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KCE celebrates 50th anniversary of Kuratau Power Station

For Immediate Release
10 December 2012

KCE celebrates 50th anniversary of Kuratau Power Station

King Country Energy (KCE) held a celebration at its Kuratau Power Station last week to mark 50 years since dam construction was completed and the first power generated.

In addition to current staff and board members being on hand at the celebration, former staff, board members, engineers and operators also attended.

Past KCE chairman of 22 years, Ken Street of Taumarunui, joined the historical event.

Ken’s attendance was especially poignant as his grandfather, Harold Street, attended the dam’s grand opening 50 years prior in his role as the King Country Electric Power Board Chairman.

“I remember as a child my family going to visit my grandfather in Taumarunui. We never used his dining room table to sit down and have a meal because it was always taken up by a raft of papers, plans and drawings related to the Kuratau Power Station development.

“As a young fellow, I wasn’t aware at the time of how huge a project building the dam was, but I do remember my grandfather being very proud about it. He was always speaking about it to his mates. For many years, Kuratau Power Station was thought of as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the power board’s generation portfolio.

“As we celebrated last week, it was surreal to know my grandfather stood at the same spot 50 years ago for the grand opening and it was great to be involved in the commemoration,” explained Ken.

KCE CEO, Rob Foster, said the enduring and successful operation of the Kuratau Power Station is testament to the many people who have worked at the dam over the years.

“We heard some great stories during the celebration from our guests, many of whom have made a significant contribution to not only the success of Kuratau, but KCE’s overall generation programme,” he said.

Kuratau Power Station is located on the western side of Lake Taupo, 30 kilometres northwest of Turangi. It generates 72MWh of electricity each day – enough to power 2000 homes.

Dam construction began in 1959. Construction teams lived on the nearby banks of the Kuratau River in a temporary camp made up of three homes and several workshops. It took three years to complete construction and the first power was generated at midnight on 16 April 1962.

A large crowd celebrated the official opening of the station on 25 May 1962.

One penstock operated initially and a second was brought online in June that year.

The construction site was cleared during the winter of 1962, with all buildings being demolished, 8450 trees being planted and 12 acres of grass sown to restore the land disturbed during construction. (historical facts obtained from Switching On the King Country: A Century of Community Achievement, by Helen Reilly).

Kuratau Power Station is one of four dams located in the King Country which are owned and operated by KCE, including: Piriaka, Mokauiti and Wairere. KCE also owns Mangahao Power Station near Shannon in the Manawatu.


About Kuratau Power Station:

• Located 30km NW of Turangi
• Generates 72MWh daily, enough to power 2000 homes
• 36 metres tall, 118 metres wide
• 11,000 litres of water flow through it each second
• Made of rocks and earth
• Construction began, 1959
• First power generated, 16 April 1962
• Grand opening celebration, 25 May 1962
• 50th anniversary celebration, 5 December 2012

Book cited in release:
Switching on the King Country: A Century of Community Achievement by Helen Reilly -

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