Lawrence Holder is helping electrify Rarotonga.

He’s moving from Waiheke Island in March to finish setting up the Magic Reef Beachfront Bungalows in Rarotonga, and has bought three Nissan Leafs, a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, 10 electric bikes and plans a few electric tuk-tuks there.

A mechanic for 36 years, he sold his Holder Automotive central Auckland garage in December 2017 to help fund the Rarotonga project, now having owned and operated the resort for a year.

The EVs will be offered for daily use at the self-contained resort, and to ferry guests between the nine-studio Magic Reef resort in Arorangi on the western or sunset side of Rarotonga – one of the island’s five districts – and the airport.

I want our guests to use this opportunity to try something new without any risk – nearly everyone who has driven them say they want to buy one [an EV].

Initially, the resort has started with a 2017 and two 2018 Leafs and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV as a courtesy vehicle and 10 Milano Legend brand Spanish design e-bikes.

A solar array has also been purchased, comprising about 40 panels (12kW) and a 50KkW LG storage battery system with all the necessary electronics.The solar array will be put on a carport to be built at the resort to charge EVs, designed to house about eight vehicles plus the 10 e-bikes and a few tuk-tuks.It will also run an ice machine to keep the drinks cold.

There’s a lot of sun and going electric is good for brand Rarotonga – so it was a no-brainer really. All our vehicles will be electric, so people can enjoy an EV experience. Our intention is to expand our generation and storage capability for additional vehicles and to run the resort, in the near future.

Using EVs to cover the 32km round the island makes sense as they can run on renewable power and have low to zero emissions, so contribute to the preservation of the island’s environment, he says admitting he has always been “a greenie” at heart.

The carport with solar panels on the roof should be built by May, the 50kW battery and electronics incorporated in a special display room as part of the structure for use on the premises.

With solar, recirculated and treated rainwater for everything from drinking to washing the cars and for the ice machine, plus onsite wastewater treatment, Magic Reef is intended to become an eco-resort.

A vehicle workshop is planned nearby in the near future, specialising in EVs where training would be offered school-leavers in both internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and EVs.

I’ve packed up my workshop equipment and it is sitting in Rarotonga now as I believe this will encourage others to import EVS, as not having access to a reliable repair facility at present will be holding them back from investing in EVs.

For anyone doing business in Rarotonga it helps to have family connections there, and his father Barry has lived there 42 years.He is retired now as fire chief and has set up the local volunteer fire brigade.

Lawrence Holder is looking forward to the move to Rarotonga.

Magic Reef has been open for 10 years and I bought it in March 2018. Raro is a gorgeous place and all about a lifestyle – I’ll enjoy being a part of the community.

This story is courtesy of the Febuary 2019 issue of Evtalk