The death of an Auckland toddler in a cold, damp Housing New Zealand house has led to renewed calls for the introduction of a Warrant of Fitness for all homes.

The Labour Party said it would have another shot at getting a "healthy homes bill" passed.

"This bill will ensure every rental property in New Zealand - whether it is a state house or private rental - meets minimum standards of heating and insulation," Labour leader and bill sponsor Andrew Little said.

It wasn't just substandard state houses making children sick, he said.


"There are many private rentals in just as poor a condition as the home that contributed to the death of Emma-Lita," Mr Little said. "A decade after John Key visited McGehan Close and promised to improve the lives of those in poverty, life is getting harder for our most vulnerable.

Earlier today a students' organisation said that New Zealand "killer houses" need to be overhauled to prevent another tragedy.

New Zealand Union of Students' Associations said the death of the South Auckland toddler Emma-Lita Bourne should spark fresh calls for nationwide rental standards.

A coroner's report, released yesterday, ruled Emma-Lita's death in the Starship hospital on August 8 last year was due to an acute brain bleed related to bronchopneumonia.

Coroner Brandt Shortland linked the illness to her house, which had no carpets, was very cold, did not get much sunlight and had a leak in the hallway ceiling.

The house where Emma-Lite Bourne lived up until her death. Photo / Supplied via Google Maps
The house where Emma-Lite Bourne lived up until her death. Photo / Supplied via Google Maps

Union president Rory McCourt said building and housing minister Nick Smith was "making excuses about not tackling shoddy private rentals" and even some state houses had no carpets or insulation.

"To do nothing to lift rental standards after seven years is just gutless," Mr McCourt said.

"While this case is extreme, the coroner's findings show in black and white what we already know - that cold, damp houses make us sick. Students know it, parents know it, and doctors know it."

Dr Smith said the tragedy showed "the huge importance of improving both the insulation and warmth of, not just our state housing, but our private housing".

He told TV One's Breakfast show the Government had done more than any of its predecessor to improve housing standards.

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei said there was no way the Government could "wash its hands" of responsibility for substandard housing. It was imperative a "warrant of fitness" for rental properties be introduced, Ms Turei told the Breakfast programme.

A timeline of Emma-Lita's rare complication

August 5

: Emma-Lita's mother took her to the doctor.

August 6: Suffered seizures and was admitted to Middlemore Hospital.

August 7: CT scan revealed a bleed on her brain. She was transferred to the Starship and later declared brain dead.

August 8: Her life support was withdrawn and she passed away.

Yesterday: Coroner Brandt Shortland ruled she died of a brain bleed -- an extremely rare complication of her pneumonia. He believed her cold, damp home may have contributed to her illness and subsequent death.