The winter chill's hitting hard with more families asking the Salvation Army for help than at any time in the past two years as they struggle to afford the basics. 

Jono Bell from the Salvation Army says new research found half of the country can't afford to heat their homes, while 10% are using the oven or stove for heating. 

"The cost of living has increased more than the incomes coming in for people. So we've got families coming with two adults in the house working and they're still struggling to make ends meet."

Although the survey did not specifically focus on Māori, 37% of people have skipped a meal in order to pay housing bills.

Manurewa community leader Rangi McLean believes this government is to blame. 

"Kāore ō tātou tāngata Māori nei, minita i roto i te kāwana nei i te whai whakaaro ki tērā āhuatanga."

He says it's clear to see this issue is spreading amongst all peoples, the poor, middle classed and the rich and that the government has the remedy.

"Kei te kāwana te rongoā mō tēnei o ngā āhuatanga me kī kia hurihia e rātou tā rātou whakaaro "he painga mō te katoa, he painga mō te Māori, tāku e kī ana he painga mō te māori he painga mō te katoa."

Yesterday also marks the launch of the Salvation Army's Annual Winter Appeal aimed to collect funds from the public for those harmed by these issues.