Driveway fencing makes state houses safer for play

Housing New Zealand Lower South Island area manager Kate Milton watches from the driveway of a Dunedin state house as tenant Teri Moore plays with her daughter Meyah in the newly fenced yard. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Housing New Zealand Lower South Island area manager Kate Milton watches from the driveway of a Dunedin state house as tenant Teri Moore plays with her daughter Meyah in the newly fenced yard. Photo by Linda Robertson.
A $30 million government initiative will make about 20 Dunedin state houses with driveways for children's play.

Housing New Zealand (HNZ) tenant Teri Moore (23), of Dunedin, said looking after her daughter Meyah (3) was more ''manageable'' since she moved to the newly fenced Halfway Bush state house.

Before they moved in, a front hedge was removed for timber and steel fencing and gates to be put up so the front yard was separated from the driveway.

In another Dunedin state house she and her daughter had lived in, the backyard was fenced, but the front yard was not separated from the driveway or road.

The fenced front yard made a big difference to caring for her daughter, she said.

''Now, I can leave my front door open and muck around in the house ... I don't have to bother when she's outside anymore. When she's outside, I know she's safe.''

HNZ Lower South Island area manager Kate Milton said nationally, a child was taken to hospital every two weeks and five children died a year as a result of being run over in driveways.

HNZ inspected more than 13,000 state houses in New Zealand where a child aged under 5 lived and more than 4000 houses were given a high priority focus for driveway safety work by next June. The work focused on separating driveways from play areas and installing fencing, self-closing gates, speed restriction signs, speed humps and convex mirrors to prevent driveway accidents.

Of the 1450 state homes in Dunedin, about 20 were earmarked as high priority houses.

Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith said New Zealand had one of the highest rates of child driveway accidents in the world and state houses were over-represented in the statistics.

The $30 million nationwide programme would make 13,000 driveways at state houses safer for children and was expected to be completed within four years.

- shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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