Warming up whānau homes in Porirua

By Tema Hemi

More than a thousand low-income homeowners in Porirua, Hutt Valley and Wellington North are set to benefit from free retro-fitted house insulation thanks to the Hutt Mana Charitable Trust and the government's Warmer Kiwi Homes programme, through which families can get funding for two-thirds of the costs of insulation.. 

The twelve month initiative builds on the trust's long-standing commitment to help low-income families, young children and the elderly in the community to live in warm and dry homes. 

Deputy chair of the trust, Prue Lamason says, "We help all sorts of people, people who have illness in their house or perhaps a child who has special needs and has ill health due to that.  So if they've got insulation at least and a heat pump it makes a world of difference."  

Porirua city councilor Ana Coffey welcomes their support in helping the people of her city. 

"I think its great.  It means that when money is a bit stretched at winter and when you're prioritising where you need to spend your money it's going to be extremely helpful," she says.

The trust supported the Porirua East Housing Project which started with twenty homes.  The families involved were referred to the project because their children had been in hospital with respiratory illnesses. 

"Now we're waiting to see about whether the admissions to hospital drop for those families and then we will extend the programme ... we hope to work with Te Awakairangi in Lower Hutt to look for some really high deprivation areas where the families are really struggling.  It's about providing the basic necessities like warmth that some families struggle to provide for themselves," says councillor Prue Lamason. 

"Insulation in ceilings, insulation under the floor, double glazing, just curtains make a huge difference.  Carpets on the floor if that's what is needed and teaching people how to cope with condensation." 

The Hutt Mana Charitable Trust works largely with the Sustainable Trust and Energy Smart, granting them one hundred thousand dollars each this year to assist families who need it most.