MUST READ: What is to become of our housing post Covid-19?


We need to be wary of the law of unintended consequences as we contemplate what our post-Covid-19 future might look like.  Many commentators are talking up the forthcoming recession as being the worst since the great depression while others are suggesting that we will become kinder and less materialist as a consequence of the threat and disruption we have faced.  

Amidst such speculation two things are certain to me – our Government is spending up a storm and capitalism will prevail. These two certainties suggest to me a number of implications which might guide us in where we might be in a year or two from now.  

As Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former Chief of Staff once said ‘never let a serious crisis go to waste’ and there is ample evidence of such crisis opportunism across the political spectrum.  Two examples are Federated Farmers’ call for the Government to call a halt to its environmental reforms.and TOP’s renewed call for a universal basic income

The crisis narrative may soon extend to housing once the extent of job losses and business failures resulting from the Covid-19 shutdown become apparent.  It will be a great shame if such a narrative is allowed to become entrenched for at least two reasons.  

We already have a housing crisis for poor families and individuals and a shift in this narrative to a housing crisis for the middle class not only risks ignoring the homeless and poorly housed but could make things worse for them.  The other reason a post-Covid-19 crisis narrative is not helpful for housing is because this might otherwise be an opportunity to correct some of the market and policy failures which have contributed to the pre-Covid-19 housing crisis.  

For example, it seems likely that rents and house values will fall over the next six to 12 months at least. This can’t be a bad thing for tenants and first-home buyers.  

How far house prices will fall remains to be seen although we probably should look to Australia for a guide to what might happen.  Australia’s housing markets and especially those in Melbourne and Sydney are even more vulnerable than New Zealand’s. House values as a proportion of GDP in Australia reached 342% at the end of 2019 while they were at 282% in New Zealand.  Household debt as a share of GDP was 124% in Australia at that time while it was almost 100% in New Zealand. A recent Guardian article suggested that house prices could fall 20% in Australia although it noted that auction clearance rates have remained buoyant in Melbourne and Sydney over the past few weeks.

The Australian banks which are exposed to the risks associated with an extended recession and a meltdown in house prices are of course the same Australian banks which dominate New Zealand’s mortgage and other debt markets.  It seems unlikely that they will have much regard for New Zealanders’ mortgage stress if they are scrambling to stay afloat back home. For the banks this is literally a house of cards because they cannot afford to push struggling debt ridden home owners and landlords to the wall for risk of a further collapse in house prices and a further fall in the security they have over the rest of their mortgage portfolio.  

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However, a 20% decline in house prices in Australia and New Zealand shouldn’t be too catastrophic for the banks or most households with mortgages especially given the very low interest rates we have presently.  Declines of more than 40% are probably quite dangerous for the whole stability of our financial system. 

But this isn’t a free lunch for housing policy because any significant slump in rents and prices will most likely lead to a slump in house building and residential investment.  In other words, there is a good chance of a looming housing shortage within two years without some form of government intervention. But what will drive this shortage?

Immigration has buoyed our housing market and has richly rewarded existing home owners with unprecedented capital gains over the past decade or so.  Half of the total growth in New Zealand’s population over the past decade – that is around 308,000 people of an increase of 619,000, has been from immigration.  This net migration flow of 308,000 people saw a net of almost 170,000 New Zealand citizens leave the country permanently and almost 480,000 citizens from other countries move here on a permanent basis.  

This net migration of 308,000 people represents around 100,000 additional houses depending on your assumptions around house occupancy rates.  Over the past decade there were almost 240,000 consents for new dwellings issued while Statistics New Zealand estimates that the national housing stock grew by just over 206,000 dwellings.

It would be quite wrong to blame migrants for our housing problems. These problems are due to successive policy failures which range from our unwillingness to tax wealth, our inability to plan for and pay for urban growth, our reluctance to deal to price gouging in the building materials sector and our inability to curb bank lending on over-priced housing.  

Many of these failures won’t matter much in the immediate aftermath of Covid-19.  Certainly some wealth gains will be wiped out and banks will become far more reluctant to lend to over-geared homebuyers and investors.  Depending on the extent and nature of the post-Covid19 recovery. these shifts may only endure for two years however. This will especially be so if we get back to a business as usual world where markets and the owners of capital determine our priorities. In the absence of an alternative vision from Government this seems likely.

In many respects our housing future beyond the middle of 2021 lies in what happens around immigration.  While some experts have suggested that we shouldn’t think about any overseas travel for at least 18 months, there will be economic and political pressure to open up our border long before then.  The reality is that New Zealand’s growth model has relied on immigration for the last decade or so. This immigration buoyed markets for housing and consumer goods and plugged labour shortages brought about by our aging population.  This alternative supply of labour and what at times has appeared to be unchecked employer abuses of migrant labour have helped to depress wages for unskilled workers. For example Government estimates from late 2019 suggest that as many as 242,000 workers, or around 9% of the workforce, are now receiving the statutory minimum wage  In 2014 this proportion was just 5%. 

Not only will it be difficult, for economic reasons, to turn off the immigration tap – it will be difficult to do so for political reasons as well.  While a net of 170,000 New Zealand citizens left New Zealand permanently over the past decade this figure represents the balance of 520,000 leaving and 370,000 returning.  Many of these half million or so Kiwis who have left New Zealand and not returned may have a change of heart about their mother country if, or more likely when, the economy of their country of residence moves into recession and they find that their access to income and social assistance is very limited.  Australia is the obvious example here. How are New Zealand politicians really going to keep the border closed to tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders wanting to come home?

If immigration numbers grow even higher over the next one or two years there will be increasing pressure on our housing stock and probably at a time where private sector house building is weak. Many and perhaps most of these returning Kiwis are unlikely to be cashed up so won’t be candidates for the $600,000 + houses/apartments which appears to be as cheaply as the private sector can build and average sized house for.

Most likely Government will come to the rescue.  In part this will be because house building is an obvious way of restarting the economy and in part because of the potential for an even greater shortage of affordable and social housing.  

It would be a shame however if this rescue was driven by a crisis narrative which shifts the focus from the homeless guy in the street or the family in a motel unit to developers going broke and CBD apartment prices plummeting. Most likely there is actually limited mileage in using house building as an economic lever in part because it appears that the biggest job losses will be in the service sector – especially hospitality, and because such investment may feed into monopoly profits for building materials manufacturers and for land bankers.  

A more measured approach to a new housing strategy might include measures across a number of parts of the housing policy kitset including.

  • The relaxation of building regulations to make it easier for people to build smaller units or so-called tiny homes for themselves and whanau. 
  • Strengthening of tenancy laws in favour of tenants including the criminalisation of exploitative landlord practices like bond theft and the renting of the worst of sub-standard accommodation.
  • Development of an institutional rental housing option which no longer relies on mom and pop landlords farming capital gains but on purpose built rental housing with sound and efficient institutional frameworks.
  • Capital support for the NGO not-for-profit housing sector to begin the build at scale and in particular to develop below market secure tenure rental housing to supplement social housing.

The next few months will probably determine the nature of any recovery driven housing package.  As this is designed and rolled out it is important that we learn from the past and don’t simple recreate the system we already have.  If the muscle of the state is to be used to rebuild the economy let us hope that the economy we end up with is fairer and less unequal.  Our choices around housing policy are critical to such a transformation.

Alan Johnson is the CPAG housing spokesman. 


  1. Let’s be clear, all the mad Marxists clapping their hands over the effects of the impending economic apocalypse on the “rich” (i.e. mainly middle class) are like turkeys voting for an early thanksgiving.
    Just like after the GFC, it will be the poor who will suffer most. They always do.
    And wishing for an end to capitalism is insane, cos communism never works.
    Better to push for a strong capitalist economy softened by a stronger more sensible set of social policies.

    • In the great tapestry of cluster fucks, the wuhan virus is in the shallow end of this particular pool. Now the corona expert wants to take the training wheels off and go after something a bit more challenging. And what could be more challenging than screaming socialism and communism than Trumps fuck you love letters to Beijing. The poor suffer exactly for that reason because you don’t want to question the system we live and ask is there a better way of doing things and of course there are better ways.

      It’s fair to say that getting to the truth of all this is made even harder when people add pieces of their own truth. The idea that Trump would save the free world is a cowardly bitter response that turns it back on everything New Zealand once stood for, this won’t sit particularly well with certain people. The real agenda of the hard right jingoist is to see if it’s possible for woke, gender neutral power woman to see if they can fix it all.

      It’s amazing that the hard right jingoist would airbrush all the hospitals that failed to get replaced, all the teachers wages and nurses wages that failed to rise in the last 30 years by simply saying communism. That is exactly the kind of shallow thinking that ran the place down in the first place. It’s a very Labour thing to do to make sure the poorest and the weakest get a fair shake. Labour is embarking on a massive including a $13 billion dollar stimulus package plus more just to keep the lights on and the New Zealand economy will be in better shape for it. To think of that as communism so we don’t have to give average people a fair shake is disgusting.

        • Yup, well we have the neoliberal fiscal spending kind which inflates private sector asset prices, and we’ve got the Keynesian spending Yknow big government spending that the hosk likes to call communism.

          In New Zealand alone we’ve had about $40 billion wiped away from the economy. If that money had of been directed to public health and education and welfare in the first place then it wouldn’t have evaporated.

          Now we have to spend a shot ton more than the recovery needed to be of we had of done the decent thing.

    • @jays.
      ” And wishing for an end to capitalism is insane…”
      It should be pondered that if people are wishing for an end to capitalism, and many now are, then capitalism brought that upon itself.
      Capitalism, per se, has hoisted itself by its own petard.
      Why is that, one might ask? Well, put simply it’s a greedy, selfish concept. Nothing, about capitalism is inclusive, sharing and caring. Capitalism is about ‘growth’ which also happens to be the logic of cancer, and like cancer, capitalism will keep consuming until its host, i.e. us dies.
      The other problem with capitalism, as I see it, is that any moron, any clump, any emotionally disfigured sociopath can use capitalism to build a fortune to lobby and sway politicians to their ends, no matter how brainless, illogical and/or damaging to our biosphere that might be. Just look at the National Party and its laughable MP’s?
      About 200 years of industrialised capitalism has poisoned our planet, has been the trigger of countless wars leading to terrible suffering for many and made billions, perhaps even trillions of dollars for a select few others. Capitalism can only be proud of one thing only. Of the likelihood of it being the author of the demise of all life on Earth.
      I personally believe that our only hope of coming back from the brink the extinction the greedy, narcissistic capitalists have pushed us to is to foster social democracies and that can only be achieved by making voting here compulsory.
      BTW. Your turkey at thanksgiving metaphor is for the fucking ‘merican$. Not AO/NZ mate.
      We have Tino rangatiratanga and The Crown here so take your turkey and stuff it!

      • LOL! Ideological clap trap.
        If you wish to supplant capitalism you need to propose an alternative and no communism cannot be it. Communism is one of the most dangerous ideas mankind ever came up with.

        • @Jays, Ever heard of social democracy?

          NZ used to be one before changes post 1984 turned into an island of privatising the profits and socialising the losses, aka neoliberalism.

        • Jay are you scared of communism.
          How about Socialism that lifted NZ out of the poo in the 1930s an 40s giving us the foundation we stand on today with public health, a form of social security free education at primary and college level, state housing and much more , some of which capitalist have undermined and privatised since.
          How do you rest with rogernomics.

        • Oh good Lord,… Jays is another american import that needs to read this to gain an education of what fascism , communism is and how NZ pre 1984 was all about.

          I really get tired of these american / pro american sycophants coming to or attempting to ape america,… when we , NZ had it right in the first place. Much like Scandinavia has.

          Please, please go back to america… your generalizations and broad brush stokes get incredibly droll and tiresome.

          So here it is , Jays… get an education from a fellow 5 eyes partner on how economics SHOULD be done. And while your at it, learn the difference between democratic socialism and communism, please. Its embarrassing to always have to teach you and your type economics and political theory constantly.

          It really is.

          New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?

          Read this and get an education, please.

          Just please, .. and then you will be washed by the ‘rains of truth’.

          PS: We don’t need nor want your substandard americana free market double drivel. We had plenty of multi millionaires pre 1984, thank you very much. New Zealand ones, not american ones BTW.

    • jay
      “communism never works.”
      Tell me why the largest country in the world is managed by a professed communist govt.
      Its standard of living keeps rising and unlike the capitalist USA in does not involve itself in establishing military bases around the globe nor take part in wars to steal resources.
      I am interested in how it doesn’t work
      Also a smaller Island nation labouring under draconian illegal sanctions for two generations, has a better health system available to all free, and has more doctors and hospital beds per 1000 people than NZ and exports doctors and medicines around the world to help where needed. It is also a communist or more correctly socialist country highly regarded in the UN..

      • China is NOT a communist country. Not even remotely close.
        They are a fascist country masquerading as communist when they are far more capitalist than NZ or the USA.
        Their social policies are weak to the point that they might as well not exist.
        Next time you want to make a point, make sure you have a fucking clue about that which you are talking about.

        • Frankly , I doubt you do. Are you a post grad student of political science with pro american stars in your eyes from a wealthy american / NZ family?

          Are you NEW?… you certainly seem like it.

          Again,… sweep away your american politics/ economics University degree clap trap and get a REAL education. You support american democracy?- even better , – then surely you don’t want to support the likes of Max von Thurn und Taxis of the Mont Pelerin society , do you? Are you a fascist?

          I hope not.

          Anyways here’s a read that’s simple , short and its free. It could have saved you thousands in student debt if you had just read it before you undertook your paid for studies…

          New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?

          * PS: It always strikes me as ironic that most americans don’t know the Federal Reserve is NOT an american owned institution but a European one. And every dollar the Federal govt of america applies for through the Federal Reserve , – they pay interest on, – and that interest is created by European financiers,- in particular… the ‘Square Mile of London’…..

          How does that make you feel inside?

          Do you like america being perpetually indebted to the Europeans?

          Then again… I guess ignorance is bliss for some people.

        • Jay you have avoided my simple questions. I am assuming you are able to answer them and my apologies if you are not as I did not mean to put you on the spot.

          I can assure you that China is run by a central Communist Party. Trade by capitalists has been progressively relaxed but there is still a strong movement within China against that becoming a system of money and influence spawning corruption.
          The rising standard of living began after the Japanese were thrown out along with collaborating warlords and American forces attempting to colonise China again as various western nations had done in the past.
          Under Communist control the population and life expectancy doubled.
          Then population control was implemented by what became known in the West as a one child policy. China’s population will peak and then reduce.
          In recent years China’s growth economically has outstripped the Western block and infrastucture development leaves the USA far behind. The USA is deeply in debt to China.

          You may be familiar with the smaller Island nation I referred to as being Cuba which is often referred to by the West as Communist but more accurately described as Socialist.

          You have suggested that China is fascist. May I respectfully point out that Fascism is a far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism. That hardly fits China.
          China’s elections are more complex than ours but enable greater stability and in many ways are more representative across that massive population.

          I take it you have had opportunity to acquaint yourself with Chinese history over the last 150 years or so.

    • Who said communism was the only option? You are just introducing a straw man argument by trying to imply communism is the only option, capitalism is what has got the world into the current mess so thinking it can save us is a delusion.

  2. It now transpires that a significant slice of the rental market has been in the Airbnb sector.

    Since air travel has suddenly become a no-go and will remain so for a some time to come, this sector is now under severe pressure. This will push Airbnb landlords with high debt levels into forced sales with a consequent impact on house prices.

    At the same time those with lower debt levels or who have salaries that can subsidize the mortgage payments will seek to put their property into the conventional rental market. This will create a glut in the rental market in the short to medium term (maybe up to 2 years?) The rental market will fall accordingly and the going price for the average renter will plateau down at the government rental subsidy.

    This in turn will switch off the house construction industry until things stabilize. So there will be a glut in the rental market until normal business resumes and then house prices and rentals will spike some time down the line.

  3. Another article that suggests that immigration has nothing to do with our housing shortages and low wage economy.

    Keep those woke views going to prop up the offshore banks and supermarkets profits! Sarcasm.

    Remember when you thought differently Alan Johnson????

    What is even more interesting is those on the woke side are now brainwashed into agreeing with the neoliberal views, (maybe a handy job at the ministry of environment helps and getting those government grants flowing with pro migration views????)

    One of NZ’s issues of immigration, is that in spite of lefties original views on immigration coming to fruition, they are now braying with the neoliberals to keep the immigration tap going!! They have no other ideas. Oh apart from taxing locals more.

    No wonder the woke views and neoliberal views fit so perfectly together and NZ is such a mess!

    • Immigration will of course cause some level of demand for additional housing so we cannot totally discount it as a factor in driving house prices. From stats NZ:
      “Statistics New Zealand’s latest migration figures show annual net immigration or the year ended January of 58,400 people. There were 151,600 migrant arrivals for the same period, while migrant departures numbered 93,200.”
      Assuming an average family size of 4, that’s still around 15,000 dwellings to be found each year.

      The problem with the immigration numbers is that most of the departures are temporary for offshore employment and in many of those cases they will already own a house and will either rent it out (risky when you’re not there to keep checking it) or just leave it vacant. This may account for a lot of the house vacancies reported recently. After the GFC the immigration numbers skyrocketed for a couple of years but this was mostly due to Kiwis returning after their offshore jobs evaporated. Many came back with a pocket full of cash and bought a house in Auckland, and this was a key driver for house price inflation post in that era.

      But regardless of immigration, the BIG factor in determining the supply-side of the housing market is not materials or labour – it is the supply of land to the housing market; and that is determined to a large extent by councils. Nothing to do with local government at all. Twyford found this out when he failed with Kiwibuild.

      For the last 20 years in Auckland, the council has greatly restricted the supply of land to the market through its own inefficiency in processing applications and in restrictive zoning – in particular the rural/urban boundary bottled up the town. There are various reasons for this: The ‘woke’ in the council wanted to create a ‘compact city’ where hipsters can cycle between their hairdressers and their cafe. Both mayors after amalgamation owned lifestyle blocks outside of the city and didn’t want developers building subdivisions in their ‘Range Rover Zone’. It also played into the hands of the land-bankers so one just has to wonder who is paying whom in the council. (I know there is a fair bit of hidden corruption going on)
      Either way it’s an easy fix given the leadership – open up tracts of land to the north and to the south for Development.

      • “After the GFC the immigration numbers skyrocketed for a couple of years but this was mostly due to Kiwis returning after their offshore jobs evaporated. Many came back with a pocket full of cash and bought a house in Auckland, and this was a key driver for house price inflation post in that era.”

        Evidence, or at least a link to evidence of this please.

        • Fake news, Bert. Hence no link supplied. Plenty of evidence that shows the opposite, the Kiwis did not return and migrant chefs, cash labour and supermarket workers came instead.

          For years there has been staggering temporary workers arriving in NZ to the tune of over 300,000 per year….

          The neoliberals skew the figures to pretend these numbers do not effect housing and transport and pollution in NZ.

          The temp workers apparently live in ‘thin air’ and teleport to work. They don’t use water or the sewerage system.

          Maybe like the trickle down myth???


          Quote”More Kiwis are coming back after living overseas and fewer are leaving than in recent years. These historically small net losses of New Zealand citizens combined with record net gains in non-New Zealand citizens have created our current record in migration.”

          At the time of the GFC I was offshore on a long term consulting job. I returned in 2010 to find my team had recruited a lot of new people – all returnees from the UK and Aussie.

      • Opening up more land for development is what got us into this mess in the first place.

        Humans make up 95% of all the animal biomas which means that all those animal diseseases have no choice but to jump the species barrier.

        Only choice we have is to amend single story dwellings out of the RMA. Of course we could adhere to the ideology of the property market if for example New Zealand maintained adequate levels of medical resources in reserve.

        • Leave the land alone.

          Opening up land for housing is self defeating in the longer term if you want the environment to recover from hundreds of years of humans trashing it.

          The land is finite and we have too many people, many of them ignorant and destructive.

          • Well if we want David Parker to be transparent about where all our civil liberities are going then those hard right jingoist are going to have to be transparent about what data they’re looking at when coming up with ideological concoctions.

          • Yeah, if the birth rate falls below 1 then in 30 years we are left with half the population we have now and a whole bunch of empty buildings. Society has been atomising for a long time, God is dead, partners get holed up with abusive partners in level 4 lock down. Wonder if those adusive partners will ease up on there partners in level 3 lockdown? They’re still level 100 weak cunts though

          • The world has had too many humans for too long. That will change and needs to but the damage is already done.

            If the human population falls below 2 billion by the end of the century then such a population will have a much reduced life expectancy living in a world much depleted and very different to what we know today.

            Climate shift may help bring human numbers down much faster than that. Nuclear accident/s, wars or disease are also very likely agencies for human decimation.

      • They right wingers and woke have been opening tracts of land in Auckland for decades and on steroids since the unitary plan…

        But demand can not be met because our government for the last 4 years has been flooding the country with migrant temporary workers and foreign students on the residency prowl who all need housing, transport and contribute to pollution in NZ. The housing numbers can never be met by new houses due to the sheer scale of the ponzi and instead the population spikes made it harder and harder and more risky going forward to plan, from housing, to transport, to pollution to water usage.

        In 2018 there were 355,000 temporary visas approved in NZ.
        Eye water numbers were recorded in the previous years and increasing 18% every year in NZ.

        Prior to that the neoliberals decided to increase NZ population via immigration to create their dream low wage economy. In 1990 NZ was 3.3 million. Today it is almost five million. Almost all of the migrants needed explicit prior approval from New Zealand governments – more than 1.1 million of them.

        Many have no income and laughable skill levels in terms of a high paid job that will contribute to NZ taxes going forward. They are there to do the opposite, plummet wages so that big employers employing low waged staff can profit further and expand until they bust. (Aka Burger King now in receivership).

        People from poorer countries will come if we let them

        Reopening parent visas

        To solve housing it is simple, stop the permanent immigration and temporary resident rout and have the jobs, houses and degree places filled by local workers and families!

        Covid reveals our ponzi. The essential skills chefs, burger flippers, dairies, liquor stores and laughable restaurant “entrepreneurs” and their extended families are now on benefits that the next generation will have to pay for and provide housing for, exposing the ponzi that has been operating in plain sight.

      • The old excuse ‘Rural/Urban limit’ is regularly trotted out be either right wingers owning, through shell trusts, a large amount of land on that boundary, or ignorant people just repeating the same crap that others do i.e. group think.

        To be clear, there is roughly 30 years supply of land before the rural urban limit (actually called the Rural Urban Boundary (RUB)) around Auckland is breached. 30 years.

        Don’t go blaming this for housing shortages, it’s just a distraction that plays into the hands of land bankers and right wing fascists who hate anything that stops them strip mining for profit.

        • The 30 year suggestion ignores many legacy issues that we are very unlikely to cope with.
          Continuing to build dwellings using existing methods is not possible if we take into account climate shift and its causes. Also Non Renewable Natural Resources are diminishing rapidly and that in a finite world will change the economics and availability of materials for infrastructure, buildings and dwellings, transport, density of occupation as well as environmental space for wilderness and wildlife which is now already chaotic.

          How much oil do they calculate will be necessary to use in reaching that reductionist 30 year urban limit and then maintaining that theoretical nightmare.
          The social impact of apartment style living also is something to be taken into account before embarking on changing family and neighbourhood spaces.
          Cohesiveness of community is important and the social environment kids grow up in affects them for life.
          Wellington is filling up many empty commercial buildings with apartments with and without parking.
          Then there is the AK CBD and expansion of that is another nightmare.
          The CBD will grow out and up with new developments all with a limited lifespan. All will be demolished at some point and where will that rubble and waste be dumped There is nowhere.
          Parts of Europe without the earthquake risk we must build under, require demolished buildings to be reused. Concrete is pulverised and the debris reconstituted. Land filling is not an option.

          • Oh I agree completely, I was just pointing out that there’s this persistent and incorrect belief that the RUB is constraining land supply for Auckland when it’s just not true.

        • The problem nukefacts is that the rural/urban boundary enabled the land bankers. Without it developers could just leapfrog the land bankers and so destroy their business model.

          • I agree in principle. Unfortunately NZ is very poor at integrated spatial planning that includes social, environmental and economic drivers. Sprawl has been the default policy for so long that the RUB was a very blunt instrument to attempt to contain it. Sprawl is just exacerbated by our oil / car addicted lifestyle, but it’s an addiction that has been forced on Auckland because successive governments have not funded enough public transport. Christ, look how long it took Len Brown to convince the dinosaur retards in National to support the city rail loop – something that should have been built decades ago.

            • While we are temporarily “free” to choose cars then don’t expect an intelligent answer.

              Many communities don’t rely on cars or don’t have them available.
              Usually but not always, they have dwellings close to the workplace or work communally with a much less materialist overload. Social ties are usually much stronger and very visible.
              Yes I am attempting to describe agrarian communities without many of the “niceties” we now demand but at a cost to the environment that we are not living in harmony with.

              While we may rationalize leaving behind such a simple template for planning based on wide experience that many or most ignore, in the long run can you really see another answer.
              Cities are not places where adequate food can be produced so costs rise in terms of labour and natural resource consumption, and infrastructure becomes an overburden on community and environment.

              The fundamental shift towards modern population numbers has been facilitated by energy from coal and more importantly oil. The availability of easily harvested energy allowed humans to multiply very much more rapidly and develop a society deeply dependent on massive quantities of energy daily without which our society will collapse.

              Its foundations are very fragile as is the mindset of its people.
              Cars are symptomatic of a sick society with people trapped into an addictive lifestyle that is destroying the environment and the ability of individuals to see what is happening.

              To keep on pumping more people, buildings, roads, cars and infrastructure into Auckland has to mean loss of environment and an increase in toxic degradation of the human psyche.

              As Auckland becomes further locked into the clutter created with solutions to over population, then our options grow less and we are further trapped.
              The absence of building human scale small cohesive communities where needs are met locally, the absence of space for commons and wilderness so necessary for human and environmental health; all compound.
              Auckland will become a tragic nightmare as oil becomes untenable.

              There currently is no planning in place for a low energy consumption, oil less future for Auckland.

              Electric cars are not an answer.

      • SaveNZ is right again.

        Your figures miss out people coming in on temporary working visas, working holiday visas, and people studying in NZ. Where do you think these people will live?

        In the early 1990s the temporary working visas were around 30,000 per year, while in the 2019/2020 year, 154,446 people arrived on a work visa. Last year, 70,000 working holiday visas were approved. IN 2017, there were 61,295 international student visas (last year I could find data on).

        If you add those up that’s over 285,000 additional people needing housing per year (granted they’re not all for the same year but you get the picture).

        These people all need housing somehow, and they are not all permanent migrants.

        God help us if in your current role, you’re advising the Ministry for the Environment that immigration is having no effect on the NZ economy or environment.

    • SaveNZ
      It might pay to read my article before you claim that I dont link our housing problems with immigration.

      In the article I said that immigration bouyed housing markets and that it enriched existing home owners with unprecedented capital gains.

      I warned about blaming migrants for this however. This is because it has been the wider policy failure of not planning for the needs of these migrants which is to blame – not the migrants themselves. Call me a woke if you like but to start blaming migrants for our problems is a dangerous tendency as history has shown.

      In the blog I am not supporting our migration policy but merely pointing out how we are reliant on high levels of immigration for our so-called economic growth model. I pointed out too that it wont be easy to turn off the immigration tap and that this will likely impact on housing shortages and housing related poverty.

      • Um,… then the solution is simple. Less immigrants.

        Its been said that this country needs a respite from them in such numbers. I agree. Its time to realign our wages to the massive numbers of unemployed of family members who have been here for decades. To employ them FIRST before some other foreigner. Yes foreigner.

        And to house those same NZ’ERS who have been here decades before those foreigners. Yes foreigners.

        We owe them literally nothing, these foreigners. Yes foreigners.

        We do , however , as a people and as a govt owe NZers EVERYTHING before any foreigner. Yes foreigner.

        Think about it.

      • @ Alan Johnson, Thanks for replying and clarifying your points but if you do apportion blame on immigration, then it is so subtle to be invisible.

        “It would be quite wrong to blame migrants for our housing problems. These problems are due to successive policy failures which range from our unwillingness to tax wealth, our inability to plan for and pay for urban growth, our reluctance to deal to price gouging in the building materials sector and our inability to curb bank lending on over-priced housing. ”

        I don’t blame the migrants for our immigration policy either, but I think the NZ immigration policy has been deliberately changed from the 1990’s onwards, and in the last 6 years has thrown out immigration rules and just operates as a free for all people trafficking ponzi. The NZ immigration policy and how it is being implemented is grossly flawed in and open to abuse.

        My concern is that commentators never call the government out on it, creating echo chambers that keep the immigration ponzi rolling and more and more conferences on housing and poverty without anybody bothering to point out the most obvious. NZ is importing in massive demand and that is the biggest issue.

        The biggest abuse of NZ immigration policy is to existing workers and beneficiaries in NZ due to the constant undercutting of labour here creating the inability to live a normal life and pay your bills on the decreasing and insecure wages here, and the stretching of welfare and health/education resources amongst more and more people about to claim for them around the world.

        My concern is that if the so called ‘left’ commentators are concerned about the government’s mass immigration policy, they are very careful not to write about it (because we all know Pro China and neoliberalism punishes those that do and you will not be getting government funding, a job in government, or any help).

        The self suppression and lack of rigorous debate is part of the problem in NZ.

        I agree that moving away from lazy immigration will be hard for NZ, but I don’t see any sign of it from the government or any left commentators, of a change in strategy.

        It’s all steam ahead for takeaways, neoliberals and dysfunctional construction propped up by NZ taxes and more cheap overseas labour cartels.

        This is shown by the governmetn propping up overseas and fake businesses in NZ with the wage subsidy instead of creating a UBI for NZ citizens and long term residents only to combat Covid. The businesses being propped up low wage businesses do not contribute to peoples welfare they are employing more and more working poor from overseas, lowering quality of food and accomodation, or are just scams or business like food that will never be viable long term. (The majority of restaurants eventually go under and it seems local construction is following unable to compete with the cash labour cartels).

        No capital gains on property (now technically there are with bright light test) and our zoning (deregulated with unitary plan disaster) have been around for decades and never created the housing and poverty and skills issues that our bizarre immigration policy has created in NZ so quickly. When they are implemented they create more chaos like the SHA congestion from the McMansion towns popping up all around Auckland with one road in and out and non viable public transport!

        Our disasterous immigration policy is pushing more poverty and unfairness into people’s lives (from 5000 queuing to get that supermarket job in South Auckland in 2010 (including a doctor) to Sky city now asking for donations for their sacked staff

        We are living in obscenely unfair times and corporate welfare is also a big part of the problem aka Sky City now asking for donations because they don’t pay enough redundancy when in 2017 the CEO of Sky City was earning over 6 million…. are still expecting an annual normalised profit of between $80 million and $100 million in 2020 while of course being free to claim the wage subsidy for their workers.

        (and Sky City led the way with importing in migrant chefs coming in, in their hundreds lowering quality and wages in NZ across that sector and creating the precedent ‘Chef’ ponzi).

  4. Look at the photo to work out who is going to get the social housing of the future…

    Tenants not surprised over Christchurch housing complex homicide

    ‘The amount of senior Asian NZer’s is expected to be more than the number of aged Maori and Pacific Islander’s combined within a decade!

    “The number of Māori aged 65+ will more than double (from 48,500 to 109,400) between 2018 and 2034, as will the senior Pacific population (from 21,300 to 46,700), while the number of senior Asian New Zealanders will almost triple (from 59,500 to 171,900).’


    Why is our immigration policy deliberately bringing in so many in migrant pensioners, low waged migrant workers, and non income people who will be a burden on the state their entire lives in terms of their low/zero incomes?

    Why is our immigration policy deliberately bringing in so many migrant pensioners who also need housing?

    Why do migrant pensioners qualify for NZ pensions when they don’t contribute any/or meagre taxes?

    Why are we allowing the wage theft of NZ pensions by migrant pensioners when the current workers have to pay for their pensions via Kiwisaver while migrant pensioners get a NZ pension and state/social housing for nothing?

    Migrant pensioners never have to work in NZ and pay taxes and if they do, are almost certain by their low level of skills, not bringing in the million of tax payers $$$ in taxes that a NZ pension represents.

    Free pensions, free social housing in NZ, no income needed!!! No wonder immigration’s phone is ringing off the hook!!!!

    • You know why. The neo-liberal thinkers out there love the fact we are made to compete for houses, land & jobs on an international market. This includes our pension schemes! Good posts saveNZ

      • @Ross Mathews. The other concern is the brainwashing of the left going on too. Maybe free trips to China were involved or government funding, who knows.

        Formally decent and more critical thinkers seem to have a u turn and turned woke thinkers promoting flawed and incomplete statistics, which props up the right wingers and destroys the left unity.

        • Business wants more poor people too, to compete against each other.

          They are certainly over delivering on that one!

  5. The problem with housing is not housing but related to NZ wages! You can build more and more houses but if increasingly people can not afford a Kiwibuild affordable house (which apparently represents the non profiteering development and puts an affordable house in NZ at circa $650k)… well many people no longer have a job that pays enough for that house and their job is certainly not secure enough to acquire and maintain a mortgage under NZ’s precariat labour laws.

    This is where NZ has gone wrong….

    In NZ, workers are considered a cost that should be replaced with cheaper ones at the first opportunity.

    Workers are expendable and you can just import in skills shortages from overseas cheaper.

    Local workers are so invisible, that they are not even considered in government thinking when the idea is to secure the shareholders profits first, migrant labour second. We have the dole in NZ, right! Aka privatise the profits, socialise the losses, is now NZ only government policy.

    The radical brainwashing of Rogernomics thinking, was made possible by our low population that when offshore media, government and officials all combine (while adding in circa 20% of NZ population of migrants in a decades, aka 1 million extra people from countries like China and India and the Phillipines not exactly known for a welfare state or high skill labour). Then make the newcomers vote in 1 year, become NZ citizens in as little as 11 days, access NZ health immediately, and be on welfare in 2 years to overload social services here, it is much easier to brain wash an entire country into a fake reality.

    Add in our governments bullying, who publicly call NZ nationals ‘lazy’ and ‘drugged out’ and most recently ‘racist’, it seems NZer’s themselves are increasingly considered a liability in government thinking.

    Therefore you only hear government worry about the ‘migrant workers’ exploitation not NZ worker exploitation or foreign students not domestic students. But even talk of migrant exploitation is surface only because at the end of the day the NZ government is signing off the visas and when migrants are caught exploiting others or doing social harm in NZ, they don’t get deported! You can get permanent residency from jail, aka Sroubek.

    Pike river, one of our biggest work disasters, where nobody is held to account. Pike River managed to kill 29 miners with no rescue ever attempted, just a nightly PR exercise of how dangerous it was to do a rescue and maybe tomorrow they might do something if overseas company X, Y etc manage to provide them with equipment. Even Russia and China manage to get their miners out when it is dangerous and presumably expect an escape route and equipment to help that on site ready to go.

    In NZ under the Pike river example, the workers have to walk out themselves to raise the alarm and there’s nothing in place to save anybody.

    In fact sounded like most of the Pike River executives didn’t really know much about mining and even less about safety. They were just placeholder overseers, to cut costs and extract profits from the mines as cheaply as possible in NZ.

    NZ is now a first world country, with third world safety standards for big business (the opposite true for small business of course)!

    Even our defence force/spy agencies charter has apparently has been changed to protect overseas business interests rather than domestic people here and national interests.

    When unions members are advocating nationalising Fletchers (why??? they are a dysfunctional shell of a company that can’t even build an affordable road or house anymore) and bringing more low paid workers (against the opposite mentality of unions all around the world), something has gone very wrong and all NZ thinking seems to end up with the same scenarios, don’t worry about NZ workers and nationals, help overseas shareholders profits first, workers from overseas are more deserving of help from unions, and don’t worry about redundancy pay or any compensation when increasingly workers and companies can be disappeared quicker than Don Brashs’ nuclear free NZ or a Covid whistleblower in China.

    Even British Airlines ensured jobs were saved and that the workers were paid 80% of their salaries, unlike Air NZ which sounds like the government package for workers is kinda missing in action. Never mind, business know best and the best use of no strings taxpayers money! Sarcasm.

    Air NZ CEO, is ex Walmart, with zero airline experience, (but that’s fine because it’s not about keeping the airline business afloat, it’s about making money any way you can for shareholders!).

    In NZ our government gave Air NZ money and loans up to nearly a billion, even though apparently Air NZ have 1.1 billion in cash reserves. Apparently zero government criteria about them laying off staff. Governments first thoughts are propping up the shareholders and the business brand itself, workers come and go, who cares, get some more workers from overseas when Covid is over!

    Welcome to NZ a former social democracy which is now an island full of neoliberals working out their next move to take over the entire country and our COL government is totally in awe of neoliberal advice – the origins of which are irrelevant to them, from multinational giants like Google to China Sycophants everywhere in NZ , big business and China, have NZ’s best interests at heart, don’t they?

  6. Ok, here’s my take:
    Old habits die very hard in this country..
    Certain things the government will NOT allow.
    1: The banks will not be allowed to fail. The RBNZ is already taking the most at risk corporate debts from all our banks and swapping for the cash they borrowed from the USFed.
    2: Grant Robinson just like Andrew Little will “not want house prices to drop” so you can assume they will make sure they don’t by giving much relief to investors, speculators & owner occupiers
    3: Banks will steal from savers & Term Depositors IF necessary and they have the powers to do it under the OBR scheme.
    4: Renters right now are expected to continue funding the property investments of their landlords whether they could claim a wage subsidy or not. Once the rental increase freeze is lifted expect landlords to take full advantage again
    5: AirB&B on mass sales may put a huge dent in capital gains for a while but be rest assured there’s plenty on wannabe landlords waiting to take full advantage.

  7. Another example of things staying very much the same here in NZ,
    Crude Oil price right now $18.12 a barrel, lowest price in about 70 years
    And prices at the pump.???

  8. It stays on the “to do list” along with the other Crises.


    The same list as at the 2017 general election.

    • The bad news, Denny Thompson is that since 2016 (and probably before) there has been 300,00+ temporary residents PER YEAR added to NZ that are allowed to live and work and use the health system here to prop up minimum wage employers and fake degrees here.

      So that’s over 1 million new people living in NZ fighting over resources, no wonder the census was botched up, because the emperors new clothes would be revealed.

      Poverty has never been so competitive!

    • Yeah, When has a politician (any party colour ) ever really fixed anything?
      They only care about one thing, getting votes that serve their OWN self interests. Case & point….real estate investing…how many MP’s have RE investment portfolios above their own home?
      The NEVER let a crisis go to waste….infact some may argue THEY create them!

  9. Don’t worry about the housing, there are still going to be 300,000+ temp workers in NZ (and probably more like 1 million people here) that don’t have to adhere to their visa conditions and be employed.

    Q What country imports in unemployment in a housing and jobs crisis?

    A NZ, A neoliberal one that wants to increase poverty and competition for jobs and housing for all and destroy the welfare system, by having dysfunctional companies claiming the wages subsidy for their imported workers for takeaways and low level food and tourism outlets, that the current and next generation of Kiwi workers have to pay for!

    A few examples of the wage subsidy –

    AMASIAN LIMITED 5 $32,318.40 16/04/2020
    EUROASIA LIMITED 11 $51,859.20 16/04/2020
    ASIAN KAI LIMITED 4 $22,459.20 16/04/2020
    ASIAN TAKEWAY LTD 3 $18,259.20 16/04/2020
    ACTIVE ASIA LIMITED 9 $60,436.80 16/04/2020

    SKM SUPERMARKET LIMITED 7 $49,207.20 16/04/2020
    METRO SUPERMARKET LIMITED 71 $482,124.00 16/04/2020
    Y & Z SUPERMARKET LIMITED 13 $88,555.20 16/04/2020
    ALPINE SUPERMARKET LIMITED 37 $245,947.20 16/04/2020
    PAIHIA SUPERMARKET LIMITED 13 $74,407.20 16/04/2020

    MIN & HWANG 3 $21,088.80 16/04/2020
    ZHENAI WANG 3 $21,088.80 16/04/2020
    WANG 1979 LTD 4 $28,118.40 16/04/2020
    K F & L C WANG 3 $18,259.20 16/04/2020
    MR ZHISHU WANG 6 $30,859.20 16/04/2020

    KWON THAI 6 $36,518.40 16/04/2020
    ITHAI LIMITED 34 $205,051.20 16/04/2020
    THAI LAGOON LTD 14 $72,948.00 16/04/2020
    SO THAI LIMITED 3 $21,088.80 16/04/2020
    JAITHAI LIMITED 9 $57,607.20 16/04/2020

    ZINDIA LIMITED 7 $49,207.20 16/04/2020
    INDIA GATE LIMITED 4 $25,288.80 16/04/2020
    INDIAN SOUL LIMITED 11 $71,666.40 16/04/2020
    INDIA TODAY LIMITED 12 $64,548.00 16/04/2020
    CURRY INDIA LIMITED 4 $19,629.60 16/04/2020

    TOURISMHQ LIMITED 3 $21,088.80 16/04/2020
    GM TOURISM LIMITED 5 $26,659.20 16/04/2020
    HY TOURISM LIMITED 7 $49,207.20 16/04/2020
    GP TOURISM LIMITED 4 $25,288.80 16/04/2020
    AIS TOURISM LIMITED 8 $56,236.80 16/04/2020

    KOREANA RESTAURANT 6 $30,859.20 16/04/2020
    KOREANA CO. LIMITED 6 $42,177.60 16/04/2020
    CALVARY KOREAN CHURCH 3 $18,259.20 16/04/2020
    HANSANG KOREAN BBQ LIMITED 3 $21,088.80 16/04/2020
    KOREAN NOODLE SHOP LIMITED 4 $25,288.80 16/04/2020

    Nice to see NZ taxpayers being bankrupted by mostly low wage sunset industries….

    Who knew takeaways were so important to the NZ economy but I guess when ‘chefs’ have been our essential skills for years now, that is a big clue of why we have such poverty and lack of innovation here!

    BTW apparently the scheme is full of fraudsters, surprise, surprise!

    I hope the IRD investigates every applicant and interviews the ‘workers’ but hey white collar crime is part of NZ’s new MO, and ripping off taxpayers is encouraged, so I doubt it!

    Would have been a lot fairer and cheaper and more effective for a decent society, if they had just given the money in a UBI straight to NZ citizens and long term residents as those are the ones whose families will be paying it back, not the plethora of businesses that can be conjured and then removed to create a ponzi or dysfunctional business as a vehicle for visa fraud, and has been going for a long time in NZ!

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