Northland-based healthy home initiative working with whānau for warmer drier homes

A Northland-based healthy home initiative is working alongside whānau to create warmer, drier, healthier homes.

The Manawa Ora Healthy Home Initiative is a service run by the local DHB that provides education and assistance for those suffering in cold, damp housing.

After receiving a referral, family health providers visit the families to access their home and educate whānau.

Poor housing is a widespread problem in New Zealand, with 900,000 homes deemed 'unhealthy' this winter, according to The Project.

Northland resident Toni Clarke's grandson Dennis was among the 80,000 Kiwis hospitalised as a result of living in substandard housing.

"Probably every two weeks he'd end up crook. Start off with a runny nose and then cough cough cough… constantly at the doctors," she told The Project.

"I had to take a lot of time off work, he couldn't go to kindy. Midnight would be the worst time, he'd start up… and he couldn't breathe. That's why I called the ambulance."

The Northland-based initiative gets around one-third of referrals into the programme from hospitals, where children have been hospitalised with a preventable illness, such as rheumatic fever.

"We do know that Northland has one of the highest rates in New Zealand for houses that are cold and damp, particularly for Māori," said Ngaire Rae, health leader at Mahitahi Hauora.

The Manawa Ora Healthy Home Initiative shares simple hacks with families that can help keep their homes warmer and drier.

"Don't hang your washing inside because as your clothes dry, that moisture leaves your clothes but enters your house," said Rae. "It takes a whole lot more to heat a damp house."

Other simple hacks to keep your home warmer and drier include:

  1. Insulate doors with V-Seal to fill gaps around doors and windows

  2. For mould areas: Fill a quarter of a spray bottle with white vinegar, add warm water and spray on mould. Leave for 10 minutes and wipe dry

  3. Wipe condensation off windows in the morning

  4. Cut a piece of bubble wrap and stick it on the window as a form of double insulation