New research shows potential to vastly improve health of Kiwi families

03 October 2022

The New Zealand Green Building Council is thrilled to see the impact the Government’s Healthy Homes Initiative has had for Kiwi families. But it also shows the huge opportunity we as a country have to radically improve the lives of all New Zealanders.

“Lower hospitalisation rates, better school attendance, and higher rates of employment, just through a few basic improvements to make a home warmer, drier and better to live in. It’s a fantastic investment, and one we should be seeing a great deal more of,” says Andrew Eagles, Green Building Council chief executive.

The Government’s initiative, which provides things like education, beds and bedding, curtains, housing relocation, and heating to those who need it most, has resulted in an almost 20 percent drop in hospitalisations for those households.

“The improvements delivered by the initiative are a fantastic start. Imagine the relief for our health system if all our homes had decent insulation, heating, and ventilation.”

According to the Asthma Foundation, respiratory disease is New Zealand’s third leading cause of death and is costing us $7 billion a year. As noted by the Foundation, initiatives to improve housing will reduce respiratory illness

“We know one in five homes are damp, and tens of thousands of New Zealanders are living with mouldy ceilings and walls. The majority of our existing homes just weren’t built to provide the warm, healthy places we need to thrive in.”

The Healthy Homes Standards have introduced measures to help improve rentals, but they don’t go far enough and there remains doubt around whether all landlords are complying.

“We should really have a public register for Healthy Homes compliance, and it should be expanded to include non-rental properties also.”

With over 1.8 million homes in New Zealand there is a lot of work to do to improve our homes.

“We know better homes mean better health outcomes for our whānau, lower energy bills, reduce the burden on our electricity grid, and just generally provide happier, more productive spaces for our people.”

“Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall said ‘everyone deserves a warm, dry, healthy home’, so let’s make that happen. The Healthy Homes Initiative is a great start. Let’s ramp it up, be bold, and show some initiative to transform all of our homes.”