Energy hardship expert panel and reference group

2 specialist groups have been established to support government as part of its work to alleviate energy hardship in New Zealand.

The establishment of energy hardship expert panel and reference group is based on the Electricity Price Review recommendation to establish a cross-sector energy hardship group.

Energy Hardship Expert Panel

The Energy Hardship Expert Panel brings together 5 leaders from a range of backgrounds who collectively hold key insights, connections and experience working directly with households living in or at risk of energy hardship.


The objective of the Panel is to recommend to government, policy priorities and actions to alleviate energy hardship, and provide impartial, evidence-based expert advice.

The Panel’s work programme will in part, be drawn from the Electricity Price Review’s findings and the government’s response to its recommendations. Their work programme will be determined after the panel has convened.

Electricity Price Review

Members of the Energy Hardship Expert Panel were appointed in September 2021 with their term ending 30 June 2023, unless their work is completed sooner.



Keri Brown (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Mahana) is a councillor at Hutt City Council where she has led work in homelessness, hardship and child outcomes, and a Hutt Valley DHB board member. She has a background in community and public service and was previously a senior national adviser for the Family Start programme, which works with whānau to improve children’s health, learning and relationships.

Other panel members

Dr Amanda-Lanuola Dunlop

Dr Amanda-Lanuola Dunlop (Samoan, Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato-Tainui) is the former chief executive of Vaka Tautua, a charitable organisation that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of Pacific peoples. She has more than 25 years’ experience working in health policy development, relationship management, research and evaluation. Amanda-Lanuola has held a variety of roles spanning central government, academia, a district health board and a not-for-profit organisation. She holds a PhD in Community Health.

Helen Leahy

Helen Leahy is the former pouārahi/chief executive of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency for the South Island. She has extensive experience working with Māori communities and whānau, and has a long history of community and regional involvement in areas of children, health, hardship, education, vulnerable communities and welfare, and as a senior ministerial and policy advisor.

Kay Brereton

Kay Brereton is the manager for the Beneficiaries and Unwaged Workers Trust and co-convenor of the National Beneficiary Advocacy Consultative Group. Kay has been a beneficiary advocate for more than 16 years and has extensive experience on focus groups in areas such as welfare, housing and service alignment. She received a Queen’s Service Medal last year for services to welfare of beneficiaries.

Kevin Angland

Kevin Angland has several years’ governance experience as a director of the Electricity Retailers’ Association of New Zealand where he oversaw strategic work with an emphasis on supporting vulnerable communities. He also has executive experience with electricity gentailer Mercury, which included working on programmes to reduce energy hardship. His leadership in the technology and digital sector was recognised in 2014 when he was named New Zealand CIO of the year.


Letters from the Chair:

The following documents have been produced by the Energy Hardship Expert Panel:

Energy Hardship Reference Group


Government has also established an Energy Hardship Reference Group to help shift the dial on energy hardship.

The group provides a forum to share information and encourage coordination across industry, NGOs, and government agencies. Members of the group are able to share insights and updates on their work, and test their ideas.

The Reference Group will interact with, and complement the work of the Energy Hardship Expert Panel and other groups such as the Consumer Advocacy Council, which is currently being formed, and ERANZ’ Consumer Care Working Group.


20 members from academia, community groups, industry and iwi have been selected for the group, along with 6 representatives from government agencies and a regulator. Members were selected from a range of backgrounds and positions to ensure a diverse range of skills, connections and perspectives.

Members are appointed for a 12-month term, and the group will initially run for two years.

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 Business, Innovation and Employment
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ministry of Housing and Urban Development

More information

The energy hardship webpage has information on MBIE’s other related work programmes and details on how to subscribe to the Energy Hardship Update e-newsletter.

The Electricity Price Review webpage has information about MBIE’s key workstreams based on the Review’s recommendations.

Energy hardship webpage

Electricity Price Review webpage

Last updated: 30 November 2022