DUNCAN GARNER: Husband dies after pleas to leave cold state house ignored



Soesa Tovo


His death certificate records his place of death at his father’s house. His own house was so cold, his wife would move him to his father’s house at night in the same suburb.

He was surrounded by his wife Amelia and their 6 children.

Doctors and the local DHB had requested, on a number of occasions in the year leading up to his death, that this family be moved, because of his health and the cold and damp state of the house. He had been treated for heart and lung problems and pneumonia in hospital.

Their repeated pleas did not trigger Housing NZ to move the family. They were told they had ‘no argument’ according to Amelia.

Soesa died aged just 37.

Update: Housing New Zealand Chief Executive Glen Sowry admits to Duncan Garner they got it wrong:

He was working as a security guard before he died.

The family had been on the Housing NZ waiting list to move to a new property after complaining that the house was cold and damp.




Their request was not regarded as urgent.

Housing NZ put insulation in the roof, but not under the house or in the walls. The vinyl tiles remained in the bedrooms and hallway.

The only carpet is in the lounge – where the family sleep. It’s where Soesa died.

The family say, despite the roof insulation, the house remains cold, damp and mouldy. They struggle to afford the heating costs.




Amelia has managed to source some carpet cut offs, from the organic rubbish collections on the street, to run down the hallway and bedrooms.

A year after their husband and dad died, Amelia and 5 of her children still live in the house.

They are desperate to leave. They have tried all avenues. They want to get out of the house that he died in. They want something warmer.

So here are the facts, all supported by the documents, attached.

The 10 point timeline:

1. 10 July 2013; - Counties Manukau DHB writes to Housing NZ asking for the family to be transferred because of Soesa’s health.




2. 10 July 2013;

The DHB says; ‘Mr Tovo stated that this current house is very cold. His condition can be worsening by his current living arrangement in the cold house. He is requiring assistance with a HNZ transfer to relocate him to more appropriate property. It would be in the interest of Mr Tovo and his children to move to a warmer house

3. 11 July 2013; Thomas Robertson the principal of Kevin Road School writes to Housing NZ concerned two of the children are constantly absent because of sickness. He cites the ‘cold un-insulated house.




4. 26 July 2013; The East Tamaki Healthcare Surgery writes to Housing NZ saying; The house is cold despite efforts to heat it. Mr Tovo has been in poor health because of a serious heart and lung complaint. On returning home his condition immediately worsened in the cold. Please support this family’s request for relocation to a more suitable house.




5. 13 August 2013; Counties-Manukau DHB Medical Social Worker writes to Housing NZ concerned the current living situation is impacting further on Mr Tovo’s health. It’s concerned the house is damp and lacks heating. It asks for the current house to be looked at or another home be provided. The DHB asks for urgency.




6. 15 August 2014; Soesa Tovo dies aged 37.

7. 27 August 2014; Victim Support asks Housing NZ to transfer Amelia and her children to another house, because of its condition, her husband’s death and the associated memories.




8. 28 August 2014; East Tamaki Healthcare Surgery asks Housing NZ to once again reassess Amelia and her children’s living arrangements and transfer them to a new address. They say she is afraid of the location and its affecting the children.




9. 23 September 2014; Labour MP Louisa Wall writes to Housing NZ asking and supporting a transfer for Amelia and her family, saying she believes her request to move to be genuine.




10. 2015 –until today; nothing happens – Amelia is still there and wants to move. RadioLIVE Drive visits and tells the story.

Duncan Garner hosts RadioLIVE Drive - 'where content is still king' - weekdays from 3pm.