A project providing families living on the poverty line with free home insulation to improve their health has been extended to other parts of the Waikato.
In July, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority agreed to fund the initiative for 600 Hamilton families.
That has now been extended to 150 residents in other parts of the Waikato including Tokoroa, Te Aroha, Te Kauwhata, Raglan, Huntly and Ngaruawahia.
The project is part of the Waikato District Health Board's Project 270, which focuses on addressing poverty.
About 270,000 New Zealand children - many in the Waikato - live below the poverty line, with many more children living just above it.
A large number of their families live in cold, damp homes, leading to poor health including respiratory diseases and rheumatic fever.
Hamilton resident Aroha Peta knows full well the impact of living in an uninsulated house.
Ms Peta and her children struggled to keep their rented house warm and dry for 13 years, which had a massive impact on her children's health.
"We used to dread the approach of winter with the kids getting sick and continuously having to go to the doctors because of the cold, damp house we lived in," she said.
"The condensation was terrible, and I was always wiping condensation and mould away from the windows, doors and ceilings."
Two months ago she took advantage of the free insulation.
"Our house has been miraculously transformed. It is remarkable what insulation has done for us.
"Our children want to sleep in their own beds and we don't have to wrap ourselves up with blankets any more to keep warm.
"One of my children suffers from asthma and he has certainly benefited from this project."
Ditre Tamatea, general manager of Maori health at the Waikato District Health Board, said poverty had a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of whanau and in particular children.
"Most at risk are vulnerable babies and young children, who have no control over their circumstances."
The scheme is an extension to the successful Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart programme, which has insulated the homes of more than 85,000 families, about half of whom were on low incomes.
CRITERIA FOR INSULATION
The home must have been built before 2000
Be within 80 kilometres of Hamilton
The primary property resident or owner must have a community services card
There must be children under 16 living or frequently staying in the home
The house must not be a Housing New Zealand property.
- Waikato Times