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More than 1 in 3 Māori and Pacific people live in a damp house – Media release

19 May 2020

More than one-third of Māori and Pacific people in occupied private dwellings were living in damp conditions at the time of the 2018 Census, Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa said today.

For the first time, in the 2018 Census, we collected nationwide data on household damp and mould.

“This new information will be valuable in helping focus resources for vulnerable communities, particularly in the coming colder months, and in informing the ongoing response to COVID-19,” senior manager census data delivery Susan Hollows said.

Māori and Pacific people were more likely than other ethnic groups to have damp homes, with 35.3 percent of Māori and 37.3 percent of Pacific people living in damp houses at the time of the 2018 Census, compared with just 22.3 percent for New Zealand overall.

Dampness can be accompanied by the presence of mould. “Previous research has shown that cold, damp, and mouldy homes adversely impact whānau health and wellbeing. Indoor dampness and the presence of mould in the home have been linked to serious health conditions, such as asthma, respiratory infections, and rheumatic fever,” Mrs Hollows said.

Mould prevalent in homes of Māori and Pacific people

Around one-third of Māori (29.2 percent) and Pacific people (34.7 percent) were living in homes with mould larger than a sheet of A4-paper either sometimes or always at the time of the 2018 Census. Infants and young children (aged 0–9 years) and older children, teens, and young adults (aged 10–19 years) were more likely than other age groups to have been living in homes with mould. In comparison, older people (those aged 60 years and over) were the group least likely to be living in mouldy homes.

Higher rates of damp homes in the North Island

The proportions of Māori and Pacific people living in damp houses varied across Aotearoa, with the highest rates seen in the district health board areas of Northland, Counties Manukau, Waikato, Auckland, and Lakes. Within the Auckland region, the local board areas of Ōtara-Papatoetoe, Maungakiekie-Tāmaki, Manurewa, Māngere-Ōtāhuhu, and Puketāpapa had the highest rates of Māori and Pacific people living with damp in their homes.

“This information, when seen alongside recent data on household crowding, as discussed in the Almost 1 in 9 people live in a crowded house news story, can provide councils, health boards, and territorial authorities with an integrated and systemic view of housing conditions for Māori and Pacific people. This will add to future discussions on appropriate health and wellbeing strategies in our communities,” Mrs Hollows said.  

Seven tables that cover themes of Māori descent, language, and religious affiliation, as well as dwelling mould and damp indicators and basic amenities availability by ethnic group, were released on 11 May 2020 (see 2018 Census – NZ.Stat tables).

About the 2018 Census dataset

We combined data from the census forms with administrative data to create the 2018 Census dataset, which meets Stats NZ’s quality criteria for population structure information.

We added real data about real people to the dataset where we were confident the people should be counted but hadn’t completed a census form. We also used data from the 2013 Census and administrative sources and statistical imputation methods to fill in some missing characteristics of people and dwellings.  

Data quality for 2018 Census provides more information on the quality of the 2018 Census data. An independent panel of experts has assessed the quality of the 2018 Census dataset. The panel has endorsed Stats NZ’s overall methods and concluded that the use of government administrative records has improved the coverage of key variables such as age, sex, ethnicity, and place. The panel’s Initial Report of the 2018 Census External Data Quality Panel (September 2019) assessed the methodologies used by Stats NZ to produce the final dataset, as well as the quality of some of the key variables. Its second report 2018 Census External Data Quality Panel: Assessment of variables (December 2019) assessed an additional 31 variables.

In its third report, Final report of the 2018 Census External Data Quality Panel (February 2020), the panel made 24 recommendations, several relating to preparations for the 2023 Census. Along with this report, the panel, supported by Stats NZ, produced a series of graphs summarising the sources of data for key 2018 Census individual variables, 2018 Census External Data Quality Panel: Data sources for key 2018 Census individual variables.

The Quick guide to the 2018 Census (updated 16 September 2019) outlines the key changes we introduced as we prepared for the 2018 Census and the changes we made once collection was complete.

The geographic boundaries are as at 1 January 2018. See Statistical standard for geographic areas 2018.