Callout for help to warm more BOP homes

A very happy Mike Tokona, who is so grateful for the work done to warm up his home so far. Photos: David Hall.

When SunLive walked into Mike Tokona’s little home at the edge of Bethlehem on a bright, sunny spring day the place was cold, damp and dark.

The only light pouring into the home was that streaming through holes in the roof. You could see the rusting iron, there was no building paper or ceiling.

“It’s not too bad,” says Mike humbly, as his hand touches a stand-up heat lamp. “I’ve had this friend here to keep me warm.”

Mike has spent three winters in the small shed he’s turned into a home since returning to whanau land. However, the last fortnight has been a game-changer for Mike. His home has a brand new roof – and more work is planned to bring the dwelling’s interior up to operating at 20 degrees Celsius.

20 Degrees programme

This is down to the work of Sustainability Options – and their repairs and maintenance programme, called 20 Degrees, which the Tauranga-based ‘altruistic business’ has been running for three years.

The programme is delivered by Sustainability Options, who visit homes of those struggling with cold, damp and poor housing conditions. The team identify the issues preventing homes from reaching 20 degrees Celsius and seek to develop a plan to work with the whānau/families to address these.

To solve these problems, 20 Degrees works with other available programmes, connecting home occupants with any services or subsidies that may help improve their housing conditions and living situation. Then 20 degrees fills the gaps of any issues left unresolved, typically minor repairs and maintenance, by fixing these at no or low cost to home occupants.

Sustainability Options’ ‘fixer’ Phil Gregg visited Mike in January this year after his sister contacted a local hauora asking for help. “Mike’s sister was really worried about him living in the shed.”

So Phil went to meet Mike and have a look at his home. “I went out there and....Oh My Gosh! But – believe it or not – we are dealing with 700 houses that are exactly the same as Mike’s,” says Phil.

Sadly, he wasn’t surprised. “It’s not the worst I’ve been to by no means. It wasn’t unexpected at all.”

700 homes like this

“The scary thing is this is just one of 700 homes like this that we’re trying to deal with this year alone in the Bay of Plenty region.”

Phil says Mike’s home first needed a new roof. “Mike has health issues, he’s living in what you could call a shed, and in reality without having a new roof I couldn’t do much to improve his dwelling.”

Mike Tokona’s little home had a failing roof, making life inside it very cold and damp for him. Photos: Merle Cave.

Thankfully, Phil has been able to get three businesses to support the re-roofing of Mike’s Home –which took place a fortnight ago.

Adco Roofing Tauranga agreed to roof Mike’s house for free; Colorsteel has donated roofing material; and Freeman Roofing Tauranga donated work to press the roofing material into shape.

“NZ Steel donated a Colorsteel Dridex coil, which is a roof and cladding product with an anti-condensation fleece layer adhered to the reverse side. This layer negates the need for separate underlay to be installed prior to the sheets being fixed. This cut down dampness in the house,” says Phil.

“It was then shipped to Freeman Roofing Tauranga, who rollformed the material into a corrugate profile. They press it to where it needs to be in length and cut it and deliver it. Then Adco Roofing Tauranga has kindly supplied four staff who came out and put on the roof.

“All of those businesses have donated their materials, labour or time – there has been no charge from any of those companies. They are all doing to give back to their community,” says Phil.

He wants more construction and building industry companies to get in touch with Sustainability Options and give whatever materials, time, labour or donations they can.

“For our 20 degrees programme, I’m after materials, labour, skills and product donations – any of the above – just like what’s been done at Mike’s place.”

A plea via film

To get Sustainability Options’ plea out further, a new film has been made to highlight the housing conditions in the BOP and the mahi (work) their team is doing to help improve the dwellings.

“After seeing our new 20 Degrees film, Refresh Renovations has come to us to see if they can help too. They’ll likely to do the internal work at Mike’s place.

“And we just need so many more businesses to come forward and help give these BOP families warmer and healthier homes.”

Mike is so happy and grateful for his new roof, and for the help from Sustainability Options. “It’s awesome aye – I’m just stoked. They are really great people. I’m lucky to have their help.”

The re-roof underway this month. Photos: David Hall.

Phil says Mike’s failing roof is a common problem he encounters. “The problem is if I can’t get a roof – I can do anything else to the houses. If I can get a decent roof on a dwelling I can then line walls, get insulation into the building and make the interior warm and healthy for residents.”

Phil estimates 100 homes out of 700 on his books have failed roofs, and need new ones. “And it is really, really, really, hard work to try and get a roof for these homes.”


On the new 20 Degrees film, Sustainability Options estimate there are BOP 29,000 homes in poor housing condition that they can improve. “And those houses in poor housing condition are resulting in tens of thousands of children going to hospital every year and even more of their broader and wider whanau.

“So that’s a lot of homes, a lot of improved conditions, and a lot of hospital admissions that we can help prevent.”

To learn more about 20 Degrees, see the film at:


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment.