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'Third world living conditions' - Northland family of 11's plight not unusual says emergency housing provider

An emergency housing provider in Northland says the plight of a Kaitaia family of 11 struggling with health issues in a run-down house is not unusual in a region where people are living in third world conditions.

The three-bedroom rental is home to Tauroa Pirini and Ronald Kiel, their daughter and eight grandchildren.

They blame the dilapidated conditions of the property for their health problems.

Mr Kiel told 1 NEWS the oven keeps blowing up.

"It's just a hazard. So I thought about using the BBQ because it's the only thing we've got to cook on," he said.

Ms Pirini said there're only two working power switches in the house.

Three of the children are pre-schoolers. The house is damp and mouldy. 

"We scrub all around the window frames and it just keeps coming back," Mr Kiel said.

Ms Pirini showed 1 NEWS the room where her daughter sleeps with her seven-month-old baby.

"We've just been up to the hospital this morning and late last night with him having whooping cough, and foot and mouth," Ms Pirini said, as the child lay on the bed. 

Ricky Houghton of He Korowai Trust says the family's plight isn't unusual for people in Northland.

"They're living in overcrowding conditions, third world living conditions. They're living in buses, caravans, lean-tos, cow sheds," he said.

On the day 1 NEWS looked there were just three rental properties available in Kaitaia. Many families are being accommodated in motels. Housing New Zealand has more than 400 Northland families waiting for somewhere to live.

"There's a reversal of the urban drift in the '50s, '60s where families that are homeless, not coping in the urban areas, are coming back to Kaitaia, " Mr Houghton said.

Meanwhile, Mr Kiel showed 1 NEWS a hole in the floor he said he fell through, scraping his legs.

"He almost lost his leg. He was in hospital for like a month," Ms Pirini said.

Then there's the bathroom, where Mr Kiel said, "The bath isn't hooked up right to the drainage. It just leaks straight out underneath the house." 

The family is not on the housing list yet but is working with the Ministry of Social Development.

"It's really cold in here. I feel really sad for my moko," Ms Pirini said.

The landlord told 1 NEWS he wasn't aware of all the problems with the house, and didn't know if it was insulated, but that he would fix the issues as soon as possible.   

The family is still waiting to hear from him. 

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An emergency housing provider says their experience is typical of many in Northland. Source: 1 NEWS