Ngāti Porou and Contact Energy collaborate to pay Marae power bills

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

Imagine if your Marae didn't have to pay a single cent towards its power bill ever again? Well that's exactly what the future could hold for 50 marae of Ngāti Porou, through a joint initiative, a first of its kind, with the iwi and Contact Energy called Nāti Power.

The marae is the central hub, the hive of activity, a place that can sometimes play host to thousands of manuhiri each year, but it can sometimes come at a cost.

Tina Porou of Contact Energy says, “They’re struggling to cover their basic costs every month, every year, and this is a way that they know that whānau who live away can contribute.”

The average power bill of a Marae in Ngāti Porou is around $2000 per year, so with each person that signs up to Nāti Power, $50 from their powerbill will go towards the power costs of their marae.

“Say, if we can get about 40 people from each different Marae, then they would raise about $100,000, but then, if we can get 80 people form each marae then that would go up to $200,000 to help the marae in the our region,” says Herewini Parata

For the power company, it's about building its Māori customer base, an untapped market it believes will remain loyal to Contact because of the benefits it will bring to their Marae. Any excess money goes straight back into the Marae.

According to Tina Porou, “We're going to use the excess money to pay for the insurance bills for all the marae and anything extra will be put into a central fund that the Marae can apply to for projects.”

Those projects can include renovations or repairs, for the marae that aren't on the national grid, they will receive equivalent cash to spend on their energy options like solar or generators or other projects too.

The cut-off date to register is 19th December.

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