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By MAT KERMEEN
WARM AND dry housing is crucial in the fight
against child poverty but a local minister says the
Government is ignoring the matter.
Children s Commissioner Russell Wills final
report released this week paints a bleak picture of
child poverty and recommends 78 changes, inclu-
ding enshrining child welfare in law.
Dr Wills said illnesses among children were
directly linked to people living in cold, cramped
homes and his report called for a warrant of fit-
ness for all rental accommodation.
The Rev Jolyon White, of the Christchurch
Anglican Social Justice Unit, said warm and dry
housing was a necessity in avoiding child poverty
and the Government needed to introduce the war-
rant of fitness as a minimum measure.
Mr White said he would love to see Christ-
church landlords act on what he said was a moral
obligation to insulate their properties before
another harsh Canterbury winter caused more ill-
Mr White said: It s summer now, so landlords
have six months to insulate their properties before
they cause more suffering. Landlords with unin-
sulated houses are exploiting their tenants for
profit. If you can t afford a warm, dry rental, then
you can t afford to own a rental property.
We could put that in a more gentle way, but we
are sick of seeing kids fall behind in school
because their homes are too cold to concentrate on
Dr Willis estimates as many as 270,000 children
in New Zealand live below the poverty line, with
220,000 children likely to skip doctor visits, miss
out on healthy food and live in cold, damp homes.
Both the Government and multiple landlord
associations have previously stated the costs asso-
ciated with a warrant of fitness for rental housing
makes the move unrealistic.
The Anglican Social Justice Unit has just com-
pleted a nationwide cardboard house competition
to highlight the issue that no New Zealander
should have to live in housing as cold as card-
The man, the legend
It's a busy time of year for
Santa Claus, but he's still
making the time to stop off in
cities all over the world and
ask kids what they want for
Christmas. Abbie Napier was
able to catch the big man
himself while he was feeding
his reindeer at Westfield
everyone gets a
dose of the
wish list to:
It was a bit intimidating meeting Santa
for the first time.
Not only was he twice my size -- mostly
around the belly area -- he also had the
loudest Ho, ho ho I had ever heard.
But if there s one thing Santa s good at,
probably from years of practise, it s mak-
ing you feel very important -- even when
you re all grown up like me.
It was almost 20 degrees in Christ-
church yesterday and Santa was sweat-
ing a bit. Apparently he s used to much
colder temperatures and was a bit over-
dressed in his furry red suit and fluffy
He tells me he hasn t trimmed his
beard in at least 40 years because it
keeps his face warm in the North Pole.
He also said he has been stopping off in
Christchurch ever since the city was first
built in 1856, more than 150 years ago.
I think the number of nice kids have
definitely increased since I ve been com-
ing here, he huffed. I don t think chil-
dren are naughty on purpose, usually
they re just a bit cheeky.
Twenty years ago, all the kids wanted
Barbie dolls and toy trucks. Things have
changed in the toy workshop since then.
Kids these days want things with i
in the title, he said. iPhones, iPods,
iPads -- it s not like it used to be.
You would think Santa s annual toy
making costs would have gone up, but
apparently Christmas Elf magic dust has
I rely on the elves to use their magical
powers to make sure there s enough toys
Did your chimney fall down in the
earthquake or did your parents install a
heatpump? Don t panic, Santa has been
dealing with these kinds of problems for
When the sleigh zooms over, the elves
lean out the side and sprinkle some dust
on the house, then, poof! , Santa
appears in the lounge room.
When he s there, he does appreciate a
little snack -- chocolate afghan cookies
are his favourite with a glass of trim milk
to wash them down. There s a lot of pres-
ents on the sleigh and Santa has to watch
his weight, otherwise the reindeer would
According to Santa, there s still time to
get your Christmas Wishlist to him at the
North Pole. You can send him a letter,
but you better hurry because tomorrow is
the last day.
Remember, even if you hear the clatter
of hooves or a suspicious rustling in the
lounge room on Christmas Eve, keep
your eyes tight shut and don t peek,
because Santa says he sees everything.
Children who peek might end up with
a lump of coal in their stocking -- he still
carries a few in his sack, just in case.
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