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Members of new Energy Hardship Expert Panel announced

Five welfare, electricity, hardship and health leaders have been appointed to the new Energy Hardship Expert Panel that is being set up to recommend policy priorities and actions to government.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has established the panel following a recommendation to government by the independent Electricity Price Review.

This panel will have a key role in advancing the government’s initiatives to alleviate energy hardship, and the five members have been appointed for their specialist knowledge and expertise across a range of areas. The members also have experience working directly with households in or at risk of energy hardship, and collectively have insight into the lived experience of energy hardship, particularly of Māori and Pasifika, disabled people, low-income families and other groups at higher risk.

The panel members are also leaders in their field or community, and as a group have insight into the broader societal issues that contribute to energy hardship.

It will be chaired by Keri Brown, a councillor at Hutt City Council, who has led work in homelessness, hardship and child outcomes, and worked previously as a senior national advisor for the Family Start programme, which helps whānau support the development and education of their tamariki.

The other members are Pacific health leader Dr Amanda-Lanuola Dunlop, beneficiary advocate Kay Brereton, former electricity executive Kevin Angland, and Helen Leahy, head of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency for the South Island.

The Panel will also provide impartial, evidence-based expert advice and identify where existing energy hardship initiatives can be improved or better leveraged.

The Panel’s work programme will in part be drawn from the Electricity Price Review’s energy hardship findings and the government’s response to its recommendations, and will be refined when the Panel convenes.

The Panel members have been appointed until 30 June 2023 and will work alongside the soon-to-be-established Energy Hardship Reference Group that is being set up to provide a forum to share information and encourage coordination across industry, NGOs and government agencies.

Energy Hardship Expert 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 experience across governance, policy development, programme management and strategic planning. Keri was previously a senior national adviser for the Family Start programme, which works with whānau to improve children’s health, education and relationships.


Dr Amanda-Lanuola Dunlop (Samoan, Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato-Tainui) is chief executive of Vaka Tautua, a charitable trust 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 not-for-profit organisations. She holds a PhD in Community Health.

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 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 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 that 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.

Read more about the Energy Hardship Expert Panel.

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