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Project Aqua’s small screen future

Project Aqua’s small screen future

New Zealand’s Project Aqua is destined for the screen, as South Island based producer and documentary maker Tony Benny is following the project’s footsteps.

Tony Benny is filming various stages of the project’s progress, including milestones such as Meridian Energy’s drilling investigations in the Waitaki Valley and the lodgement of the consent applications needed for Project Aqua to proceed.

Project Aqua is a proposed hydro-electricity scheme with a 60-kilometre canal with six hydro power stations, two outfalls and new HV transmission lines. It would run along the south side of the lower Waitaki Valley, from an intake at Kurow to an outfall six kilometres from the coast.

“This project is huge and is very significant to New Zealand, and that is why it is so important to record its progress properly,” says Tony Benny, who is a director and presenter for the long-running show Country Calendar.

Tony Benny’s footage will be crafted into a documentary, which he hopes will be played on overseas television networks, as well as in New Zealand. He is also producing a video of the project for Meridian Energy.

This is not the first time Tony has documented a Meridian Energy project. He worked with Natural History New Zealand to produce a documentary on the building of the second tailrace tunnel at Manapouri, which was made for American television and screened on TVNZ. He also made several progress documentaries during the project, and an 80-minute documentary on the complete project.

“That was a fantastic experience,” says Tony Benny. “There were times when I was in the tunnel in the middle of the night when it was freezing and I started to get a feeling of what it was really like. I felt privileged being involved in that project, and I feel privileged being involved in Project Aqua.”

So far, Tony Benny and his Wellington-based cameraman Barrington West have shot nine tapes of Project Aqua footage. He expects that by the end of filming they will have hundreds of tapes of footage.

“Barrington worked on the Manapouri project and we’re planning on keeping the same team together for the Project Aqua shoot, as Barrington’s 28 years of both New Zealand and overseas experience is a huge asset,” says Tony Benny.

“As well as telling the story of Project Aqua we will also be telling people’s stories. The finished product will be a great resource of real significance to this country.”

Meridian Energy spokesperson Alan Seay says Meridian Energy is delighted that Tony is recording the progress of Project Aqua.

“With his experience and talent, we are positive that the documentary he produces will be first-class,” says Alan Seay.

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