GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Our housing is severely unaffordable


The latest international Demgraphia survey (which looks at house prices vs incomes) tells us what we have known for many years now – that housing in our country is severerly unaffordable.

Labour’s Kiwibuild policy is failing and it’s a myopic approach.
There is a nest of issues we have to look at (and quickly)( .
•Better existing land use (urban sprawl just creates other huge problems)
•Long term leasing rather than ownership
•Collective and cooperative mortgages
•Temporarily restricting immigration flow
•A bottom up approach -build more social housing as a priority rather than a top down home ownership approach . This would reduce demand quicker and reduce house prices…. the list goes on.

We are still not collecting good data on who is buying what, where and why ?

And why aren’t we doing that ?

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Because, just like the last National government, asking such quesions might deliver politically incovenient answers.

One thing is for sure .. you certainly can’t have an informed housing policy if you are wilfully blind to collecting the facts.

I hear some people saying “Oh give the Labour Coalition a chance – wait for the second term they’ll deliver”

Well here’s the facts on the housing front…

Twyford promised 1000 homes by July 1, 2019
So far they’ve built 33 with 77 under construction with 162 days left to meet their election promise.

Why are they failing?

Answer..Neoliberal solutions- where you rely on the market to fix the housing problem- clearly do not work and this curerent neoliberal government is no different in this respect to the last National one.

I had hoped we would see some Progressive housing solutions in which the government would take control of the housing situation by switching the focus from home ownership to providing the majority of New Zealanders with warm, dry affordable homes with security of tenure ( long term income related rents) – as they have, for example in Germany. But that hope was clearly misplaced.

I covered much of the above in my documentary Who Owns New Zealand Now? which you can find below.

Apart from some ( now much modified ) restrictions on foreign buyers, very little has changed .

Here is the link: 

Labour can talk about a ” well- being” budget coming up, but spin is cheap. They need to walk the talk and meet the targets they promised if they want to have any credibility at the next election.

They challenged us to “Let’s Do This! ”

Well…we did.

So now .. Let’s See it!

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. If I were……..!?

    1. Outlaw property speculation for profit. You can buy 1 house for a home and bache that’s it.

    2. Those with ” investment properties” tax at 100% so no profit made and they sell

    3. build state houses by issuing our own credit as in the 30s and 40s

    4. the cash got off property sharks should be used to help young kiwi couples starting to buy their own homes


    5. strictly control immigration! too late now!

    If the likes of Olly Newlands start screaming! Good!

    6. a brutal no fing around approach needs to be done

    7. Magic! watch all the vastly overinflated wooden house prices will go down and down the market can get f’ed! Elephants are going extinct because of the fing market for ivory. I’d do a lot worse than F the market!

    Chances of happening!? 00000 Waste of breath and typing effort.

    • Great comment Jay12. Totally agree, stop investor trade particularily “mums and dads” make multi property owners sell and tax the shit outa them. Fuck them, they wrecked our dreams.

      • I don’t know why on earth Twyford doesn’t treat cost over runs and missed deadlines like any other procurement process. Ie if you fuck up, we ain’t paying. How difficult is that?

  2. I’m getting worried about Phil Twyfords abilities to even vaguely understand the problem let alone deal with it. And that collectively of Labour.

    The mammoth in the room standing right next to them that are either too blind, too scared or too stupid to do anything about is INVESTORS.

    These individuals buy up housing stock meaning less supply equals more demand, basic as economics 101. Investors create a mini housing economy gambling the more they buy the more prices go up and the quicker they profit. Houses are gambling chips, they’re not somewhere to live. Weirdly aligned with this is the Reserve Bank lowering interest rates and the amount of deposit required by investors to encourage the whole mess even more.

    Phil and Cindy think $650k is affordable. News flash, it ain’t.

    I agree Neo lib policy won’t fix the mess it’s made. Someone, you Labour, need to do something very fast. Not just Kiwibuild but government build. Set up a company to do just that, pay over the odds to get workers, set up a supply organisation to reduce the blatant profiteering that goes into housing components , multipronged approach.

    Whatever you do Labour it must be in the next 6 months as the paint on you is drying and the voting public will realise you are all talk and no action.

    And I agree with comments in the media yesterday, your reelection chances hinge on it. If the PM is even half awake at the wheel, you’ve got problems at home, get back and do something about them!

  3. The other thing with the ill conceived Kiwibuild is not only $650,000 unaffordable but it can end up being built next door to a state house that is occupied by the mongrel mob and we all know what an utterly unresponsive shit landlord Housing NZ is. That is the worst case scenario for every person who thinks about committing to the Kiwibuild dream.

    And before everyone decries the rights and wrongs of state housing tenants, Phil is thinking and wanting people to buy their first home, that is putting their financial future on the line, purchasing a place bordering on severely unaffordable in this environment.

    Any wonder problems in the housing market exist?

  4. We need to change the system Not the governments……….. But who has the courage and ethics. My motto was “if any one can NZ can’ ………… now all I see is the 40% doing all they can to hold on to there ‘advantage’ of being first in on this Neo Lib ponzi scheme. The 30% in the middle will not let go of there assberations at joining the 40%, and bottom 30% are victimized by the 70%’s low wage economic ‘slave’ model that keeps the whole thing spinning …………… To put it simply its the ‘Kiwi’ version of the Hillary or Trump ‘race to the bottom’ game.

  5. State housing areas should not be used to fix the problem, 500k houses is not the solution and is not good or fair or very well though out policy

    • Shortage of workers!!! Ummmmm!

      In this slow Kiwibuilding issue; – there is much more to the story than it appears and we have been part of the truth and reasdon why the issue is very complex.

      My Son is engaged to a german ladty 31 yrs old and she and him were forced to leave NZ although he is a Napier born skilled Electrician in short suppply and asked immigration if his fiancee could owork when she came here and married my son but ommigration told him not to apply for her work permit.

      He got his Electrical company employer to meet with the Hastings National Party MP who covers Hastings/Tuki tuki region and he said he could not help.

      So we went to Stuart Nash (Napioer Labour MP) with a ‘parental letter asking Labour for ‘compassion consideration’ on grounds we elderly couple are needing him here to assist in our affairs and let his fiancee work please!!!!

      Stuart Nash came back saying he could not help.

      See this video on this to show labour fucked up here now after the ‘Czech criminal’ was let in to stay and deal drugs when my son was on the “skilled tradesmans liist” could not be allowed to have his fiancee come here to work??????

      We are loosing our best youmng now and labour need to get rid of “their advisors” as they are national cling-ons and will destroy labour here too.

  6. It has to be said however to blame this government’s dithering in 2018 on the housing problems facing NZ is laughable and far too convenient to not make me think this is a very political ploy by Labours opponents.

    It’s a large complex problem quite of Nationals doing. And it’s interesting that Hopkins is fronting the media on it rather than Twyford!

  7. Bringing in more overseas tradies and workers equals less houses for us
    both national and labour have known we have an ageing population and neither have planned for it. And national just wasted nine years in this time they could have increased our builders and any other shortages we have but they didn’t want to instead they would rather bring in cheap immigrant labour so we can all live like peasants and many of us homeless peasants not good enough in a country like NZ.

    • Bringing in even more overseas migrants, this time tradies and workers to build houses for immigrants (or our poor, because the immigrants have been able to afford to buy the houses the poor were in) means we are running in a vicious circle . This must stop because it is spiralling up and out and soon the NZ we love will be totally destroyed. Too many people, and all that comes with that; loss off quality of life, destroyed environment, stressed unhappy people etc….
      Bite the bullet now, shut the doors and consolidate our country while it is still worth saving.

  8. Home ownership could be seen as a “KPI” (key performance indicator) of the neo-liberal system. Whichever way you look at it, home ownership has fallen.

    Therefore, neoliberalism has failed spectacularly on this key performance indicator. If an economic system system can’t dekiver on a prime issue (home ownership) then something is seriously wrong.

    Ex-president of National, and screeching harpy, Michelle Boag , keeps parroting that it’s because “all young people want to live in Ponsonby”. It’s one of those inane stupid comments that is pure bullshit, but repeat enough times and other right-wingers take up the mantra. It’s a convenient excuse for a spectacular failure.

    Idiot Boag tells off young people for pursuing the dream of their home ownership aspirations, as she sits comfortably in her own Auckland villa . The last person who told the peasantry to “eat cake” came to a sticky end.

    I wouldn’t advocate Madame Boag to be guillotined. I’d settle for telling the arrogant, delusional, self-entitled lackey of the 1% to fuck off.

  9. National would have us all living in workhouses waiting for our turn to work for below the minimum wage if they could get away with it like their mates still are at sea.

  10. Very few New Zealanders can afford the high prices especially if you have a big monkey. If you are on minimum wage you will not cut the mustard.

  11. Who would have guessed? As NZ is the poster boy/girl for the old & new liberal globalisation agenda/elite, I would have thought this state of affairs would be blindingly obvious. When this news breaks our PM is trumpeting her rules based globalisation madness around Europe & washing her caviar down with champagne at Davos. Go figure, the chasm between words & deeds is unbridgeable. No wonder the prophet visits the mountain top as often as he can & has dreamed up a radical new mission.

  12. This problem has been manifesting for the past 20 years under both National & Labour there is no quick fix.

  13. Important issue, Jay12 started covering the issues well EXCEPT he is anti migrants, which many others see as causing the problem. If we’re importing class conscious workers we could start a political movement that kicks out neo liberal policies & politicians, looks out for ordinary people & their housing needs. Few posts see Labour/Phil Twyford doing this. If you know the problems, you know who is not fixing it, make the next step, join a revolutionary movement to make real change.

  14. There is action being taken but only action that dosnt too negatively impact the exchange rate hence the backdown (unacknowledged) on migration…a steady as she goes deflation of property prices and a ‘looked through’ wage inflation are underway….if external shocks dont upset the apple-cart….unfortunately external shocks are all too likely.

  15. Twyford’s plan was always going to be a failure. He didn’t understand the causes of the housing problem in Auckland so his solutions were misdirected.

    The real problems for housing in Auckland are:

    1. Geography
    Auckland sits astride a dissected isthmus. Housing and transport are always going to be a problem and the only solution is to grow Auckland to the north and to the south. Mainly to the north because there is ample low value land up there. For this to work we need to take the jobs to the houses so we need to zone commercial and industrial areas alongside the residential. Forget trying to transport people to the bottom of Queens Street. The future of Auckland is Silverdale and further north.

    2. The RMA
    The RMA and Auckland council’s application of it makes the approval process tedious, fickle and expensive. This puts off developers and goes straight on to the cost of building. My daughter is having a house built on the outskirts of Auckland right now. It’s in a previously zoned subdivision so there are no land transfer issues yet it’s taken 6 months and counting to get the land transfer completed. The council is a bureaucratic nightmare in need of a clear-out. I hope the next Mayor has the management skills to sort it out, because the first two have proven to be utterly useless.

    Twyford’s proposed solution to the problem is to create a super authority that has power to override both the unitary plan and RMA. This sounds like a man lashing out at random in frustration to me.

    3. Debt and the cost of overlaying infrastructure
    It costs more to overlay existing services for infill housing than it does to create whole new subdivisions. It’s difficult and its expensive. The Council has only been in existence 10 years but has already buried itself in debt on ill-advised projects (pink cycleways and silly artworks) so now its reached its debt ceiling. It now cannot afford much needed replacement sewage reticulation, let alone contemplate overlay projects for new infill accommodation. Unless some action is taken we face a future with serious amounts of sewage spilling into the both harbours. Twyfords plan to build on the UNITEC site is doomed to fail because there isn’t the capacity in the system capable of handling the wastewater.

  16. I think this and everything has to come second to climate change. In WW 2 everything came second, in immaculate discipline. Because we’re approaching a cliff drop from immense plenty instead of a steep slope from nothing we continue to consider secondary matters. Rolling around in the muck of the plenty, instead of confronting 100 times the emergency of 1939. These last 10 years to do anything.

    • During WW2 there where so many jobs we had to employ woman in massive numbers. Now adays with industrialisation and certain efficacy techniques there’s a number of ways around full employment. The most obvious route around full employment would be fudging employment stats.

  17. Houses are being made as pre-fabs already. Some of the prisons are turning out housing. They can do it quickly and well. A few someones need to get their acts together instead of busking.

    Now. How about the rarely-mentioned yet definitely not innocent player – (no, not the RMA) – our oversized, over-privileged town and city councils?

    The rules that are supposed to ‘protect’ – and seem to have awfully big prices for doing remarkably little by way of inspection/oversight.

    A relentless round of ticket-clipping.

    Did it help? Hell, no!

    They ‘approve’ methods and materials that should never have been allowed. (Leaky homes, unreliable plumbing fittings that rupture causing thousands in damage.) They give the impression of being part of the mates’ rates system: funny how some companies seem to get so many of the perk jobs…

    And they are sooo slow. Oh, look! Another subdivision – with traffic, water-using people, needing public transport, etc. Are those facilities there? Mostly, no. Are the reservoirs and treatment plants being built ahead of need? Parks? Play areas? Schools and early childhood? Mostly, no. Just more ratepayers and commuters, and seniors buying accommodation that doesn’t actually belong to them.

    Our housing is rarely built to last much more than 40 years. Fine. So make it easy/affordable for people to demolish and rebuild. Without filling our stupid landfills with debris.

    And remove all the ticket clippers.

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