Affordable housing fails in the cheap back blocks of Nelson



If they can’t get affordable housing going in the middle of nowhere, how does the Green led Labour party stand a chance?

The Motueka couple who thought they were making headway with their fight to prove affordable housing options existed, will now pull down their illegal dwellings to avoid “being made criminals”.

Jan-Albert Droppers and Irma Jager have had charges brought against them by the Tasman District Council for breaches of the Resource Management Act and failing to comply with the Building Act, following their alleged failure to comply with last year’s Environment Court order around illegal dwellings on the property.

They have been summonsed to appear in the Nelson District Court on May 29 on two charges each, in relation to two dwellings – a yurt and a strawbale cottage, which are deemed to be illegal dwellings on their West Bank Rd property WantooWantoo.

Sure, like the little pigs, you can make a house out of cloth and a house out of straw, but that’s not the point.  The housing affordability needs to be achievable within the current building standards and legislative framework.

Are the Green-led Labour party going to be changing the law to get their 100,000 houses built in ten years?

The only way they will be able to make their targets is to have high rise, high density housing, of the type Len Brown is trying to ram down Auckland’s throat.


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  • Sym Gardiner

    Oh… let the hippies live in their tents if they want to.
    Perhaps if the councils weren’t chasing hippies they could process a building consent in a reasonable time and wouldn’t charge $20k+ for a notified resource consent.

    • 4077th

      Where are the council when there is some bum living under an overbridge in a cardboard box? Do they tell him to pull it down or face court? No because there is no money or kudos in doing so.

  • Ronnie Chow

    New Zealand , the land of the free . And then came the Council housing Nazi’s , who , knowing nothing , signed off on all the leaky buildings across the country . They still have their jobs , were never called to account , never fined , sacked or demoted .
    Councils need to be stripped and rebuilt to reflect reality . Council bureaucrats are horrible fucking idealists who , given power to change peoples lives , change it for the worse .

    • There’s no idealism among Council planners, well not in the purest sense of the word. They’re on a gravy train, that starts with two-five years under Council tutorage, then into the private sector where they live very comfortably off requests from their old colleagues to do “peer reviews” of planning decisions. Which consent applicants have to pay for. And which are very rarely over-turned. Hmmm…

      • Ronnie Chow

        ” In ordinary use, idealism generally suggests the priority of ideals, principles, values, and goals over concrete realities. Idealists are understood to represent the world as it might or should be, unlike pragmatists, who focus on the world as it presently is.”

    • 4077th

      +100% Ronnie. Fuck the council! Who the hell are they to tell people what they can and cannot live in on their own property. I’m sick and tired of the meddling in peoples lives just because they say so. Someone needs to remind those fuckers who pays their wages. If I was Jan-Albert I would tell the council what I thought of them, not bother to go to court and arrest me if you dare!

      • Bad__Cat

        Yeah, it’s not as if builders would make substandard houses that leaked, would they?

  • I find this an intriguing concept. I’m no greenie, but if in rural areas where you don’t have near neighbours, building regulations were relaxed somewhat (except for environmental concerns like sewerage disposal) why not let people build what they like? I don’t mind people living in glorified tents and haybarns. I bet a lot of people would move out of the city and that would free up housing too.

    • Red

      I agree…. But I suspect the RMA has a special section for dealing any whiff of Intriguing Concepts – Far too hard to work out a schedule of charging for canvas and sticks… imagine the consultancy fees

      • I wouldn’t worry about the RMA and consultancy fees – just let the lending banks and insurance companies control them.

  • tarkwin

    They should have built a monolithic dome – much better idea but the council would still hate it.

    • There’s one lying around in Christchurch. Used to be 30m up in the air and now at ground level. Free to a good home, if the Catholic church is of a mind to donate it to a poor family.

      • Catholic?

      • tarkwin

        A bloke just built one out at Ruakaka, had a hell of a time with council but got there in the end. A mate of mine did the internal painting and reckons they’re amazingly strong, well insulated, earthquake proof and cheap to build. When they make them they put coils of piping in the concrete so you get free hot water as well. Try googleing for more info.

        • Patrick

          Free hot water? Or are they using hot water to heat the slab?

          • tarkwin

            The pipes are in the dome. They have an inflatable bubble which they spray with concrete and throw the pipes in along the way. Apparently it works very well.

  • In Vino Veritas

    Good point Whale. Mud huts are not going to cut it under current regulations. Not earthquake proof of course. Same as the yurt I guess. It would seem that even a bivouac wouldn’t cut it. So its back to the drawing board for the Party that would like to drag the human race back into the dark ages.

    You’ve got to love the wood burner in the yurt though……

    • kehua

      Yurts are able to handle diurnial temps from -15 c to late 40`s including high winds and dust storms and blizzard conditions. Dumb fuck councils would not have a bloody clue. Then again no doubt Lennie would relish a trip to Ulan Battar to check them out. (Hope the liar aka `fucking cunt` is not reading this.

  • DangerMice

    maybe this is where Len is heading with his high rise, high density housing,

  • flashman

    These people are free to apply for a Building Consent and a Resource Consent for their dwelling, just like everyone else. This isn’t a yurt thing, it’s a don’t-give-a-shit-about-the-law thing. I own a yurt, which we use for camping in. As tents they’re very strong and flexible, light and airy. Camping in a regular tent in comarison in summer, is like sleeping in a plastic bag. You can put wood-burners in them, becuase they’re made of wood and canvas or felt. I’d reccommend one for camping. But to live in one year round, well it would be like living in a tent year-round, with all that implies.

    • James

      But why? It is there land, there are no neighbours to piss off. So what does it have to do with the council?

      • redeye

        There are neighbours to piss off.

      • flashman

        Sorry I don’t have time to explain the whole of the Building Act and the Resource Management Act to you.

        • James

          Point is that the both the Building Act and RMA are simply tools used by petty bureaucrats to make themselves feel important. It is your land – provided that you aren’t taking the sun light from your neighbours, or polluting it in such a way that is detrimental to your neighbours then you should be able to do what you want with it. The only time the council should get involved is if it does have knock on effects on others in terms of infrastructure requirements or removing the ability of others to enjoy their property.

        • Mediaan

          Work for a Council, do you? That’s the sort of lordly put-down their dumber staff love to use.

          • flashman


    • Mediaan

      Heaps of people seem to be allowed to live in caravans.

      • Patrick

        Especially in Lennygrad – South Auckland. Don’t see the council officials moving them on do you.

        • I seem to remember that as long as the caravan has wheels it is considered mobile and therefore temporary. As soon as the wheels are removed it becomes a permanent dwelling and requires consents. Also the rules around container sleepouts are grey; they are considered temporary by virtue that they are containers but as far as I remember there is supposed to be a time limit (3 or 6 months?) But then you could move them a couple of metres and start again?

          • Patrick

            Used to be as long as the container was not permanently fixed to the ground then it was considered temporary – that is why people used the twist locks from trucks to secure them

        • Gazzaw

          With the elections four months away Lenny isn’t about to upset the voters on his home turf.

      • flashman

        They may well do, where caravans are allowed. Sorry I don’t have time to explain the Resource Management Act to you.

        • Mediaan

          Tosser nonsense. Bet you haven’t even read it. Whereas I have, over and over.

          I don’t think you know much about the RMA at all.

          It defers to acts like the LGA on matters of council planning like caravans anyway. Unless you are referring to the general principles set out in the earlier sections.

          • flashman

            If only it were that simple!

  • redeye

    These people stated in a meeting I attended that they got advice that said they were breaking the law but went ahead anyway. They avoided paying the extra rates on these additional dwellings moving more of the burden to those of us that follow the rules.

    Personally I believe that the regulations around building a home should be between the landowner and their insurance company and the councils should butt out. But in the case of multiple occupancies, we elect councils to plan and build the supporting infrastructure so they should have the power to decide where the population will be building.

    Besides the Motueka Valley is a beautiful and quiet valley. Most of us don’t want a fucken hippy commune on every corner and if they’re going to allow it for one…

    • How many hippie communes would you be expecting, and why don’t you want them? I am of the opinion that if they abide by the rules of the land (in this case the housing rules need to be made more friendly I believe), and sewerage is adequately catered for, let them be. Or is it a case of NIMBYitis?

      • tarkwin

        You want to see the trash at Matauri Bay and I don’t just mean Dover. The Far North District Council seem powerless to do anything about them.

        • Therein lies the problem. Far North council powerless or unmotivated to act? If there are health concerns then an order to clean up should be given followed by a bulldozer in 14 days time. Clean up or get cleaned up!

          • tarkwin

            Maori land. Don’t know the full story. The end of the beach where the camping ground is is beautiful, up the back is the half baked subdivision that nobody wants to build on due to intimidation and the nearest fire brigade or police station being along way away. And then you’ve got the shanty town in the middle of the beach. If they stopped paying the dole here things would improve over night. The FNDC has a huge problem even getting rates off Maori land, not much point putting a lien over it if you can’t find a clear title. welcome to the North.

          • But the Far North Maori have their own sovereignty; different rules. I expect you should be grateful for being ‘allowed’ on the beach.

          • Ururoa

            And we all have paid cash up front, no mortgage or borrowings, for our own houses have we?

            Simple fact is, it is nigh on impossible to get a mortgage for a private home to be built on Maori title land. Hence those that live there have to make do with whatever finances they have to provide a home.

            A very good case for councils to get behind earthbag, straw bale etc. type housing, which can be provide cheap, warm and comfortable homes.

      • redeye

        To the point, it is the larger population. The Moteka Valley is a rural environment. There is currently no sewerage, no rubbish collection, no water supply and the roads have not been built to carry a larger population.

        If the majority want to make this a place more of an urban area fine. The council can invest in building that up. But the majority don’t. The 140 odd people that they got for their meeting were mainly outsiders imported in from Takaka and St Arnaud to intimidate the locals.

        It is also a soil rich environment. More suitable for growing food than housing dirty stinking fucken greenies.

        • I was once the maintenance manager of a conference centre in rural Horowhenua. The facility could cater for 500 live in guests, (because it catered for school groups it was on average at 50% capacity at any time), it had its own water, sewerage and refuse collection systems. Only the immediate neighbours knew it was there. It had a narrow winding road in to it for 3kms and it was on productive farm land. These are all surmountable problems.

          • redeye

            Sorry I’m not sure I get your point. Yes the council can install these services but.

            The TDC governs around 98000 square kilometres. Quite obviously they cannot afford to install these services everywhere. They must then make decisions about where they are going to encourage and discourage population growth.

            They’ve made a decision that they are going to protect their richer soils for rural use. That’s fair enough. If these people wanted to run multiple occupancies on their property they should have purchased in an area where services were planned.

          • My point is that council did not install the services, The conference centre has its own settling ponds, refuse collection and water bores.

          • redeye

            What about the roads?

          • Mediaan

            It’s nothing to do with population growth. Otherwise councils would ban households of more than a certain number of people.

            Planning is necessary but make it reality-based and transparent.

        • Liberty

          They didn’t have to import the little green men. The Pokorora Polling booth
          has been one of the greens highest polling booths in the country.
          They have been living in little hovels up and down the river
          for years.
          The Greens want the vile RMA but only when it suits them.

        • Mediaan

          Still growing mostly hops to flavour beer, and tobacco to enslave the masses, are they? Ah, the simple rustic folk of Motueka.

          Oh, and politicians, and lots of good friends of big crime, too.

    • Mediaan

      You imply we want councils to be there. Because we vote.

      It does not follow. Some people vote only because they are hoping to improve a bad situation, while disapproving of many aspects of Local Government. I personally think Local Government is a relic of older times when there was little communication or transport, and should now be abolished.

      They are a monopoly. We are helpless. Not one of us gets a say, really, in what they do.

      • redeye

        I’m not implying anything of the sort and in general I’m not a supporter of them.

        And only 39% turnout on voting day would indicate that not many care enough to have their say.

        • Mediaan

          Quote: “We elect councils to plan …” In your first comment.

    • Ronnie Chow

      So it’s the type of people , rather than the type of dwelling , that concerns you?

      • redeye

        Only in that there are only one type of person that want to build and live in communes

  • Mediaan

    Bad week, for people called Jager. The CEO of Zespri is also named Jager.

    What did the Jagers do to deserve all this?

    Councils are idiots, and entirely to be blamed for housing shortages.

  • Mediaan

    I take it that would be the same Council whose staff allowed the worst bit of environmental pollution ever known in New Zealand, a coastal area hopelessly poisoned by years of chemically treating fruit? While Council smiled and held their peace?

    Trying to remember its name. Near the present Ruby Bay. Mapua, wasn’t it?

    And, when forced to, arranged some scrappy remediation work at a cost of dizzying megabucks?

  • Richard McGrath

    I don’t think this is a “failure” of affordable housing – it’s the council stopping landowners from using their property as they see fit without hurting others. What these people have built on their own property should be none of the council’s damn business.

    • chwaga

      Oh yes and when the the building falls over in an earthquake they expect the country to compensate them

      • BR

        No they shouldn’t. They should purchase private insurance and take it from there.


  • Dave Broad

    The property investors I know have a saying. “Building is for other people”

  • Liam

    And tell me how the creation of sprawling suburbs is also an intelligent solution at ludicrous prices … as National is advocating. Inner city medium density housing is the solution, however the ‘kiwi’ attitude to the ‘quarter acre paradise’ has to change. Quality architecture is the point of this argument … we have to give the middle finger to property developers and councils to an extent if we are going to see any real change / solutions. There are plenty of excellent housing models throughout Europe / Australia / Japan. Singular dwelling is small minded.

    • philbest

      Oh come on, there is nothing as “sustainable” as a committed environmentalist living on a lifestyle block. There are so many features of a sustainable lifestyle that are compatible with low density living but not high density. EG:

      1) Geothermal heat pumps

      2) Passive and active solar heating

      3) household wind turbines

      4) burning biomass for heating and cooking

      5) household collection of rainwater

      6) household production of food

      7) fresh air ventilation and clothes drying

      8) on site waste disposal, recycling, and composting.

      Back in the 1970’s, the environmental movement was more interested in
      solutions like the above, and opposed to concrete jungles. Since then
      they seem to have morphed into a movement that essentially hates humans
      and wants to punish them, including imprisoning them in concrete jungles
      and, ironically, depriving them of contact with sacred nature.

      Urban growth containment is more about depriving people of disposable
      income (via inflated housing costs) and space with which to breed and
      raise children. Actual performance on resource consumption and
      environmental impact would be superior with Frank Lloyd Wright
      “landscape urbanism” style low density solutions, especially given that
      dispersed employment is the norm in modern cities, and vehicles get more
      and more efficient. Higher urban density is everywhere associated with
      more severe traffic congestion and lower speeds of travel, which means
      that petrol consumption and emissions “gains” are negated. “Mode shift”
      is always far too slight to compensate.

      The connection between restrictive urban and transport policy, and
      reduced consumption of petrol and energy, is via reduced household
      discretionary income due to inflated housing costs (and in some
      countries, higher taxes on energy as well); not due to “more efficient
      urban form” at all. In fact it is the height of absurdity to think that in an allegedly post-energy future, living in apartments and catching trains will be the “surviving” lifestyle. At least the proponents of “back to nature”
      survivalism like that Kunstler guy, are not this stupid.

      • Liam

        So in simple terms .. what your saying is you can’t integrate nature and sustainable energy solutions with medium density dwelling ? If so .. you are wrong.

        Secondly medium density / high density situations thrive on polycentric urban systems. Which is … the future.

        Urban sprawl is doomed. Any propositions to propose so is again narrow minded, backward and incompatible with economic growth.

        • philbest

          Polycentricity is actually only partway to the truly most efficient “urban form”, which is “amorphous”. The more “centricity” there is, the more “location” is rationed by the RE market. The higher the base price of urban land, the greater the “pricing out” effect. This is why there is no identifiable correlation between urban density and average commute times, especially when other factors are controlled for.
          For example, some countries have very high petrol taxes, which should act as a strong incentive for people to locate closer to workplaces. Some countries have low rates of 2-head households which need to compromise on location between 2 workplaces and one or more schools. Often, the same countries have both these “advantages” AND planned high urban density. YET, they don’t have superior average commute-to-work times. London is a disaster. Peter Hall et al noted way back in 1973 that “The Containment of Urban England” had inflated house prices and “priced out” increasing numbers of households into ultra-long commutes from wherever they could afford.
          Ironically, low density, affordable-housing cities in the USA (find all the cities in the annual Demographia Reports with a median multiple of around 3) do NOT have LONGER average commute times even though they have cheap petrol and more marriages and more kids….!  Nor are any of these cities associated with “cost of infrastructure” crises. Before you leap into a diatribe about LA, note that it is the USA’s densest urban area, and has the USA’s highest house price median multiples – which went to nearly 12 in the last bubble and are around 7 now.
          The secret to the efficiency of low density, low land cost, non-growth-constrained cities, is dispersal of employment (no “centricity” at all either “poly” or “mono”) and minimal “pricing out” effect in RE prices at any one location.
          I don’t know what kind of economy you think would prevail once there is a post-energy future, but it is absurd to think that we can all write each other reports, cut each others hair, make each other coffee, sell each other financial instruments, and sell each other consumer goods, without any “primary” wealth creation – which by definition has to involve utilisation of actual resources.
          This is why Kunstler et al are intellectually consistent to advocate lifestyle blocks, not density of any kind, as the post-suburban future. It is cities like Hong Kong that are truly doomed if a post-energy future is real; and the level of doom experienced by all cities would correlate with their density, not with their sprawl.
          By the way, if you do the maths, the efficiency of commute times is determined by the “load” on the road lane-miles that exist between all travellers and their trip destinations at rush hour. This load is lessened by three things: dispersal of employment; optimal market “sorting” of locations by households and businesses; and the numbers of people hitting each given amount of road lane-miles in each part of the system, at rush hour. Density affects the last factor negatively; congestion and lower speeds always negate the advantage of a shorter distance, which is never a lot anyway because most of the space in a city is “NOT HOUSING”.
          Dispersion utilises a lot more road lane-miles in secondary parts of the network, and in both directions at once. “Centricity” of any kind reduces the lane-miles per traveller.
          So if we start running out of fossil fuels, or we tax them to force people to use less – in which cities can people walk or cycle to work as an option? The ones where there is maximum “sorting” of location efficiency due to the absence of the “pricing out” effect. The higher the cost of travel, the more that the price premiums capitalise into those locations that enjoy concentrated “efficiency” of location (poly or mono) – the “invisible hand” thwarting “planners” intentions again.

          • Mr_V4

            Philbest,has pdk captured you and locked you up in his kilmog lifestyle property/bunker? If so reply with your emergency distress codeword and send some macrocarpa smoke signals.

          • philbest

            Ha ha, no, I wouldn’t mind PDK if he admitted the logical fit between my arguments and his. Do you have any explanations why a proud lifestyle-block survivalist would support Len Brown style urban planning for everyone else? Any hints at how best to deal with him would be appreciated. I am quite happy to have cordial relations with people like him as long as they are consistent. If lifestyle block survivalism is the solution for them, intensified urban living cannot possibly be the solution for anyone else, let alone everyone else.

  • Rangi

    They should be told what is defective about their homes, not merely to pull them down arbitrarily.
    Gambling laws re pokies – “Throw existing framework to the dogs!!”
    Affordable housing – “Obey existing framework or we’ll huff n puff & blow your house down!”

    Is this another Whaleism?

  • philbest

    Euan Ross-Taylor asks the question, why are councils so anxious to ban all lower cost housing alternatives? Because they are a threat to the “inflated urban land prices” racket that Councils are angling to capture “planning gain” from. Even a yurt or a caravan out in the country is a threat to a racket where the price of land per square foot is intended to be high enough to force as many people as possible into tight apartments to which a yurt or a caravan is actually “competition”.