Members of new Energy Hardship Reference Group appointed

Published: 08 December 2021

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has appointed 20 representatives from industry, NGOs, iwi and Māori groups to join government agencies and a regulator to form the new Energy Hardship Reference Group.

The cross-sector group has been established to facilitate information-sharing and greater coordination across and to support efforts aimed at reducing energy hardship in communities.  

“A number of initiatives aimed at reducing energy hardship already exist across the sector,” MBIE’s Energy and Markets Resources General Manager Justine Cannon says.

“Some are focused on immediate support for households in need, while others have a longer-term focus that will better position us to develop targeted and effective initiatives to reduce energy hardship. By creating this new group, key organisations will have a platform where members can share experiences and research, test ideas, and provide a central point to link with other groups working to advocate for energy consumers. This will allow government agencies and others to draw on this collective pool of knowledge to help develop, and better coordinate, initiatives to improve energy wellbeing.”

The group’s insights will also be shared with the independent, 5-person Energy Hardship Expert Panel, which has recently been established to recommend policy priorities and actions to government.

“One thing we’ve been really deliberate about is making sure the Reference Group is large enough to encompass a balanced and diverse range of experiences, perspectives and areas of expertise. This recognises the complexity of the problems that contribute to energy hardship and the need to develop solutions from multiple fronts,” Justine Cannon said.

Members are initially appointed for a 12-month term. The group will run for 2 years, and may be extended if needed. MBIE will provide secretariat support.

The establishment of the Reference Group and the Expert Panel are in response to recommendations to government from the independent Electricity Price Review in 2019. The review emphasised the causes of energy hardship extend beyond the electricity sector, and solutions therefore will require the government, regulators, communities and the industry to work together.

Members of the Energy Hardship Reference Group are:

Non-governmental organisations and independent researchers

  • Cherie Tirikatene, Chief Executive Officer, Seed NZ, and founder of Whānau Power (Ngāi Tahu)
  • Chris Mardon, Managing Director, Ecobulb Limited
  • Christina Taruke Karatea of Te Reureu (Ngāti Rangatahi, Ngāti Matakore, Ngāti Waewae, Ngāti Pikiahu)
  • Christine Arihia Brears (ONZM), Chief Executive, Taumarunui Community Kokiri Trust (Maniapoto)
  • Gareth Cartwright, Executive Officer, Community Energy Network
  • Hinerangi Pere, Energy Navigator, Waikato Tainui
  • Jake Lilley, Senior Policy Advisor, FinCap (Te Atiawa)
  • Dr Kim O’Sullivan, Senior Research Fellow, He Kāinga Oranga – Housing and Health Research Programme, University of Otago
  • Kristina Sofele, National Manager People & Capability, Vaka Tautua
  • Leana Hunt, Operations Manager, Habitat for Humanity Northern Region
  • Liz Kilduff, Power Assessment Coordinator, Anglican Care
  • Paul Forster, National Financial Mentoring Coordinator, Salvation Army
  • Sandra Greenslade, Energy Consumer Advocate (Trustee, King Country Trust and Maru Trust; Advisory Board member, Utilities Disputes Ltd; Consumer Panel, Electricity Networks Association and The Lines Company)
  • Dr Sea Rotmann, Task Leader of the Hard-to-Reach Energy Users research collaboration under the Users Technology Collaboration Programme by the International Energy Agency
  • Sumaria Beaton, General Manager, Awarua Synergy

Electricity industry

  • Bryn Little, Investment and Strategy Manager, WEL Networks
  • Ezra Hirawani, Co-founder and Director, Nau Mai Rā (Te Āti Haunui-a-Paparangi/Ngāti Rangi/Ngāpuhi/Ngāti Hako/Waikato Tainui)
  • Leapagatele Matuamaivanu Pei Helen Tua, Community Relationship Manager, Mercury NZ Ltd
  • Miranda Struthers, Accessible Energy Advocate, Electricity Retailers’ Association of New Zealand
  • Rachel Wansbone, Customer Experience Manager, Northpower

Government agencies and regulators:

  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Electricity Authority
  • Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority
  • Kāinga Ora
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Housing and Urban Development

For more information, visit MBIE’s Energy hardship expert panel and reference group webpage.

Energy hardship expert panel and reference group

MBIE media contact