For many Kiwis, the Winter Energy Payment (WEP) is a welcome subsidy for what can be one of the toughest bills of winter — paying for increased power consumption as temperatures plunge.
For Pakuranga pensioners Lindsey, 74, and Marion, 78, Roke the payment was cause for concern — so they gave it away.
They feared, thanks to their power-saving frugality — solar panels, solar water heating, the annual Entrust dividend and a lifetime of learning to be careful power users — they risked "making money" from the $700 annual payment, Lindsey Roke told the Herald. "I didn't want that."
Instead the couple, who on average use less than 6kw/h of power a day, have donated the equivalent of their payment to the Salvation Army.
Those who receive the payment, a universal allowance introduced last year for pensioners and those on benefits, can opt out, but Roke said he preferred to know where the money was going.
"I thought it's probably not going to go where I want it to go. I thought the Salvation Army could spend it better than what the Government could. I thought they'd do something more positive with it."
The Ministry of Social Development was not immediately able to confirm how many people, if any, had opted out of the payments.
A Salvation Army spokeswoman said the $700 payment from couples such as the Rokes could help many needing help.
"The dollar values for food parcels are on average $80 for a family, so $700 would help to feed eight families for a few days on average. [And] counselling for one client costs approximately $550 over three months, so the WEP from a couple could help to cover this."
Singles receive a total of just over $450 through the 22-week payment period, which could pay for one and half parenting programmes, which cost around $300 for a group of eight people over three months, she said.
The church and charitable organisation was encouraging others not in need to follow the Rokes' example and donate their payments to their Winter Appeal, which continues until the end of this month. Visit www.salvationarmy.org.nz/winterappeal
For the Rokes, this is the second year they've donated their payment to the Salvation Army.
The couple aren't members of the church, although his grandparents were, Roke said.
He had seen the struggles of others through his own place of worship, the Mt Wellington Community Church, which runs a food bank, he said.
Beyond that, he couldn't really explain why the couple were so generous, when others might happily hold on to the financial windfall despite not needing it.
"I'm an engineer, I'm not a philosopher."