The journey to 2500 healthy homes for Tāmaki

November 16, 2023

The journey to 2500 healthy homes for Tāmaki The journey to 2500 healthy homes for Tāmaki

Tāmaki Housing has completed its three-year programme to ensure all properties met the healthy homes regulations, ahead of schedule. Here’s how Tāmaki Housing managed to deliver these upgrades across all its homes.

The Government passed the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act in 2017, with the healthy homes standards starting from mid-2019. These standards would not only ensure renters in Aotearoa have the right to live in a warm and dry rental home, but it also set deadlines for when all rental homes needed to be compliant by. The original completion date for Tāmaki Housing homes was June 2023.

“I remember standing in the office on Queens Road and doing a quick calculation of how many houses we needed to complete over the next three years,” says Neil Porteous, General Manager of Tāmaki Housing. “Two thousand, five hundred houses in three years. I thought, man, how are we going to do this?”

Property Maintenance Company, Spencers came on board, and together with TRC developed a programme that focused on the tenants’ needs.

“Getting access to every property at the right time was a potential roadblock in maintaining that pace, so we needed someone who could literally get through the door,” Neil says. “Andy was that person.”

We are all part of the village

Andy Sao-Ama was previously a Tenancy Manager at Tāmaki Housing and was hired to be the Healthy Homes Advisor, a full-time role supporting the upgrade programme.

He is from the villages of Lotofagā and Lauli’i and says being from the same culture and background as many of the Pasifika and Māori tenants made a difference.

“I went in knowing we are all part of the village,” Andy says. “You don’t go in guns blazing. Trust starts with respect, and you need to build that relationship.”

Many of the tenants were reluctant to have a heat pump installed for a number of reasons. Some were concerned about the use of electricity; some didn’t know how to use a heat pump.

“Our elders are used to a fireplace in order to keep warm, or the ‘old school’ way of just adding more blankets, more layers of clothes,” he says.

“You greet them respectfully, as if it’s your own elders in your village. You sit down, you don’t have a rebuttal, you just listen, you absorb. And then you portray your message as respectfully as you can.”

"I was able to sit and talk with them about how heat pumps cost half as much to run as a wall heater but are significantly more efficient. This was for the benefit of their family.”

Tāmaki Housing also produced videos in multiple languages to show tenants the best way to use a heat pump, and other tips on how to keep their home healthy.

Over 701 working days, 2532 homes were certifiedas being compliant and over 2445 heat pumps were installed. The changes, Andy says, have been amazing to witness.

“One whānau had kids with respiratory illnesses, so we got Healthy Homes underway as soon as possible. A month or two later I followed up and there was improvement in the health of the children,” he says. “It always makes me feel grateful to improve the livelihood of whānau. It’s why I want to be in this space. The most important thing is helping our families.”

A fantastic outcome

“From the beginning we were very deliberate aboutdoing this work in a way that focused on whānau and their needs,” Neil says.

“The team and our partners have managed a massivepiece of work across 2500 homes while always stayingtrue to that vision. It’s a fantastic outcome and we’re proud of the team – across Tāmaki Regeneration Company, Spencers, and all the suppliers and tradies that contributed – for all of their hard work.”