Here in Hawke’s Bay, rather than helping poor people live in healthy homes, our Councils are far more eager to spend money on roads, sports parks, horse racing, bike paths and marine mammal amusement parks for tourists.

At least that’s the impression given by all the histrionics from our Councillors over the imperative to meet healthy air standards in the Bay by phasing out smoky woodburners.

The Regional Council, kicking and screaming in resistance all the way, is beginning public consultation on a plan to comply with new healthy air standards. Bowing to political reality, the Council has begrudgingly accepted that the tougher air standards won’t just go away. But, joined by Mayors Arnott and Yule, it is lobbying Government to extend the Bay’s compliance window until 2020, with only its Maori Committee Chairman objecting.

Appropriately, Regional Council staff have fashioned a plan that links the required upgrading of woodburners to improving home insulation as well. The result of this initiative could be far healthier homes for about 16,000 residences in the Bay … and for many times more people.

People, who pay a heavy price for living in cold and damp premises, as Elizabeth Sisson describes in the following article.

Meantime, the roadbuilders get what they want … routinely. The tourism business gets what it wants … automatically. Safe cycling and recycling get more earnest “air time” than healthy homes … easily. But poor people in the Bay suck hind teat, to use a farming expression.

It seems there’s no ribbon-cutting ceremony for putting insulation in a ceiling. No photo opportunity for Mayors (as opposed to merrily cycling across the Ngaruroro Bridge). No plaque or cornerstone to commemorate the donors. No sports celebrities to bring to the park.

Is not providing healthy homes a moral issue for the Bay?

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