I want to tell you a story about energy. Most of us use energy without giving it a second thought – we switch on lights, turn on the heater, fill our cars with gas – we really don’t think about it much. But this story is not about most of us – it is about the small, but significant number of people for whom energy consumption bears greater consequences. This story is about the people living in fuel poverty.
In 2007 the Muliaga family in South Auckland owed less than $200 on their power bill. The power company switched off their power supply and three hours later Folole Muliaga, a woman who relied on an oxygen machine to help her breathe, was dead. She was 45 years old.
In 2010, Roretana Holland was found dead in bed, at his parents’ home in Porirua. The coroner warned about the dangers of bedsharing and overcrowding. But one part of the picture he failed to mention was why the children were sleeping together in the firs