A cold and damp Housing New Zealand home contributed to the death of a toddler from bronchopneumonia, a coroner has found.

South Auckland toddler Emma-Lita Bourne, 2, died in Starship Hospital on August 8 last year.

A coroner's findings into her death has ruled she died from an acute brain bleed, caused by a septic embolism as a result of her respiratory infection.



However, Coroner Brandt Shortland said the house, in Otara, could not be ruled out as a contributing factor in her illness and subsequent death.

The house in question was described as being very cold and not getting much sunshine. There were no carpets and only floorboards.

Coroner Shortland said in his view the house was unhealthy for the family, with one of the older children taking medicine for rheumatic fever at the time.

"It is entirely possible the house had contributed to the pneumonia-like illness that Emma-Lita was suffering at the time of her death."

In the days leading up to the toddler's hospital admission on August 6, she had been lethargic and clearly unwell.

Her mother, who also has three other children, had taken her to the doctor on August 5, where she was treated for a fever, cough and abdominal pain.

The doctor found she had a viral upper respiratory tract infection and prescribed her antibiotics and other medications. However, a day later the toddler had seizures while at home and was rushed to hospital.

That evening she needed resuscitation, was intubated and sedated in order to maintain her airways overnight. The next morning her pupils were found to be dilated and non-reactive to light.


A CT scan later revealed Emma-Lita had suffered a bleed in her brain.

She was then transferred to Starship Hospital's intensive care unit, where she was found to be brain dead. A decision was made to stop life support on the Friday afternoon and Emma-Lita died shortly after.

Coroner Shortland said in his findings that the toddler, her family and medical professionals had done all they possibly could to save her.

However, the pneumonia-related clot's position in the blood vessels supplying her brain was extremely rare, and an unpredictable medical event.

Nevertheless, he could not exclude the cold, damp condition of the Housing New Zealand home, during winter months, as a contributing factor.

He acknowledged Housing New Zealand attempted to assist the family with a heater, but unfortunately the high electricity costs made it impossible to use within the family's budget.

The report revealed Housing New Zealand had since conducted a tenancy inspection of the property, which will undergo a vacancy upgrade to meet Health and Safety standards before being re-let.

The family have also been moved to a more suitable property; a standalone four-bedroom house with carpet in the bedrooms and hallway, drapes throughout the house and electric heating in the lounge.

Housing New Zealand has also confirmed they have insulated all of their properties where practicable.

Coroner Shortland concluded there were still a number of challenges associated with social housing in New Zealand that the agency continued to tackle.