Unhealthy homes election issue

Press release

Half of New Zealanders are more likely to vote for a political party in this year’s general election that promises to ‘significantly and urgently’ improve the unhealthy state of homes in New Zealand.

A Consumerlink survey, carried out for the Green Building Council, asked New Zealanders whether a promise by political parties to significantly and urgently improve the state of homes would sway their vote.

Half of those surveyed said they were more likely or much more likely to vote for a party that did, while just one in 20 said they were less likely or much less likely.

The survey results, released in February 2020, also revealed that six in 10 New Zealanders felt that they have lived in or are living in a home that may be damaging their health or the health of others in the home.

Last year (2019) the Government introduced the healthy homes standards, intended to raise the poor quality of rental homes. The Green Building Council commented that these standards did not go far enough, and that hundreds of thousands of homes will remain cold and damp as they will never be reached by these schemes.

Andrew Eagles, head of the Green Building Council, said: “When the very places we live are making our kids sick, promises to make New Zealand the world’s most liveable country sound as hollow as an uninsulated bedroom wall. The pace of change needed to fix this has so far been close to glacial.

“It’s now high time for every political party to make a manifesto promise to significantly and urgently improve the unacceptable and unhealthy state of our homes. Taking measures, including improving New Zealand’s woeful Building Code, and energy labelling, would improve the health of New Zealanders, the health of our finances as household bills decrease, and the financial strain put on our health services.

“While there’s sure to be a raft of issues that shape people’s votes, this survey shows that the state of our homes is set to be an important issue in September’s election.”

Around half of New Zealand homes have visible mould. Half of New Zealand adults say they live in a cold house, and over 60 percent of Kiwis say their homes need repairs.

Cold and damp New Zealand houses have been linked to asthma, rheumatic fever and respiratory infections. Respiratory disease affects 700,000 Kiwis, is responsible for almost 80,000 hospital admissions, one-third of which are children, and costs New Zealand $6billion a year, according to the Asthma Foundation.

The survey was carried out from 29 January until 4 February, and questioned 1000 New Zealanders.

Those surveyed were asked ‘The General Election is on 19 September this year. Would you be more likely, the same or less likely to vote for a political party that promised to significantly and urgently improve the state of unhealthy homes in New Zealand when in Government?’ 47 percent of respondents said they were much more likely or more likely to vote for a party that made such a promise.

The New Zealand Green Building Council is a not-for-profit organisation, working to make sure that all New Zealanders are safe, healthy and happy at home, at work, wherever they are, because better buildings mean healthier, happier Kiwis.


Steve Hart is a writer and podcaster.