Affordable housing

We’re building fewer houses than a decade ago? Why is this?

New figures show fewer houses are being built than a decade ago, despite recent increases.

The Statistics New Zealand figures come as concerns mount over a continuing shortage of homes making housing unaffordable for many people.

The statistics cover both residential and non-residential building, and show there was $15 billion worth of construction in 2014, $2.8 billion more than in 2013.

Nearly two thirds of that was in Auckland and Canterbury.

When broken down further, the figures show residential construction has risen steadily since 2011, but was still seven percent lower than its peak in 2004.


We’ve had lots of people with money immigrating to New Zealand over that time who have entered the market.  The demand is there, but somehow we are still building less than we were a decade ago.  We’re building less because…

…because councils are artificially restricting the freeing up of land for development.   There are enough builders, there are enough people wanting houses, and there is enough money sloshing around.  Yet new houses can’t get started at a good rate. Read more »

Guest Post – Phil Hayward on Auckland and the RMA reforms

by Phil Hayward

The Auckland Unitary Plan Submission process is underway and we should soon know whether it is a charade with outcomes pre-determined and impervious to evidence. The usual suspects are also claiming once again to be able to “debunk” the latest Demographia Report on housing affordability, and even the government is embarrassed over the dismal ineffectiveness of its trumpeted “Housing Accords”.

My previous essays on this forum could usefully be read or re-read now by anyone interested in this subject.

The prevalent mythology is that Auckland already sprawls too much at low density, already has built too many roads (and that is why it is congested), is letting the floodgates re-open too much towards more new sprawl and not enough new intensification (60% of growth to be via intensification is the plan), the ramp-up in building now is major, and intensification will provide for affordability.

In fact, Auckland is around 3 times as dense as Boston, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Nashville and dozens of other US cities; is the second densest city in the Anglo New World after Toronto (pop. 6 million); is one of the densest first world urban areas of only 1 million people; is close to Amsterdam’s density and is denser than Lyon, Marseille, the Ruhr Valley and many urban areas in France and Germany, especially those with around 1 million people or less.

We have never actually had US style low density sprawl; very little of our suburban development was ever even ¼ acre sections. That always was a “dream” for most, and now nearly every such section has already had townhouses built on what was the backyard. In the USA, suburbs are common with minimum lot size mandates of 1 acre to 4 acres.  

Michael Bassett and Luke Malpass (NZ Initiative) “Priced Out: How NZ Lost its Housing Affordability” (2012) show that NZ and Auckland were during the period from the 1960’s to the 1980’s, building as many as twice as many new dwellings as now. Most of that was greenfields suburban development, albeit at considerably higher density than US-style sprawl. We now have congestion problems because there was inadequate planning of road capacity, not because we did the roads we did.

I have estimated from TomTom Traffic index data and Google Earth imagery, that Auckland has 1/3 the highway lane miles and 1/5 the arterial lane miles of Indianapolis, which has a similar population. Indianapolis in the TomTom Traffic Index, scores a congestion delay of 15 minutes per 1 hour of driving at peak (other comparable US cities are similar) versus Auckland’s 45 minutes. Of course its house price median multiple happens to be stable at around 3 as well, in spite of being truly low density, unlike Auckland.   Read more »

Rodney Hide on the myth that is child poverty

Rodney Hide slays a few lefty myths…like the existence of child poverty in New Zealand.

Leftists and troughers are working overtime to make child poverty the new reason for funding them and centralising control.

Their catchcry is 250,000 children living in poverty. Their problem is if it were true we would notice.

We know what child poverty looks like. Many of us have witnessed it overseas. All of us have seen it on TV. We don’t see it in New Zealand.

We see children neglected, for sure, and that makes us both angry and sad. But we blame the parents, not poverty. And, if personal responsibility makes us squeamish, we blame welfare for three generations of dysfunctional and non-existent parenting. It’s been public policy for years to sponsor child neglect.

Nonetheless the “child poverty” drums are beating. I was made aware of just how hard by the NZ Initiative’s weekly newsletter reporting classic journalistic over-egging and UN propagandising.

The UN should but out, and start preparing a defence against their global warming scam.

Fairfax’s reported last week that Unicef had “slammed progress” on child poverty in New Zealand.

Really? I didn’t believe it and on your behalf put myself through the agony of reading yet another UN rubbish report. It doesn’t “slam progress” on child poverty. That news was made up.

All the UN report says about New Zealand is that along with the UK and US, we were “moderately affected” by the “Great Recession,” that our big change in the family benefit system was in 2012 to institute a “higher rate but lower income ceiling” and we are reported as middling along in various charts supposedly showing us where we fit in the child poverty stakes.

The news report is puffed out with various child poverty warriors beating the drum and Prime Minister John Key having to defend the government’s record against the false accusation that the UN had “slammed progress.” Such is the state of news reporting in New Zealand today.

Read more »

Affordable Housing? Sorted


Politicians love to bang on about affordable housing but they invariably have no solutions, or their solutions just making housing more expensive.

In Sderot, Israel they have attacked affordable housing and are providing real solutions.

What to do with rusty old shipping containers no longer fit to haul goods across the high seas?

Here in this southern Israeli town, they have been cleaned of rust, given a lick of paint and recycled into a chic but cheap living space, replete with two bedrooms, a living room, kitchenette and bathroom. Stacked atop one another, the worn boxes now comprise Israel’s first student village made solely out of retired shipping containers.   Read more »

Turns out there is affordable housing, it’s just not in Auckland

There is considerable moaning from the left about the lack of affordable housing.

As I have noted many times house are affordable even in Auckland. In fact there are so many that people are forced to sell them, and if they were truly unaffordable then none would sell, but sell they do.

But there are many affordable housing options, and is just that they aren’t in Auckland.

At  20, Stacey Knuth of Whanganui has achieved what few young Kiwis her age can still do – buy a house.

She bought a state house in Gonville, a suburb which according to September quarter housing figures has the third-cheapest housing in the country.

A far cry from Parnell or Ponsonby, a house in Gonville had a median sales price of $110,000.

And it’s in close proximity to the country’s cheapest suburb, Castlecliff, where houses this quarter went for a median $88,000.

But Gonville has another distinction. It tied with Wellington’s Brooklyn for the quarter’s highest jump in house sales, up 145 per cent on the same period last year, due in part to a clutch of state houses on the market.

Whanganui has become a bit of a poster child for declining provincial towns, but to Knuth, who is locally born and bred, Gonville is a great place to live.

“I’ve been living here for about two months now and it’s really nice, it’s a good little four-bedroom home . . . It’s a good little neighbourhood, I’ve had no trouble.

“There’s no houses in front of me and no houses out back so on a clear day you can see the mountain straight out the front and then out back you can see the sea.”

Read more »

Has Bill Burrill been economical with the truth regarding his land sale?

Where there is smoke there is fire.

Earlier this week former Auckland Regional Councillor Bill Burrill was bleating to the NZ Herald that he was the unfortunate victim of rates rises and that he was pushed off his land forcing a sale of $39m.

But we have discovered that Burrill is frugal with the truth and hasn’t been living on the Flatbush land for over a decade.

In the NZ Herald Burrill was quoted as saying “Essentially the rates pushed us off. I sold it out of frustration,” he said bitterly, having moved 15km away to Mellons Bay …

Burrill has decried his plight, unable to subdivide nor to afford to stay.

“You end up in a situation where you’re absolutely stuck. You’re paying rates but unable to do anything with the land,” he complained.

But hang on…Burrill says he couldn’t afford to stay on the land.

But he hasn’t lived on the land since 2003. Further into the Herald article Mr Burrill is quoted as saying:

“Burrill bought in Mellons Bay because he had always wanted to hear the waves at night: “It doesn’t feel a lot different. It just means I’m not paying those horrific rates.”

But Burrill has lived on his property in Mellons Bay since 2003 paying $2 million for 1824 sqm of cliff top luxury. The Burrills were not pushed off their land by rates recently at all and nor were they struggling to pay the rates. The truth is that the Burrills chose to leave it some time ago, most likely leveraging against the already high value of their farmland in Flatbush.

But this is where the story gets murkier. Both Burrills were at various points of time – Councillors – on two of the most strategically important Council’s relative to their land holdings. Bill was 18 years on the ARC until it was dissolved (thus since 1992). Maggie on Manukau City Council until it was dissolved. Both have been (and perhaps still are) certified by the MFIE as Commissioners able to make planning decisions such as Plan Changes. In 2010 Maggie Burrill sat as Commissioner on the PC30 plan change for the expansion of Beachlands. Both are sophisticated, skilled and in positions of influence.  Read more »

Central Government puts pressure on councils: make houses cheaper

It’s good that the first reaction to Bill English’s comments about housing affordability is to see Auckland Council squeal

Finance Minister Bill English’s suggestion that councils are increasing poverty though poor planning rules which drive housing costs higher has been labelled simplistic and deceptive by anti-poverty campaigners and town planners.

In another reiteration of the Government’s intention to overhaul the Resource Management Act, Mr English said planning rules under that legislation “are causing poverty” by driving up housing costs through higher land prices.

He said planning rules had until recently made it “pretty much illegal to build a house under half a million dollars in Auckland” and “our planning processes have probably done more to increase income inequality in New Zealand than most other policies”.

Acting Auckland Mayor Penny Hulse said it was the first time she had heard those criticisms from Mr English.

Planning rules that can include seeking permission of over a dozen IWI to build on land that’s twice the price of the house you  intend to build?   I think there is a lot of room for cheaper housing, and the problem is almost exclusively at the feet of local Councils.   Read more »

Pimping the Poor, Ctd

Simon Collins returns to pimping the poor.

Case 1 – the brown poor…who apparently have to live in cars.

Serial breeders moaning about living in ac ar  Photo/ NZ Herald

Serial breeders moaning about living in ac ar Photo/ NZ Herald

The Tuuu family – mum, dad and their six children – have been living in a van for a week because they cannot find a house.

Two of their young children have become sick, and the baby, Maua, has developed a cough.

“It’s very cold at night,” Vaiopa’a Tuuu said. “I’m just so worried. I worry about my kids.”

Tamasailau Tuuu, his wife and their children, aged from 15 to 3-months-old, were doubling up with another couple and their three children in a three-bedroom house after their landlord sold their own rented home in Clendon, South Auckland, two months ago. But their friends asked them to move out.

“She was worried about her tenancy, and the neighbours were complaining about my baby crying at night, and the house was overcrowded and her kids needed their own privacy,” Mrs Tuuu explained.

Mr Tuuu works fulltime at the Zeagold chicken farm in Takanini, but is classed as a casual labourer so his net pay fluctuates between $800 and just $500 a fortnight.

Even with $512 a week in family tax credits and accommodation supplement, that is not enough to pay for a private rental. Average rents in Manurewa have risen in the past year from $382 to $408 a week for a three-bedroom house, and from $436 to $457 for four bedrooms.

So the family applied to Work and Income for social housing and were placed on the waiting list on September 9. Almost a month later, they are still waiting.

and Case 2 – the white poor…who are “trapped and paying half income in rent”:

Waterview couple Iain and Bianca Davies feel trapped in a rented house that chews up almost half of their net income.

They earn $960 a week, including family tax credits for their three children plus an accommodation supplement.

They pay $450 in rent for their four-bedroom home, and count themselves lucky because their landlord has not raised their rent for four years. They even manage to save about $50 a week. But they say the only way they will ever be able to buy their own home is to move out of Auckland.

“The problem is you can only have $16,200 in cash assets to get the accommodation supplement, and that threshold hasn’t changed for years,” said Mr Davies, 31, who helps families with housing problems every day in his work as budget advice manager for CARE Waitakere.

“As soon as you go over that you don’t get an accommodation supplement, so that’s a real poverty trap. You obviously need more than that to buy a house.

If we couldn’t get the accommodation supplement, we’d have to move out of Auckland, or I’d have to work more, or Bianca would have to work.”

Mrs Davies, 36, home-schools their eldest daughter Anwen, 5, and plans to do the same for the two younger ones, Ecclesia, 2, and 1-year-old Floriss.

They buy their food from a local organic food co-operative and “pretty much don’t spend money on extras”. Mrs Davies cuts her own hair and the children’s hair.

“We are fully aware that to buy a house in Auckland you need to be on a double income and earning at least $100,000, so for us it’s not a reality. It will be down the track, up north somewhere, where house prices are just dramatically less.”

I’m becoming increasingly …hmmm, (whats a good word for it?) incensed, infuriated, exasperated!, flabbergasted!  ….WHY are people soooo THICK?  Read more »

Labour’s 100,000 affordable home promise

My readers aren’t buying Labour’s 100,000 fairy tale. Two problems: Where, and when?

Let’s start with where:

Labours promise as hollow as a pipe.

Back in 2006 Helen Clark and her Labour cronies were going to deliver some 3,000 affordable houses at Hobsonville Point. That never eventuated. Now Cunliffe is saying they will deliver 100,000 houses.

If it can’t deliver 3,000 how on earth does it expect to deliver 100,00?

And where will it build them? The reason Auckland (for example) has a a crisis is because there is a lack of land available and the National Government responded with the Special Housing Area fast tracking. That will result in land and sections.

Going back to mid 2013 when the government was building it’s justification for the SHA’s it found that the available supply of sections was just 4,000 in the region.

So just where does Labour think it is going to build 100,000 houses? No matter if it is Auckland or another town or city the fact remains that there is simply not the sections available to build 100,000 houses upon.

Labour’s folly is to have made such a stupid announcement without thinking it through. Is this the gaff of the week?

100,000 take a lot of space. It will need to be set aside, which isn’t a central government issue, but a local one.

Next, when?   Read more »

Mana’s Menu is Pie in the Sky

Mana News

Mana News

I found this image on Mana’s Facebook page

It was fascinating to get some insights into both Mana and the people who vote for it. Based on that News page alone I have come to the following conclusions:

Mana is all about giving low income people rental housing at a ridiculously low rent.

Mana is about feeding ALL children, not just the ones that actually need it.

Mana is not about personal responsibility but about Aunty Government taking care of your responsibilities ie feeding your children.

Mana is not about addressing the core problems by giving a person a fishing rod but is about giving a person a fish, day after day after day that they took off those who made the effort to go fishing.

Mana is not concerned with responsible government such as balancing the books. They want to spend with out considering at all whether

a) It is an asset

b) It is is a liability.

Lets start with their housing policy. ‘Homes for every Kiwi family ‘ such a lovely feel good policy but one that has to be paid for. I have been a Landlord and I can tell you now that 25% of a beneficiaries ‘ income ‘ is not going to cover the mortgage let alone make me any profit. Wait you say, this is about socially responsible housing for the poor. Profit is evil. The government should provide safe and affordable housing. Okay, lets forget about the profit then. I still have to pay rates and insurance and a minimum of 6% of the rent to a Property Manager if the property is to be managed properly and the law followed for both the Landlord and the tenant. Again, 25% of the beneficiaries income is not going to cut it. I seriously doubt that any Property Manager will want 6% of 25% of a beneficiaries income so that will have to be subsidised as well. Another liability. Then there is still that mortgage to service.

Private Landlords already do a good job providing housing. It makes more sense financially, to let them do it and have laws to ensure that the homes meet basic health and safety requirements.If Mana are determined to throw tax payers money at the problem then it would be cheaper to subsidise rents rather than provide the housing themselves.

If the government is to be a landlord renting at such ridiculously low rentals then they are going to get further and further into debt. The debt will grow, it will never be paid off. This is what is called a liability. To make matters worse the cost of a state house in Auckland is going to be 5 or 6 times the cost of one in Opotiki yet the rent will be based on income not area.

Now lets talk about motivation and incentive. Currently if I am on a low income my incentive to improve my situation is that I need more money in order to live in a bigger home in a better suburb. If as my income grows I now pay more for the exact same home in the exact same suburb that already meets my needs am I going to be enthusiastic about increasing my income? Wouldn’t I be silly if I already have a nice warm, dry, new state house ( in a great suburb that others need two jobs to afford the rent in) to increase my income in order to have to pay more?

These policies have not been thought out. Why should beneficiaries ( and lets not kid our selves that this policy is for working people) get a home for life for 25% of their benefit when others have to scrimp and save and work to achieve the same.

What about feeding the kids? No one wants to see children go hungry yet some do. The government has already provided money to pay for their food but if their parents/ caregivers choose to neglect them and spend the money on alcohol, cigarettes and weed then they do go to school hungry.

Yes, this needs to be addressed but do we need to feed all school children in order to help these neglected children? No of course not. This policy is like saying some children need glasses and cannot afford them so the state will provide glasses for all children regardless of whether or not they have poor vision because something must be done! It would be a huge liability and it would take away the responsibility of caregivers to look after their children.

The money is already there for food in most cases. The problem is how the money is spent. Food stamps is one solution but they can be sold for cash and the food still may not make it to those who need it. How about schools identifying children who are arriving without lunch and the government then intervening in a number of ways.

1. Take the money for school provided lunches BEFORE the benefit hits their account unless they mend their ways. Then provide the food to those children. If the caregivers are working then forcibly deduct it from their wages. Bottom line is, feed your children or we will feed them for you with your money.

2. The government simply feeds the children but the family are given a warning. If after a certain amount of warnings and possibly after they have been given budget help they still do not feed their children they are prosecuted or the children are taken off them.This may seem harsh but before benefits poor people did feed their children. My Father didn’t have shoes but his Mum made him lard sandwiches for school. They weren’t Jam like the rich kids had but he did not go hungry. Everyone can afford to make a sandwich for their children even if it is just a butter or a marmite or peanut butter sandwich.

There is no excuse for neglecting your children.

A simple lunch

A simple lunch