Members of the He Kāinga Oranga team, Kimberley O’Sullivan, Nevil Pierse, Rachel Dohig and Zhiting Chen, are excited to share their involvement with the Raukawa Energy Innovation Project, an iwi-led initiative to help transform the lives of whānau living in South Waikato. Led by Raukawa, and in partnership with The Lever Room, this initiative aims to help address the energy hardship of Raukawa whānau and the associated health, wellbeing, and environmental impacts. 

Basic energy services, including maintaining a healthy indoor temperature, are important for health and wellbeing. World Health Organization Healthy Housing Guidelines recommend that whare are kept above 18 degrees Celsius in winter and above 21 degrees Celsius for households with kaumātua, pēpē and tamariki, or those with underlying health conditions. A warm home can prevent respiratory and other health problems and foster good mental and social wellbeing.

Yet many whānau cannot afford to keep their whare adequately heated.

There are a number of programmes that support those in cold homes by providing insulation or other household modifications, but these do not address the fact that many whānau simply cannot afford the power bill, and make hard calls like whether to pay for heating or put food on the table.

The Raukawa Energy Innovation project plans to enrol over 400 South Waikato households, measuring temperature, relative humidity and CO2 in these whare and collecting data on dwelling condition, alongside the health and wellbeing of the whānau. In 2024, pending further funding, these baseline data will be used to inform the provision of power subsidies to these whānau. Our hope is that this project has a positive impact on the lives of whānau and also informs wider system change, through further demonstrating the benefits of warm and dry homes on health and wellbeing, and by providing evidence as to what subsidy models best address whānau need.

He Kāinga Oranga is proud to be working in partnership with Raukawa and The Lever Room on this innovative project, funded in the initial phase by Ara Ake. We are grateful for the opportunity to learn from, and work with, these partners to advance our shared kaupapa to improve access to warm, dry, healthy housing in Aotearoa.  

Rukawa Energy Innovation Project

Links to:

Raukawa announcement of the project

The Lever Room announcement about the project


Kimberley O’Sullivan discusses consumer experiences with prepay electricity, health impacts of electricity costs, He Kāinga Oranga’s housing research mahi and the Raukawa Energy Innovation Project with Dale Husband on Waatea News, 11 September 2023

Kimberley O’Sullivan discusses the cost of electricity and health impacts and the Raukawa Energy Innovation Project with Wallace Chapman and The Panel on RNZ 23 August 2023

For more information about He Kāinga Oranga’s mahi on the Raukawa Energy Innovation Project contact