Ahipara man Duane Tawhai has received brickbats and offers of support after revealing he and three of his children lived without electricity for four months.

Supporters have included an Auckland woman who opened a fundraising page (www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/duanetawhai) to pay the $6500 he owes Contact Energy.

As of Wednesday afternoon it had raised $740.

Mr Tawhai had lived at a rented Ahipara address at 150 Takahe St for four years.


Throughout that time Contact had been billing 148 Takahe St, an address that did not exist.

With his debt having reached $6500, the company turned off the power on May 3.

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.

"Our approach is to work with customers who are having difficulty paying their energy bill, looking at options such as payment arrangements and whether any assistance is available from social agencies.

"Disconnecting customers for non-payment is a last resort."

The story has created a buzz on social media, with comments for and against Mr Tawhai, who was criticised for allowing the situation to reach the point where he and his children were left without power.

Contact was criticised too, with one commenter observing: "Contact Energy seem to have a huge issue with addresses. When I moved into my property a year ago they couldn't find the address/meter details, even though I provided the address, meter number, and names of the previous occupants (also with Contact)."