MUST READ: The lies National need to spin over Housing Crisis




National is increasingly on the back-foot with New Zealand’s ever-worsening housing crisis. Ministers from the Prime minister down are desperately trying to spin a narrative that the National-led administration “is getting on top of the problem“.

Despite ministerial ‘reassurances’, both Middle and Lower Working  classes are feeling the dead-weight of a housing shortage; ballooning house prices,  and rising rents.

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Recently-appointed Finance Minister, Steven Joyce,  has found a new unlikely scapegoat, blaming the housing bubble and worsening housing affordability  on current low interest rates.  On 11 May, on Radio NZ’s Morning Report, he said;

“We have very, very low interest rates historically, and as a result that’s directly linked to how much house prices are being bid up around the world. It’s not the sole reason for why we have high asset prices around the world, it’s not just houses, it’s shares and everything else. But it is certainly one of the dominant reasons for that. And unfortunately it’s going to be a little bit of time yet before that changes, although there’s indications that this period of ultra-low interest rates that the world has seen is coming to an end. And so I think that, that, will improve affordability over time.”

Radio NZ’s Guyon Espiner reacted with predictable incredulity that Joyce was relying on interest rates rising to “improve affordability over time“.

Joyce’s finger-pointing and blaming “very, very low interest rates historically” is at variance with a speech that former Dear Leader, John Key, gave in January 2008 where he specifically indentified higher interest rates as a barrier to home ownership;

* Why, after eight years of Labour, are we paying the second-highest interest rates in the developed world?


* Why can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?

Good questions, Mr Key

Got any answers, Mr Joyce?

Because according to Statistics NZ, home ownership rates have worsened since John Key gave his highly-critical speech, nine years ago;

Home ownership continues to fall

  • In 2013, 64.8 percent of households owned their home or held it in a family trust, down from 66.9 percent in 2006.

  • The percentage of households who owned their home dropped to 49.9 percent in 2013 from 54.5 percent in 2006.

Home ownership reached a peak of 73.8% by 1991. Since then, with  the advent of neo-liberal “reforms” in the late ’80s and early ’90s, home ownership has steadily declined.

Those who have benefitted have tended to be investors/speculators. In 2016, 46% of mortgages were issued to property investors/speculators in the Auckland region. Despite a watered-down, pseudo-capital gains tax,  referred to as the “bright line” test implemented in October 2015, investors/speculators still accounted for 43% of house purchasers by March of this year.

The same report revealed the dismal fact that first home buyers constituted only 19% of sales.

John Key’s gloomy plea, “Why can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?” rings truer than ever.

Poorer families are fairing no better.

National’s abysmal policy to sell off state housing has left a legacy of families living in over-crowded homes; garages, and cars. This scandal has reached the attention of the international media.

From the Guardian;



From Al Jazeera;



As with our fouled waterways, we have developed another unwelcomed reputation – this time for the increasing scourge of  homelessness.

But it is not just the sons and daughters of the Middle Classes that are finding housing increasingly out of their financial reach. The poorest families in our society have resorted to living in over-crowded homes or in garages and in cars.

National has spent millions of taxpayer’s dollars housing families in make-shift shelters in motels. At the behest on National ministers, WINZ have made it official policy to recoup money  “loaned” to beneficiaries to pay for emergency accommodation;



National’s track record on this growing community cancer has been one of ineptitude.

In 2015, Dear Leader Key made  protestations that  no problem exists in our country;

“No, I don’t think you can call it a crisis. What you can say though is that Auckland house prices have been rising, and rising too quickly actually.”

He kept denying it – until he didn’t;



Unfortunately, former-and current State beneficiary, and now Social Housing Minister, Paula Bennett, apparently ‘did not get the memo’. She still denies any housing crisis in this country;

“I certainly wouldn’t call it a crisis. I think that we’ve always had people in need. So the other night on TV I heard the homeless story was second in and then the seventh story was a man who’d been 30 years living on the streets.”

Despite  being in full denial, in May last year Bennett announced that National would be committing $41.1 million over the next four years  for emergency housing and grants.

By April this year  it was revealed that National had already spent $16.5 million on emergency accomodation. It had barely been a year since Bennett issued her Beehive statement lauding the $41.1 million expenditure, and already nearly a third of that amount has been spent.

This is clear evidence as to how far out-of-touch National is on social issues.

The stress and pressure on Ministers and state sector bureaucrats has become apparent, with threats of  retribution flying.  This month alone, a MSD manager and associate minister of social housing, Alfred Ngaro, were revealed to have warned critics of the government not to talk to the media;



Bennett went on to make this extraordinary statement;

“I spend the bulk of my time on social housing issues and driving my department into seriously thinking about different ways of tackling this.”

Her comment was followed on 20 May, on TV3’s The Nation, when current Dear Leader, Bill English tried to spin a positive message in  National’s ‘fight against homelessness’;

“Our task has been to, as we set out three or four years ago, to rebuild the state housing stock. And that’s what we are setting out to do.”

English and Bennett’s claims would be admirable – if they were not self-serving hypocrisy.

In 2008, Housing NZ’s stock comprised of  69,000 rental properties.

By 2016, that number had fallen to 61,600 (plus a further 2,700 leased).

In eight years, National has managed to sell-off 7,400 properties.

No wonder English admitted “we set out three or four years ago, to rebuild the state housing stock“. His administration was responsible for selling  off over ten percent of much-needed state housing.

No wonder families are forced into over-crowding; into garages and sheds; and into cars and vans.

Confronted by social problems, National ministers duck for cover. Especially when those same social problems are a direct consequence of their own ideologically-driven and ill-considered policies.

National ministers English, Bennett, Joyce, Nick Smith, et al are responsible for our current homelessness.

Parting thought

Left-wing parties and movement are generally proactive in identifying and resolving critical social problems and inequalities. It is the raison d’etre of the Left.

The Right seem only able to belatedly react to social problem and inequalities.

Especially when they caused it.




References PM says no housing crisis in Auckland

NZ Herald: Housing shortage growing by 40 homes a day

Fairfax media: House prices rise at an ‘eye-popping’ rate for 6 NZ regions – Trade Me Median rents up $50 a week over last 12 months in parts of Auckland

Radio NZ: Lessons for NZ in Australia’s Budget

NZ Herald: John Key – State of the Nation speech

Statistics NZ: 2013 Census QuickStats about national highlights

Statistics NZ: Owner-Occupied Households

Radio NZ: Homeless family faces $100k WINZ debt New official Reserve Bank figures definitively show that investors accounted for nearly 46% of all Auckland mortgages

Simpson Grierson: New “bright-line” test for sales of residential land

Property Club: First buyers still missing out in Auckland’s most affordable properties

The Guardian: New Zealand housing crisis forces hundreds to live in tents and garages

Al Jazeera: New Zealand’s homeless – Living in cars and garages

NZ Herald: No house, not even a motel, for homeless family

Radio NZ: Key denies Auckland housing crisis

Radio NZ: No housing crisis in NZ – Paula Bennett

Beehive: Budget 2016 – 3000 emergency housing places funded

Mediaworks: Homeless crisis costing Govt $100,000 a day for motels

Radio NZ: Emergency housing providers instructed not to talk to media

Radio NZ: Ngaro apologises for govt criticism

TV3: The Nation – Patrick Gower interviews Bill English

Housing NZ: Annual Report 2008/09

Housing NZ: Annual Report 2015/16

Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

Budget 2013: State Housing and the War on Poor

Budget 2013: State Housing and the War on Poor

National recycles Housing Policy and produces good manure!

Our growing housing problem

National Housing propaganda – McGehan Close Revisited

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Tahi)

Housing Minister Paula Bennett continues National’s spin on rundown State Houses

Another ‘Claytons’ Solution to our Housing Problem? When will NZers ever learn?

Government Minister sees history repeat – responsible for death

Housing Minister Paula Bennett continues National’s spin on rundown State Houses

Letter to the Editor – How many more children must die, Mr Key?!

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #1

National’s blatant lies on Housing NZ dividends – The truth uncovered!












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  1. National’s housing crisis is a problem of it’s own making.

    The first two steps they should be taking is stopping all state house sales, pronto.

    Secondly, ban all house sales to non-citizens. I include Australia in that, considering their appalling treatment of Kiwis in Aussie.

    I could never understand why people who have no connection to this country are allowed to buy and speculate in our property. Time for that to END.

  2. “…the dead-weight of a housing shortage; ballooning house prices, and rising rents… ”

    No wonder there’s a housing shortage. Steven Joyce?? What a fucking …. Why is he not running while screaming? Get it done. Go ! Now ! Yes, you ! Go get stevie ! Bring him over to that power pole.
    I heard it reported that it costs, on average,$3k a square meter to build a house. Now, say that figure slowly and ponder what that might mean?
    Ever seen a collection of average building materials for an average house? A small stack of timber, a box or two of nails, a handful of nuts and bolts, a few bags of cement, about five windows with glass and fasteners, one toilet, one shower unit with mixer, one hand basin and 2x taps, one laundry tub and 1 x mixer tap,one kitchen sink, and a few lengths of appropriate tubing. A few light switches, plugs and a roll of 10 amp cable and a nice little stack of roofing iron, nails, building paper, netting and then there’s the gib board and insulation.
    When viewed, it’s a surprisingly small pile of stuff. So, one might ask “WTF?”
    Three Thousand Dollars a Square Meter ? What ! ? In NZ ! ? With vast forests and recourses in gravels and cements etc ! What, about that, is ok?? In any language anywhere?

    Ballooning house prices. See above but also see any one of the real E-snake agencies and see those fine and fancy cars parked outside. Do you see 1990 Toyota Corollas or do you see Cars from Der Fatherland? BMW. Mercedes. Audi etc. All black and shiny.
    Do you also see the Big Four Banksters? Do you see how pretty their advertising looks ? Beautiful young white people with beautiful white kids all joyous and laughy-laughy and neat and white of meat eating teeth. A Glitter in their hollow little eyes. That’s because they’re getting well paid to bull shit you into buying the debt that they Banks are desperate to get you into, aided and abetted by the Real E-snake Industry.
    Now stroll past the Big Fancy Buildings along Cuba Street. See the proud names of Proud Lawyers up there in ten foot letters? Big. Proud.Erect. Evil.Dysfunctional. Lying. Scum. Lawyers. Big. Proud. Handsome no doubt. Square of Jaw and bulging of trousers. Not at all the grey, cunning little rats in suits they are with a well paddled track to our politicians and their lobbyist corporate towers. No disrespect to actual rats by the way.
    Rising rents. See above. See also Big Foreign Money flooding into the pockets of the lawyers, bankers and real E-snake industry leaders. Great Leaders of Greatness of Everything that is lead-able. Proud, Erect, Fancy suited and shiny of arse. Is this dripping in enough sarcasm or should I over do it?
    For those with multiple renters up for rent? How about a spot of bother in the courts for treason then my old son? Embezzlement is a lovely word ain’t it Mister?
    The ones on the inside, you know the one’s right? The ones ‘who know’. ( Slight double tap of the hooked nose with the index finger) are able to use ones influence easily in these ‘ tech savvy ‘ times. A rat to pull out the paper work, the Bankster to plan the interest rates ( Or protection money if you prefer olde worlde language) and the Sleaze in the Beamer to peddle the con.
    Behold ! A false reality! A Hyper Normalisation. A big drum of bull shit has just been poured over you and your whanau and everyone else connected to you in all permutations of your daily life. You are trapped, snared. All you have to do is wait until the hunters come to the traps …. That’s the fucking end of you mate.
    How many interest rate rises have there been over the last few months?
    Here they come…. You can hear the rustle of their scales.
    Wouldn’t it be funny if, instead of The Hunters finding their cowering and sniveling prey, they found, instead, a Great Big Wolf ( Seen Game of Thrones? ) and it bit their fucking heads off and spat out their guts. Then it went through their pockets and gave it all back to the swindled and lied to.
    That can be done. It only takes you and me and others similarly inclined. We can do that. The Collective We can end their reign of terror against us. Instead of waking up to a dreary winter Sunday morning with just enough time to have anxiety eat out your guts before you start your un ending slog for the Banksters on Monday… We, all of us, can stop this shit.
    Purge the Banksters out of NZ / Aotearoa. Write off mortgage debt and for Gods sake ! Lets get rid of Bill English, Steven Joyce etc.

    • “Instead of waking up to a dreary winter Sunday morning with just enough time to have anxiety eat out your guts before you start your un-ending slog for the Banksters on Monday”

      Well said – a point not mentioned often enough. Even if you CAN just hold it together financially, the price is a mostly joyless existence.
      This happiness deficit is really bad for human beings, it drives us mad.

  3. All very good, Frank, well presented evidence of the Nat’s failing on housing, we here know all this, I wish that more “ordinary” voters will get it.

    As for the alternative, I increasingly despair about Phil (T)w(h)yfor(d).

    He was grilled on The Nation by Lisa Owen, a bit overly, I consider, but nevertheless, he gave no details about how Labour would make housing more affordable under the present set of planning rules, market conditions and realities:

    So much criticism of the Nats in government, absolutely appropriate that is, but insufficient answers by Phil on the more feasible alternatives.

    Referring to the Auckland Council having some plans and land set aside, and referring to their Kiwi Build policy, not giving any details, that will not suffice. Here is what Labour offers so far:

    “Establish the Affordable Housing Authority, an independent Crown entity with a fast-tracked planning process, tasked with leading large-scale housing developments and cutting through red tape”

    That sounds good so far, but they will still have to pay for land that may not be Crown land, at high prices, and the existing Crown land will not suffice, as not all such land can be developed.

    As for what the Nats will soon go on about, prepare for UDAs to come into effect, once the Nats present yet another law change to amend the RMA:

    That sounds very similar to Labour’s proposed ‘Affordable Housing Authority’, at least in part, as the same kind of approach seems to be taken, but the Nats want to have Urban Development Authorities to enable various projects, not just residential housing.

    This may be the vehicle the Nats want to use to build the extra homes they are talking about, also giving UDAs the power to force sales of private land.

    As we know, Auckland Council threw out the ‘affordable housing’ objectives, policies and rules that it had initially proposed as part of the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, upon the recommendations of the supposedly ‘Independent Hearing Panel’ that had been set up by the Minister for the Environment. So they followed the advice that the market is supposed to solve this:
    (see Part 1, Chapter B, 2.4 ‘Neighbourhoods that retain affordable housing’)
    (see Part 2, Chapter C, 7.8 Affordable Housing)
    (see Part 3, Chapter H, 6.6 Affordable Housing)

    Recommendations by ‘Independent Hearing Panel’

    The operative Unitary Plan:

    (scroll through it, if you have the time and leisure)

    This is also what Housing NZ had planned for years, to do on the land they own, they repeatedly went on about that during the hearings for the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan from 2013 to 2016.
    (read for instance on page 17 of that last report)

    This is zoning Housing NZ had proposed during the extensive Plan hearings 2013 to 2016:

    See this post by Ben Ross, another intensification fan for Auckland, writing on Housing NZ and the PAUP:

    So Housing NZ got some of this now, can intensify, and will demolish thousands of existing old homes over years to come, and replace them with mostly newly developed apartment blocks for state and social housing tenants (potential slums of tomorrow), and sell the rest to developers to sell on the open market at market prices.

    Phil Twyford is just selling us a slightly different version of what the Nats try to sell us as their Labour Light version for housing.

    The only alternative is hefty land taxes, capital gains taxes, forced sales of unused develop-able land that private land bankers and large land holders have, to get the framework and funds necessary to offer truly cheaper housing.

    And also needed are rent controls, allowing only reasonable increases once per annum, not the nonsense we have in the present Residential Tenancies Act.

    So far Labour has not at all won the debate on housing for the upcoming election, the Nats will throw more in, perhaps with the Budget, and Labour needs to do more to offer a true alternative.

    • Thanks Mike, a great list of resources that I can use to better understand the situation. I would like more details from Labour on how they plan to get the houses built.
      eg Where do they plan to train the increased number of tradesmen needed to build these houses ?

    • Labour needs to keep it’s gunpowder dry until the right time. If they give out their total policy on housing now, what do you think National will do with that information, support it, attack it, steal it? No, they will get their bullyboy lapdog Hooten to dismiss it, like he did on The Nation yesterday. His continuous, “there is NO housing CRISIS” echoed from TV 3’s building, constantly talking over the hosts and other panelists demonstrated how much of an extremist he and the right are. They know housing is a huge issue this election and Hooten even admitted that he is right with his opinion and took no notice of Treasury, the banks and political parties.

      AS an aside, I agree with you on Lisa Owen and Paddy Gower for that matter, if they are going to ask a question then they need to respectfully wait for an answer and good on Phil Twyford for reminding Lisa of that. Or at least interview with the respect given to National hierarchy. Maybe they will if Labour becomes their paymasters.

      • owen and gower seem to be bias against the labour govt and are nice as pie to there new friends the gnats. It is glaringly obvious they are good at putting the boot into the opposition but weak when it comes to asking the hard questions that need to be asked to the govt in charge who should be being asked as they have wrecked our country 9 years of rubbish

      • Bert, your faith in Labour is worrying, I tell you, they are not going to do all that much more than the Nats are planning to do, the present Labour crowd would not have the guts to seize land from land bankers and speculators, they are good at slogan talk, but will fall very short in delivery.

        • Mike, my concern is your offering no alternative to National. Does this mean your happy with the status quo. I’m prepared to risk giving Labour a chance, yes.

          As for : “they are good at slogan talk, but will fall very short in delivery” , you were talking of National, weren’t you?

          I remember a few of National’s “Building a Brighter Future” ( when is that going to start!

          “The Cusp of Something Special ”

          “Mum and Dad investors”

          Yes the list goes on but then as you say Mike, you get what you vote for.

          However we don’t know whether the present Labour crowd would not have the guts to seize land from land bankers and speculators and they are good at slogan talk, but will fall very short in delivery because there is no evidence of this, only hearsay and your opinion.

          On the other hand we have seen the “brighter future” and I can tell you Mike, clearly for some, it is not.

          So do not worry yourself about me Mike, I’ll be fine, I’ll be tending my neighbour and helping the homeless, it’s what those with a social conscience do.

          • I am simply being cynical about much hyped up slogan talk by one Phil Twyford and others, who see the solution in changing the RMA and planning rules, and in getting certain developers involved, who already exposed their own very ulterior motives and vested interests during the hearings of the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

            When Labour’s spokesperson joins the right leaning, pro neoliberal think tank ‘The NZ Initiative’, he has in my view revealed his true intentions:
            ‘Planning rules the cause of housing crisis’

            NZ Herald, 29 Nov. 2015:


            ” Labour MP Phil Twyford and Oliver Hartwich, executive director of The New Zealand Initiative, on the housing problem and what can be done about it. By Phil Twyford, Oliver Hartwich”

            Read this at the end for instance:
            ” A big part of the problem in Auckland is escalating land costs. Linked to this, too few houses are being built. The houses that are being built are too expensive.

            To quote Bill English: “It costs too much and takes too long to build a house in New Zealand. Land has been made artificially scarce by regulation that locks up land for development. This regulation has made land supply unresponsive to demand.”

            We agree with the Minister.”

            When Farrar’s Kiwiblog PRAISES Twyford, Labour have something to be bloody damned worried about:

              • And English and the Nats go on about wanting to do the same. It is not necessary to open up new land, as more can be done with the land within urban areas that exists, as long as a sensible, fair and reasonable planning rule systems exists. That should avoid over intensification, or intensification in the wrong areas, and sensible intensification where it makes sense.

                And other tools are needed, the market only caters for those that already have access to capital, to land and money, and shuts out all the ones that cannot afford homes under existing conditions.

                Labour are too afraid to upset land and property owners, hence they only offer very limited affordable housing for first home buyers and too little in state housing.

                The Nats are of course much worse, but Labour needs to be clearer, bolder and present a real alternative, which I sadly do not see, not enough to resolve the issues we have.

                • And National will not move on this at all. There are too many Nat ministers that are landlords and are on to, too much of a good thing. We should call these ministers what they are, property speculators.

                  Maybe Labour could do what National has always done to gain power, promise the world(LIE). Be bold with their ideas(LIE)

                  The issue we have now is there are too many shrills in the media to attack Labour policies by asking how are you going to do this?
                  National just don’t seem to be held accountable .

                  • True, but what little did Mr Little announce on the Budget today? Hopeless to be honest.

    • Mike, you should be writing blogposts in your own right. You certainly have the relevant info to share with us.

  4. You want lies spun for National?
    No problem.
    The good folks at Radio Live, Seven Sharp and the Natzki Herald are just itching to fulfil their purpose in life.


    I worry how families living in cars are coping in this extremely cold weather now, so how can these creeps sleep at night after dumping these families out of their homes

  6. The housing crisis is the result of the natural outworking of the current financial system and an increasingly less virtuous citizenry. Housing wasn’t affordable under Labour and it certainly isn’t under National.

    Kiwi is being pitted against Kiwi. How many times have we read comments from hard working Kiwi’s who are under paid for their work being dispassionate towards the less fortunate or even homeless – quite a lot! The idea that the ‘upper classes’ keep the lower classes distracted by having them fight amongst themselves for upper class crumbs is compelling. Paranoid plots to the side, it’s undeniable (unless you’re a National Party minister) that NZ is becoming more a ‘dog eat dog’ place.

    Concerning the homeless and the housing crisis, I think the government is choosing the path of least resistance. That is to say, doing the minimum so as to retain their job and not be attacked on the street, while all the while maintaining a market where a property’s value has largely been divorced form its capacity to generate rental yields.

    Homelessness will increase. Do you remember playing Monopoly, do you remember buying up all the houses, upgrading to hotels and slowly but surely winning the game? Though crude, there is a lesson to be learned from Monopoly. All players eventually lose their perceived wealth to the winner AND the winner losers too because their is nobody left who can afford to stay in a house, let alone a hotel.

    Peoples lot it this country can be improved and this improvement won’t all be coming from the Government! I DO NOT want to see a situation were workers can’t afford to strike and can’t afford not to strike. I don’t want to see radicalized/violet union action, but I fear this is going to be a rising global epidemic. If NZ can avoid this coming trend we will be in great stead for the future.

    • Zack, you have realised something extremely important, that is one major issue the people in NZ face:
      “Kiwi is being pitted against Kiwi. How many times have we read comments from hard working Kiwi’s who are under paid for their work being dispassionate towards the less fortunate or even homeless – quite a lot! The idea that the ‘upper classes’ keep the lower classes distracted by having them fight amongst themselves for upper class crumbs is compelling.”

      We will not resolve this by pandering to the ones in charge of the status quo, and those towing the line, as the obedient servants, who by this support and embolden the upper middle class and middle class who are the only ones benefiting from what we have.

      Only a revolt – at least by casting a revolt kind of vote – by the downtrodden and dis-empowered will start a phase of change, nothing else will.

      • That was meant to read:

        “We will not resolve this by pandering to the ones in charge of the status quo, and those towing the line, as the obedient servants, who by this support and embolden the upper middle class and UPPER class who are the only ones benefiting from what we have.”

  7. It never ceases to amuse me that nzers expect all the benefits of a fair society, with socialised services, and then constantly vote for right wing governments that deliver the opposite. Sczichophrenic much?

  8. And very little print attention to the news this morning that there’s a new app for renters to join in rent auctions.
    Just how low can we sink? Further humiliation for desperate people trying to find and afford a roof over their heads.
    Is there any way this can be banned or is it all part of the market model where people are collateral damage?

    • The answer to the last part of your question, yes under National people are collateral damage. This is evidence by the under funding in Health. Ill people do not generate an income to the Government, that is why big business is funded for millions whilst healthcare has not. But we seldom here what the return on investment is?

    • I could not believe what I listened to, when listening to this on Nine to Noon on RNZ this morning, it was highly disturbing. What disturbed me even more was how gutless or slimily friendly Kathryn Ryan was in sending that man from the US off with a nice farewell, when she finished the conversation. Also disturbingly weak was the woman from the tenancy advocacy group that spoke, she sounded like she was not up to organising much of opposition against such new technology and new auctioning systems for landlords to use when selecting tenants. The Executive from the property investor lobby group was also a false sounding person, pretending the NZ market for renters was not as ruthless as the US one. Come to Auckland and see and hear what really goes on, thanks:

      • Absolutely Mike and Bert – and, surprise surprise, I still can’t find anything in Stuff or the Herald.

Comments are closed.