Māori-owned power retailer secures cheap rates for more whānau

By Taroi Black

Nau Mai Rā – the Māori-owned power company - says it is now able to sign up another 10,000 customers who were on its waiting list.  

The little power company. which predominantly supplies energy to whānau in Tāmaki Makaurau and Waikato, earlier this year launched a petition to the government to force down wholesale electricity prices.

The firm’s co-founder Ezra Hirawani led the #nowhānauleftbehind campaign, which gained over 4,000 signatures.

Now it has an energy hedge agreement, which means power bills for households nationwide signed up with the firm will be at a much cheaper rate than other power companies.

“We’re really proud” is how Hirawani (Te Āti Haunui-a-Paparangi / Ngāti Rangi / Ngāpuhi / Ngāti Hako / Waikato Tainui) says of this development, particularly after having to let go of 300 whānau in winter because the cost of buying energy from power generators was too expensive.

“To be able to announce that Aotearoa will forever have kaupapa Māori, power company, we can open our doors again.”

“We just started to call those whānau who are on our waiting list and they're great calls to make. Much better calls than the ones we were doing in July.”

Every customer signed up can also direct a koha from their power bill to their chosen kaupapa for no additional charge.

Campaigning for power equality saw Hirawani win the 2021 Impact Award for Inclusion, a New Zealander of the Year nomination, and a Manaaki U grant. Nau Mai Rā has received support from across Parliament and is now in negotiations with government agencies to create solutions for whānau.

Nau Mai Rā Co-founders Ben Armstrong and Ezra Hirawani. Photo / Source

Co-founder Ben Armstrong (Ngāti Hine) says the real honour of the announcement belongs to whānau who support the Nau Mai Rā kaupapa.

“Every time whānau liked our posts, signed our petition, shared our news stories, and kōrero with their whānau about this kaupapa, we came closer to long-term power security for whānau.”