically Masterton they should be sure to include a stop at Aratoi, the Wairarapa Museum of Art & History. The Trustees & staff did just that on a sunny day in August 2022 for reasons other than to view this wonderful art centre which has become a focal point for art, culture, and social history in the Wairarapa.
In 2021 ECCT granted Aratoi $27,500 to enable them to complete the installation of a solar farm on the roof of one of its buildings. This project was designed to provide Aratoi long term benefits/savings to enable them to reduce their annual operating budget which generally had a shortfall of $50,000 per annum.
The project was completed in June 2022 with help from other funders including the local council and donations from the public. Aratoi now has 141 REC solar panels, each producing 400wp – a total of 58.4kWp of electricity. This might not mean much to most people, but what it represents for Aratoi is a total annual cost savings of $29,000. Furthermore, the funds normally fundraised to cover this budget shortfall can now be better spent on improving the museum’s offerings.
This project not only helps with the financial sustainability of the museum, but using solar power is more environmentally sustainable. This is an equivalent saving of 60 tons of CO2 compared with coal fired production (ie. 60 hectares of pine trees).
Aratoi Board Chairman David Moriarty commented “We are very grateful to ECCT and all our community supporters for their assistance in this project. The system is performing to all design expectations and the savings have enabled us, amongst other things, to increase our commitment to our annual education programme. We are proud to be the first regional gallery in New Zealand to install a meaningful solar system and delighted with the reduction it has made to our carbon footprint”
The Trustees were particularly keen to assist with this project as it clearly underpins ECCT’s vision of “building stronger, more sustainable communities” including ECCT’s commitment to Climate Action Aotearoa. Climate change is adversely affecting many in the Eastern & Central regions and its critical to support action which can actively help move us to a low carbon society and build more resilient communities. We hope more in across our communities will follow Aratoi’s wonderful example.