Baby it’s cold inside

The South Island has woken to the second morning in a row of sub–zero temperatures.

. . . It was -6.4degC in Queenstown at 6.30am and -8.1degC in Alexandra, while Wanaka was -3.7degC and Oamaru was -3.1degC. Dunedin was -0.5degC.

Omarama was sitting at -20degC while Tara Hills near Twizel was -18.9degC about 6.30am.

The all time record low is – 25.6degC, recorded in Ranfurly in 1903. . .

This is winter as it used to be.

Breaking ice on puddles and skating on icy patches on footpaths as we walked to school was a regular occurrence.

Back then it was cold outside and in.

We lived in uninsulated houses with little heating.  We had a fire in the kitchen and in the very depths of winter a kerosene heater was lit in the hall to take the chill off the bedrooms before we went to bed.

It was colder still for my mother who was one on nine children in a house with too few bedrooms to accommodate them. The oldest ones slept on an open veranda winter and summer.

Children sleeping in conditions like that now would almost certainly be reported to welfare agencies.

Back then it wasn’t unusual although temperatures were regularly lower.

Were cold-related illnesses also normal and not reported, or has something else changed that people in cold houses and the health problems resulting from that have become news?



70 Responses to Baby it’s cold inside

  1. Gravedodger says:

    Your home sounds very similar to mine as a child except we had no heating away from the wood range that was supplanted by an English built Esse coal range after the woolboom.

    My older brother and I also slept on a verandah open to every breeze but sheltered from rain.

    Washing was aired on rails that were raised with rope and pullies that also stored the bacon and hams above the stove, the bathroom (one only for mum dad three boys and grandfather) and a flush toilet were unheated and in times of heavyfrost became frozen and the dunny that serviced the woolshed became the alternative.

    When I met my wife to be she had just completed two months at Hanmer Springs as the dental nurse and the clinic toilet had been frozen for 23 days.

    We take no readings but this morning was the heaviest frost in the 12 years living here, by some margin.

  2. Will Dwan says:

    I had similar thoughts this morning. It’s getting more and more like my childhood in the 70’s. The same troughs and puddles frozen solid. I’m told we had a series of droughts back then too, but I don’t remember. We rent out the cottage I grew up in. Had to insulate it last year but they are still grizzling.

  3. fascinating…
    of course our systems had not been undermined by chemical additives to food etc etc back then, so our immune systems may have been stronger… though pneumonia was a killer without antibiotics…

  4. JC says:

    Lets start with the premise that Michael Joseph Savage was a mass murderer for setting up the state housing schemes that kill so many and see where that takes us in his defense..

    1. For a starter whilst there are a lot of state houses they are dwarfed by the number of private houses.. no evidence has been presented that there is a problem with these homes. This is a good defense for MJS unless information is provided he built something into state houses that kills people.

    2. It seems to be an Auckland based problem so we need to look at the climate and the people there. Niwa describes the Northern part of the country down to Tauranga as “sub-tropical”.. moreover its a climate that is warming dangerously to the point where heat related deaths are/will be a major problem. MJS can hardly be held accountable for Auckland’s killer climate but it does provide evidence that the warmists are correct, ie “the hotter it gets the more people will die of cold.”

    It seems that Polynesian people are the most likely to die of cold in Auckland but paradoxically PI in colder parts of the country are just fine.. which means more evidence in favour of the warmists ie, “The colder it gets the more people will die of heat”.

    The evidence against MJS is there somewhere but its a bit hard to identify.

    3. To stop people dying of cold and damp in state houses we have insulated about 80% of them but still they die. Meantime its estimated that 600,000 mainly private homes are insufficiently insulated.. mostly in colder parts of the country and yet these people don’t die of the cold.

    This is a problem for the MJS defense because it really does look like its a problem with state houses and particularly in the sub tropical zone of the country. What could he have built into those Auckland houses that kill so many people?


  5. Dave Kennedy says:

    We also had coal ranges that were on all day and at least one room in the house was always warm. Mums generally stayed at home and kids came home from school to warmth kitchen and hot soup etc. We wore lots more woolen clothes back then too, I see lots of kids with thin synthetic or cotton clothes that are inappropriate for cold weather.

    However sick kids were also common back when I was a kid, I remember lots of mucky noses and harsh coughing in classrooms back in the sixties. We had daily hanky checks to make sure we had something to blow our noses in. I also remember the smell of coal smoke and the dirty haze that settled over communities during Winter. Christchurch actually got pretty bad before they had stricter regulations around air quality.

    I agree were were more active then, I wore shorts all year round and can remember the pain of warming toes and fingers after playing outside for lunch and play breaks. We rarely spent our lunch breaks inside over Winter.

    We also grew much of our own food, large vege gardens were common and as Valerie said processed food was less common. We always had jars of preserves stashed away and bags of potatoes carrots, parsnips etc harvested for the Winter months.

    Nowadays many families are all out of the house during the day then try to heat a cold house in the evening. The skills of gardening have been forgotten and cheap processed food seems to be the first choice for many.

    “Children sleeping in conditions like that now would almost certainly be reported to welfare agencies.”

    I don’t think so Ele, we have tens of thousands of families living in substandard houses and little money for heating. Electricity is expensive, coal isn’t an option and cheap dry wood is hard to obtain for many. Many families are just pleased to have a house let alone one that is insulated. Note the increase across the country for those in urgent housing need (Priority A & B lists).

    Also note the increase in numbers of kids with respiratory illnesses etc:

    Ate you suggesting that these families should just toughen up?

  6. homepaddock says:

    I’m not suggesting people living in sub-standard conditions should toughen up. I’m trying to understand why there appears to be more of a problem now than there used to be.

  7. Dave Kennedy says:

    JC, according to hospital admissions for kids across the country your theory doesn’t stack up.

    I would love to see your figures that support your theory. There is also the issue around whether the high number of Pasifika children being admitted to hospital is related to race or culture or poverty. I would suggest poverty and poor housing is a more likely determiner of poor health than anything else. I wonder if you have also considered where populations are concentrated?

  8. Andrei says:

    What you need to remember is that when Ele’s Mother was a child the infant mortality rate in New Zealand was 46 per 1000 live births – which was world leading at the time

    Today it is 5 per 1000 live births – we could do the same for all mortality e.g the life expectancy for males back then was around 60 years)

    I looked this up (under the assumption that Ele’s mum was born in the 1920s forgive me if I have that wrong but the numbers are correct)

    We have been steadily improving our health and comfort levels for generations and God willing will continue to do so into the future

  9. Andrei says:

    I would suggest poverty and poor housing is a more likely determiner of poor health than anything else.

    Of course they are Dave Kennedy – we need to address this but as they say “Rome wasn’t built in a day”

  10. Paranormal says:

    What we did have in the old days was Health Camps. A number of my aunties, raised in a hut on a central north island farm with bush sickness, were sent to be fattened up at a Health Camp.

    From the few photos of the time my mothers family could have been mistaken for Biafran refugees. They were certainly poor, but very active and fit from living on a steep hill country farm. In the 30’s they lived mainly on wild pork sourced from the bush that was on the back boundary, now a national park. My Grandmother wouldn’t eat bacon or even Christmas ham after that.

  11. Dave Kennedy says:

    Ele, there does appear to be a close relationship to the growth in those who are considered poor since the late 80s and early 90s. The number of children being admitted to hospital has increased since then and the numbers of families struggling with housing has increased too. No new social housing has been built in Invercargill since the 90s and yet the demand has grown and many families have been forced to live in privately owned rentals where there are no minimum standards.

    The Salvation Army has a more direct relationship to those struggling at the bottom end of the socio-economic spectrum and they have established the level of homelessness in NZ was 1 person in every 120 (or 38,000 people). This was based on 2006 statistics and that percentage is likely to have increased.

    This isn’t just an Auckland problem and even in Invercargill the local Salvation Army estimate 40 homeless around Invercargill. I drove our housing spokesperson, Kevin Hague, around some of our poorer housing at the end of last year and we have many, poorly maintained 100 year old villas still being used as family homes and one suburb of 70s cheap and social housing was built on wet land where dampness is an ongoing issue. It does appear that landlord profits are being given priority to decent homes for kids and the number of cheap house that were promised in new housing developments are continually being reduced.

    Heating homes is a bigger problem too, with increased heating costs and many families absent from the house during the day.

  12. Gravedodger says:

    Nice DaveK, until I was about ten our wood fired black range was cold every morning and had to be lit to make porridge on and the cuppa while we waited from the Primus.

    There is much more at play in unhealthy homes than the luvvies will admit and crap parenting is right up there.
    Pity is that the act of initiating procreation is not more physically demanding and technically challenging. If acquiring skills to parent the resulting spawn was easier than the copulating many problems would be solved.

    That bit of propaganda on vermin the other night was either a staged for TV special or it represented appalling standards of home hygiene. the dead mouse or was it a dead rat was at a minimum over a month old and if Damp was a problem then much longer.
    Rodent droppings at that level would indicate having to chase them away to see the floor.

    Of course not having the urge, the skills and the ability to grow basic veges such as brassica silver beet and carrots is appalling but it is not hard.

    So much easier to stand back and moan that more money will fix it, bollocks to that, more money will be more chips, coke, lollies, pies, Kentucky Fried, Maccas, and .99 cent sliced white.

    Would you like condoms with that?

  13. Paranormal says:

    DK well done in spreading Green propaganda again.

    I wonder if we would have this ‘poverty’ issue if we didn’t incentivise people to have children they can’t afford. The issue is government provided ‘free’ money is not infinite. it will run out eventually and then what will happen.

    As for blaming landlords you really have no idea. Punishing them more will only lead to more landlords removing themselves from providing homes for your down and outers. Who will provide accommodation then?

    The balance of ‘protection’ provided by the state through its various agencies, not the least of which is the Tenancy Tribunal, has swung too far in respect of indolent tenants.

    I see far too many claims every year where good landlords are hammered by bludgers on the prowl. You’re not there to defend the poor landlords when their properties have been near destroyed or contaminated (p etc.) and they’re nearly bankrupted by your beloved poor. You don’t have any idea of the heartache being a landlord entails as you are just too ideologically blinded. In your mind they’re only the rich preying on the innocent poor. More often than not they’re just average individuals trying to do the best to safeguard their own families future. You need to open your eyes to what is really happening out there.

    A good example was my client sued for $1,000,000 because the pregnant tenant lived in a flat that was damp, had mould etc. etc. The interesting thing was the adjoining flats on each side that each shared a wall with the alleged damp property had no problems at all. Those tenants followed good basic hygiene. Fortunately the vexatious claim was thrown out, but there was no recompense for the landlords time, expense and emotional harm this ratbag tenant caused.

  14. Andrei says:

    Of course not having the urge, the skills and the ability to grow basic veges such as brassica silver beet and carrots is appalling but it is not hard.

    If you live on a small South facing section with heavy clay soil it is impossible GD.

    If you lived in an unlined concrete tower (Khrushchyovka fortunately rare in NZ but they do exist) where we warehouse our indigent it is also impossible.

    The way you talk GD you consider being poor is a crime and a sign of an individual’s inferiority, a personality defect.

    Some people get no breaks in life and you should count your blessings you are not one of them

  15. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, health camps still exist to some extent but the Government has removed the requirement of healthy food in schools and cut the fruit in schools scheme. At the same time they increased the funding to private schools.

    Wanganui Collegiate (only 400 students) got a $3 million bailout and the Government gave $1.9 million a year to help feed hungry kids. KidsCan alone tries to feed 16,000 food deprived kids in NZ every week.

    Strange priorities.

  16. Paranormal says:

    So it’s all the gummints fault then DK? When do the parents get to shoulder some responsibility?

    On a related but slightly tangential line have a read of Another Mothers Love
    This is not an isolated case and is representative of a growing problem we have in society. That is what you are fostering.

    We don’t need to give the poor more (they already have the opportunity for plenty) but what they don’t have is guidance. That is where the likes of Whanau Ora and (I think) it was Labours policy in the eightys (Douglas), to appoint a mentor for families on the benefit.

    This kind of approach will make the country far richer in many ways.

  17. Dave Kennedy says:

    Andrei, I actually agree with both you and Gravedodger about growing food. Obviously if a family lives in a flat with limited land there is a problem and the same where landlords don’t allow gardening (many do this). However there are many who do have the opportunity to grow a garden but don’t have the knowledge or skills. At one school I was teaching at I gave each class a 1 metre square patch and all produced enough for each child to have something to eat. One class produced over 20 lettuces from theirs. Also the kids from the same school planted a potato each in a black bag and harvested some impressive crops. It doesn’t require much space to grow something.

    I also agree with Andrei regarding Gravedodger’s statements, it appears to him all poor are just lazy, have too many children and deserve the plight they are in. Given the debt levels and finances of most people who are of the optimum age for having children his views that they shouldn’t have them if their finances are tight would deprive more than 50% the opportunity to be parents. Perhaps Gravedodger can have a chat to this family, similar to many, and sort out their problems.

    Even those on median wages are struggling now:

  18. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, only 5% of us are unemployed, 95% are employed, more women are working than ever before. We have one of the highest % of people in the OECD who work more than 50 hours a week. We are not a lazy country or one where a large numbers are living on welfare. The problem is low wages, poor housing and growing inequality. Blaming the poor for their situation is an age old strategy to justify the increasing wealth at the top end. We spend billions a year on Working for Families, which is essentially a wage subsidy so that employers can continue to pay beneath a living wage. Many proud independent working families are seeking food parcels because they struggle to pay the bills:

    “We don’t need to give the poor more (they already have the opportunity for plenty) but what they don’t have is guidance”

    I’m sure some guidance would be helpful but as a large % of jobs pay around the minimum wage there is little guidance that will make much of a difference. Read my link from the NZ budgeting services above.

  19. Paranormal says:

    DK – where did I mention ‘unemployed’. And the underlying rate is probably over 10% once the statistical niceties of the Household Labour Force Survey are removed.

    The unemployed is not the only area I was talking about. Perhaps one of the few things we’re agreed on is the inequity of Welfare For Families.

    With your approach there is too much of an incentive to squander and then ask for more free stuff. The results of which are described in the book I linked to. A horror story that is repeated too many times by broken children across the country. They are really a small symptom of a much larger malaise.

    I’m not blaming the poor for their position, but suggesting a change in the incentives and offering a hand up. Handouts that you promote will only create more of the same.

    Do you understand the drain on the country all the benefits create and in more ways than just financial? If you want improved wages, reducing welfare dependency is the way to go. But then that’s economics and I realise you don’t do that.

    You have to give National credit for reducing teenage pregnancies. They took away the incentives and look how the rate fell. The societal benefits of this period will be with us for decades. Sadly the benefits will be lost for future generations of potential teenage mums when your lot eventually regain the treasury benches and reverse all the good work.

  20. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, you misrepresent me badly, since when have I asked for handouts? I am continually suggesting that we just need more well paying jobs so that working families can live in dignity and support their families with some financial security. Too many people are employed on casual contracts and low wages and many of those in this situation have young children.

    Surely the real incentive is to be rewarded for hard work, but wages have steadily fallen behind productivity for some time. I am also appalled that we continue to increase the amount we spend on subsidising wages and landlords’ incomes. It now costs the taxpayer over $4 billion a year for working for families and the accommodation allowance.

    the Government has also been assuring us that they are improving Government services but all I see evidence of is hair driers in toilets and huge wages for managers. Good, honest, hardworking kiwi families are struggling so that a small group cream off the value of their labour for their own benefit.

    My son is working in three different part-time jobs since receiving his degree. He is a highly valued worker and much that he does uses a level of skill well above any unskilled labourer and yet he is still on the minimum wage. For some bizarre reason we have few jobs for those who are skilled designers and he is looking to move overseas. We spend less than most countries on R&D and developing innovative products. We have amongst the lowest pay for graduates in the OECD. We are a low wage economy unless you look at the salaries of our CEOs and Government managers and then we rate amongst the highest.

  21. Paranormal says:

    Careful DK your ideology is showing.

    You whimper on about raising wages but how are you going to achieve it? And how are you going to suddenly create all these interesting jobs for the likes of your son?

    It’s that pesky economics thing again.

  22. JC says:

    “Perhaps Gravedodger can have a chat to this family, similar to many, and sort out their problems.”

    Ah, the famous Jesefina Masoe with “minimum” wage of $77,000 not counting accommodation allowance. Thats her income when her husband wasn’t working and she collects not only her wages but tax credits for the kids. Thats for when she had 8 kids instead of the 7 she quotes in the story.

    Her circumstances might change depending on who is interviewing her but the maths and entitlements still take her way North of $70,000pa.


  23. Dave Kennedy says:

    You guys are amazing, you obviously live on a planet quite different from the one that budgeting services, the Salvation Army, KidsCan and the Children’s Commissioner live on.

  24. Paranormal says:

    Lovely reasoned and evidence based reposte there DK.

  25. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, I have pretty much linked to them all at different times and to to their data. Despite this you guys apparently disagree with their findings that there are a lot of working families that struggle to survive on their minimal wages and many of their rented houses are substandard.

    “The colder it gets the more people will die of heat”.
    “What could he (MJS) have built into those Auckland houses that kill so many people?”
    “crap parenting is right up there.”
    “We don’t need to give the poor more (they already have the opportunity for plenty) but what they don’t have is guidance.”
    “Do you understand the drain on the country all the benefits create and in more ways than just financial? If you want improved wages, reducing welfare dependency is the way to go.”
    “…there is too much of an incentive to squander and then ask for more free stuff.”
    “Her circumstances might change depending on who is interviewing her but the maths and entitlements still take her way North of $70,000pa.”
    “…more money will be more chips, coke, lollies, pies, Kentucky Fried, Maccas, and .99 cent sliced white. Would you like condoms with that?”

    So what I get from this is that even when the value of benefits have dropped substantially since the 90s they need to be cut even further. Beneficiaries spend all their money on chips and white bread and giving them more will just encourage them. The reason for their financial problems is because they shouldn’t have had kids and most of them are rotten parents. They obviously just need guidance to function well on a minimum wage (it must be easy).

    I don’t know why all those agencies that work with struggling families have got it so wrong, these people are living the good life and the people who have got it really rough are employers who may be expected to pay living wages and who pay taxes so that these loser families can be supported. The Government can’t do anything more and may already pay out too much. The market will sort it out eventually because the corporate world care about the employees and would pay them more if they could. Have I summed up your arguments? What have I missed?

    And here I was thinking the problems were related to the Mother of all Budgets and the determination that keeping welfare payments low and maintaining around 5% unemployment it would help drive down wages and increase profits. I thought poor social housing was because few state houses were being built and the Government wanted to remove themselves from the responsibility when demand is at the greatest level. I also thought families were struggling because our housing is more expensive than most countries our electricity costs have increased dramatically since Bradford’s changes and food and milk is more expensive here than the UK or Australia because (I don’t know the answer as it is cheaper to buy our milk overseas). Does our duopoly supermarkets play a part in this?

  26. Paranormal says:

    DK your mind set is showing again. Why is it you want to keep the poor downtrodden? Is it to maintain a voting base?

  27. Gravedodger says:

    It seems there is at the very least a consensus that it was a little frosty on Wednesday morning, great news it will only get warmer now we are past the winter solstice, oh and that AGW, CC, whatever.

  28. homepaddock says:

    Andrei, your guess about my mother’s age was close.

    Dave – I don’t think you get my point which was that everyone’s houses used to be colder than many are now. Were there the same problems of ill health related to poor housing that didn’t become news then or is something else happening now?

  29. JC says:

    HP, I think its largely a question of demographics. Prior to the birth control pill in the early 60s we were very much of UK stock where 5-6 kids was the norm and plenty died after birth due in some part to climate related illnesses.

    After the Pill the UK stock took control of their breeding (esp Catholic women who were enthusiastic users) and not long after we had a Maori renaissance plus a lot of PI migration.. the Pill was of a lot less interest to this demographic.

    There’s no particular reason to assume houses back then weren’t weather tight, after all building paper was pretty standard and many homes were built of durable native timber in the framing and cladding but many of the occupants were decidedly rough and knocked the bejesus out of their homes.

    I can assure you “Once Were Warriors” was not a story but a documentary that many of us know well; and put a couple of generations of such families through a house and it will be in very poor shape and the kids will certainly suffer from climate related illnesses.

    So my estimate is that the first half of the 20th century saw a similar prevalence of cold related illnesses brought about by large families, small houses and much less concern for public health but in the second half dramatically increased numbers of Maori and PI meant the prevalence stayed high.

    Also from 1946 on we saw the massive diaspora of Maori to the cities which exposed health concerns that went unnoticed on the rural marae and isolated communities.

    There’s one other thing.. I don’t think we’ve got to the bottom of a big increase in asthma in the population yet but thats relatively new in the last 50 years or so.


  30. TraceyS says:

    My husband’s eldest aunt was born (and lived) in a tent at Omakau. She is named after the month she was born. Can anyone guess? (hint: her name is not “January”).

    Times have changed.

    The most significant thing that people had then, and have in lessening quantities nowadays, is not money – but hope.

    Those who seek to further reduce hope are despicable.

  31. Dave Kennedy says:

    Ele, while I agree that many houses are better, many aren’t and these are the houses our poorest live in. Over 40% of our state houses are the MJS originals (while many have been updated, not all have) and the old villas that are often privately rented out were old 50 years ago and are even older now. Most of the cheaper private rentals are not insulated. In the 60s and 70s many mothers stayed at home and at least one room in the house was kept warm and now most families have two parents working and houses are empty during the day and harder to heat at night. Of course electricity is much more expensive now too, so heating is an issue for many. When I was a kid electricity was relatively inexpensive and so was coal.

    We are also returning to similar circumstances as in the depression with overcrowded houses and more than one family sharing a home. Our average housing stock is considered to be 50 years behind northern Europe in its standards. The $11.3 billion leaky building debacle has been another negative factor and we still have many homes and schools suffering from leaky, toxic conditions.

    This is a 10 year old report on Auckland housing that is pretty dismal and things have clearly got worse since:

  32. Dave Kennedy says:

    “Those who seek to further reduce hope are despicable.”
    I agree, Tracey, what this Government has allowed to happen over the last 7 years is dispicable:
    -Thousadnds in Christchurch have given up hope after 4 years of living in broken homes and still no proper settlement in site:
    -Many families have given up hope of owning their own home and home ownership has dropped below 50% for the first time in decades:
    -The thousands on Housing NZ’s urgent waiting list must also have given up hope
    -I guess those who have lost loved ones through being forced to live in unhealthy homes must have given up hope.
    -The 35,000 New Zealanders currently homeless must also have given up hope.
    -The joint incompetence of Smith, English and Bennett in failing to deliver many new homes is also a hope killer.

    So much lost hope… 😦

  33. Dave Kennedy says:

    I forgot about the selling off of state houses and the worry that there is little interest in buying them for social housing.

    There is also the continual cut backs in the numbers of affordable and social housing as promised in new housing developments.

    And then to rub salt into the wounds of the homeless and struggling house buyers, there is this:

    And this:

    State houses are lucky to have carpets and curtains, Government servants have hair driers provided in their office toilets.

    More arrogance and hope destroying information.

  34. Mr E says:

    I grew up in a house that had heating for one room. It was an old house, that was not originally built as a house. It was a factory.

    My mother loathed the open fire, so they stayed unlit.
    We heated one room and went to bed with hotties.

    I’ve friends and family in some of the worst houses in Invercargill, and their heating is far superior to that which I grew up in.

    But my childhood was nothing compared to that of my Mothers. She used to speak of a time where the hotty would freeze solid in the bed.

    Now days my house is heated from one end to the other. Frost will not affect the ground within a mitre of my walls due to its warmth.

    The other day I visited a house that had a heated driveway.

    I spoke to a woman this week that was mortified the inside temperature of her house dropped to 16 degrees.

    How times have changed.

    With that said, I did stay with friends in Dunedin recently, and my wife and I slept like limpets. There was barely a noticeable change between inside and outside. The family was tolerant of colder temperatures, where we had adjusted to warmer. There was no economic reason not to be warmer. It was a choice. We didn’t mention our relatively sleepless night, rather thanked them for their hospitality.

    Living standards have improved, not for every home, but overall.

    I am curious about the impact of warmer houses on our kids. I’ve seen 1st hand a lack of willingness for outdoor pursuits due to the cosiness of inside. I worry about what this snow balling issue, might become. – pun intended.

  35. TraceyS says:

    Dave, you completely missed my point again. It was that there can still be hope despite great challenges and difficulties. Where hope is small, or dented, it needs to be nurtured – rather than the remains of it be knocked down with blame and despair as you have shamelessly done above.

    My mother-in-law and her sisters (including the one born in a tent) had tremendous challenges growing up and all went on to raise their own families in better circumstances. Welfare and high wages, by the way, were not a big feature. There was no suitable welfare, for example, when the family of five children lost its breadwinner while the children were very young.

    His great-grandson, my son, walks past the site of the tragic accident every day on his way to school. Every day it is a reminder that things are way better now than they were back in those times. My sister-in-law has five kids and if she’d happened to have been widowed while they were little her life would have been a stark contrast to that of her grandmother back in the 40s/50s.

  36. JC says:

    “I spoke to a woman this week that was mortified the inside temperature of her house dropped to 16 degrees.”

    Heh, the temp in our bedroom this morning was 8 degrees 🙂 However the residual temp in the living room was over 20C from the banked up fire.

    Its a matter of choice. We like a cold bedroom and sleep with sheets, one blanket and a 46 year old eiderdown that just covers our knees.

    The living room is a different matter, we have a woodburner the size of a small car and we like to wear shorts, barefeet and singlets there so we are burning near 70 year old stringy bark euc in it that can crank the temps up to 35C if we want.

    It suits us but would be hell for a lot of people with the extreme range of temp.


  37. Dave Kennedy says:

    “I am curious about the impact of warmer houses on our kids.”
    Children who live in healthy, warm, well insulated homes appear to be healthy. According to medical statistics children from unhealthy cold homes get sick or die. I think it is as simple as that Mr E.
    “In the last five years, hospital admissions of poverty-related disease like bronchitis and skin infections have risen more than 20 percent. Cold and crowded houses are the cause”.–childrens-commissioner-2013120917#ixzz3e77sayki

    Tracey, it is so hard to do as you suggest if a family has no home, is in urgent need and Housing New Zealand has them on a waiting list for over a year. It is so hard if you are living in an earthquake damaged house for four years and cannot get the true cost of repairs paid out (the most difficult cases were left to last), it is so hard when house prices keep spiraling upwards and home affordability becomes an impossible dream and it is too hard being forced to live in a caravan, tent or car because there is a shortage of around 30,000 houses.

    I would much rather advocate for these marginalised families, identify the causes and push for change. The previous Labour Government also deserves some blame but ever since the detailed Department of Building and Housing Report over five years ago this Government knew what it was dealing with and it chose to sit on its hands for several years and things have got so much worse.

    I feel that there is a belief here that things were as bad in earlier years and struggling families should be grateful for any house and toughen up. Tracey suggests that we should jolly people along and help them think that their situation may improve (have hope) despite the fact that their kids are sick and living in poor housing is becoming generational for many. Unbelievable.

  38. Mr E says:

    “I think it is as simple as that Mr E.”

    Not surprising I guess. Simple.

    You don’t think the following can happen?:
    Warm houses discourage child outdoor activity. (you did agree your were more active as a child).

    There is strong correlation between childhood activity and adult activity. Despite studies saying so.

    I’d encourage you to join obvious dots Dave. Try not to think simple.

  39. Dave Kennedy says:

    More families who were forced to live in tents, one family had to pay $65 a night to the camping ground for the privilege (still cheaper than a rental house). Obviously some have had their circumstances change but the fact it happened in the first place is appalling in a country like ours:

    New Zealand is different from most OECD countries because the right to a home does not have a high priority in law and tenants be shifted out of a house without having somewhere else to live. Given the severe shortage around the country sleeping in cars and tents is becoming more common.

  40. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, have that argument with the Children’s Commissioner, as a practicing paediatrician I think he knows what he is talking about. Obviously exercise is helpful for good health but it is definitely cold unhealthy homes causing the majority of child ill-health according to him.

  41. Mr E says:

    So what you are saying is:
    Warm homes don’t encourage kids to stay inside? And there are no negative impacts as a consequence?

    Ok Dave. I’d like to say I won’t judge you for that sort of thing. But I can’t promise it.

  42. JC says:

    “Obviously some have had their circumstances change but the fact it happened in the first place is appalling in a country like ours:”

    So I looked at the first link and discovered the slightly famous Nellie Hunt who by her own admission earns something like $50,000 mostly tax free pa and has a history of alcoholism.

    After her story was pimped a nice old guy called John Beattie gave her a nice house for rent. Some months later he served eviction papers on her because despite her income she couldn’t be bothered paying rent.

    90% of the stories pimping the poor have the same MO.. criminals, alcoholics, druggies, non payers and house wreckers.. they are effectively unhousable outside of a concrete box.. at the time Nellie had access to 1000 rentals in Chch but no one wanted a bar of her… almost certainly because she was known.


  43. TraceyS says:

    “Tracey suggests that we should jolly people along and help them think that their situation may improve (have hope) despite the fact that their kids are sick and living in poor housing…”

    No I didn’t. That didn’t help me personally change my circumstances so why would I suggest it for others? Hope is not about cheering people up and telling them things might get better. That is false-hope and it is not what I was talking about.

    Hope is about opportunities and helping people to find them.

    You clearly see people as passive responders rather than action takers, Dave. That lack of faith in people doesn’t do anything to help them.

  44. Mr E says:

    “The problem is low wages, poor housing and growing inequality.”

    Growing inequality????
    Not according to the Treasury.

  45. Dave Kennedy says:

    If you guys are right than the Children’s Commissioner, the Salvation Army, budget advisors, hospitals, the Housing New Zealand stats, teachers in low decile communities and struggling families themselves are part of one big conspiracy to pimp stories and falsify evidence to support criminals and benefit bludgers. Any family struggling to find a decent home doesn’t need assistance, just hope and even colder houses.

    Thank goodness Treasury can point out that inequality hasn’t changed for twenty years and all those incredible CEO salary increases haven’t changed things one bit. All is good and the Government is on top of things.

    Why do I feel that this is like the climate debate all over again? Is this poverty denial?

  46. Will Dwan says:

    Because the so-called ‘climate debate’ really is just a vehicle for wealth redistribution and personal advancement. It will be a relief when you all just admit it like Naomi Klein did.

  47. Paranormal says:

    DK – therein lies your issue. As Tracey points out it is your view of people as passive responders. Where is your aspiration? Who gives a damn about what CEO’s are earning? What CEO’s can earn does not impact on what others can earn.

    Your problem is you want to redistribute the pie rather than grow it. Because of your ideological outlook you can never see the opportunities.

  48. JC says:

    “If you guys are right than the Children’s Commissioner, the Salvation Army, budget advisors, hospitals, the Housing New Zealand stats, teachers in low decile communities and struggling families themselves are part of one big conspiracy to pimp stories and falsify evidence to support criminals and benefit bludgers.”

    Do you see the common thread to all these people?

    They all receive a benefit from pimping the poor; whether is be income, social standing or other private benefit.

    There’s nothing quite like the rush of pleasure endorphins in berating others who don’t appear to admire and support your own lofty and generous ideals in doing good works. Nevermind, if they are such lowbrow people the least they can do is be compelled to support your own income and/or private benefit and sometimes even the poor.


  49. Dave Kennedy says:

    I believe that people should be able to enjoy the fruits or their labours and profit from their endeavours, but not through exploitation of others. I do believe that there needs to be fairer distribution of our wealth. We do have a situation where the wealth of our country has been captured by a privileged few through largely untaxed and unearned capital gain and the exploitation of low aged, casual work.

    I do believe working hard for 40 hours a week should be able to deliver a living wage. I also believe our Government/public and private CEOs are earning inflated salaries much beyond their true worth.

    You guys are supporting unearned privilege and turning a blind eye to the struggles of good people. To say that the Salvation Army and teachers etc earn their keep through pimping the poor is a pretty jaundiced view of life. I could more accurately say that many wealthy justify their situation by blaming the poor for theirs.

  50. TraceyS says:

    Yes, this is a bit like the climate change debate.

    An extra-warm month comes along and ‘believers’ freely ignore the long term temperature trending to warn of impending catastrophe. Then a cold snap happens somewhere in the world and ‘deniers’ freely ignore the long term temperature trending to suggest the world may now be cooling.

    Likewise, when personal disadvantage is presented it so tugs at the emotions that long term inequality trending (as Mr E pointed out) is freely ignored.

  51. Dave Kennedy says:

    Interestingly Treasury claims that inequality has flatlined while all other statistics, like those on housing waiting lists, hospital admission, food parcel demand, children missing out on necessities are growing. The wealth at the top end has grown dramatically at the same time:

    Even if you believe that inequality has flatlined, it is still at an unacceptable level.

    I just returned from a community market that has been established in a low decile community in Invercargill. I was asked to do a short presentation on vege gardening. Every time I go to this market I become aware of three things:
    -We have a lot of people who mean well, but lack the skills and knowledge to thrive.
    -Most are in employment but few earn enough to provide their children with the same opportunities my kids had (they find it too expensive pay for sports fees etc). Meeting basic bills is problematic (electricity, car repairs, groceries).
    -There is little support for struggling families. Most support agencies are voluntary and stretched to meet needs.

    We have created a large demographic of struggling families on very low incomes, in poor houses and just living day to day from one wage packet to the next. This Government believes the most caring thing to do is to support a low wage economy, sell off social housing to Australian and UK companies (Bill English’s latest plan)and underfund and force the closure of support agencies like Rape Crises and Relationships Aotearoa.

    By demonising all struggling families as criminals and bludgers and refusing to address the needs of the children we are just creating an endless cycle of poverty and hopelessness.

    I think this research explains a lot:

  52. TraceyS says:

    If you don’t believe the Treasury report then the thing to do would be to delve down into the detail of it and critique the methods used to reach their conclusions rather than trying to discredit the report with a combination of other statistics and anecdotes. That just doesn’t wash.

    “I think this research explains a lot:…”

    That article appears to confuse wealth with class:

    “In order to figure out whether selfishness leads to wealth (rather than vice versa), Piff and his colleagues ran a study where they manipulated people’s class feelings…findings build upon previous research showing how upper class individuals are worse at recognizing the emotions of others…”
    (my bold)

    Does wealth make one “upper class”? Not here in New Zealand where most people who are wealthy are not upper class and probably don’t even consider themselves in these terms.

    My husband and I have changed our level of wealth considerably over our working lives and are still proudly working class, and always will be. I have to go back three generations to find anyone in my family who was “upper class”. My great-grandmother’s family were back in Scotland. But at some stage her father’s partner ripped off the law firm they owned together and the family were broke. They moved to New Zealand and blended in. My great-grandmother apparently never cooked though – her upbringing deeming her not needing those skills. I have her cookbook, given to her as a wedding present, and it’s in surprising condition for a 100 year-old book. Interestingly, she remained posh (so I am told), despite no longer being wealthy.

    My mother grew up well-off because her parents had a business and they worked hard. They had three cars and a crib in the sounds. She spent her summers waterskiing and never went without anything in a material sense. We when she was about 19 the business found hard times and my grandparents were bankrupted. My upbringing was vastly impoverished compared to my mother’s (but still better than my father’s). My children’s upbringing is much wealthier than the one I had. But we are modest because wealth can be a fleeting thing as my family history shows. It also shows how families can cycle between wealth and poverty.

    I think there is a big difference between intergenerational wealth and wealth created within a generation (essentially from nothing). Just as there is between intergenerational poverty and poverty created within one generation. Any discussion needs to distinguish these difference because it’s as unfair to attribute intragenerational wealth creation as an easy path in life, just as it is unfair to attribute the blame for intergenerational poverty wholly to those in the present generation. There is nothing easy about being poor but there is also nothing easy about building wealth (of any amount), starting from zero, in one lifetime.

  53. JC says:

    One of the interesting things to do with DKs list of woes is to actually check one or two.. lets take the first on his list above “housing waiting lists”..

    Against NZ’s housing stock of at least 1.8 million we have 4808 requests for housing, so the great NZ housing crisis is a shortage of 0.26%. Further, the majority requirements are for one bedroom houses or flats and the second is 2 bedrooms.. these are 72% of the total demand and hence not many children are involved.

    The only reason to pimp these people is because they are so rare.


  54. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, the main findings in research is nothing about class, but about wealth. They produced ample evidence to show how the richer people got the less empathy for others they demonstrated. This was very evident years ago when I was a member of the local Young Farmers Club and we used to help collect for the Braille appeal. The wealthier the people the less we got. I particularly remember knocking on the door of an old house used for shearing gang accommodation and they gave me all the cash they had in the house while the farmer living on the top of the hill above sent his son out to give us 20 cents. This sort of thing was common.

    “NZ’s housing stock of at least 1.8 million”

    Housing NZ owns or manages 68,000 houses so serves the needs of the most struggling 4% of our population. You haven’t realized that the numbers are related to houses wanted, not numbers of people. A quick estimate reveals that while 1,368 individual people were looking for a house there were parent and child/children families of around 3,300 individuals, Couples with children of around 1000 individuals, one parent with children and other persons may be around 400 individuals, couple with persons and other children could be around 120 individuals, couples would total 360 and groups of unrelated people about 100. This is a total of around 6,500 who are on Housing NZ’s urgent waiting list. This would mean around at least 3,000 children are involved.

    The Salvation Army used 2006 statistics to find that 1 in every 120 people in NZ are homeless (35,000 people). Given the increased shortage I would think it could be as much as 40,000 now. I guess you could say that if less than 1% are homeless then it isn’t a big problem but I would have a different view. No one in a country as rich in resources and over all wealth such as ours should be homeless, especially children.

  55. TraceyS says:

    “The wealthier the people the less we got.”

    How do you know what person’s wealth is? Did they show you their bank accounts? Their balance sheet?

    I’ve not had the same experience as you when asking for donations. Perhaps your attitude, and prejudice, precedes you?

  56. Dave Kennedy says:

    “Perhaps your attitude, and prejudice, precedes you?”
    Not at all, at the time I thought it would be the opposite and I had even thought to give the shearing quarters a miss because they seemed a pretty wild bunch, but they donated the most. I think one can make reasonable assumptions regarding wealth based on where they live and the cars they drive etc 😉

    My experience is also supported by research.

  57. TraceyS says:

    “I think one can make reasonable assumptions regarding wealth based on where they live and the cars they drive…”

    “One” would be a fool then.

  58. Paranormal says:

    DK a few things you may wish to think on:
    How does gaining wealth through capital gain negatively impact the poor?
    You can learn a lot about the world from this young man:
    I heard him speak recently and he is an inspiration. From a ‘poor’ working family in Tasmania, when he asked why the people he was racing against his parents told him those rich people just worked smarter. It gave him inspiration rather than envy and negative approach you seem to take out of it.

    DK What you describe above seems to suggest money is not the problem, rather guidance and knowledge would be the solution. Why is it that when different people start with the same opportunities some make it and some don’t? How could we change that? (Hint: Wealth redistribution is not the answer)

    Why do you think your decision on the value of an individuals worth to a company is more relevant than the directors and shareholders of that company?

    You have still to show any evidence what you would do that would positively change the situation.

    You wonder why more voters don’t support your glowing vision for the future. Have you considered you are the worst sort of insurance salesman – sowing gloom, despair and envy rather than hope and a positive vision?

  59. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, people are driven by different philosophies and approach work from different perspectives. Some are driven by making money and advancing their material wealth, others are professionals and while a good income is useful they gain satisfaction from doing their job well (doctors, teachers etc). Many skilled workers and tradespeople take pride in their work but have no interest in management or becoming business owners.

    The Picot report led to Tomorrow’s Schools and an initial flaw in the report was an assumption that teachers would be motivated by competition and financial incentives. It had to be pointed out to him that most teachers operated best in collegial environments where good ideas were shared and if high salaries were an incentive they would have looked at other careers.

    We need to balance those who are profit driven and will constantly seek any opportunity for personal gain with those who provide useful work and services whose goodwill can easily be taken advantage of.

    The early childhood education sector has be become dominated by the private sector and although Kindergartens provide much superior educational experiences and support for children, the likes of Kidicorp receive Government subsidies to expand in low decile communities. Kidicorp were profit driven and relied on a higher percentage of low qualified and less experienced staff. Unprofessional behaviour is more likely to occur when professionals aren’t employed:

    If workers are just considered necessary for producing a profit and if casual, zero hour contracts allow labour to be turned on and off when needed (with little obligation for safety or financial security of the workers), then this is ideal situation for many employers. Pike River, the fast food industry, aged care and the forestry and fishing industries are good examples worker exploitation and slave labour.

  60. Paranormal says:

    So DK you haven’t stopped for a moment to think then….

    Why would you even bother attempting to “balance those who are profit driven…”? Society needs all sorts of people.

  61. TraceyS says:

    “We need to balance those who are profit driven and will constantly seek any opportunity for personal gain with those who provide useful work and services whose goodwill can easily be taken advantage of.”

    This division you are attempting to draw doesn’t really exist. Profit-driven individuals also provide “useful work and services”. They do have goodwill and it can also be taken advantage of.

    It is not just the vulnerable who do useful things and have goodwill.

    An interesting experiment would be for all profit-driven individuals to stop what they do for a month. Then, by elimination, you would see the social benefits they bring.

    I am picking that it would not be long before you were squealing for their return.

  62. Dave Kennedy says:

    You have completely misconstrued and misrepresented my points, Tracey. Read my links and you may understand where I am coming from. Where on earth have I talked about vulnerable people’s contributions? Of course I recognise the value of those who run businesses with profit motives, I am just talking about the current balance between them and those who provide social services. Relationships Aotearoa killed off with underfunding and the MoBIE has money to burn (which they did big time).

  63. TraceyS says:

    “…those who provide useful work and services whose goodwill can easily be taken advantage of.”

    Reads like a definition of “vulnerable”.

    I’d agree that profit-driven types are generally more savvy and generally less vulnerable.

    So why don’t we focus on increasing savviness rather than reducing wealth?

  64. Dave Kennedy says:

    Oh dear, Tracey, I wouldn’t call my GP wife vulnerable, nor my friend who works in mental health family support and another friend who works with corrections in helping rehabilitate young offenders. All are struggling under increasing demands and restricted budgets. Meanwhile those working for the MoBIE are rolling in dosh!

  65. Will says:

    The whole point of a business is profit. Anything else is a hobby.

  66. TraceyS says:

    I get the impression that this is the type of entity Dave would like to see the country made up of – and coupled with government services – Utopia!

    That would certainly put paid to government departments “rolling in dosh!”

  67. Dave Kennedy says:

    Will, have you heard of these words before? vocation, profession, service, community, charity, volunteering, mentoring, rehabilitation, counseling, advocating. All of these are vital for a properly functioning society and economy. For those of us involved in these activities, they are not ‘hobbies’ they are our jobs, our passion, our work and the reason we get up in the morning. To disparagingly say that anything other than running a business purely for profit must be just a hobby (“an activity or interest pursued outside one’s regular occupation and engaged in primarily for pleasure”). For a GP their practice is run as a business but the point of it isn’t just to make a profit. You have a very sad and narrow view of the world.

    Here is one Webster definition of a business: “a usually commercial or mercantile activity engaged in as a means of livelihood”

    Farmer friends of mine have told me that they are not in farming for the profit, but the lifestyle. Making a profit is obviously very useful (and allows them to continue doing it) but it certainly isn’t the whole point for them.

    Tracy, you have completely lost me again, what type of entity do I want to see?

  68. TraceyS says:

    Dave, if your farmer friend is making continual losses or unusually low profits then the IRD may well come checking…

    Making a profit isn’t “useful” it is essential.

    The type of entity I was referring to was hobby-based. This would be characterised by low capital deployment and therefore low expectation in regards to profit.

    I suspect your “farmer friend” is in this category.

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