22 August 2018 The Spinoff’s Ethan Donnell: Mould, sweet mould inside New Zealand’s damp housing crisis

22 August 2018 by Jason Quinn


I see mouldy houses quite a bit in my work but this Spinoff article still shocks me with the impacts on occupants. Most of the bad buildings in this article are in Wellington, because that’s where the writer is located, but I’ve seen even worse examples in Auckland and Christchurch. The statistics are pretty grim with over 40,000 children hospitalized for housing conditions and 1,600 excess winter deaths attributed to poor quality housing.

I’ve friends in the town I live in with parents spending pretty much all day in bed in the winter to avoid heating their home. Literally, they just stay in bed until mid-afternoon when their home finally heats up from the sun; they get out for a few hours and then when it starts cooling off again; they go back to bed.

The student’s flat where they are living with the windows open all winter to try and dry the house out. Unfortunately, without heating the flat with the windows open it’s not going to work. The outdoor humidity is nearly 100% in the winter in Wellington. Until they heat that air up and lower the relative humidity, it’s not gonna dry out their flat. They need to heat it and they can’t afford to heat it.

The rental agency advice to run the heaters all the time with the windows open is technically correct but if they can’t pay the electric bill they can’t follow that advice. Houses like this can be retrofitted but it takes a landlord and society willing to take the long view and balance that capital investment with the overall costs to society and the occupants.


“According to Otago University research, about 1,600 New Zealanders – mostly older people – die prematurely every winter because of poor quality housing. More than 40,000 children are hospitalised for housing-related conditions; around 15 die. And those who survive are 10 times more likely to die before they reach their 20th birthday.”

Read more on at The Spinoff at this link.

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