Determined to find solutions for whānau without power, Ezra Hirawani set up his own power company. Ezra co-founded Nau Mai Rā, a purpose-built, kaupapa Māori energy retailer, delivering affordable, “always-on” power after discovering how many families lived in power poverty.
An estimated 100,000 New Zealanders find it hard to pay for power. Poor credit ratings were leading to people being turned away from mainstream providers, rendering them literally powerless. Nau Mai Rā’s model, which asks customers to pay their bills weekly and cultivates mana-enhancing relationships, has resulted in steady payments and one of the industry's lowest debt rates. The company does not undertake credit checks or have a disconnection policy. As an added incentive, a portion of each power bill goes to the customer’s local marae or a nominated community initiative.
Alternatively, it can be placed into a “whānau fund” to help families in extreme financial hardship. In the two years since Nau Mai Rā launched it has partnered with the Ministry of Social Development and secured a long-term competitive supply agreement with the intention of reducing power prices.