A Tauranga school principal says substandard housing in the city is making children sick - with 11 of her pupils hospitalised within two months last winter.

Labour candidate and Merivale School principal Jan Tinetti said the sick children were living in damp, mouldy housing conditions.

They had a range of illnesses including respiratory infections, severe asthma attacks, influenza and skin diseases.

One student with chronic asthma was absent from school for 65 days last year.

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"They are not just stats to me, these are faces and names that I see. We can get desensitised by statistics but we have to ensure we are keeping these children to the forefront of what is happening in our communities," Ms Tinetti told the Bay of Plenty Times.

Some pupils were turning up to school sick just to be a warm environment, she said.

"You have to see my sick bay during the winter to appreciate how bad that actually is."

Ms Tinetti said some parents could not afford to heat their homes.

"You walk into those houses and it's bone cold. So they move mattresses into one room to keep everybody warmer over that time but it also increases the risk of picking up an ailment from another family member," she said.

HEALTH ISSUES: Merivale School principal Jan Tinetti says 11 of her students were hospitalised after living in substandard housing. Photo/File
HEALTH ISSUES: Merivale School principal Jan Tinetti says 11 of her students were hospitalised after living in substandard housing. Photo/File

One child's home had bad raw sewage spilling out of the ground in the backyard. Another home had big gaps in the floorboards.

Only two families with children at the school owned their own homes, she said.

"A lot of our families don't have adequate housing but they don't want to kick up a stink because it is still housing."

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Ms Tinetti said the school did not want to be in the same position again this winter.

"If it's one child, that's one too many. We were taken by surprise that happened last year and we don't want that to happen again."

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This year, the school would be working with the Bay of Plenty District Health board to help alleviate the issue.

The DHB was not able to respond before deadline.

Minister of Housing Nick Smith did not respond.

Help:

If anybody has quality bedding and blankets they no longer need, please donate it to the Merivale School at 25 Kesteven Ave, Parkvale, Tauranga.