Auckland scoffs at Key’s plan to sort out their housing problems


Prime Minister John Key today revealed more about the government’s new tool to tackle what it considers the biggest single factor in Auckland’s housing shortage – a lack of land.

Mr Key said the government would soon reveal a “national policy statement” that would override Auckland’s development blueprint, the Unitary Plan.

He said the “national policy statement” would drive the supply of land, with the Resource Management Act having factors that tie into it.

“If the Unitary Plan doesn’t meet the needs of Auckland, the national policy statement – because of the way it works – will drive it, mark my words.”

Auckland scoffs at the mere suggestion that government can achieve anything that way.

…Auckland’s deputy mayor Penny Hulse said if land release was the answer to rising house prices in Auckland then prices would have gone down as the council released land under the Special Housing Areas.

She said other drivers needed to be addressed at the same time, and land supply was not the big issue holding back home building.

“We’ve got six and half years of land planned for, infrastructure in the ground and ready to go. Government themselves have got more than 20 special housing areas that belong to Housing New Zealand that are ready to go.

“There’s no shortage of places to build. Our question to government would be, perhaps you just need to get on with it.”

Auckland Council is digging in, and essentially saying they’re not the problem here.

One way or another, Phil Goff is likely to have a fight on his hands.




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  • Disinfectant

    National has held back for too long.

    They are now only acting as there is an accommodation problem throughout the country where there is work.

    National had hoped that there would have been a slowing in immigration and an inability for people to pay higher mortgages thus leading to a market reduction in house prices. The opposite has happened.

    National does not want to be seen as the Government that will alienate its voter base through falling house prices. That is why they have been slow to act, and up to now tinkering.

    • Observer

      The government can reduce permanent residence approval target if they want. The current annual target, reconfirmed by Cabinet, is around 45,000 to 50,000. That is one of the largest rates of non-citizen immigration (as a share of population) of any advanced economy.

      • Zanyzane

        Only 14k are actual real foreign migrants a year, the rest of the 36k are selected from international students and foreign workers already here. Migration is mainly a replacement policy. NZ population grows at the rate of natural birth(difference between births and deaths)

    • contractor

      I think that National has been well aware of the many obstacles for a good few years, but that it has had to wait for things to come to a head politically from prices really going through the roof.

      This is evident now that Labour has just declared support for changing the urban boundary regs because it became politically imprudent to do otherwise.

      Likewise there is now growing public and political sympathy for dealing to the councils at large and the RMA. That was not politically palatable before now.

    • Zanyzane

      No National is not hoping for a slow down. They are driving our migrant numbers up. You forget that a migrant includes international students and tourist and returning kiwis which are at record numbers.

      • Raibert

        Keep seeing the reference to returning kiwis and Aussies being a big part of the “immigration” issue. However from stats I have seen they would make up less than a third of immigrants so think this is a red herring to avert interest from the issue.
        If this group only was allowed to immigrate here for the next 2 years, Aucklands “housing crisis” would be over.

        • Zanyzane

          Migrants as an issue is the red herring. We only bring in a massive total of 14k rich migrants a year gross. The remaining 36k comes from international students and foreign workers already here and already counted as migrants when they first arrive. That makes up the government’s 50k. What is driving demand is the additional 400k in tourists that arrive and stay in air bnb driven accommodation.

          • Raibert

            The actual number of immigrants is now 70,000 for current year and stil growing. Based on population this is apparently the highest rate proportionally of any of the developed nations. Added to this are a large number of “students” who use education as a reason for a job and then never return home – would be good to see stats on this.

          • Zanyzane

            That is grossly incorrect. 70k includes international students, foreign workers, tourists, returning kiwis and gross 14k foreign migrants. STATISTICS NZ definition of a long term and permanent migrant is any arrival that will stay in NZ for more than 12 months. Get your facts right and stop your migrant racism.

  • Damon Mudgway

    Auckland…just mess of massive proportions. Christchurch….a pile of rubble. Wellington…ready to disappear into the ocean.

    Palmerston North…a Mecca untouched by the ravages of Mother Nature or inept local management. We welcome all those less fortunate plebs with open arms. The time is now.

    • Dave

      Fair enough Damon, to solve Aicklands housing crisis, Auckland will send you the homeless, the long term unemployed, and 50% of the population of Otara, Mangere and some of the western suburbs. It is believed in the intensive social engineering models, this will have a positive impact on Palmerston North, and will lift the average IQ and livibility of both Auckland and Palmerston North. To further improve Palmerston North, another 10,000 police, health and social workers will be based there, it is believed no more teachers will be needed, as they already have a massive over supply.

      Be careful what you wish for. :).

    • jcpry

      Not from what my clients down there tell me.

  • sheppy

    Phil Goff won’t fight anything, he’ll just continue with Len’s plan unchanged.
    There’s nothing to see here people, especially when Auckland Councils deliberate ineptness causes successful media party hits on National.
    Len’s out of control empire should have been brought to heel a long time ago.
    Auckland Council will deflect this attempt, just like every other attempt to rein them in

    • Raibert

      Which is why come next years election a clear message needs to be sent to the National Party that they have failed one third of the people in NZ by not acting quickly enough on the situation in Auckland. It is easy to rightfully blame the Council, but the government must shoulder the final responsibility of allowing for the inter generation stress created by the Auckland housing mess. Now it is spreading into other areas they begin to rattle the sabre. Not nearly good enough, when they quickly moved in and appointed a commissioner in Kaipara over a much less critical issue.
      Yes the Auckland council will be rinsed at this election, but before then the IHP will present its report / recommendations which the Council will consider. Then do whatever they were going to do anyway, only in a hurry before the elections. How can any of this be what voters wanted? It all smacks of blatant interference by parties with vested interests.

      • sheppy

        It matters not whether they are rinsed or not if the rest of the council isn’t cleared out too. The waste, social engineering, intentional traffic jams and compact city nonsense is ingrained. It’s been tried elsewhere, hasn’t worked so it’s being inflicted on NZ.
        National have been asleep at the wheel, and it’ll take a lot more than changing the mayor for a carbon copy one albeit with his flies done up to sort Auckland out!

  • D.Dave

    Probably the biggest single issue with the shortage of housing is the interminable time it takes to consult all and sundry about actually building anything. You have to consult neighbours, iwi, local organisations, the taniwha down in the creek, and probably some muppet in Invercargill who used to live next door 17 years ago. The whole thing would go a lot faster without the RMA, the need to ask anyone else about doing something reasonable on YOUR land, and having to ask the permission of a descendant of Stone age tribe who may or may not have stopped, for a breather, on what is now your front lawn

    • contractor

      Yes, the system is stacked hugely to stop land and house construction. It is no wonder costs are huge and new development not viable EXCEPT while prices are sky high.

      Deflating house prices too quickly would prolong the long term shortage. The govt is wise to avoid knee jerk populist ideas that won’t actually work anyway.

    • STAG

      Come come not all the muppets live in sunny invercargill, in my experience they tend to concentrate in warmer parts of the country.

      • D.Dave

        No insult intended Stag, It was just the furthest part of the country I could think of as an example of the stupidity of the legislation..

  • Crowgirl

    That last statement of Penny’s (not a question Penny, a statement) sums up the arrogance of AC in a nutshell. The sooner they are gone, the better.

  • contractor

    The average Auckland section price of $440k is about 6 times the average income so that a section with just a tent on it is double the long term average house price to income ratio of 3.

    So it is primarily section prices inflating house prices, although building consents and other costs from onerous regulations add to that.

    The overall situation is that had there been adequate section and house supply growth over the past 2 decades then prices would not have so grossly inflated. Simple supply and demand, with supply thwarted by excessive land prices, aggravated by burdensome development and construction restrictions and costs. Immigration also adds fuel to this fire.

    • Observer

      Well, yes that is the demand factor that the government could easily address until supply restrictions are addressed. The annual residential approval target is 50,000 – they could reduce that to, say 20-30,000 to ease the pressure.

      “From 1991 to 2013, non-New Zealand citizen immigration accounted for around 71 per cent of the change in the number of households (or dwellings required). For the last two intercensal periods the contributions of non-New Zealand citizen net immigration were as follows:

      2001 to 2006 70 per cent

      2006 to 2013 106 per cent”

      • Zanyzane

        No it won’t ease the pressure because there are 80,000 international students in Auckland and it grows each year due to the billions being spent by educational institutions. Also you forget our tourists target is 4 million. A 800,000 INCREASE from this year. You are dreaming when you blame migrants. You are just another migrant racist.

  • Annie218

    Like everything there are always several issues at play, including an ineffective council.
    The SHAs that Penny Hulse quotes includes places like the apartment developments in Remuera and Takapuna – hardly affordable housing.
    There is plenty of land around Auckland – look to the one house per section state house areas like Pt England, Glen Innes, Mt Roskill, Mangere, Otara etc. These are the areas where housing will be affordable. Instead of trying to clean up P contaminated state houses, demolish them and start the ball rolling on intensive developments.
    And it doesn’t take a genius to work out that if incoming migrants are settling in one region at the rate of over 48,000 a year there is going to be pressure on housing, infrastructure and services in that region. The problem then snowballs across other regions as people move out, which is what is happening now.
    You can’t tell me that some bean counter wasn’t counting the number of PRs issued each week over the past few years. A cap on immigration at a level that development can keep up should have been applied.
    For Penny Hulse or anyone in a decision making role to say ‘perhaps you just need to get on with it’ is a joke.

    • Zanyzane

      There is a cap on immigration. It is a replacement policy,ie for every kiwi that leaves the government replaces. There is no NZ migrant problem. There is only a Auckland migrant issue and that is due to a single international airport. Replacement migrants tend to gravitate to Auckland as a gateway city. Dropping migrant numbers equate to a declining population with the associated risks ie who looks after our aging population?

  • David Moore

    “We’ve got six and half years of land planned for, infrastructure in the ground and ready to go.”

    Now that is a claim that can be looked at in detail with a simple, where exactly is this land and how many houses can be built there? I’d say it almost certainly only exists in a planners mind and not in reality.

    • rua kenana

      Try driving around NW of Auckland out past Hobsonville, Riverhead and Westgate. Also West and SW of Orewa and Silverdale.
      There’s massive developments going on in those areas right now. Easily provision for quite a few thousand more houses, and ultimately, in the fairly near future under current trends all the way out to Helensville.
      How many more do you want?
      And more relevantly, what’s the purpose of all this? To improve overall living standards for NZers? I doubt it.
      And if the govt is seriously claiming they’re short of land they can always use their own Riverhead State Forest of 5,000 hectares, instead of trying and hopefully failing in their use of socialist-style bludgeoning enforcement on Aucklanders to attempt to sort out the mess that the central government created in the first place.

      • Sailor Sam

        And if Winston Peters, Andrew Little, Peter Dunne and Turoa Flavellhad any decency, the RMA would be changed by now and even more houses could be built.
        And what is your point, you don’t want more houses and you are happy that people are living in cars and garages?

        • rua kenana

          What are you talking about?
          Who, apart from you, says anything about not wanting more houses and are happy that people are living in cars and garages.

      • David Moore

        None of those developments are massive. A few thousand houses is a drop in the ocean when you have, what, 40, 50, 60 thousand people moving into the region every year.

        • Zanyzane

          You forget the 4 million tourists that come in through Auckland international airport

      • TM

        Yes but you have overlooked the main problem here. Because of the sheer time and cost of greeting to section-ready status, the sections are not 50-100k each – which is what they should be. If more land was released there would be no land banking, if processes were sped up so not buried in consent process for 7-10 years in some cases then you would see much more affordable houses. Basically the council have pursued smart growth for 20 years or so – which essentially just drives up land prices. Just because they now say that there are sections – yes but 10-15 years too late and far too expensive.

    • Zanyzane

      Penny Hulse is just being an idiot. She knows very well that there are old poor people living in those houses that Council has zoned for high rise. John Key knows it is tragic to move these old folk from their homes to get high density housing onto the 20 special housing areas managed by Housing NZ

  • MarcWills

    And for six, yes SIX years ACC have been having a talkfest on the Unitary Plan, without actually doing anything. No wonder they need 600 staff in their planning dept. Even worse, there is still no end in sight to the meetings and clipboard / pen pushing and coffee or lattee consumption. Nero fiddled …

  • Digger

    The various entities promoting degrees over trade certificates has been a problem for the building industry I believe.

    But a housing crisis? Not that I can tell. My 3 bedroom rental became available when the tenant decided she would become erratic with paying the rent, stopped doing the basic cleaning and started hosting church meetings that kept the neighbours up past midnight. Marketing for prospective tenants yielded just two that could produce good references. I was led to think by the MSM that I’d have a queue out the driveway.
    Perhaps a case of make your bed and lay in it for those who can’t find a home to rent?