Venture Taranaki’s National New Energy Development establishment project was successfully launched today by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Honourable Dr Megan Woods, Minister for Energy and Resources.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was pleased to announce Ara Ake, the nation’s future energy development company.

Ara Ake is formed from two words coming together to represent new pathways to be explored on a continuous journey forward. It is a call to awaken and understand that change is normal.

Based in Taranaki, Ara Ake’s area of impact is in the demonstration and commercialisation stages of the innovation lifecycle. Through its network of local and global connections and partnerships, Ara Ake will identify opportunities and technology with change-making potential and connect them with the expertise, infrastructure and capital required to become a commercial reality.

Minister Woods welcomed Ara Ake’s Board Directors, including; Rob Campbell, Chair; Elena Trout; Dr Will Edwards; Rick Shera; and Lovina McMurchy.

Ara Ake’s Board brings a broad spectrum of valuable knowledge and governance experience across the business, energy, infrastructure, education, legal and technology sectors.

Rob Campbell, Ara Ake Board Chair said in his address, “Ara Ake’s Board of Directors are here to work with, assist and in due course, guide participants in the energy sector as our role evolves. We will be open and accountable and judged by our actions and their value.”

Rob also announced Ara Ake’s inaugural Chief Executive, “I am very pleased to announce Dr Cristiano Marantes as CE. He is a highly experienced energy sector executive with an extensive engineering background and an informed worldview on the potential of technologies and business opportunities that will likely emerge in a low-emissions energy future.”

Cristiano has moved from Vector, where he held several positions including GM Technology and Innovation, and Head of Engineering. He focused on the design and development of new technology and commercial low-emissions energy solutions.

Cristiano said, “I have a life-long passion for enabling a low-emissions future, through strong leadership, innovation and knowledge of new energy solutions and I’m incredibly excited about this opportunity.”

Also announced at the launch were Ara Ake’s three initial shareholders, the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, the Independent Electricity Generators Association (IEGA) and the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce. Made up of industry groups, associations and institutes that represent the energy ecosystem of NZ, further shareholders will be coming on board over the coming months.

Jamie Tuuta, Venture Taranaki Trust Chair acknowledged the work of the region’s economic agency.  “Venture Taranaki’s work started over a decade ago with its initial thinking and concepts feeding into the regional economic development strategy, Tapuae Roa, in 2017. The focus on the transition to a low-emissions future and the co-creation of the Taranaki 2050 Roadmap then supported the business cases to achieve the much-needed government funding that enabled the vision for the centre to start to come to life.”

“Venture Taranaki’s journey establishing an entirely new organisation like Ara Ake has by no means been straightforward. Add a lockdown into the mix, and you might assume project milestones would slip. This is not the case, with the Venture Taranaki team successfully delivering this nationally significant project on time and to budget,” added Jamie.

Justine Gilliland, CE Venture Taranaki said, “Moving forward Ara Ake has solid foundations to build on, strong relationships forged, and a pipeline of potential projects for consideration by the Ara Ake Board in due course.

“Venture Taranaki looks forward to continuing the foundation relationship we have with Ara Ake, and to seeing our vision turn into reality,” said Justine.