Photo credit: 'Old Rotten House' by Achim Meurer
‘Damp state house played part in toddler's death’ - that was an actual headline in the NZ Herald. 
Emma-Lita Bourne was just 2 years old when she died from a “pneumonia-like illness” in August of last year. Coroner Brandt Shortland said this week that the condition of the State House where she lived with her family contributed to her death. 
It was "very cold and not getting much sunshine". There was no carpet in the house, only floorboards. When it rained the family had to use a bucket to catch the drips from a leak in the hallway ceiling. Another child in the family was being treated for Rheumatic Fever.
"I am of the view the condition of the house at the time being cold and damp during the winter months was a contributing factor to Emma-Lita's health status." the coroner said.
Latisha Bourne, Emma-Lita’s mother says she repeatedly asked Housing New Zealand to fix their family's cold, damp home before her two-year-old daughter got sick and died. She said she that hoped no parent would have to go through the pain she has felt at losing a child.
Every winter between 25 to 30,000 of our children end up in hospitals with respiratory infections and illnesses caused by living in cold, damp houses. 
What good is a "rock star economy " if it does not keep our children warm, dry and most importantly alive?
One solution to this shameful problem is a piece of legislation called ‘The Healthy Homes Guarantee’ Bill that would introduce a Warrant of Fitness scheme for all rental properties in New Zealand. It would have been a step in the right direction for ensuring that all Kiwis have access to a warm, dry home.  But in March of this year some of our MPs voted the Bill down and it lost by just one vote. The vote of the additional NZ First MP bought into Parliament following the Northland by-election means it would now pass. 
Renewed calls have already been made for a warrant of fitness scheme. 
This will not bring little Emma-Lita back, but together we can show our collective demand for immediate solutions so that no child or parent should ever have to suffer such a devastating, unnecessary and avoidable loss like this ever again.
Sign the open letter. Challenge our MPs.
We’ll deliver the challenge when we reach 20,000 signatures.
~ References ~
‘Damp state houses played a part in toddler’s death’, NZ Herald
‘Otara state houses 'damp, full of cockroaches' but Govt defends HNZ after death’ One News
‘Health and cold damp houses’ Environmental Health Indicators NZ
- 'Housing NZ to trial WOF scheme', HNZ website
- 'Govt must pick up healthy homes bill' Labour Party press release
- 'Toddlers death proves need for WoF in homes', Maori TV