About Us

Free the Funds

We are a group of power consumers resident in Hawkes Bay, and hence beneficiaries of the Hawkes Bay Power Consumers Trust.

We are all well aware of the devastation in Hawkes Bay as a result of cyclone Gabrielle, and the desperate financial plight that many residents find themselves in.

The 2023 "ownership review" of Unison Networks has now concluded, but our Mission is not over. The possibility for creating the opportunity to give the power Consumers the ability to own and manage their own Unison shareholding still remains. Consumers are perfectly capable of owning and managing their shares in their own right, and understand that they might realise a significant cash benefit by selling these shares, if they choose. Selling the shares would thus inject much needed cash into the Hawkes Bay economy.

The ability to distribute the Unison shares, free, to all consumers is already provided for in the Trust Deed The process would require only a resolution of the Trustees to initiate a further review of ownership of the shares, recognising that the Trustees are bound by law to act for the benefit of the Consumers/Beneficiaries, and for no other purpose. The timing does not have to be linked to the mandated 5 yearly "ownership review" process.

Why Now ?

The Hawkes Bay Power Consumers Trust has been existence now for 30 years.

The Trust was first established following a nation-wide reorganisation of the whole electricity industry in New Zealand, early in 1990. In fact 29 similar Trusts were established in order to disburse the assets [and hence the value] of each business with the responsibility for distributing power from the National Grid Operator, TransPower, to individual power consumers. Unison is the power distribution company for Hawkes Bay, and all Unison shares are presently owned and managed by the Trust on behalf of the Beneficiaries.

Not all 29 Trusts still exist. In fact, only 18 Trusts remain as members of the Energy Trusts of NZ association. A number have evolved through a several different owners, and indeed Unison bought the corresponding Taupo and the Rotorua businesses in 2002/3. Shareholders of those businesses were paid $9.90 for each share. Some of the original Trusts are now owned offshore, with the original shareholders/consumers/beneficiaries having been paid out with earlier ownership changes.

The Trust is obliged to operate according to a set of Rules set out in the Trust Deed. [linked here]

The Trust Deed is an important document. It provides for a "Review of Ownership" of the Unison shares every 5 years. The review process for 2023 has been concluded, with the Trustees resolving to retain ownership of all Unison shares. We would call the whole process a "charade". Be assured we will continue advocating for the shares to be distributed to the Consumers/Beneficiaries.

We need your support to ensure that the Directors of Unison, and the Trustees of the HBPCT, are aware that the Trustees must act for the benefit of the Beneficiaries. We need the Trustees to also recognise the numbers of Consumers/Beneficiaries who would prefer to have ownership of, and manage their entitlement themselves.

Supporters

Our strength lies in numbers.

We need a groundswell of opinion supporting the need for change to influence the Unison directors, and the Trustees.

Join our Team and help spread the word.

Tell your friends. We would love to have them as supporters too.

We have more than 400 people registered as supporters of Free the Funds. These are real people, with real names. It would be wrong to publish more details than this, and a breach of our guarantee of privacy.

We know that many more people are very keen on the option of owning their shares in Unison directly, but for their own reasons they have not yet registered with us. We encourage these people to make a submission to the "Ownership Review" presently being conducted.

We have compiled important comments on the Review reports under a new heading . . . "Ownership Review". The Trustees are bound by the Trust Deed and by law to act for the benefit of the Beneficiaries. The reports fail to address the fundamental issues that the Trustees MUST consider. Recent legal opinions outline these responsibilities in detail. We also provide sample responses to the review which emphasise these points, and these are available here . . . >>Letter-1 and >>Letter-2

We have provided the ability to copy the samples [which you can then edit if you wish], and email them to the Trust in response to their invitation. Just one button click will get you started.

PLEASE DO SO. Your support and opinion is important.

We welcome support from everyone in Hawkes Bay. However, please understand that we can only count one vote per ICP, but we will count ALL ICPs.