Within Aotearoa New Zealand an alarming 270,000 children live below the poverty line, many more children live just above it.
Many whānau across the Waikato live in cold, poorly ventilated homes and this combined with poverty has a huge impact on the health of many families.
Waikato District Health Board Te Puna Oranga (Māori Health Unit) general manager Ditre Tamatea said most at risk are vulnerable babies and young children, who have no control over their circumstances.
The issue of poverty and in particular child poverty is becoming an issue for a wide range of families, community agencies and government departments alike, as the gap between the “haves and have- nots widens”.
Six hundred homes in the Waikato DHB region will this year have free ceiling and floor insulation installed making it more affordable to heat the house and make the occupants warmer and healthier.
Te Puna Oranga will manage the privately-funded scheme in partnership with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and two insulation companies.
“The scheme represented a positive step towards improving housing conditions for hundreds of people,” said Mr Tamatea.
The issue of poverty and poorly insulated homes was a particular issue for Māori and Pacific whānau. Data for the Waikato region indicates that more than 50 per cent of the Māori and Pacific population lives in the three most deprived deciles.
“Respiratory disease is the most likely result of a poorly insulated house and young children are the groups who are most at risk from the disease,” said Mr Tamatea.
The scheme is an extension to the successful Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart programme, which insulated the homes of more than 85,000 families, about half of which were on low incomes.
Three years ago Waikato DHB allocated $1 million to create warmer, healthier homes for families in Hamilton, South Waikato and Ruapehu. The Ministry of Health also allocated an extra $300,000 to the scheme for Taumarunui, Tokoroa and Waitomo homes.
The Healthy Homes Initiative, a joint scheme with EECA retrofitted more than 700 homes in the first year with insulation, a hot water cylinder wrap, pipe lagging, draught excluders and energy saving light bulbs.
Two private enterprise organisations secured the funding from EECA and approached Waikato DHB to partner with Te Puna Oranga in an attempt to access whānau/ families in need who would need their own or their rental property retrofitted at no cost.
Mr Tamatea said Te Puna Oranga would look to work with a wide range of groups and agencies including Whānau Ora providers to support the roll out of the insulation project “to ensure it gets to those most in need”.
Criteria for the insulation is:
- The home must have been built before 2000 and be within 30kms of Hamilton
- The primary property resident or owner must have a community services card
- There must be children under 16 years old living, or frequently staying, in the home
- The house is not a Housing New Zealand one.
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