Damp, draughty houses putting people in hospital - Asthma New Zealand

New Zealand's damp and cold housing stock is under the spotlight thanks to a new documentary focusing on how housing can cause respiratory illnesses.

Healthy Homes, A Kiwi Dream looks into how housing can cause respiratory illnesses by examining a home in Aotearoa and identifying what's likely to make its occupants sick. From there, building scientists will work through how to bring the house up to a livable standard. 

For Asthma New Zealand chief executive Katheren Leitner, the documentary isn't showing her anything new - she knows New Zealand's housing is not good enough, and knows it's putting people in hospital.

"Our mission is a 50 percent reduction in hospitalisations by 2029 and until we sort the housing we're never going to do that," she told The AM Show on Friday.

"It’s not normal to see your breath when you wake up in the middle of winter, and it’s not normal to wear more clothes inside than outside."

She says the draughty, leaky homes are causing serious illness, with 700,000 people currently medicated for respiratory conditions in New Zealand.

"That doesn't include people who aren't being treated. We suspect about one in eight Kiwis have asthma but many of them haven't been diagnosed.

Leitner says while making insulation a legal requirement has helped the issue, it will not solve it.

"There's a whole lot of things that need to occur - there's not just one silver bullet here everything has to come together."

Healthy Homes, A Kiwi Dream will air on TV Three on Saturday 4 December at 4pm.