Orama & Sustainability

Why Sustainability?

As a Christian organisation we believe in a God who has created the universe and this world with the intention that we should enjoy it, care for it & leave it better for the next generations to enjoy. We also believe that our experience of creation can lead us to encounters with the creator. As stewards of the Orama site at Karaka Bay, we seek to have a positive and restorative impact on the land and we seek to ensure that all initiatives and activities we undertake on this land communicate these intentions at every level of Orama life. 

This is a little bit of our sustainability journey at Orama & what we are committed to as stewards of this land.


“We seek to have a positive & restorative impact on the land”

Living Off the Grid

At Orama the remoteness of our island location means that we (and all other island residents) live entirely off-the-grid. In a practical sense, this means we are disconnected from the utilities (power, water, sewerage) and services (rubbish collection, postal delivery etc) that most people have easy access to on the mainland.

Our Power

Our primary source of power is a diesel-powered generator. We have a 50KW generator that runs at set times during the day – 7am to 10:30am and 4pm to 10:30pm. Our work routines are aligned to these times as is the use of high-powered devices such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines, clothes dryer’s and power tools.

Our other source of power is batteries and inverters for powering critical infrastructure (computers, network, phones) and other low power devices such as emergency lighting. The batteries are charged by the generator and by a small solar array mounted on the roof of the hall – something we’re looking to expand as part of reducing our diesel consumption. 

Our Water

We are lucky to have a stream running through our property at Orama and this is used to supply all our water. The water is gravity fed to five 25,000 litre tanks up on the hill overlooking the property and is then filtered through multiple paper filters and sterilised with ultraviolet light. We think we have some of the best tasting water on the island.

Our Staff houses are fit with Solar Systems & wet backs for hot water.

Our Sewage

We have a sophisticated multi-stage septic system with controlled effluent disposal to a drain field located well away from the site. The system is designed to handle a site capacity of 200 so we work to ensure that the site stays well within this limit.

Choices we have made

Like many on the island, we are passionate about maintaining the integrity of our pristine environment and have chosen a path of sustainable living. Sustainability is about making choices (often hard ones) that have long-term benefits for the health of the environment, our community, and ourselves individually. We don’t have it all sorted yet but are on the journey. Here are some of the choices we have made as a community here at Orama…


Minimising waste (landfill) by recycling (paper, plastic, aluminium and tin cans, glass) and choosing products that have minimal and recyclable packaging.

Avoiding the use of soft plastic cling wrap by using reusable pallet wrapping for our regular food deliveries.

Capping occupancy to ensure septic tank levels stay under required thresh-holds.

Power & Fuel

Reducing generator usage (and diesel consumption) by implementing additional solar electricity generation & only running the generator at necessary times of the day.

Reducing wood fire usage for heating water by using heat recovery (from the generator) and use of solar hot water

Consolidating van and truck trips for greater efficiency and fuel conservation


Reducing our meat consumption in favour of more vegetarian options.
Choosing ethical / higher welfare meat suppliers.
Buying local produce where possible to reduce usage of air / sea transport.

Other Initiatives

Pest Control &The Kotuku Widlife Sanctuary​

Orama works in collaboration with the Kotuku Peninsular Charitable Trust and Glenfern Trust to control pests – in particular rats and feral cats that have a deadly impact on the sea birds that nest in the sanctuary of which Orama is a part. A large amount of our property is part of the Kotuku Peninsular Wildlife sanctuary (part of the “Restoration Planning of Endangered Bird Species” on Great Barrier Island project). This means, its not uncommon to see & hear a flurry of native & endangered birds on our property including the Kaka, Kereru & Pateke.


Education on sustainability is also important and we work in with Hillary Outdoors to help educate school kids as part of the Hillary outdoor education programmes. Our hope is that through sharing our journey of sustainability the environmental awareness of the next generation is raised and their behaviour is positively influenced.

Enviromental Plan

Our Environment Management Plan outlines a long-term roadmap for environmental protection with regard to biodiversity, ecological integrity and restoration.