'Off the grid' Great Barrier Island leading the way on climate change

Great Barrier Island is showing the rest of the country how to tackle climate change.

It's reliant on generators and solar power for electricity and is home to the largest off-grid solar panel system in New Zealand.

Now the company that installed that system wants to set up the island's first electric vehicle charging station.

Solar panels cover rooftops everywhere you look on Great Barrier Island. The island in the Hauraki Gulf is completely off the electrical grid, so locals rely on solar power for a large part of their electricity.

Great Barrier is also home to the largest off-grid solar network in New Zealand, with 250 solar panels producing power for a group of seven central shops known as the Claris Centre.

Owner Sean McCarthy said they used to rely heavily on a generator. 

"Now we've got a generator running maybe 10 to 20 hours a month instead of 500, and we're not burning any fuel," he told Newshub.

The 69 kilowatt system produces 90 percent of the centre's power needs, stored in a Tesla battery powerpack. It services a petrol station, a laundromat, a post office and even a tattoo studio.

A year on from its installation, the system has saved the island from importing more than 20,000 litres of diesel, saving the community more than $30,000 in costs.

Sunergise, who brought the system to Great Barrier Island, also designs, installs and finances similar solar power systems in the Pacific Islands. But CEO Paul Makumbe said they're not finished with Great Barrier just yet.

"We've been working with Sean and the Great Barrier Council to install a public electric vehicle charging station, which will be the first on the island," he told Newshub.

The little island is setting a big example to the rest of New Zealand.