The Eruera family home in Kaitaia used to take hours to heat up and they'd have to huddle in one room, chewing through the firewood.
Now the house is toasty warm within half an hour of the fireplace being lit - and it stays cosy overnight.
The Erueras' home is one of more than 5000 that have been retro-fitted in Northland under Healthy Homes Tai Tokerau, a contractor for the Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart scheme.
Around 8100 homes have been retro-fitted in total in Northland, by various contractors.
James Eruera lives with his partner and two young children in the family home which, in 2010, "your toes would freeze" every morning.
With a then 2-year-old and a baby just a few months old, Mr Eruera wanted to ensure his children had a healthy future. "During the winter it was always really, really cold. I could see there could be a potential problem with health down the line."
The brick house, built in around the 1950s, is one of many similar houses on his Kaitaia street, which gets little natural sunlight and had no insulation.
After the retro-fit was done Mr Eruera immediately noticed the difference. "I remember just walking into the house after work, and I realised how warm the floor was."