Repairing homes, restoring lives


Simone, her mum, and their family stand outside their house, smiling.

Frances Ronowicz, BNZ’s Head of Customer Care, shares a story that comes from our partnership with Habitat for Humanity and their Home Repair programme.

There are some stories that really reaffirm our commitment to community partnerships and make me proud. Simone and her mum’s is one that stands out for me.

Like many, Simone’s parents came to Aotearoa in the early 1970s. Her dad was a labourer and her mum looked after the house and children. They worked hard and long for the betterment of their family and community. Simone has fond memories of her mum hosting childhood sleepovers, costume-making evenings, as well as the hours with their community Cook Island group. Her mum still does all of these things for a new generation, ensuring her six nieces are healthy and happy.

Aside from the wellbeing of the children, home ownership was always a priority for Simone’s parents. But the demands on her parents’ time and finances meant there was little left for repairs and maintenance. Simone spoke to us about how overwhelming it can be when there are jobs to be done everywhere in the house and not enough money to do them. As she said, “We’d been patching our home up but we needed more help.”

It wasn’t until she stumbled across a Habitat for Humanity brochure in a second-hand shop that Simone had the idea to sign up her mum and the family home for the Home Repair Programme – an initiative supported by BNZ.

Habitat for Humanity’s mission is ‘a hand up, not a hand out’, and by partnering on initiatives like these, we can help those people who, for a variety of reasons, can’t meet mainstream lenders’ eligibility criteria. Together we’re trying to help people avoid predatory lenders and guide them towards taking back financial control.

We’ve been working with Habitat for Humanity since 2019, supporting the Home Repair Programme, which offers no-interest loans to people and whanau who own their homes and need support to make vital repairs. Together we’re helping them find a way to greater wellbeing.

When Simone reached out to Habitat For Humanity, she took the first steps to getting the support her whanau needed. “There was an email that said our application had been approved. I called my mum, she was sat down and crying. ‘Does that mean they’re going to fix my toilet’ I said, ‘Mum, they’re going to fix your bathroom too’. ‘So what do we need to do?’ I said ‘they’re going to come around and fix what needs to be done’.”

Work started a few days later. The family had been putting money away into a trip fund before the project in the hope they would eventually make a trip back to their mum’s homeland. So this money was instead used as a deposit for the repairs.

Importantly, the repair work meant culturally significant practices could continue in a healthy environment. “In our culture, the women’s hair being maintained is a form of beauty. Picture an old glass cubicle where mum is washing hair, worrying about water on the floor and water on the walls. Now they’ve converted the bathroom to a wet room. It alleviated so much pressure.”

Simone’s family have found their way to a healthier and more liveable home with the support of Habitat’s Home Repair Programme.

To find out more, visit their website.



Any views expressed in this article are the personal views of Frances Ronowicz and do not necessarily represent the views of BNZ, or its related entities. This article is solely for information purposes and is not intended to be financial advice. If you need help, please contact BNZ or your financial adviser. Neither BNZ nor any person involved in this article accepts any liability for any direct or indirect loss or damage arising out of the use of, or reliance on, all or any part of the content. References to third party websites are provided for your convenience only. BNZ accepts no responsibility for the availability or content of such websites.