National | Poverty

Nau Mai Rā CEO wins award for outstanding leadership

The founder of New Zealand’s first Māori electricity retailer ending power poverty has won an Impact Award for Inclusion.

Ezra Hirawani was recognised as a young chief executive who is leading the way to end power poverty. He's the founder of Nau Mai Rā - a Māori-owned power retailer.

The award is part of celebrating 10 outstanding young New Zealanders for their leadership in 2021.

Hirawani launched a petition seeking immediate government action to force down wholesale electricity prices – because he says while his firm is an energy retailer that supports vulnerable communities, it is not getting fair and affordable wholesale prices from electricity generators, which means it can't expand.

Hirawani says the goal of Nau Mai Rā has never been about "power, but manaakitanga. Making power accessible is a means to achieve this goal."

The journey to establish Nau Mai Rā began when Hirawani reconnected with his iwi, hapū and marae and saw the reality of whānau who were faced power poverty.

The awards were held at Wellington’s Shed 6 as part of the 11th annual Festival for the Future – New Zealand’s largest leadership and social innovation summit.

Selected from 400+ applicants, each winner was awarded a share of $30,000 in prize money to help amplify their impact. Applicants aged 16-30 came from every region of New Zealand, from a wide range of backgrounds and industries.

Major categories included climate, enterprise, global, inclusion, wellbeing; and for the first time, local – which inspired not one but five Impact Award wins on the night.