Energy hardship expert panel and reference group

Two specialist groups are being established to support government as part of its work to alleviate energy hardship in New Zealand.

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 has been appointed chair of the panel.


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 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 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.

Energy Hardship Reference Group

Government is also establishing an Energy Hardship Reference Group to provide a forum to share information and encourage coordination across industry, NGOs and government agencies. The Group will help government work with others to shift the dial on energy hardship.

Nominations process

MBIE recently sought nominations from representatives from organisations (including community organisations, consumer advocates, industry participants and regulators) with a diverse range of skills and perspectives, good connections to the kaupapa of reducing energy hardship, and who are interested in helping advise on and coordinate cohesive, cost-effective energy hardship initiatives.

MBIE is currently assessing nominations received for the Energy Hardship Reference Group.

Nominations received during an earlier call for Energy Hardship Expert Panel and Reference Group nominations remain valid and are being considered.

All nominees are being assessed against the criteria by an MBIE panel to identify the mix of people that best delivers a balanced and diverse range of perspectives, connections and skills. The size of the Reference Group is not yet determined. MBIE is committed to ensuring it will represent a range of perspectives but is mindful it needs to be a workable size.

Key government agencies will also take part in the Reference Group.


The Reference Group will provide a forum for organisations and groups to share insights and updates on their work, and test their ideas. It will not be responsible for making decisions or delivering projects.

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.

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.

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: 10 September 2021