9 Jun 2015

State housing warrant of fitness backed

8:17 am on 9 June 2015

The Māori Medical Practitioners' Association is backing calls for the introduction of a warrant of fitness for state housing after it was found a cold, damp home may have led to the death of a two-year-old.

Housing New Zealand says the demand now is for larger homes, and smaller one bedroom units.

Housing New Zealand says the demand now is for larger homes, and smaller one bedroom units. Photo: RNZ / Teresa Cowie

The coroner has linked the death of Emma-Lita Bourne last August to poor housing after she died of a pneumonia-like illness.

Chair Rawiri Jansen said it was clear there were problems with the state housing stock and it should have a warrant of fitness.

Dr Jansen said there were major issues with its quality, and that was seen in the number of tamariki turning up with chronic respiratory illnesses.

He said those diseases could be significantly reduced by having better housing.

"I think as a community we are all deeply saddened by the truth of that tragic situation. It's imperative that we address the avoidability of that by improving the housing stock."

"I think it's important that as a society we address the housing needs of the most vulnerable.

"That we do what we can to get a warrant of fitness that establishes a proper standard for housing and the rental stock that we have and that will contribute to the health of children and young people in our society," he said.

"There's certainly an element of that tragic death that was avoidable and we really do need to get on and improve the housing stock."

Last year calls from the Māori party for a housing warrant of fitness lead to the Government trialling the idea on 500 Housing New Zealand properties.