Toddler falls into raw sewage hole on Housing NZ property

An East Cape woman says Housing New Zealand has put her family's health at risk by failing to act on an open sewage hole in their backyard. 

Three people have fallen into the hole that's been there for over a month - including the woman's auntie and her 16-month-old toddler. 

The hole emerged as Paula Backhouse farewelled her three-month-old at a tangi in her backyard - the foot traffic was too much for the already soft ground.

"I've already been through enough, I just lost my baby, and then having my one-year-old fall into shit... you can't say it any other way.. I started to cry," Ms Backhouse told Newshub.

She says "it's horrible, it's disgusting, the dump smells better than what that does."

Ms Backhouse says the hole emerged on her Hicks Bay property on January 4th. She rang Housing New Zealand as well as telling her tenancy manager about it during an inspection the following week.

She says she was calling them two to three times a week, until it got to the point where she "had a go at them".

"I just said I shouldn't have to do this. I pulled my one-year-old out of a septic tank, she was waist deep in shit."

But Housing New Zealand says its first record of the case was January 19 - when a case was logged. It wasn't until almost three weeks later they erected a barricade around the hole. 

The fence doesn't fix the smell though - the family can't hang their washing as their washing line is over the hole, and they are scared of flushing the toilet until it's fixed. 

Labour's housing spokesman Phil Twyford says it's appalling.

"I think this family's health has been put at risk, they've been put in danger.

"Housing New Zealand really need to fix it pronto".

Housing New Zealand said in a statement that repairs to the septic tank will start on Tuesday and take about three days to complete. They have apologised to Ms Backhouse for the delay.

The family have now been offered a motel to stay in until the problem's fixed.