Shocking new Salvation Army survey finds nearly half of New Zealanders have gone without heating, 37 per cent have skipped a meal as winter costs bite

Many Kiwis are unable to afford the basics this winter, a Salvation Army survey has revealed.

The Salvation Army's national practice manager Jono Bell spoke to TVNZ 1's Breakfast about the results, taken from a survey of just over 1000 people. 

"The results are really surprising at how widespread people are struggling this winter," Mr Bell said.

"One half of New Zealanders - 50 per cent of New Zealanders - are going without heating at times, just due to the cost; 37 per cent of families are going without, skipping meals. This isn't just isolated to a few people - 10 per cent of beneficiaries - this is a widespread issue for Kiwis."

Mr Bell believes there are multiple issues surrounding the dire results.

"Over winter, there's just more costs, so heating, power costs are definitely a big factor, but of course, housing costs definitely can be attributed, too."

The Salvation Army is launching its winter appeal today in a bid to give support to families struggling over the rising costs in the winter months.

"We're seeing a 15 to 20 per cent around the regions, around the country, this winter compared to the others. Partly, it's to do with the housing affordability, and also fuel prices, increase in fruit and vege costs - things like that. There has been some increases and it might not be significant, but at this time of year, people are then forced to choose."

"At the Salvation Army, we just don't think that's right basic needs - of food, of heating, of warmth - [that] people should have to choose from them."

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni told 1 NEWS the Salvation Army's findings aren't surprising.

"It's exactly the things that this Government has been saying - that too many children and families are living in poverty. That's why we've spent $5.5 billion on our Families Package which came into effect on July 1st," Ms Sepuloni said. 

However, the Social Development Minister says the Families Package came into effect on July 1, whereas the families in the Salvation Army study were surveyed in late June. 

Ms Sepuloni says she "expect[s] over time our Government's initiatives will make a difference".

"The Families Package gives 1 million people access to the Winter Energy Payment which allows them to warm their homes in Winter. 26,000 more people will be eligible for Working for Families; thousands of families with newborns will get the Best Start Payment; [and] 136,000 people have had an increase in their accommodation supplement.

"These changes will improve incomes for low and middle income families with children, and over time will reduce child poverty."

Salvation Army National Practice manager Jono Bell spoke to TVNZ’s Breakfast this morning. Source: Breakfast

Tracking down New Plymouth youth MP candidates after Andrew Little's 'hip' appeal

Labour MP Andrew Little released a tongue in cheek video encouraging young people from New Plymouth to get involved in politics today.

The video inspired TVNZ1's Seven Sharp to travel to Mr Little's old school to find the perfect candidate for its new youth MP.

Judge for yourself if New Plymouth Boys' High students Thomas Foy and Jarrod Wilson have what it takes in the video above.

Tamati Rimene-Sproat is on the case after the Labour MP's piece of political theatre. Source: Seven Sharp

Watch: Take a tour inside Kate Sheppard’s former house where suffragists worked to get women the right to vote

Suffragist Kate Sheppard's old house in Christchurch goes up for auction next month - so Seven Sharp host Hilary Barry took a tour.

Ms Sheppard was instrumental in gaining New Zealand women the right to vote in 1893. She carried out important work for the suffrage movement in the house during the late 19th Century.

Today saw celebrations around the country marking 125 years since women gained the right to vote in New Zealand.

Jacinda Ardern has indicated the Government is interested in buying the house for the nation. It's expected to fetch in excess of $3 million when it goes under the hammer on October 17.

Hilary Barry met with the home's current owner Julia Burbury who showed her around the dwelling set on one acre of gardens.

The house has a category one heritage listing.

The piece of New Zealand history in Christchurch, worth more than $3 million, is up for auction. Source: Seven Sharp


Mum distraught as son turned away from Hutt Valley High School because he didn't have permanent address

Being homeless has become an obstacle for one mother wanting to give her child an education.

Helen Taitapanui and her son were turned away from Hutt Valley High School last week because they don't have a permanent residential address.

Ms Taitapanui, is currently battling cancer and lives in a motel with her teenage son while they wait for a permanent home.

"We've got to be glad that we've got that when we know that a lot of our families are out there living in cars," Ms Taitapanui told 1 NEWS.

However, this was a problem when she tried to enrol her son at a local school.

"The response was it's against their policy to register children living out of a motel. you had to have a residential address," Ms Taitapanui said.

She complained to the Ministry of Education and shortly after Hutt Valley High School reversed its decision.

Ms Taitapanui says her son's excited about going back to school.

"I know once he steps back into the realm of education he'll be well and truly away."

She hopes by speaking out, another unnecessary obstacle will be removed for the homeless.

Being homeless threw up an unexpected obstacle for a mum wanting to educate her child. Source: 1 NEWS

More chlorination likely with water services set to be centralised

The Government is set to strip councils of their power over water following Havelock North's 2016 gastro crisis which was a wake up call for the country.  

Speaking to Water New Zealand's conference today, the Local Government Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, gave her strongest hint yet of change. 

Havelock North's gastro outbreak prompted a review of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater nationwide.

The estimated cost of ensuring drinking water is safe is $500 million, and to fix water infrastructure, at least $2 billion. 

"The Government doesn't have a bottomless pit of money to throw at this," Ms Mahuta said.

But water won't be privatised. Instead, services are likely to be moved into a national water regulator and responsibility for water service stripped from the 67 councils and handed to a small number of entities.

Water NZ chief executive John Pfahlert said that would mean "you get better quality water and it doesn't cost as much to provide". 

But change for the water industry is unlikely to be without controversy.

Any change is likely to see authority over water taken away from local councils, and Local Government New Zealand will not be happy about that.

"We would have issues if it was compulsory because we believe bigger is not always better. New Zealand is incredibly diverse from the Far North to the Deep South," said Stuart Crosbie of Local Government NZ. 

Twenty per cent of drinking water is unsafe - so a national agency is likely to mean more chlorination.

"It's there for a good public health reason. So it'll take time for the communities like Christchurch and Geraldine and other parts of New Zealand which have traditionally not had treated water, to get their head around that," Mr Pfahlert said.

Back in Hawke's Bay, the health board is studying the long-term impacts of the campylobacter outbreak.

John Buckley's family believe he could be the fifth victim of Havelock North's gastro outbreak.

The 78-year-old died three weeks ago of a stroke, but prior to the crisis, they say he'd been healthy.

"He's spent a lot of time in hospital. He's had a lot of unexpected surgeries and bleeds and heart problems, kidney problems, all due to the campylobacter," said Kat Sheridan, Mr Buckley's daughter.

Ms Sheridan says the family wishes, "you can turn your tap on again and trustfully drink the water. Surely that's all we want".

Before any changes can happen Cabinet will need to approve the recommendations made in the review of water management. 

It comes after Havelock North's gastro crisis was a wake-up call for New Zealand. Source: 1 NEWS