The Herald reports:
Duane Tawhai does not subscribe to the claim that the Far North is winterless.
He was close to tears last week when he told the Northland Age that he was struggling to cope, almost four months to the day since Contact Energy cut off the electricity.
Mr Tawhai has lived at his rented Ahipara address at 150 Takahe St for four years.
Throughout that time Contact had been billing 148, an address that did not exist. With his debt having reached $6500, the company pulled the plug on May 3.
So is he saying that he hasn’t paid a power bill for four years, and that he just thought power was free?
Is he saying he had no idea he owed them money, that none of the bills got through? NZ Post is pretty good at getting mail through, even if the address is slightly wrong.
I can’t imagine Contact Energy let him have power for four years, without any bills being paid.
He had had numerous meetings with Work and Income, He Korowai Trust, MP Kelvin Davis and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, but none of them had been able to help. (Mr Davis said yesterday that his office had no record of any approach by Mr Tawhai, but was trying to contact him yesterday).
Also suspicious that he says he has contacted Davis, but Davis has no record.
He was raising three children on $199 a week, which he spent on food, he said, but if the power was restored he would find a way to pay the bill. The debt, however, was totally beyond his means.
No he won’t be. At a minimum he gets $326 in benefit and $221 in family tax credit which is $547 a week. Highly likely there is accommodation support also.
Contact Head of communications Shaun Jones said Contact appreciated the difficulty of Mr Tawhai’s situation.
“We have been in contact with him a number of times over the past few years in relation to his account, and while it appears there was some initial confusion relating to the address, we had worked with Mr Tawhai to clarify and resolve this matter,” he said.
What would be useful is for Mr Tawhai to give permission for Contact to release the full details of their contact with him.