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A Century of Powering Communities

Unison is thrilled to be celebrating 100 years since the establishment of the Hawke’s Bay Electric Power Board on 19 June 1924. We are proud to have powered our local community for the last 100 years as we continue to innovate and deliver a sustainable energy future.

Since the establishment of the Hawke’s Bay Electric Power Board, Unison has continued to build and maintain the electricity network servicing our regions of Hawke’s Bay, Taupō and Rotorua, whilst expanding as a specialist group of electricity companies delivering services and products across the globe.

With 100 years in the constantly evolving and regulated electricity industry, the face of Unison has changed many times from our formation as the Hawke’s Bay Electric Power Board.

 

Share your memories and stories as part of the celebrations

We're inviting everyone connected to Unison, past or present, to help us celebrate. Share your memories, photos, or any items such as old tools, uniforms, or safety gear. These contributions may be featured in a special exhibition in June at the Faraday Museum in Napier. Your contributions will make these celebrations even more meaningful.

If you're interested in sharing your piece of Unison's history, please reach out through the following ways. We've also created a Facebook group for everyone to share and enjoy memories together.

Let's make this celebration a memorable one by coming together to share stories about where we have come from and to look forward to where we are headed.

Trust ownership

Unison is 100% owned by the Hawke’s Bay Power Consumers’ Trust (HBPCT).

HBPCT was formed in 1993 and is an elected body which holds shares on behalf of Hawke's Bay power consumers connected to Unison's network. This ensures the company is focused on delivering economic benefits to our consumers and community shareholders.

As a proudly consumer-owned company, the power consumers in Hawke’s Bay are the beneficial owners of Unison. This celebration of 100 years is something you can all celebrate, feel a connection to and be proud of.

Unison group history

Serving the community and providing a service in this industry sector for nearly 100 years.

1912

In the very early days of electricity generation, the generation and supply of power was managed by Councils or Municipal departments. Our home town of Hastings first enjoyed the benefits of an electricity network in 1912.

1918

The Electric Power Boards Act 1918 gave Power Boards the opportunity to produce, reticulate and sell power to those areas not supplied through the local government.

1924

Following the Electric Power Boards Act 1918, Power Boards could produce, reticulate and sell power to those areas not supplied through the local government. So, this led to the constitution of the Hawke’s Bay Electric Power Board (HBEPB) on 19 June 1924. Following that, on 27 September 1924 the first meeting of the HBEPB was held.

1950

With all power for the Hawke's Bay region coming from a single point of supply at Redclyffe, by the early 1950s growth in demand for electricity required the Government to build a second point of 20,000kVA supply at Fernhill to meet the increasing electricity needs of customers.

1960

Increasing demand for underground installations in residential areas meant the focus shifted from construction of new connections to the undergrounding of existing overhead supplies.

1991

The 1990s was the period of most significant organisational change for the Board. The first change came in November 1991 when the Board finally purchased the electricity business, Bay City Power, operated by the Napier City Council.

1992

The Energy Companies Act 1992 allowed for the corporatisation of the Electricity Boards, changing the ownership to one of shareholdings, with the option of vesting the shares into Trust ownership a most popular choice around New Zealand.

1993

For the Hawke's Bay Electric Power Board, the Energy Act resulted in the formation of Hawke’s Bay Power Distribution Limited and its subsidiary company, Hawke’s Bay Power Limited, both trading as Hawke’s Bay Power on 20 May 1993. All shares were vested in the Hawke’s Bay Power Consumers’ Trust ensuring continued “consumer ownership” of the Company and its distribution network.

1998

This Act required that one company could no longer both distribute and retail electricity, and so on 30 September 1998, the retail business of the Company was sold to Contact Energy Ltd, and distribution company changed to Hawke’s Bay Network Limited in January 1999.

2002

In 2002, Hawke’s Bay Network Limited acquired the Taupō and Rotorua electricity distribution assets of United Networks Limited and Vector Limited.

2003

Unison Networks Limited (trading as Unison) came into being on 17 April 2003, when the Company changed its name.

2009

In 2009, Unison branched out into fibre, with the establishment of subsidiary Unison Fibre Limited. In the same year Unison also purchased ETEL - New Zealand’s largest transformer manufacturing company.

2010

The Company underwent a restructure in 2010, separating out its electrical, fibre, vegetation and civil contracting services under a new subsidiary, Unison Contracting Services Limited (UCSL).

2016

Unison launched the first of its public fast-charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) in the Hastings CBD in 2016, with a further three installed across Napier, Taupō and Rotorua following that year.

2019

UCSL entered into an agreement with Aurora Energy to help deliver their network programme in Dunedin in 2019. This agreement was extended in 2022 through to 2024. That same year Unison acquired RPS Switchgear, an electrical switchgear business based in Wellington.

2022

The first of its kind in New Zealand, Windsor Substation was operational from 2022 and was named the winner of the Low Carbon Future Award at the NZ Energy Excellence Awards. Unison also acquired high-voltage electrical contracting industry leader PBA Limited that year.

Want to know more about Unison's history?

Follow the link below to view a more detailed recount of some key milestones and events over the past 100 years.

Check out some snaps from the past 100 years

There have been a lot of moments cherished since the birth of the Hawke’s Bay Electric Power Board. As photos come in from our communities, we will be sharing them with you all here. Make sure to keep coming back to see what we receive!