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Close to Home is a tenants news letter supported by Housing New Zealand. Read about local communities, recipes, tips, advice and staying safe around the home

And the best bit? You can leave comments and suggestions below articles to help us get it right.

We want to hear from you
Are there things you would like to read about in Close to Home? Let us know if you have any story ideas or household tips that we could share with our readers.

Do you have stories about fellow tenants that are great gardeners or do good work in your community? We would love to hear about them.

If you have a tip for removing mould, you guessed it, let us know!


Published: 2017-06-26
HNZ floorplan for website

In the last 2 years Housing New Zealand have upgraded many homes to improve the lives of their tentants.

Every household releases around 8 litres of moisture into the home every day from activities like cooking, showering and breathing.

The more mositure there is in the air, the harder and more expensive it is to heat.

Here are some simple things yo can do to help reduce moisture, making it easier to heat your home.

Published: 2017-06-07
Recipe winner sm

Takes about 25 min prep time and 45 min to bake.

Winner of the Close to Home recipe competition in the ‘dessert recipe’ section. This recipe is truly delicious, thank you to Vivienne Esray Greenfields for sending it in.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, grease a 20 x 20cm cake tin and line with grease proof paper...

Published: 2017-03-20
Spanish beef and rice SM

Serves 6 people

This dish uses only 450 grams of beef mince to feed 6 people, and like most one pan dishes it’s easy to prepare.

In a large frying pan add the mince and cook, pressing with a potato masher until crumbled. Add the onion, garlic and celery if using, and cook gently till soft. Add the cumin and Mexican seasoning and mix well.

6 Mar
Published: 2017-03-06
Wai Wise sm

Did you know that the wai is the Maori word for water?

Sometimes this can be a big problem, particularly in the dry summer months as places like the Hawkes Bay risk running out of water. The good news is it’s really easy to avoid wasting water. Teach your family to be wai-wise and help make sure there’s plenty of water for everyone this year.

Published: 2017-02-20
Easy Chicken Coconut curry SM

Serves 6 people, takes 30 to 40 minutes to make.

This fragrant curry is quick and easy to make. Use lite coconut cream if you prefer and add fresh or frozen vegetables to the curry when it's simmering – green beans or spinach work well. Serve with rice.

Place the chicken, onion, apple, chutney, curry powder, tomato paste and seasoned tomatoes in a medium saucepan...

Published: 2017-02-10
Vera Vegetable Garden sm

SUMMER CROPS ARE IN: Vera Marshall’s tomato plants are in and looking good. Her four children are now adults but, as a solo mum, she always grew vegetables to help sustain her family.

Papakura’s Vera Marshall may rent her Housing New Zealand home, but the house-proud 54-year-old treats the property like she owns it.

In the three years she’s lived there, she has transformed the garden from tidy but bare, to a suburban oasis boasting a vegetable garden, ornaments and a colourful array of flowers.

Published: 2017-01-30
Summer keep youself safety sm

Here are a couple of things to help you keep safe around the home during summer...

  • Keep yourself safe at home
  • Don’t make it easy for burglars
  • Medicines, chemicals and cleaners
  • It’s cool to be cool...
  • Don’t add to the Heat
  • Who to call in emergencies
  • Within arm’s reach
  • Keep yourself safe From fire

Published: 2017-01-20
Shared tea sm

A shared tea for tenants of 18 recently completed Housing New Zealand homes in the Auckland suburb of Otahuhu went down a treat last month.

With help from colleagues, Housing New Zealand Community Development Manager Karen Allen organised the event to officially welcome the tenants to their new homes.

“Getting everyone together to mix, mingle and share some food is a great way to introduce people to their neighbours and create a sense of community,” Karen says.


Published: 2017-01-13
Recipe competition sm

The Close to Home recipe competition was a big hit with our tenants.

I received lots of tasty recipes in both the savoury and baking or dessert categories.

Including Tuna Fish Fritters, Salmon Pasta Bake and a gorgeous Lemon Meringue Pudding...


Published: 2017-01-13
Thriving garden sm

Some tips and advice to get your vegie garden growing.

By planting particular vegies in particular months you can get the best out of your garden.

We have a list to help you get started...

If summer is playing the game, it should be hot and dry this month so keep up the watering. In the cool of the morning and as the sun is going down are the most effective times to water, and remember to water the roots – not the leaves.

Published: 2017-01-09
Summer safety sm

Here are a couple of things to help you keep safe during summer...

  • Keep fire safe
  • Keep Kids water safe
  • Get to know your neighbours
  • Going away on holiday


Published: 2016-12-13
Gingerbread cookies sm

Try my recipe for making the cookies with your kids.

Use your hands to form a breadcrumb like texture with the bicarbonate of soda, brown sugar, ginger, butter and flour. 

In a separate bowl beat the egg and golden syrup together...


Published: 2016-11-28
Christchurch tenant sm

North New Brighton tenant Aaron Flintoff says his new Housing New Zealand home is pretty much perfect.

The single father of one moved into the North New Brighton property with his six-year-old daughter earlier this year. 

Aaron had previously been sleeping in his van at his mother’s house, while his daughter slept inside his mother’s house.

Published: 2016-11-07
Spring into spring sm

Spring is here – so it’s a great time to give your house a good clean or get out into the garden and see what needs to be done.

Never mix products together.

If you use chemicals to clean your oven or kill your weeds, be careful where you store them... 

Click here to download the CLEAN & GREEN booklet.

Published: 2016-10-31
Christmas sm

Retailers spend a lot of money trying to lure you into buying things you don’t need at Christmas.

If you ask people what Christmas and the holiday season is really about, most will say relaxing and spending time with family – not spending loads of money.

So dodge the debt this year by staying away from the shops and reminding yourself that you and your family need a happy, debt-free summer.

Published: 2016-10-25
Time to clean curtains sm

Spring is a good time to clean your curtains.

Look at the hem of your curtains for the cleaning instructions or follow the instructions below:

  1. Remove plastic hooks before putting the curtains in the washing machine.
  2. Either gently vacuum with appropriate attachment or machine wash on a gentle cycle set up to 40 degrees Celsius.
  3. Drip-dry in the shade, iron with a cool iron and replace hooks.

Published: 2016-10-12
Recipe competition sm

Send us your favourite summer recipe to win a prize!

We work with Sophie Gray to provide you with recipes that are delicious and great value. Sophie makes putting good food on everyone’s table her business - to get some ideas visit www.destitutegourmet.com

If you think your favourite recipe is a dish others might enjoy, and you would like to see it in print, enter online below to be in to win.

Published: 2016-10-10
Grow your own food sm

New tenants do some spring planting in preparation for the warmer growing months.

Using the land to grow your own food is a great way to save money and get to know a new place.

This is why L’Oréal chose to partner with Housing New Zealand and Refugees as Survivors NZ (RaSNZ) to create vegetable gardens for new tenants in Auckland.

Published: 2016-09-13
Garden calendar sm

Spring has arrived and the garden is coming to life. Have a look at some tips for getting your garden ready.

In the coming issue of Close to Home we will be telling you about how to attract birds to your garden, what to plant and how to feed them.


Published: 2016-09-02
Alert sm

Housing New Zealand is reminding tenants in the East Cape area to call 0800 801 601 to report any earthquake damage.

Regional Manager Darren Toy says that staff are checking on vulnerable tenants to make sure they are okay following the earthquake and aftershocks in the area today.

“At this stage all our staff are safe and well, and we have had no reports of damage to our properties or injuries to our tenants. However, we are checking on vulnerable tenants to make sure they are safe and well.”

Published: 2016-08-19
LPG cabinet heater sm

Gas is commonly used in homes across New Zealand for heating and cooking. While gas is instant, reliable and efficient it can be dangerous. WorkSafe are running a campaign to help Kiwi’s use gas safely.

If you smell gas indoors, don’t muck around – take action!

Also, have a look at the WorkSafe video for more tips...

Published: 2016-08-05
Sausage shepherd pie sm

Serves 4 to 6 people, takes 60 minutes to make.

Heat oven to 200°C. Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes, then drain and mash with the butter, milk and seasoning. Stir in the cheddar cheese.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a non-stick pan and fry the onion, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes until softened...

Published: 2016-07-29
Hamburger patties

Try these delicious meat patties with caramelised onions. Put between burger buns or serve with salad and potatoes.

Add butter, thinly sliced onions and brown sugar to a pan and stir over low heat until caramelised – around 40 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix the mince and spring onions. Add the hot sauce and a generous pinch of salt and pepper...

Published: 2016-07-22
Tupou Paea sm

Check out some videos with tips about keeping your home warm and dry. The videos have been produced in English, Maori Samoan and Tongan.

Rheumatic fever is a serious but preventable illness. It starts with a sore throat known as ‘strep throat’. Most sore throats get better on their own, but if strep throat is not treated with antibiotics it can sometimes turn into rheumatic fever. The symptoms may disappear on their own, but the inflammation can cause life-threatening rheumatic heart disease.

Published: 2016-07-15
Peanut chicken and rice sm

Serves 6 people, takes 40 minutes to make.

This dish makes a little chicken go a long way and you’ll probably have everything else you need in the pantry and freezer already. It’s tasty and satisfying.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Cook the chicken until sealed then set aside.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook till soft...

Published: 2016-07-12
Fire safet tips sm

Unattended cooking and a clothes dryer are thought to have caused at least five fire’s across the country in the last three weeks.

In all cases the smoke alarms sounded and alerted tenants so luckily no-one was hurt.

These fires cause a lot of damage to our houses and our tenants belongings.

Todd O’Donoghue, from NZ Fire Service says many house fires are easily preventable, see below a list of tips to help you be fire wise!

Published: 2016-07-01
Handy tips sm

With winter well and truly here there is no better time to start doing things or learn some new ways to keep your home warm and dry.

We have produced a handy hints poster that is packed with tips.

The Hutt City Council has also produced this cool animated video – take a look!

Published: 2016-07-01
Encouraging vegy gardens sm

Christchurch tenant Phil Turner is rightly proud of his impressive vegetable garden and encourages other tenants to try growing their own produce.

Growing your own vegetables is healthy, fun and cheap. Housing New Zealand tenant Phil Turner can testify to that.

The Christchurch man has an impressive vegetable garden that he tends throughout the year.

Published: 2016-06-24
Chicken n vegetable bake small

Serves 6 people, takes 50 minutes to make

This is a great meal to get ready in the morning or the night before – keep it in the fridge until you’re ready, then put it in the oven when you’re ready to go. 

Heat oven to 180°C.
Boil pasta in a large pot of water until just tender....

Published: 2016-06-13

There has been an increase in cooking-related fires around the country – don’t leave your pots or frypans unattended when cooking.

If you must leave the room when cooking, TURN OFF the stove.

Keep your stove and grill clean to prevent the build up of spilled fats and burnt foods.

Curtains, tea towels, oven mitts and any flammable items should be kept well away from the cooking area.

Have a fire extinguisher and/or fire blanket correctly located in your kitchen and make sure you know how to use them.

Published: 2016-06-01
Cleaning green Vinegar

White vinegar naturally cleans like an all-purpose cleaner.

Mix a solution of equal quantities of water and vinegar in a new, store-bought spray bottle and you have a solution that will clean most areas of your home. It is a not only a great natural cleaning product it can also be used as a disinfectant and deodoriser. Always test on a small area to check for colour-fastness first.

It is safe to use on most surfaces and has the added bonus of being incredibly cheap...

Published: 2016-06-01
Cleaning green Baking soda

Baking soda can help remove strong, smelly odours from household laundry even when, after repeated washing, they still linger.

  • Smoky smells 
  • Sweat odours 
  • Mechanical smells


Published: 2016-05-24
Avondale gran sm

Josephine Beckham (right), pictured with her Housing New Zealand tenancy manager, Evelyn Morgan, is “stoked” by the improvements being made to make her home warm, dry and healthy.

Not many people feel happy that winter is just around the corner, but Avondale’s Josephine Beckham is all set for the colder months thanks to Housing New Zealand’s Warm and Dry programme.

Published: 2016-05-24
Flu sm2

You, or your family/whānau, may be able to get free flu vaccination.

It’s best to get immunised before winter so you’re protected before flu season strikes.

Even if you don’t fit into one of the groups above, you may still be able to get free vaccination from your employer, or for a fee from a doctor, nurseor some pharmacists.

Published: 2016-05-24
Thriving garden sm2

A Christchurch community garden project is flourishing. Supported by Housing New Zealand, the Riccarton West Community Garden has been embraced with great pride by the community.

The project was started in October 2013 when a group of young people from the Student Army, members of the Neighbourhood Policing team and local residents came together to prepare the Peverel Street site for planting. The land had been loaned by Housing New Zealand on a year-to-year basis.

Published: 2016-05-24
Beef vegetable pasta sm

Serves 4-6 people, takes 50 minutes to make

This pasta bake makes 300 grams of beef mince into a hearty family meal. It’s easy to make and will be a favourite with all the family.

Brown the mince in a frying pan. Add the chopped onion, garlic and sliced seasonal vegetables and continue cooking until the vegetables are soft...

Published: 2016-05-24
Budget advice sm

Like any heating option, heat pumps give the best energy savings when they’re used wisely.

Heat only the spaces that you’re actually using and shut doors and curtains to keep the heat in the room. The heat pump recirculates air, so it has to work harder if more cold air keeps coming into the room.

Don’t have the temperature higher than you need it – set it at 18° to 22° Celsius while you’re at home, and if you run it overnight turn it down to 16° Celsius.