Awarua Synergy spreading healthy homes message to Chatham Islands

06 April 2023

Awarua Synergy general manager Sumaria Beaton is taking her healthy homes mission to one of the remotest areas of New Zealand.

She is travelling to the Chatham Islands where she will be running workshops with local residents around home insulation and heating, energy efficiency and the importance of avoiding humidity and moisture in homes.

“It’s a bucket-list item, but I’m also really excited to learn about how people living in the Chathams operate their own homes. They’ll probably educate me on a lot of stuff as well.”  She has been doing similar workshops all around New Zealand for the past three years.

“I’ve been travelling around South Island and training Whanau Ora navigators, and the Chathams trip is part of that.”  She’s excited about finding out how people operate their homes in a remote location.

The workshops around New Zealand are in addition to the numerous free workshops she has facilitated in Southland throughout the past decade or more.

Sumaria said she makes the workshops really interactive as she takes her suitcase full of home handywares everywhere she travels.

There were so many simple heating tips people could get on board with at minimal costs from using efficient showerheads, opening windows and ventilating for at least 20 minutes a day, putting backings on curtains, and rolling up old towels to prevent draughts.

“There’s an average of 1 tonne of moisture in a typical New Zealand home, that’s absorbed into all the wood and throughout the likes of carpet and furniture, so taking some small, achievable steps can make a big difference and help keep homes drier.”

“It’s giving people knowledge about how the whole of their house works, so they can figure out the priorities for their household.”

Different areas had different climate peculiarities – such as many parts of Southland having issues with dampness, whereas in Central Otago people had to combat a more bitterly cold, but drier atmosphere.

Sumaria is a member of the Insulation Association of NZ board and is also part of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment energy hardship expert panel and reference group.

Gathering a lot of technical information together and translating it into everyday language was a big part of the challenge, she said.

“I really enjoy the lightbulb moments for people at workshops, like getting answers to questions they’ve thought about for years.”

Seeing people achieving warmer more healthy homes was a hugely rewarding part of her reason for starting Awarua Synergy almost 18 years ago, she said.


“I love when people put insulation in or get their heating changed over, the huge difference it makes for them.”


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