Unit has food and insulation for the needy

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 07/05/2013

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Waikato's poorest communities will be warmer this winter and less hungry following a free home insulation and food in schools initiative run by Waikato DHB's Maori health unit, Te Puna Oranga.

About 400 homes in Waikato have been insulated as part of the DHB's Project 270 that looks to cut down on poverty rates across the region and general manager Ditre Tamatea said there were still spaces available.

"We can still take on another 100 referrals for free home insulation over the next three weeks but you've got to be quick. First in, first served but that's only within Hamilton," Mr Tamatea said.

Project 270 focuses on poverty of the child and family and got its name because 270,000 children in New Zealand, and 11,056 in Waikato, live below the poverty line.

Funding for free insulation was cut for rural communities but families within 30 kilometres of Hamilton can apply if they have children under the age of 16 and a community services card.

"You can own the home or you can rent the home, but if you rent the home you have to have permission from the landlord," he said.

"The reason we've done that is because a lot of our low-income whanau don't own a home."

Te Puna Oranga processed 524 application between 2012 to 2013 which directly benefited 2142 people.

Maori and Pacific Island families made up 62 per cent, 33 per cent European, one per cent Asian and four per cent other.

Renters nearly doubled the number of home owners who applied.

Mr Tamatea could not provide numbers of children in poverty for the Waikato region but said Maori made up a "huge number".

While a larger proportion of Maori and Pacific children live in poverty, 1 in 6 children of Pakeha descent also live below the poverty line.

"We have secured funding at this moment in time to provide meals for children in low-income schools, deciles one and two, for 23 primary schools across the greater Waikato for a year."

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- Waikato Times

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