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Another death linked to cold state house

Written By: - Date published: 5:03 pm, June 9th, 2015 - 127 comments
Categories: health, housing - Tags: ,

Duncan Garner does some good work on social issues. His piece today (warning annoying autoplay video) is another sad example of an avoidable death:


Soesa Tovo died on August 15 last year.

Doctors and the local DHB had requested, on a number of occasions in the year leading up to his death, that this family be moved, because of his health and the cold and damp state of the house. He had been treated for heart and lung problems and pneumonia in hospital. Their repeated pleas did not trigger Housing NZ to move the family. …

Update: Housing New Zealand Chief Executive Glen Sowry admits to Duncan Garner they got it wrong

Admitting that they got it wrong is the very least HNZ can do. Now they have to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

I/S at No Right Turn makes a good point:

An obvious question is whether this house – which was apparently partially insulated, but uncarpeted and unheated, would meet National’s proposed “standards”. And if the answer is “yes”, those standards are obviously not high enough.

The pressure must go on the government for a proper housing warrant of fitness. This should not be happening in New Zealand.

127 comments on “Another death linked to cold state house ”

  1. emergency mike 1

    Cue Matthew Hooton coming along to tell us this is a bollocks story ’cause our poor people are way better off than they were in medieval Europe.

    • cogito 1.1

      Also just waiting for Key to remind everyone that he grew up in a state house.

    • Tracey 1.2

      Sounds like this family were living in medieval europe

      • LilaR 1.2.1

        In mediaeval Europe, they would have been much warmer – the house would quite likely have been better insulated because of having thick walls and a thatched roof, and there would have been a fire going pretty much all day, as it would have been used for cooking as well. Oddly enough, it was the aristocracy who lived in really cold houses – large, and often built of stone. This is why they took to wearing fur-lined garments. Not that any of this excuses HNZ in the slightest. I wonder if they’re under govt orders not to respond to situations like this.

        • Psycho Milt

          That would be a totally insane policy for flats in a rental market. If obsolete 1930s policies really are why these places had no carpets, there does need to be some arse-kicking at senior management level.

          • tracey

            The Nick Smith of 2013 would agree with you Milt…

            Not the Nick Smith of 2015 though.

        • tracey

          and IF they were lucky enough to have a horse or cow or sheep it would have given them extra warmth too

  2. John Shears 2

    I have been concerned for a little time that cold unheated houses are often stated as having been insulated as though that is all that was required.

    Whilst insulation is a major step forward in making a house liveable
    in winter conditions it will not have any effect unless the house is adequately heated. Basic physics, no heat house, gets cold ,
    insulation simply slows the time it takes.

    • The Chairman 2.1

      Exactly. While insulation will help retain heat, thus slightly lower heating costs, the crust of the problem is a number just can’t afford to adequately heat their home.

      Which this push for a comprehensive rental warrant seems to somewhat overlook.

      • aidan 2.1.1

        i think a major problem facing people who live in these conditions isn’t just the state of the house but the sheer unafordability to heat them. the price of heating a home is just unaffordable, especially when the poorest are forced to use ‘pre-paid’ power wich is considerably more expensive. remember ‘kiwi power’ ? something like this is urgently needed by those who are struggling to make ends meet.

        • miravox

          “sheer unafordability to heat them”

          However housing in good condition, with better insulation and passive energy designs are cheaper require less energy to heat them so the condition of the house and cost of energy are inter-related problems. Improvements in housing and reductions in energy costs are both achievable if there is a political will to work towards this outcome.

          • aidan

            we are talking about state houses and marginal rentals- passive energy designs and “better insulation?” are not to be found in such places. and i wouldn’t be holdin my breath waiting for the government or landlords to be stumping up for them. if the price of power wasn’t so exorbitant then even these places would be livable. how about a SOE that produced cheap fuel (pellets) from forestry waste, and subsidised burners, how bout subsidising more than one high end heat-pump per household. be interested to know how much price of power has risen since privatisation. did you know that pre-paid power is 20 percent more expensive than normal, and poorer people are forced to use it since they constitute a credit risk, no shopping round for a cheaper deal for them

            • miravox

              No argument at all from me there. There should be movement in improving energy efficiency in rentals – some people upthread reckon the govt has done a great job on this.

              Meanwhile, people living in cold, damp homes are paying exorbitant sums for electricity. Metered electricity could be used as an indicator of which houses to retrofit as well identifying households at risk of of going without heating (no reason not to know they’re the ones whose lives could be significantly improved with subsidised heating). Improving energy efficiency and improving access to cheaper and safe fuel/heating sources are hand in glove, imo.

    • linda 2.2

      insulation only traps the movement of air insulation on its own will not heat a home
      location height above sea level also affect temperature you still have to heat a home
      this where we hit the brick wall of poverty and the broken economy and the lack of income. just a mess total mess .

      • Tracey 2.2.1

        ventilation is required to allow a home to dry out… Those hoes which have been insultaed in floors, walls and ceilings are like chilly bins, when moisture enters the cavity from outside (as it does with all homes) it cannot dry out, it sits on the wood framing. moisture plus warmth (like in Auckland) allows funggi to grow, the rot variety… leaky homes were worse cos they had untreated timber, but treated timber homes will suffer too, over time.

        • indiana

          …and its the governments responsibility to attend to these issues not the people who live in these houses…how dare people think that its the occupants responsibility to maintain a house be it rented or their own! There should be a Ministry for turning on heaters and opening windows etc…it really irks me that those RWNJ’s think that individuals are capable of managing these sorts of affairs – I mean its not like anyone has given occupants training on these sorts of skills!

          • ropata

            I challenge you to spend winter in a leaky mouldy rotting house, smartarse

          • tracey

            Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

            Abraham Lincoln

  3. Colonial Rawshark 3

    These tales of tragedy are shocking and then they become normalised. It’s been a tale of two New Zealands for many years now – who is surprised that horror stories keep emerging. Stories of Kiwis down on their luck in Christchurch and in Auckland living in garages, sheds and cars have been commonplace since ~2011.

    The economic set up we have now is leaving up to a third of NZers behind. Band aid solutions aren’t going to change that.

  4. One Anonymous Bloke 4

    When does the National Party get done for manslaughter? Do we have to invoke the claim of right and section 48 of the Crimes Act before they’ll stop killing children?

    • KJT 4.1

      Impoverish one family by burgling them, 10 years jail, impoverish 250 000 children, a knighthood!

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.1

        Left in the hands of the National Party, the honours system will become a terrorist factory.

  5. Treetop 5

    Basically a person has to be struggling financially and have poor health to qualify for a state home.

    Were I a landlord and I knew that my tenant had poor health I would make sure that the property was insulated, thick curtains and draft stoppers. If a person quailfies for insulation the cost is about $300.00 due to being heavily subsidised.

    MSD do the assessment for state housing and they also process a persons disability allowance. Electricity can be a DA cost BUT the assessment is flawed. There are a number of questions (incomplete).

    1. Do you require a dryer as part of your disability?
    2. How many people live in the home?
    3. What type of heating do you use?
    4. Do you work?
    5. Is the home insulated?
    6. Is the hotwater cylinder wrapped?
    7. Are your windows double glazed?

    Notice that there is not a question which asks

    How many hours a day do you go without heating to keep the cost down?

    5 hours a day x 7 days is 35 hours. People are not stupid when it comes to saving on heating as they stay in bed longer or climb into a sleeping bag to stay warm. This is not an option for some people.

    Work and Income need to put the cost of insulation on a persons DA so the landlord does not put the rent up. Renters are disadvantaged when it comes to living in an insulated home.

    I am unfortunate to get raynauds all year round in the fingers and toes, some times I am close to bursting into tears due to the iciness/numbness and pain during the cooler months May – September.

    I get $3 a week for electricty on my DA and I go without heating 4 – 5 hours a day.

    I REALLY hate the cooler months of weather and I am not alone on this.

    • Treetop 5.1

      Just to clarify “Renters are disadvantaged when it comes to living in an insulated home.” Most councils allow the cost of insulation to be added to the rates bill over a period of time, renters do not pay the rates on a property. I am aware that some people struggle to pay their rates. As well renters tend to move more, probably because there are so many shitty unaffordable rentals.

      A person has to produce a copy of the last 12 power accounts as proof of electricity used.

      I would like to know how many landlords have insulated the property they live in, but not a rental they own?

      • Psycho Milt 5.1.1

        Renters don’t pay the rates on a property directly, but they most definitely pay them. It’s factored into the rent.

        • Treetop

          I knew that (factored into the rent). A rate increase is what the landlord says to the tenant to increase the rent (only permissable every 6 months I think). Increase in the cost of insurance is another comment used to increase the rent.

    • McFlock 5.2

      Beds and sleeping bags or cardigans aren’t a complete substitute for a warm home. The cold damp air still has access to the lungs of the vulnerable.

  6. RRM 6

    Remember when Housing NZ wanted to demo a whole lot of shitty old sub-standard state houses in Glen Innes, to make way for good new ones?

    Remember who violently protested that? Harawira and his mates.

    I hope nobody on this thread today decrying the state of Housing NZ properties, was cheering Harawira and Co on then?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1

      Hone Harawira is to blame for the fact that the National Party is the government, and he’s especially responsible for the way the National Party commits manslaughter.

      I’m glad you’re here to demonstrate some personal responsibility. What would we do without you, apart from have fewer dead children?

      No, wait, what if we had fewer of you, and that led directly to fewer dead children. That sounds preferable.

      • Atiawa 6.1.1

        Stalin was so often misunderstood AB.

      • RRM 6.1.2

        No, I pay net tax, without me and my contributions there would be FEWER state houses and they would be EVEN WORSE.

        All you need to say is “thank you”… 😉

        • One Anonymous Bloke


          Without you, spreading your selfish and incoherent hate-speech, there would be fewer people spreading selfish and incoherent hate speech. That would be good for our economy.

          The less stupid the better.

          • RRM

            Does bitching about John Key and the neolibs on here pay for more state houses?

            It doesn’t, does it?

            Taxes pay for state houses.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              And people who begrudge paying taxes, and concoct sophisticated arguments about how taxation is theft, and how they’re the masters of their own destiny, and are almost comically in thrall to attribution bias, drag us down and pretend it’s a virtue.

              Like you.

            • Tracey

              not under national

        • crashcart

          Remind me again how many state houses our taxes have built recently. I was under the impression that most of the state housing stock was built up long ago and that hte current government is doing everything it can to shif the cost to someone else or just straight up reduce the number of state houses.

    • felix 6.2

      Yeah, the kid could’ve died in a cold garage instead eh?

      Serious question: Did the protests actually stop the removal of the houses?

    • sabine 6.3

      How many well build and warm State Houses have been build in Glenn Innes where the old ones were demolished?

      • Macro 6.3.1

        None. The land was onsold to developers for undisclosed sum.
        It will be all upmarket housing because that is where the money is. I know I worked in the industry for 10 years.

        • Tracey

          once Fletchers created pleasantville in the old quarry, it was only a matter of time before glen innes needed to be cleaned up and moved on in its present state… oh and Stonefileds Quarry development? No affordable homes.

    • Adele 6.4

      Kia ora

      Hone Harawira was not protesting the demolition of sub standard state housing. He was demonstrating against the breaking up of a close community and people being removed from homes of 20 or more years.

      The issue for this Government is that it faces a cluster galaxy bill to upgrade its 70, 000 state houses to a modern standard of living. Most of the state housing estate almost qualify as period housing.

      Hence why this Government is keen on transferring the state housing estate into non Government hands. But of course, why would any non Government entity buy a state house at market value then pay to have it upgraded?

    • Macro 6.5

      Housing NZ wanted to demo a whole lot of shitty old sub-standard state houses in Glen Innes, to make way for good new ones?

      But not state housing but they helped their developer mates make a tidy sum selling no doubt for much reduced prices (not telling us so you know it is a scam) – and they weren’t substandard.
      This is another act of rampant cruelty and stupidity by a callous government and good on Hone and others standing in the way – as they continue to do.

    • LilaR 6.6

      So have the good new ones been built, or even started yet? And was HNZ going to find the tenants somewhere decent to live while these new homes were being built? I suspect not.

  7. Looks like the only thing wrong with that house that Housing NZ could be held accountable for is a lack of carpet (given that Housing NZ can’t force tenants to heat the place). It would be interesting to hear from Housing NZ why it has all these houses with no carpet in them.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1

      Whatever the reason is, it will make you clutch even harder to your victim-blaming dogma, which is why you asked the question in the first place. Desperate much?

      • Psycho Milt 7.1.1

        I guess any discussion is improved by someone bringing hysteria and ad hominem to it, right?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Since I’m criticising the behaviour I believe you will exhibit, no, it isn’t an ad hominem attack upon your argument.

          What you have is an opinion, not an argument, unless you can provide some evidence that you’ve been keeping quiet about all these years.

          • Psycho Milt

            Yeah, I’ve seen you peddle that particular piece of weaselry before. If I respond to your comments by referring to your paedophilia and chronic inability to interact with people like you didn’t have serious anger management issues, claiming to be “criticising behaviour” wouldn’t make me less of an arsehole.

            Re “argument,” I’ve yet to see anyone make any kind of argument that people are being killed by Housing NZ’s houses, let alone a compelling one. Do you have one to make?

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Yes, I do. I refer you to The Lancet (Baker et al 2012),

              These findings support the need for stronger prevention efforts for infectious diseases, and reinforce the need to reduce ethnic and social inequalities and to address disparities in broad social determinants such as income levels, housing conditions, and access to health services.

              My bold.

              You will note that The Lancet makes no reference to the need to reduce the number of people who damage carpets, let alone blaming them for social and economic policy settings.

              • You may need to read up on what constitutes an argument. What you have there is a statement in the Lancet that housing conditions have an effect on infectious diseases (something no-one would dispute, I hope).

                However, the claims being made in the media and in blog posts are very specific: Housing NZ houses are to blame for people’s deaths, ie the quality of these houses is so poor that they directly led to people dying. You’ve even used the word ‘manslaughter’ and called for prosecutions, so I don’t think I’m exaggerating my description of the claims.

                I’d like to see an argument to back up those claims. None have been offered, just vague blather about cold and damp, with nothing to suggest Housing NZ was responsible for either of those things. If you’re going to declare people guilty of manslaughter, criminal negligence, hell even incompetence, the onus is on you to back up your claims. In the example above, a morbidly obese man with a heart condition died and Duncan Garner claims it’s because his floor wasn’t carpeted. That’s a bold claim and bold claims require compelling evidence.

                • The Chairman

                  Indeed. Well put.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  ” the quality of these houses is so poor that they directly led to people dying.”

                  Is that the claim? Or is it that the quality of care and maintenance of state houses has fallen – despite explicit warnings from various sectors including the medical profession.

                  After all, any quality house can deteriorate if not maintained.

                  PS: if you’re going to pontificate about what constitutes an argument, I think we should address your carpet vandal hypothesis at some point, rather than you ducking the issue.

                  • john

                    Since the last change of government 49,000 state houses have been insulated.

                    I have an insulated house, but if I don’t heat it it will get cold.

                    If I don’t ventilate it, it will get damp.

                    If I let it get cold and damp, it doesn’t automatically become a poor quality house.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Is your tautology service available at other times or just Tuesdays?

                      Do you ever get a sense of the disgust your morbid sophistry evokes in your audience, such as it is?

                      The tiniest inkling? Shrug it off. You’re ok.

                    • john

                      It’s a shame you don’t understand a simple basic fact, that if you don’t heat a house, and don’t ventilate a house, it will be cold and damp.

                      And that applies to any house.

                      In the simple world of tunnel visioned ideology, if you make your house cold and damp by not heating it and not ventilating it, it will always be the landlords fault.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      It’s a shame that you understand a simple basic fact, that electricity costs money, and yet are pretending it’s of no relevance to your trite drivel.

                      I think it’s because you’re motivated by hate.

                    • john

                      So how does “electricity costs money” translate into it’s being the landlords fault when someone doesn’t heat and dry their house?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      We’re the landlords. You don’t give a shit. I do. The most obvious solution is to restrain you until the police arrive.

                    • john

                      No we don’t. There’s around 500,000 privately owned rental houses – which is nearly ten times more then the govt owns.

                    • Is that the claim? Or is it that the quality of care and maintenance of state houses has fallen…

                      Yes that is the claim, unless you’re thinking prosecution for manslaughter is a suitable response to deferred maintenance on a property. Also, the No Right Turn post linked to approvingly from the OP is titled “Housing NZ Kills Again,” and the Herald cheerfully claimed (wrongly) that the Coroner found a dead child’s house “to blame” for her death. That’s the claim we’re dealing with here.

                      PS: if you’re going to pontificate about what constitutes an argument, I think we should address your carpet vandal hypothesis at some point, rather than you ducking the issue.

                      It is just a hypothesis, yes. However, the reasons a landlord might remove carpets are fire, flood, unrepaired roof leaks over a long period, or the activities of tenants, so it’s not an unreasonable hypothesis. Why the carpet wasn’t replaced is a separate question.

                    • Tracey

                      don’t forget the bleach, the BLEACH man.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Coroner Shortland obviously wrote several sentences about the condition of the house for no reason at all.

                    Another resident of the street, quoted by One News said “When we ask for things to be fixed, it never gets done,” so that probably covers the carpet issue.

                    • Coroner Shortland obviously wrote several sentences about the condition of the house because a cold, damp house can exacerbate illness and the child died of the kind of illness that’s exacerbated by a cold, damp house. The culpability of Housing NZ/the government is something added to that finding by journos and bloggers.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      I agree. I doubt you can make a case that Housing New Zealand are to blame: I expect their lawyer would successfully argue that the National Party has underfunded them.

                    • I expect a case could be made for that. However, it still leaves you missing the bit where you demonstrate how Housing NZ made the house cold and damp. What – exactly, precisely, specifically – about this underfunding made these houses cold and damp? We’ve identified missing carpets – that could result from underfunding and would make the house difficult to heat. Anything else?

    • Treetop 7.2

      Housing NZ need a reality check, they have so many clients with complex health conditions as tenants. They created the health criteria as part of the housing assessment and now they have to provide safe housing which does not compromise a person’s health.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 7.2.1

        I agree. Prosecute them, and when their lawyers point out that they were just following the Prime Minister’s orders, prosecute him too.

        “Just following orders” has been no excuse for human rights violations for as long as I can remember. Let’s get tough on infanticide.

        • Treetop

          What did the guards say in the concentration camps. “We were following orders or we would have been killed had we not followed orders.”

          My comment is extreme.

          About three months ago the CEO of HNZ did not know how many people were on the waiting list. Just because Work and Income do the assessment this is no excuse.

          HNZ is wrecked, fragmented and a National disgrace.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            Just so long as the Prime Minister sees the inside of a jail cell for killing children. I suppose if he were just following orders it might reduce his sentence.

            • Treetop

              I have made this comment before.

              I want to know how long Key lived in a state house?

              He is the PM and housing the most vulnerable is his job. He is a hypocrite when it comes to housing those who have minimal resources.

              Today I will add.

              I would like to know the condition of the state house he lived in?

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                I’d like the GCSB to do its job and establish exactly how much he betrays us when he collaborates with “Lord” Ashcroft.

        • Gosman

          Go on then. Take a private prosecution and see where it gets you. Not very far I imagine.

    • LilaR 7.3

      HNZ has never provided carpet in state houses. When the first ones were built, they were considered to be the tenants’ home for life, and that, just like anyone moving into a newly built house, it was assumed that they would supply carpets and other fittings. Of course, a lot has changed since then: the cost of everything has gone sky high, and both wages and benefits have gone down relative to the cost of living, so most HNZ tenants probably can’t afford to buy carpets and have them installed.

  8. Detrie 9

    I recall someone mentioned that HNZ did provide this family an electric heater, but they couldn’t afford to run it. As someone rightly said, it not just insulation, but heating that’s needed in these homes.

    Yet sick children entering our hospitals over winter we’re told has a huge financial cost too. Surely there can be a funding mechanism whereby these needy families can get subsidized electricity? This cost must surely offset the state health costs. Has anyone done a cost-analysis? And what price do we put on innocent children?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 9.1

      Innocent children wouldn’t choose to be born into low income households. It’s right there in the National Party library of hate, in the “personal responsibility” section.

  9. ICD 10

    How many years have these “killer houses” been around for and why have they started killing now?

    • john 10.1

      You mean why now after they’ve all been insulated?

      • One Anonymous Bloke 10.1.1

        Why are you lying, John? They haven’t.

        • cogito

          Insulation – if fitted – is only part of the picture. Power prices are the big issue in winter. Corporate welfare for the Rio Tinto aluminium smelter, and high prices for everyone else. Makes no sense at all.

        • Tracey

          it’s only a matter of time before the government stops taking credit for the insulation programme and admits it was the Green Party initiative and then blames it for the deaths

    • Charles 10.2

      Max Bradford might know, try asking him.

      • Tracey 10.2.1

        “After retiring from Parliament in 2002, Bradford became a director in Castalia Strategic Advisors Ltd, an international consultancy practice specialising in governance, energy and water reform. In 2007, he established his own consultancy Bradford & Associates Ltd which specialises in governance advisory and implementation projects for international bodies such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank and foreign governments. He has worked in Guyana, Liberia, Sudan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Fiji, and Cambodia amongst other countries.

        As of 2013 he is leading a World Bank project on behalf of Oxford Policy Management to help improve the effectiveness of the Public Accounts Committee and other financial oversight committees of the Bangladesh Parliament.

        In 2013, he was voted New Zealand’s best energy minister in recent years”


        and kiwiblog readers voted him best energy minister

    • Treetop 10.3

      “How many years have these “killer houses’ been around for and why have they started killing now?

      It was inevitible that people would be unable to afford electricity to heat a home during the cooler months due to the increase in electricity costs. The sale of three power companies have also contributed, so has the rise in rent and wages/benefits have not increased to keep up.

      You ask a good question.

      • ropata 10.3.1

        It’s the demise of socially responsible government and the rise of the rentier class (next stage of the plan, aristocracy and serfs )

    • stigie 10.4

      These “Killer houses” have only been around since 2008 so it seems.
      They weren’t around in the previous 9 years when power prices rose by 72%

  10. Disabled Liberation Aotearoa NZ DLANZ 11

    This is a tragic case of poor housing conditions for the low waged where children and adults suffer. It spans for over a decade and has involved policies of both National and Labour led coalitions. The medical and social effects are putting further costs onto the health and disability sectors, where economic determinants should not be its cause.

    The Greens are promoting a Warrant of Fitness to cover both the Private and Public Housing Rental Sector and DLANZ tautoko / support this and urge others to do the same. The Social Model of Disability is not about blaming society for marginalization, but to address issues like Poverty etc

    Doug Hay
    Cordinator DLANZ

  11. RRM 12

    Mate of mine worked for Housing NZ head office about 8 or 9 years ago.

    Said the job was just a joke, he was in a 14-man team and the best 4 of them could have done all the work on their own, usually he had his in-tray clear by morning smoko so for the rest of the day he was free to surf the net and work on his own projects, provided he looked busy whenever the supervisor walked past.

    I said far out, there’s half a million for a new state house every year right there, John Key was right we need to sack the bloody lot of you.

    • Wow! Completely believable story, dude. Thanks so much for sharing. Meanwhile …

      • RRM 12.1.1

        It was an astonishing conversation, my mate is an ideological socialist and Green party voter. I asked him how he felt about being a part of a huge overhead that prevented funding reaching the needy at the coal face; I forget what he said to that but it had something to do with formal fallacies so I gather he didn’t want to talk about THAT and his conscience was somewhat embarassed by it on some deep level. I think we changed the subject and perved at women in the bar after that…

        But hey.. you are of course free to call me a liar, and believe that stuff you don’t want to hear isn’t true if you prefer, it’s no skin off my nose…

        • te reo putake

          I’m not calling you a liar. Your mate, otoh … Just have a think about it for a minute. How is even remotely possible after three decades of shrinking public service? How is it possible in that particular dept, where staff cuts were particularly heavy during the nineties and not much improved this century? It just sounds like bs to me.

          • Psycho Milt

            It’s a common fallacy to assume that other people’s jobs are bullshit sinecures and only you and your mates are actually working for a living – seems particularly prevalent among right-wingers.

            • RRM

              Try reading what I actually wrote.

              I didn’t say his job was a bullshit sinecure and he didn’t really have to work much… HE said that about his OWN job.

              • Right, your friend the New-York-bankster “socialist” said this about public-service jobs. Not an example of that common right-wing fallacy at all then…

                • RRM

                  AGAIN – he was a Green-voting Wellington arty socialist when making these comments. He still posts lefty, feminist, socialist crap all over my Facebook regularly.

                  Reading just isn’t your thing, is it?

                  • Tracey

                    he wasnt voting Green in 1974, which is the year I think he was describing to you

                    • RRM

                      Wrong, try 2008 😉

                      I can’t believe you are all just flat out trying to discredit me, instead of being outraged at this appalling waste of money that should be going to state houses for the poor!?!

          • RRM

            Te Reo: Maybe.. I have no idea of course but he wasn’t one to talk himself up and definitely worked to live, didn’t live to work.

            (He’s living the dream in NYC now, working at a bank and raising a kid. So he’s well along the path to being cured of the socialist disease.. with a little help from Dr RRM. 🙂

            • Macro

              What a load of bull shit!
              I’ve got a tory mate – who boasts he does f**k all every day and drives a Ferrari – He gets up at 10 and drives into work – seeing if he can run over a few old g’mas on the way. Has a blonde trophy wife, and screws his accountant. She makes sure he doesn’t pay any taxes. But he cries watching Dicken’s movies – so I guess he’s all heart.

    • Tracey 12.2

      and you said “far out”?

      I dont think it was 8-9 years ago I think it was 49 years ago rip van winkle.

      • RRM 12.2.1

        You are of course free to believe I’m lying to you, and free to call me a liar if that’s what you want to do.
        That’s about all I expect from this site. 😉

  12. Treetop 13

    Hero of the day is Roger Tuck a Northland paediatrician who has practised for many decades. He agrees with coroner Shortland when it comes to unheated housing. Tuck stated on RNZ between 7.30 am and 8 am that targeted electricity coupons are required so people can heat a cold home. Tuck goes out of his way to connect families who cannot afford electricity to a NGO who have ill children who require a warm home.

    Someone needs to do a study to establish how much money a DHB will save in hospital admissions if a person has sufficent heating?

    Tuck needs to get a copy of the electricity assessment that Work and Income do.

    1 July is the commencement of under age 13 getting free GP visits. I expect that GPs will see more children with health conditions due to/or made worse by insufficent heating in the home.

    Coupons are a good idea. I would introduce a subsidised winter electricity rate for those who need heating to avoid the unavoidable.

  13. Old Mickey 14

    This should not be happening in NZ – but this has been happening for some time, not just under the current Government. A WOF is not the silver bullet, if companies like the Lines Company (TLC) can rort customers making running heaters too expensive, a WOF on the house makes not a jot of difference – except the tenant paying more for rent, and landlord claiming more deduction on tax return. Elderly have died due to TLC, and they are now disconnecting pensioners who owe $19. The commerce select committee has heard from petitioners on TLC, the commerce commission supports TLC, and all MP’s have done sweet FA about this rort that has been going on for years. Little, Shearer, and Peters sit idly by along with local National MP, and Ministers……

  14. Sabine 15

    The sad thing is this is not new.

    Since I moved here the stories about cold houses, about mouldy houses, about un-heatable houses have re-surfaced every single winter.
    And it is not just Housing NZ properties that are rubbish it is private rentals as well.

    If anyone has an email for me, I can send you some pictures of a house that a made me ill long before it started leaking. And I was heating my house, and I was working fulltime and paying market rent in Arch Hill – Central Auckland which is not South Auckland :).

    The roof was patched with silver duct tape, several meters wide…I had Plant growth on the roof, and rusty sheets of metal. The roofer who was send by B&T to inspect the roof lol’d and told me to move out as fast as possible as according to his words :This house needs to be condemded!.

    Essentially, the roof was patched up in the summer month before i moved in and then over the period of three years started getting so waterlogged, that the weight pressing down started to cause cracks in the wall and moved the door from its hinges. (i still have the pictures of the walls and the door)

    Needless to say that we moved quickly.

    I took B&T to the tenancy tribunal, where they a. claimed not to be responsible as they are not the landlords but only the property managers (they signed as acting Landlord – on behalf of the landlord) , and b. claimed i could have heated more and that that would have helped.
    The judge did in the end rule in my favour, but it took the pictures and a statement from an unaffiliated roofer to convince him that heating was not the issue. Showing an electricity bill for over 300$ for the month did also help. I was awarded two weeks rent in damages!!!!

    The trouble is that for the last two to three generations very little is/was done on housing stock that is essentially crappy build houses made from wood with little to no insulation anywhere, covered by tinny tin roofs. And all everyone does is rent it out, and flip it off.
    she’ll be right they say, until the kid gets diagnosed with asthma, or bronchitis or the likes, but that is ok, the tax payer will pay for the emergency room visits.

    • Tracey 15.1

      I concur, two folks in their 20’s renting a one-bed flat in mt eden, brick and tile, were constantly having to wipe away mould. The walls were always damp to the touch and the water poured down the inside of the windows every morning. respectful renters who asked if anything would be done. When they moved out, cos it was too cold and damp, the landlord’s manager came in and chastised them for the marks on the roof where everyday they had to wipe down mould…

      Was going to withhold the bond.

      Claimed there had never been mould problems.

      YET when going to the viewing this couple could smell fresh paint They thought it was a sign of a good landlord, maybe it was a sign on one covering up mould problems with paint that could keep the mould at bay, briefly.

      The landlord they met twice, in his early 30’s with three such rentals. He happily told them how well the properties were working for him (he had a job as well). BUT he wasn’t going to spend any money on them until he “had to”. His words.

      The weekly rent? $360

  15. Michael 16

    HNZ’s housing stock has been sub-standard for many years and no government has ever had the political will to fix it. Labour is equally culpable, IMVHO.

  16. Rosie 17

    In America, the poor and the innocent are killed by the authorities, with Police guns.

    In New Zealand the poor and the innocent are killed by the authorities, in their HNZ homes, of unhealthy home related preventable disease.

    In America, families of victims struggle to get the killers of their loved ones held to account. What do we have to do here to get justice for the dead?

    The shame is living in the country, that is no longer ours is becoming unbearable.

  17. John Schmidt 18

    Can anyone explain why all of a sudden houses that have been in existence for 50 plus years have suddenly become death houses. Were things much warmer in the 1950’s is global warming a myth and suddenly New Zealand has become cold so cold that people can longer live in the houses that our parents and their children did so well in.

    • r0b 18.1

      People used to be able to afford heating.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 18.2

      Yes, the “free” “market” “reforms” have totally failed. It’s the rank incompetence of their adherents, you see.

    • Colonial Rawshark 18.3

      Can anyone explain why all of a sudden houses that have been in existence for 50 plus years have suddenly become death houses.

      Poverty. Rents in these houses used to be a far smaller % of household income.

      • Psycho Milt 18.3.1

        That’s pretty much it. There’s a reason why people in not-cold-at-all-if-you’ve-ever-been-anywhere-cold Auckland are suffering from cold houses, while people in actually-cold Invercargill aren’t, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with Housing NZ.

    • Tracey 18.4

      50 years people owned their own homes and could afford maintenance and any upgrading. Today, in Auckland, investors are buying properties, doing as little as possible and reaping the rental rewards and capital gains.

    • Rosie 18.5

      They haven’t suddenly become death houses John. As pointed out by others, people were once able to afford to heat their homes, rents used to be a smaller percentage of income and a lack of maintenance all contribute to the poor health of the inhabitants

      Those houses built 50 years ago didn’t remain new for long, and they don’t remain water tight and warm when there was no insulation in the first place. The wear and tear is gradual. There is nothing sudden about the transition from an average house built in a time of greater equality to a house that creates illness and death in a time where the vulnerable are abandoned.

      Kind of like the gradual decay of our once fair and equal society.

    • RedLogix 18.6

      And from direct personal experience I can confirm that there are some people who cannot even afford to have the electricity connected.

      I know this seems inconceivable to most comfortable well-off right-wingers, but it happens. For the parents there is always a complex of factors involved, but for the kids the cold is pretty much the same.

    • Draco T Bastard 18.7

      Can anyone explain why all of a sudden houses that have been in existence for 50 plus years have suddenly become death houses.

      They haven’t, they’ve always been cold and they’ve probably been getting worse over the last 50 years. The change is in the socio-economic system has been changed to make it so that the majority of people can’t afford to live any more and all so that a few greedy arseholes, as exemplified by the National Party, get richer on that increased poverty.

    • ropata 18.8

      Leaky homes
      Heating costs
      Deferred maintenance
      Growth of (substandard) rental market
      Lack of tenants’ rights
      Lack of landlords’ responsibilities
      Building standards were forgotten 50 years ago

      Basically a clusterfuck of government and landlords not giving a shit about renters.

    • Treetop 18.9

      A lot of HNZ housing used to have an open fire place. Due to the pollution which fire places cause they were removed. People can no longer use wood, so they have to rely on electricity.

  18. Rosie 19

    And please be aware, Wellington residents who carry a community services card, that you can get free lined curtains from the curtain bank at the Sustainability Trust. You may also qualify for the free instalment of insulation.

    You don’t need to be a home owner, you can also be a tenant.

    This NGO has made a difference to hundreds of sub standard houses over the years, improving the well being of the residents of those houses.


  19. Reddelusion 20

    Don’t fret nationals climate change policy will alleviate house damp and cold weather

  20. ropata 21

    In a civilised country social housing would have to meet far higher standards than National’s cold hearted regime. In a civilised country accommodation and heating is affordable for all. In a civilised country kids don’t die from stupid avoidable decisions by mean spirited political scrooges.

    • In a civilised country social housing would have to meet far higher standards than National’s cold hearted regime.

      The house the coroner mentioned looked to be from the 1960s and the one in the OP from the 1980s. What building standard of those times did these houses fail to meet? It’s unlikely they failed any. What standards are they failing now? The only failure that’s been established is a lack of carpet – dampness is almost always caused by the people living in the house, and non-use of heating isn’t a matter of the house failing to meet standards. And if we’re going to berate people for “stupid, avoidable” decisions, the bloke who died had no money for heating principally because he had six children, not because “mean-spirited political scrooges” were depriving him of cash.

      • ropata 21.1.1

        In 2015 these houses were damp and cold enough to affect the occupants’ health and contribute to their death. Families should be able to afford basics like power rent and food. But the Nats want profits before people, so housing and power keep going up.

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