Visiting hospital every week for their grandson’s deteriorating health due to a severe condition, a family in Tokoroa got much needed help through Habitat’s Home repair Programme. 

After four years of affordable interest-free repayments to Habitat’s home repair programme, the Ahuriri whanau has finished paying off two heat pumps, which they say reduced hospital admissions for their grandson.   

Marlene and Rawiri Ahuriri’s grandson and Renee Keating’s son Blake (6) was struggling with Tracheobronchomalacia, a rare condition that occurs when the walls of the airway are weak and which caused severe breathing difficulty.  

(Rene with Marlene and Rawiri) 

“There was always somebody walking around having a look and peeking and seeing that he was alright,” Marlene said. 

Due to lack of proper heating in the house, Blake use to get pneumonia and bronchitis which made it worse.  

“We had to put him on a sleemonitor because when he slept, he stopped breathing so many times,” Rene said.  

Marlene learned about Habitat’s Home Repair Programme through Whanau Ora. They contacted Habitat in 2016 to see if they could get some help with heating and insulation. 

The advice that Nathan (Habitat’s Operations Manager) gave us was just excellent,” Marlene said. 

After visiting their house, it was clear that the family urgently needed a heat pump for Blakes room and the lounge, critical to his condition.  

Habitat send great people out to work with,” Marlene said.  

“As soon as it got put in his hospital admissions went down really fast,” Rene said. 

Heat pumps helped the family to maintain a steady warm flow of air which had immediate positive impacts on Blake’s health. His breathing started to improve, and their hospitals visits started to minimise. 

(Heat pump accompanying glowing stars in Blake’s room) 

If we talk about it in the bigger picture, it’s not just Blake, these two (Marlene and Rawiri) have lung problems as well,” Rene said. 

Rene said that though the heat pumps were crucial for Blake’s health, it had a positive impact on the rest of family as Marlene and Rawiri suffer lung problems and Rene herself has a brain tumour.  

Talking about Blake’s condition now, Marlene was happy to tell us that his health has improved significantly, and he also started school six months back. 

As a part of our Home Repair Programme, the total cost of work was broken down into four years of interest free repayments that the Ahuriri whanau completed in August this year. 

“You guys made our lives easy,” Rene said. 

New Zealand homes are frequently cold, damp and mouldy due to country’s temperature and many Kiwis sleep in unheated bedrooms, putting their health at risk. Habitat’s home repair programme is supported by the BNZ, and helps low income families back on track with their home maintenance. For affordable and interest free repayments to the homeowner over five years period, Habitat carries out most urgent home repair projects, such as fixing a leaky roof, painting the outside or renovating a bathroom or kitchen.  

 Find out more about our Home Repair Programme www.habitatcentral.org.nz. Call us at 07 849 0284 or email homerepaircentral@habitat.org.nz