An Auckland councillor is demanding accountability after an autopsy report found a reclusive pensioner died alone from hypothermia in his council flat.
Bryan McGinty, 73, lay dead for up to five days before he was found dead on June 24 in his Manurewa flat run by Haumaru Housing.
The company provides housing for people aged 65-plus, and is owned 51 per cent by the Selwyn Foundation — a charitable trust — and 49 per cent by the Auckland Council.
A coronial autopsy report, provided to the Herald, found the direct cause of McGinty's death was hypothermia.
The report said the pensioner was found deceased, and barricaded in his bathroom, after not being seen for several days.
Manurewa-Papakura Ward councillor Daniel Newman said it was totally unacceptable that an elderly man had died cold and alone in his home in the middle of winter. Newman is now demanding accountability from Haumaru Housing.
He believed McGinty's death was "an utterly preventable death if proper care had been administered in the first place".
"I do not believe hypothermia is an acceptable cause of death for Haumaru tenants living or dying in their units.
"These vulnerable people may die alone; but succumbing to cold exposure inside their units is not an acceptable way for these people to lose their life."
Newman said he had worked with McGinty's grieving family since his death.
In a open letter to Haumaru chief executive Gabby Clezy, Newman and McGinty's family asked to meet with the board to discuss the tragedy.
McGinty's only daughter, who wishes to remain anonymous, confirmed the finding of the coronial autopsy was hypothermia.
At the very least, she said, Haumaru Housing should have contacted her about the rapidly declining heath of her father, who she described as a "stubborn old coot".
She said her father was an alcoholic most his life, but not an abusive alcoholic; a kind-hearted, gentle man who would help anyone who needed it.
"He was not forgotten, he was not unloved," she said.
The daughter said when she meets with Haumaru Housing she would go in with the compassion and empathy of her father and not play the blame game.
An earlier investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident showed neighbours had voiced serious concerns about his health for the five months leading up to his death.
"McGinty was loved and he was cared for. Attempts were made by family members to support him throughout the latter stages of his life," Newman said.
"Professional interventions were sought by his family to ensure McGinty received proper care, and his neighbours tried repeatedly to secure Haumaru's intervention."
However, Haumaru Housing concluded in a July report that "it exceeds in its objective to ensure the welfare of its tenants" and that "McGinty's death, as regrettable as it was, is not indicative of any significant systemic failures within Haumaru Housing".
However the company said it would carry out a system and process review into how it managed the failing health of tenants; how it managed tenant deaths; and how it managed concerns raised by a tenant about another tenant's welfare.
At the time, Auckland Council spokesman Edward Siddle said the CCO Governance and External Partnerships team was in ongoing dialogue with Haumaru Housing.
"We note that the report has identified some failings in Haumaru's processes and we are pleased that it highlights areas in which the organisation can tighten these, within the bounds of its role as a social housing landlord," he said.
Haumaru Housing has been contacted tonight. A spokesperson said Clezy was unavailable but would comment tomorrow morning.