Housing at the Heart of the Canterbury Rebuild



This is no more fundamental a responsibility of any Government than housing its people.   Today Labour outlined a bold and ambitious plan to solve the Canterbury housing crisis and ensure that people have a roof over their heads.

I’ve reported previously on the housing crisis in Canterbury:

The Christchurch housing crisis

An acute shortage of emergency youth housing

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

The moment the housing crisis in Christchurch could have been averted

Today I was proud to stand in the heart of Christchurch Central alongside our housing spokesperson Phil Twyford and my Labour colleagues as we announced Labour’s solution to the housing crisis.

A Labour Government will take a hands-on approach to solve the crisis:

  • Build 10,000 affordable Kiwibuild homes in Canterbury over four years, providing the first 3,000 of these homes as affordable rentals until the housing crisis is fixed
  • Build 100 temporary homes immediately to boost the stock of temporary emergency housing in the first three months, and an additional 300 in the first six months
  • Build affordable medium density housing to revitalise the city centre, as well as suburban and town centres. This will create vibrant communities with high quality urban design, green spaces and decent infrastructure
  • Increase the accommodation supplement for Christchurch by up to $50 a week until the housing crisis is fixed to correct the shortfall

It will solve the immediate issues (the acute shortage of emergency accommodation) short-term issues (the need for low rental accommodation for earthquake victims and increased accommodation supplement to support people facing large post-earthquake rent increases), and longer-term issues (the need for more housing supply, and quality urban development and planning).

As Labour’s Christchurch Central candidate I know that the Central City will die unless the Government drives building affordable accommodation in the Central City.

Housing is the number one issue for Canterbury.  This package is bold and ambitious.  It provides a stark contrast with a National Government that is doing the bare minimum because it doesn’t believe there is a crisis, doesn’t believe it requires urgent attention, and believes the market will sort it out.


  1. 1. The Earth’s atmospheric chemistry has been so messed up by human ‘development’ we are now in the early stages of an abrupt climate change event which will cause a massive increase in temperatures over the coming decades and a commensurate sea level rise of well over 20 metres by mid-century.

    Good luck with any infrastructure less than 20 metres above current sea level. I believe King Canute had his throne placed on the beach to demonstrate that even kings could not hold back the sea. And that was long before runaway greenhouse.

    2. With the peak in global oil extraction (2005-2008) now well behind us, governments are desperate to prop up the energy supply by any outlandish method that comes to hand -fracking, opening up conservation estate to coal mining, basically ripping into anything that’s left in a desperate attempt to stop dysfunctional economic arrangements falling over immediately.

    Good luck trying to run an economy on declining energy supplies. Ah, that was another king, M King Hubbert, who presented a very clear warning in 1956 what lie ahead (which was ignored, of course, oil company profits and the bankers’ Ponzi scheme coming before scientific analysis every time.)

    3. The unravelling of the global financial system is clearly underway, with the NZ dollar hitting a record high of 87.7 US cents yesterday, not because NZ is doing well but because practically every other nation is circling the plug hole. Even the ‘lucky country’ is on the ropes, now that the Chinese bubble is starting to burst and they don’t want huge amounts iron ore and coal anymore.

    Never mind about any of that; Labour has plans to convert limestone into carbon dioxide via the manufacture of cement, to convert fossil fuels into carbon dioxide via transport systems and construction activity, to borrow money created out of thin air and pay interest on that money in order to attempt to prop up living arrangements that have no long-term future, indeed, no short-term future. There is no evidence current arrangements can be maintained beyond 2016.

    With ‘geniuses’ in Labour we don’t need the geniuses in National who have exactly the same ideas for ‘development’ and ignore all the basic issues of the times.

    The sad truth is, we live in a society founded on (and maintained by) avoidance of discussion of all fundamental truth.

    Housing is not the ‘number one issue for Canterbury’. The total unsustainability of present arrangements is.

    • That’s all perfectly true but lets see you tell that to the people in Christchurch who are suffering right now and see how it goes down.

      Life ain’t simple.

      • Offer people assistance to get established on stable, high ground.

        Create small, semi-sustainable communities in suitable locations.

        Tell people the truth.

        The trouble with such ideas is that there would be little or no quick profits for corporations and opportunists.

  2. The windfall beech tree resource belongs to all of us. Nationannul no doubt have some of their mates lined up to help themselves to it and to suck the majority of any profit from it.
    I would like to see that timber used to rehouse those people of Christchurch who, thanks to this nationannul governments policies and incompetence, can not afford to rebuild their own homes.
    I don’t believe that any REAL KIWI would object to the use of this windfall resource for this purpose. Would you ?

  3. “Increase the accommodation supplement for Christchurch by up to $50 a week until the housing crisis is fixed to correct the shortfall” And subsidise the landlord more? Why not get really brave and legislate for a maximum rental?

  4. I’m not sure how this will help. It looks as though Labour plans to assist the market, rather than address it (not even close to opposing it).
    Let’s say Labour pushes minimum wage to $15 p/h. That comes out at $31,200. Minus 17.5% tax comes to $25,740. Minus 15% GST comes to $21,879 (We can ignore student loan repayments that most of us have, and we can also ignore the rampant employment insecurity/flexibility which could cut our wage in half, but still leave us ineligible for welfare assistance).
    Let’s say early $20,000s per year after tax. How can you use the term ‘affordable housing’ under these circumstances? When did ‘affordable housing’ become 15-20 times an annual wage? I thought it was supposed to be 3 times the annual wage.
    Let’s leave the ‘affordable housing’ scam to National eh? Perhaps tell Cunliffe that it’s time to invest in social housing – proper social housing. Leave the market to the market – it is not our friend

  5. The commitment is at least a step in the right direction. Rehousing Christchurch may however require a bit more creative thinking than a better funded and accelerated version of the Brownlee clusterfuck. The Greens might have an idea or two. Understand that housing is a significant ongoing national problem, and will be for at least the next thirty years. Resolve this issue properly and the local economy will begin to function again – make a cock of it and everything you do will fail economically – just like Bill English.

  6. There has been a good discussion about Christchurch and Housing at interest.co.nz

    It started with an article I wrote about the Christchurch rental market, history of urban planning and some discussion of urban planning theories and research.


    A ‘capitalist’ counter attack from Muriel Newman

    Bernard Hickey explaining why it is in everyone’s interest to control house inflation

    Finally Labour’s recent housing plan for Canterbury

    Often the comments are more revealing than the actual articles so for those that are interested make sure you read them too.

  7. Housing is a number one necessity and looking at the emerging crisis http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11283796
    oh hello it’s not pretty.
    I dispute Ms Newman’s bland assertions, housing is unaffordable for many reasons. I think Christchurch needs a more lateral thinking type approach, maybe import someone with real hands-on experience for a while.
    Kevin McLeod springs to mind:
    Recovered and recycled materials, purpose built shelters and modulated structures need to feature more in our uncertain climate.

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