The Tongariro Power Development was an ambitious scheme in the early 1970s. It diverted the headwaters of several rivers through tunnels and canals, so that they flowed through the Tokaanu power station and into Lake Taupō. From there the water flowed though a series of dams along the Waikato River. Protests from the Ngāti Tūwharetoa tribe and from fishermen were largely ignored by successive governments, which were keen to increase electricity generation.
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