OPINION: Back in the early 2000s I spent four years living in Taupo. I loved my time there. It's a busy town with plenty to do. Great food, nice people and that view over the lake to the mountains in the distance is something you never get sick of.
Tell you something I don't miss about Taupo though, is my cold damp house. It had a wood burner, but there was not a skerrick of insulation in the place so the heat would escape like rats fleeing a sinking ship. Each morning I could literally see my breath as I lay in bed and I had to keep a pair of slippers by the bathroom because the tiles were too cold to walk on.
I used to wonder how it was okay to build houses without insulation. Taupo gets cold in winter; each morning is typically below zero.
Fast forward 15 years and the problem still exists. We still have houses in this country with little or no heating and no insulation and what's more, we are seeing evidence these homes are making our kids sick.
I listened in disbelief to Auckland Paediatrician Professor Innes Asher this week on RadioLIVE, saying the number of kids admitted to hospital with bronchiectasis and chronic respiratory issues is increasing at alarming rates. She is seeing as many respiratory-related admissions as she does for rheumatic fever, and blames this squarely on the poor quality of our homes. How is this acceptable?
The Government has said insulation will be compulsory in all rental homes from July 1, 2019. That is not soon enough. That's another two cold, damp winters to endure before landlords are forced to bring their properties up to an acceptable living standard. It beggars belief really.
As I type this I can hear the groans of landlords lamenting the cost of fully insulating their rental property.
All I can say to that is, why did you buy a house that wasn't insulated in the first place? Shouldn't you have made that a condition of purchase? How can you as a landlord, in all good conscience, charge someone money for living in a house that could make them sick? Aren't you basically saying you care not about their health or that of their children, but only about their rent money?
And as far as raising rent to help pay for insulation, don't you dare. Your tenants should not be helping you pay for something that should have been there in the first place.
I think we all agree that overall New Zealand is a terrific place to live and raise a family, but for a first world country it does have some third world problems. This is one of them.
Mike Roke is a technical producer for RadioLIVE Drive with Ali Mau, weekdays from 3-6pm.