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Hamilton Refugee Family Story Highlights Privatisation of State Housing

By   /  September 24, 2016  /  23 Comments

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The Aung family have beaten the odds.

As a refugee family from Myanmar, they have worked hard over the last four years to build a settled future for their three daughters in Hamilton.

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Screen Shot 2016-09-24 at 8.17.42 am

The Aung family with me outside the Hamilton home that rise 42% in value over 7 months, making it unaffordable for them.

The Aung family have beaten the odds.

As a refugee family from Myanmar, they have worked hard over the last four years to build a settled future for their three daughters in Hamilton.

Mr Aung works long hours as a sheet metal worker, Mrs Aung works evenings as a cleaner and the girls are doing well at local schools. They have all learned English and are loved by their neighbours.

The New Zealand Government has supported them too. A modest 3-bedroom state house has been their home for four years.

Last year, Housing New Zealand wrote to them saying their home was “surplus to requirements” and offering them the opportunity to buy it.

Hang on a minute! Doesn’t Paula Bennett maintain that they are only selling houses that are the wrong size, in the wrong place where people need to be housed?

This house is perfect for the Aung’s to rent from Housing NZ, so how come it is “surplus.”? It’s in a nice area of Hamilton and I see a needy family every week who would love to rent that house.

Anyway, the Aungs were excited by the idea of being able to buy their home which was valued at $315,000 in November 2015.

It would be tough, but they could afford it if Mr Aung could access his KiwiSaver account to help with the deposit. He would have to wait a few months to become eligible to do this.

When they went back to Housing NZ in July to start discussions on the purchase, this modest house had increased in value by a massive 42% to be worth $450,000 even though no improvements had been made to it.

This put it completely outside of their reach.

National’s wilful inaction on the housing crisis has crushed their dream.

Now here’s the stinger – the house is still considered by Housing NZ to be “surplus” even though there is a family living in it. The family fears their home will be sold to a property speculator and they will be left out in the cold.

And they have reason to be fearful. Coincidentally (yeah, right) MSD have recently conducted a tenancy review to see if the family is still eligible for social housing.

Even though they were both employed on the minimum wage and they have 3 daughters to support and pay market rent to Housing NZ – they face eviction from their home.

How convenient.

This looks to me to be the sneaky way that National is once again flogging our state housing stock off to private investors.

It’s more cunning than it was back in the 90’s, but the result is still the same. State houses built by taxpayers to house the needy, get sold to the greedy for profit.

Rust never sleeps.

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About the author

Sue Moroney

Labour Party MP.

Sue Moroney is a Labour MP based in Hamilton where she lives with her husband and two teenaged sons. Her list of "ists" include being proud to be a trade unionist, feminist and former journalist (and community newspaper editor). Sue is Labour's Spokesperson for Transport, ACC, Workplace Safety, Pay Equity and Paid Parental Leave. She has formerly held responsibilities as Chief Whip, Spokesperson for Education, Social Development, Women's Affairs, Early Childhood Education and Aged Care. Her no. 1 horse racing tip is "never bet more than you can afford to lose" and pointing out that if she really knew what horse was going to win, she probably wouldn't be working long hours for a living.


  1. WILD KATIPO says:

    Its not ‘ sneeky ‘ … it is outright sadistic neo liberalism.

    And the sadistic ideology that has been termed ‘ neo liberalism’ could equally be termed by sociologists , economists etc as ‘theft by stealth ‘ , ‘anti sovereign ‘ and especially ‘ anti community’.

    Why ?

    Because a united and prosperous community / country is a country where the common people wield economic and political power and have choice.

    AND THAT ,… is anathema to the 1% who have employed think tanks ( such as the Mont Pelerin society and their board members Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson ) such as the previously named Business Roundtable ( now the New Zealand Institute – which imply’s a benevolent ‘ intellectual’ front to what is more akin to marauders ) to lobby and finance policys that advantage them and them only.

    Its no use dancing around the issue. Its no use pretending if you vote a particular party if there are key members that support that pernicious dogma that there will be any change. Only variances through the years to ensure the plebites ire is not raised too much and open rebellion starts to break out.

    Think BREXIT.

    So there it is. The dogma / religion of the elite defrocked. And that’s what you are up against. Neo liberalism.

    And there will be no change until these parasites are voted out and / or imprisoned for corruption. Despite atrocity’s such as the ones contained in your well written post. And sadly , there will only be more and more examples of this sort of political abuse by so – called elected members of parliament of the population they were voted in to SERVE if it is allowed to continue.

    32 years of lies, deceit and plundering of the commons wealth is far more than enough.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Very very -eloquently stated Wild Katipo,

      Stunning wrap on “the big picture”! 100%

      Now we need to shove that WK synopsis in Nactional Party politician’s faces, as we ask them as to what “National” now means to them?

      Put that against the Sir Robert Muldoon model of the National party political strategy, – as against that the dictionary actually terms “National” to mean; Shall we?

      See the National

      Definition of national Collins English Dictionary.

      1. of, involving, or relating to a nation as a whole

      2. of, relating to, or characteristic of a particular nation ⇒ the national dress of Poland

      3. rare nationalistic or patriotic

      4. a citizen or subject

      5. a national newspaper

      Derived Forms
      nationally (ˈnationally) adverb

  2. Gosman says:

    Isn’t Myanmar a democracy now where there is peace? Why aren’t the family looking to move back?

    • Siobhan says:

      Another way to look at that is that the NZ taxpayer has invested time and money in this family, so by staying here and working they are paying tax and contributing to our economy by working, as will their children.

      Though maybe I am biased. The potato famine ended, the Highland clearances ended…and yet my family didn’t even consider returning home.

      • Gosman says:

        People who came to NZ as a result of the Irish famine and Highland do clearances were immigrants not refugees. Refugees are meant to be a special case where countries provide temporary refuge until they can go back. However if you think they are actually immigrants then that makes a huge difference to the debate on whether we should take more if them or not.

        • Siobhan says:

          integration, repatriation, resettlement….there are 3 recognizes options for refugees. With such small numbers coming to NZ, integration should be considered, especially with children being raised speaking English.

          As we did with Jewish refugees from Europe, such as John Keys mother.

        • Refugees are meant to be a special case where countries provide temporary refuge until they can go back.

          Don’t be such an offensive ass, Gosman. That definition exists only in your own mind.

          If it were true, most of this country should return to England, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Eastern Europe, etc.

          Oh, but you’ve exempted yourself by claiming, “People who came to NZ as a result of the Irish famine and Highland do clearances were immigrants not refugees” .

          So, basically, anyone with a whit(ish) skin or other aryan characteristics?!

          How very convenient.

          They were economic refugees/migrants, slap whatever label you like on them, if it helps define your black and white view of the human condition, Gosman.

          I didn’t know racial purity was ACT policy.

    • bruce says:

      That would have to be the stupidest comment I’ve read in a long time. You need to get out more maybe go there and listen to the heavy artillery in the hills or watch the helicopter guns ships firing on defenseless villages. http://english.panglong.org/2016/09/21/framework-for-political-dialogue-unfcs-boycott-leads-to-peace-process-deterioration/

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      This is the first time in 2 yrs I have to agree with Gosman!!!

      Yes I said it – I support Gosman”””

      Don’t get carried away though as it is very seldom he speaks any common sense.

      But here he is right, as I was exposed to this form of dilly dally when I was working in Australia in 1967 as a kiwi on my early OE as an electrician and asked Canada for a work visa to go there and was told, quote, “I would not established myself successfully”???????

      Having been told that I went anyway and stayed at my cousin’s home as he was more or less accepted to Canada with an Engineering degree, and not just a common tradesman like me.

      Finally after staying there and again applying I was accepted as my cousin was my Guarantor.

      I cause I established myself and wound up as a family of four twenty years later with a picture stand by the prime minister of Canada to boot.

      I am a left of centre leftie and wince e now at Canada’s open immigration policy, that I never was offered in 1967, as they are now offered.

      So if your home country is not a dictatorship as our is now in NZ we should all be vetted in the same screening manner as I and my wife of 40 yrs.’ both were when we separately immigrated to Canada.

      To allow all these global immigrants into NZ will swamp this country and force the society to be severely undermined and turn into chaos with no restrictions on work ethics safety or anything.

      Switzerland and other EU countries have always held these principals high on their Social order, to keep their society stable, and so should we.

      • Brigid says:

        They aren’t just immigrants, they’re refugees. You think we shouldn’t let in any refugees?
        They’ve contributed to New Zealand society for the last four years. We do want them here.
        Besides, you and gosman are just throwing dead birds around.
        The issue is that the government is selling of state houses. STILL!!
        While there’s thousands needing houses they determine the house ”suplus to their needs”

        That they’re from Myanmar is irrelevant.

        • Heather Tanguay says:

          The difference between refugees is the have no choice, they leave or they will be killed, immigrants make the choice where they will live.
          Refugees are hard working citizens of NZ
          This is disgusting behaviour by Housing NZ, it is irrelevant if the family are refugees or not, the behaviour is not fair, moving the goal
          Posts during the game

      • My folks were refugees from an Eastern European country. Said country is now a multi-party democracy, after the Soviet Red Army withdrew in 1991.

        (Unfortunately, my Hungarian cuzzies were then deluded enough to elect a right-wing government into power. My uncle is a political opponant of the current regime. Good on him!)

        But anyway, Hungary is now a democracy.

        Should I be leaving as well?

        I’m not having a go, but my sympathies – for very obvious reasons – will always be with refugees coming to this country. Theirs is a hope of a better life and stability for their children.

        Up-rooting your entire family after X-years, because their country-of-origin is nominally now a democracy (the military still holds considerable power in Burma/Myanmar) is not good stability for a family.

        In fact, one could imagine the disruption it would cause to young children forced by State decree to up-root themselves (again); pack up their belongings; and be exiled (again).

        How many times must human beings be forced to move because others have decreed that they must?

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      Yes, indeed, with Kim John Key gradually but steadily working on establishing his form of a dictatorship in NZ Inc, we will soon have the first political refugees seek asylum in Myanmar and other places.

      Can you see the writing on the wall?

    • Gosman, I challenge your party (ACT) to issue that statement you made (September 24, 2016, at 9:41 am ) as official policy.

      Go on.

      I. Dare. You.

  3. Mike in Auckland says:

    Welcome to New Zealand 2016, where it is the amount of money you have and the privileged status you hold, that determines how well you can do here.

    Crumbs for the rest, it is, and the wealth shift to the top continues, with over 40 percent of residential real estate buyers here in Auckland are investors, keep to gain from property value increases.

    With the now adopted Unitary Plan having upzoned many areas for intensification there will be massive gains possible for those who land bank and own property.

    The market is only catering for those who can “afford” homes, others are simply shut out and have to sit and hope.

    But as long as the majority of voters, the middle class and upper class property owners, rather continue with the journey under this government, we may not even have a change of government next year.

    Housing New Zealand continues to sell homes, and to also shift responsibilities to non government “social housing providers”.

    This is a perfect example of what is wrong with the system and this government’s failed housing policy.

  4. i'm right says:

    ‘the piece by Hager, and published by TVNZ was found to be inaccurate, unbalanced and unfair.”…can we get a post on this? will not hold my breath!

  5. i'm right says:

    ‘the piece by Hager, and published by TVNZ was found to be inaccurate, unbalanced and unfair.”…can we get a post on this? will not hold my breath!

  6. XRAY says:

    Has this item made the media? Its a simple example of the rort going on from this government.

    • In Vino says:

      Good point. I have no idea what I’m Right is repeating himself about. I would ask him to explain, but I fear he would post too many replies. /Humour – I think Xray is actually referring to the serious matter of Sue’s post.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      Media journos are too busy trying to follow the tweeting by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and Pip and Kate, the latter worried about pics stolen from their cloud accounts.

      And there is still not final result on the investigations into that spying on the All Blacks, in their hotel in Sydney a while back, so that is more important also.

      There is nothing more important than things like this, housing is only reported on when the next price record is reached, and when interest rates are under review. Perhaps on the odd occasion the MSM may tease Nick (the Dick) Smith with questions about his performance, but they would never go too far with pressing him for constructive answers.

  7. Olwyn says:

    This story shows government agencies as treating those who need housing as their adversaries while treating those who speculate in housing as allies. If you are willing to inflict homelessness on people, or are unwilling to change tack if your policies inadvertently leave people homeless, you are no longer running a representative government that favours this-or-that economic arrangement, you are running a colonising government and are a threat to our very system of governance. After all, what is colonisation but the taking of the very ground from under people’s feet? In a functioning democracy, ordinary people should not have to anxiously second-guess government institutions as if they were criminals second-guessing the police. But you have to second-guess a government that takes the side of those whose interests are hostile to your meeting your most basic needs.

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