Aroha’s health has started to take a turn in the past few years as she has developed cancer, alongside suffering from arthritis and heart problems. As a kuia, Aroha knew she needed to take action to protect herself and ensure her health didn’t limit her life. Around the same time, a friend invited her to a Sustainability Options workshop. This was pivotal in Aroha’s expectation of what she could do in her own home, feeling motivated that she could start implementing change herself. She has put bubble wrap on the windows at the south end of her house as a form of insulation, bought cheap sheets and attached them to the back of her curtains to double line them, made draught stoppers, started blast ventilating for 15 minutes morning and night, ensured every window had a curtain or blind, and, started opening and closing the curtains daily. The most noticeable impact of these small changes has been the warmth in Aroha’s room, which has always been the coldest in the whare.
What has been so incredible is the change Aroha is now implementing in her rental property where her son and mokopuna live. She shared, “if my whānau are healthy, I don’t have to worry about them, if they are healthy and something happens to them, I know they will be strong enough.” This mental relief from knowing her whānau are in a better physical and mental position due to the warmth and subsequent health within their whare only adds to the benefits of these learnings. She considers the reduced mental health concerns from not having to worry about her loved ones has been just as beneficial as the reduced physical health concerns.
The great news about these changes is that Aroha has been able to save energy and redirect it to other areas, allowing her to maximise all the heat she is putting into the home. Her ability to reduce energy use in some areas means she has been able to create a warmer home without her overall power bill increasing. This has been on the back of the simple changes to the way her house is run that she learned in the workshop.