How fast are we building state houses?


When the first Labour government came to power in 1935 New Zealand faced a housing crisis. Under pressure from his more progressive ministers the Prime Minister Micky Savage approved a state house building programme so that from 1938 to 1942 the government built 14,000 new state houses – 3,500 per year. The population at that time was 1.6 million.

Fast forward to 2021. We have the sixth Labour government also facing a housing crisis with a state house waiting list of over 22,000 – these are people with the most desperate housing need.   

Our population now is five million – three times larger than it was in 1935.

So are we building three times as many new state houses each year as we were in 1935?

No! In fact each year we are now building less than half the number we built each year from 1938. (The government’s big promise in last year’s budget was to build 8,000 new state houses over five years which means just 1600 new state houses each year compared to the 3,500 per year from 1938)

If we were to build new state houses from 2021 at the same rate we built them under the first labour government then we would be building 10,500 per year instead of the measly 1600 per year Labour is promising.

It’s no wonder that under Labour the state house waiting list has been increasing at three times the rate the government is building new state houses. 

By any measure the Jacinda Ardern’ government’s effort to build new state houses is pitiful.

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  1. Q. How fast are we building state houses?

    A. As fast and with as much marketing spin as we are solving climate change and environmental destruction in NZ.

  2. Yes, John, we have a pitiful non-government that focuses on the trivial, and fails miserably on every fundamental.

    However things need to get a lot worse on all fronts before the dumbed-down masses wake up to the fact that everything that matters is being made rapidly worse [by government].

    The media shills and liars keep up the drumbeat that everything is rosy and that we are on the path to a bright future. I wonder if that could that be anything to do with need for advertising revenues, in our broken broadcasting model, introduced by the traitors who called themselves Labour decades ago and who still hide behind that socialist banner.

    Kunstler is of the opinion everything is on the precipice of everything in America going kaput.

    which concurs with the analysis of Charles Hugh Smith over recent months.

    13 years of money-printing and manipulation of interest rates and markets by the Fed and other central banks since the last major upheaval [of 2007-8] has simply made the globalised financial system more fragile and susceptible to rapid meltdown. And has impoverished billions of people around the world, including a million or two (arguably five) in NZ.

    So, things will get a lot worse over the coming weeks/months….until the crumbling system finally breaks altogether.

    But as Kunstler points out, it will be no joyride when that happens.

  3. Housing is fast becoming Labour’s number 1 failure. And its a critical meltdown type failure too.

    Their failure dovetails perfectly with growing inequity, poverty, health issues both physical and mental and crime. Does Ardern really want to be remembered for being a Victorian era PM who continued to enable the unwanted byproducts of succesive government’s, indifference and greed, namely ignorance and want?

    There appears no one within Labours caucus who questions its leaderships steadfast and warped belief that the very economic model that created this mess will somehow correct itself.

    And forget the Green Party going into bat for non home owners. Their collective concerns today are gay conversion therapy, really really useful when you live in a car and the coup-d-etat, bringing in refugees again. That is great but when your own people are economic refugees who can’t be housed, why is it our deliciously pampered middle class Green MP’s cannot see the irony?

    Here’s hoping in 2021 that Jacinda stops defaulting to her base political instincts of bullshit and deflection, throws off the neo lib straight jacket and starts the process of government design and build domestic housing supply. But the realist in me suspects they still have no plan, just vacant housing ministers , greed and indifference.

  4. One of the impediments to speeding up the process is a lack of decent tradespeople.. That is one of the more obvious symptoms of the nationalist/colonial party economic/industrial policy.. There are thousand of good tradespeople in Australia, for example, that would come here to take up the slack, if it wasn’t for the fact that wages, and conditions are still at a level that makes it too much of a sacrifice to make the trip… Before any real progress will be made, wages and conditions have to be brought back to a level that makes it viable to attract them.. Reintroducing proper training would help too.. Not so much for now, but good tradespeople need good apprentices, and vice versa.. The last two tory gangs have managed to put industrial relations and working conditions back toward the paradigm that existed over 80 years ago.. It would take around 5-8 years to reset to the point where we are producing skilled workers to a level that allows us to be ambitious without it being just wishful thinking.. That to my mind, is what is the major weakness regarding any housing plan at present..

    • reintroducing proper training would help…. Well said, as someone who came through the apprenticeship system in the 1960,s. I was trained in a family firm who kept up to 3 apprentices on. I was well treated as one of the family and they were happy for me to leave and make my own way in the world. The government needs a major training rethink but I,m not sure that they are up to it. regards, Keith

      • Right on Keith,
        My parents ran an electrical business for 30 odd years. For most of that time there was 3 vans on the road
        Each van had a “man and a boy” tradesman and apprentice.
        KThe boys became tradesmen with across the board skills , some stayed on some moved towns, some started in opposition. That has been the method of teaching trade skills since the building of the pyramids 3000 years ago. Along comes Helen Clarks labour government of academics and decides that trade skills can be taught in polytech away from the job
        A dismal failure. We now reap what was sown!!

  5. Jacinda is the ultimate fraudster. She told the people she would make NZ more equal but has increased inequality exponentially? When house prices were rising rapidly a fair leader would have said house prices can come down, instead she said that she wants them to keep rising because kiwis “expect it”? This put another rocket up the market because not only did Adrian Orr have investors backs but Jacinda did too? Then yesterday we learn that the RBNZ told Grant Robertson a year ago that their policies will massively increase inequality and he essentially turned away and said “get on with it”. Jacinda got voted in to introduce a CGT then turned her back on the idea FOREVER? We need to investigate how corrupt this government really is…. how many homes do they own and how much profit are they and their families making from this disaster? Something seriously stinks here in NZ…… Jacinda is becoming NZ’s very own Nicolae Ceaușescu.

  6. Just look at the Tony Blair play book and you can get a darn good idea of what Jacinda will do, to make sure she does nothing to upset the real power behind our faux democracy.

  7. Such a shame the govt has been selling off our forests to overseas interests.
    Thats not just National, Labour sold 3 billion worth in their first 3 years.
    When more than 50% of politicians own more than one property themselves all I see is crocodile tears and lies.
    NZ is screwed.

  8. “One of the impediments to speeding up the process is a lack of decent tradespeople…”

    No it’s not. We can prefab houses in factories with unskilled labour. Worst case we can import complete houses. The key problems are:

    1. The lack of land zoned for housing development: The fault of councils

    2. A slow and expensive consenting bureaucracy: The fault of councils

    But as long as they’re Labour controlled councils, Jacinda won’t intervene. So nothing will change.

    • @ Andrew, Worked well with trains if you like asbestos
      KiwiRail withdraws 40 trains from service after asbestos discovered in paint

      Better scenario of mass building could be using normal people working with builders who are trained was the massive state house build with returned war service people in the 1940’s and projects like help for humanity…

      There are plenty of options that are tried and true, but the neoliberals have their own agenda and keep pressing Andrew and Stefan type views for the last 20 years leading to more and more poverty… Getting foreign cash labourers into NZ with a family of 4 to house in tow… ain’t working. Likewise councils keep making zoning changes but the developer money is made from selling off the land rezoned and the houses don’t get built or if they do, they are McMansions or expensive and often need remedial work. Meanwhile congestion, pollution and water shortages are becoming the norm.

    • There are also many tradespeople in NZ (in particular Maori) who are on the scrap heap but actually experienced and talented. Northland is full of people who can do trade work, but they are often on the bones of their arse and the amount of money to drive to Auckland, pay for accomodation and then be rewarded with $20 – $30 p/h does not make it workable. Giving those people (good at trade, bad at service/marketing/money management) small business skills would also help. Government used to have a benefit where you plan and start a small business and be payed the dole at the same time to keep you going, while getting business help like tax advice etc. That would help many in NZ. It can be the ‘soft’ skills they are missing.

      • Hit the nail on the head saveNZ.
        As a qualified tradesman living on the bones of my ass in Northland, I can testify your statement is completely true.

        • Thanks, Rusty Pickup, I had a very difficult job in a renovation and tried a whole load of people in Auckland who could not do it. Someone put me on to this Maori team from Northland. They did an incredible job, but when I next tried to use them, their phone was cut off. Loads and Loads of talent up in Northland, but nobody is recruiting them or thinking how much it costs to work in hours away in AK, paying for a van, petrol and having to pay for two sets of accomodation. You can’t do it on trade rates which are going down with all the cash workers and visa scams in AK. How is it helping NZ, when people in Northland are on the dole while we bring foreign workers in, who are often not as good, and high needs (aka language difficulties) and paid next to nothing.

      • And of course paying more than the wages of 20 years ago would help trade workers, $20 – $30 p/h is laughable for someone experienced!

  9. Worth Reading – how socialist Ken Livingston have helped lead housing inequality with the wrong solutions!

    Penthouses and poor doors: how Europe’s ‘biggest regeneration project’ fell flat

    In 1996, the Ministry of Defence decided to sell off its housing stock. The financier Guy Hands bought it up in a deal that would make his investors billions – and have catastrophic consequences for both the military and the taxpayer

  10. Get in the queue John we need to work on stopping gay converting therapy working out when the next public holiday can be held find out how many more millions we can waste on committees and a host of other things before we try and fix housing or child poverty.
    We know we have 3 years with a majority that will protect us from any real opposition and next time we can rope the Greens and Maori Party in to give us another 3 years. So no need to worry just smile and look busy

    • No, the first thing we need to stop is immigration. A country our size is like squeezing more and more air into a balloon. The impact is so destructive, it is near on impossible to reverse. Smile and look busy was the John Key operandi and to put it bluntly he has completely fucked our country up. We have failed to protect our own succumbing to the theory that immigration helps the economy. Whilst others escaped their own country we neglected our own, so hardly no surprise we ended up where we are now.
      To flout sarcasm surrounding our government trying to fix right wing ideology particularly by a foreigner adds nothing. Can I suggest you return to the U.K., they seem to have everything perfect.

  11. I tried to not believe it but I have now came to the realization that in NZ if you are rich the ruling parties are completely focussed on enriching you and making your life much better, however, if you are poor, the ruling parties are out to crush you and completely destroy your life. This is why I have decided I either have to move to Australia or accept I have no hope. I have chosen Australia. It breaks my heart because I love NZ but I now know that NZ does not love or want me….. I am not rich enough to matter.

  12. John it is not ( Labour ) and hasn’t been since 1983 it is the third way of compassionate capitalism where i make you feel good about screwing you for a dollar and giving you back 10 cents and saying you got a bargain while having pictures of Savage on the wall behind you. John there is no representative movement for the victims of the rich mans revolution ironically begun by the workers actual Labour party. One of the greatest acts of treachery in the history of this country and other nations. And it has never been reversed since the bloodless revolution here of 1984. The food is still poisoned because the ground it grows in is still contaminated. Until a re correction takes place which challenges this plutocracy there will be no relief for the many who continue to suffer.

  13. This is how you build a house albeit a modest one.
    Find a dump shop, keep going there and be patient.
    1x set square.
    1x claw hammer
    1x pinch bar
    1x $12 Bacho 8 point saw.
    1x 8 meter tape measure and 1x 30 meter tape measure
    1x 1 M spirit level.
    1x pair of protective glasses and 1 x pair of ear muffs.
    1 x pair of those awesome red, rubberised gloves.
    1 x pair of builders jandles
    1 x joint. ( Sativa. NOT Indica or you’ll end up having to go to the pub.)
    1x loud, nasty, old plastic stereo
    As many 150 x 600 H5 ( or h4 ) piles or treated second hand fence posts as you need then cut roughly to length.
    Some builders mix a shovel and a wheel barrow.
    Dig 300mm deep holes at about 400 in dia, cement in, taking care to have perfect vertical’s. ( You can fuck about with levels later.)
    Once the piles are set in place, preferably over night, take care to get exact levels for your bearers because if you do, everything else will be level from the bearers all the way up to the ridging on your roof line.
    Bearers and joists are down? Think about plumbing? It’s cheap as fuck and new fashioned fittings means it’s an easy job to run pipe work under the floors etc. And always insulate the pipes as well as the under floor before you fit the flooring down. Dacron’s great. I.e. Old skanky double bed duvee’s but shhhhh…! Don’t tell anyone.
    The flooring. Second hand T & G’s great but labour intensive. 18 mm ground treated ply wood’s better and don’t forget to biscuit joint ( Hire these because they’re expensive to buy. ) and edge-glue the flooring together and onto the joists or you’ll be haunted by squeaks for the rest of your life or until you go deaf because you didn’t bother to wear your earmuffs.
    Now you have a great platform upon which you can build your walls, window frames, door frames and roof trusses. Now! ? Lean them up, jigger them around with your nice pinch bar and behold! Walls and roof framing up! Go fucking you!
    Walls are up, trusses are up, building paper’s on and woollen insulation or dacron/ polyester insulation’s in ( Actual raw wool’s perfectly ok to use. ) and your nice pile of good second hand roofing iron’s ready to be put in place. Then in goes your second hand windows bought off trademe etc, second hand storm gutters too… A wee stove, a coil of 25 mm black polythene on the roof to preheat the water to your second hand wet back hot water cylinder…
    There you go? You got a fucking cool little house. Pot plants, a picture or two… A vegetable garden with a hot house for seed raising made from recycled windows all tacked together in a creative and rustic fashion…
    Then? Grow any and everything. ( Beware of the gardeners greatest scourge. The awful, horrible false shamrock or Oxalis triangularis, I think it’s called. Always put foreign plants perhaps as gifted to you into quarantine until your sure there are no oxalis corms in the soil around the roots of your new lovely plant. If you get that shit in your garden you have to burn your house down, napalm your trees, DDT your soil and move to Uzbekistan and live in a cave under another identity because the Oxalis will find you and it will grow up you.
    Ok. So you have your house, you have your garden and now there’s one thing left to do.
    Defend it. Fight for it. Gather about you your trusted mates and make a proper fucking stand.
    Your local council will try to take it off you if you haven’t kissed their arses and paid them thousands. The local councils will force you to use fletchers or placemakers or one of the other building product fascist’s grotesquely over price junk materials . They’ll serve you with a charming little document known as a ‘notice to fix’. To make you bow down to their mighty rules. They can, and will, send in contractors to pull your little home down then force you, through the courts, to pay for the contractors to pull your house down and remove the debris and because they’re cowards they’ll wait until your away from home.
    Heard of Owen Wilkes the Peace Activist and The Buller District Council?
    No? Then you’d better read this;
    “On his return to New Zealand from Norway after the trial, he found his Punakaiki house had been pulled down for being erected without a permit. After Wilkes took up beekeeping near Karamea in 1983, it was discovered that Customs was cooperating with the SIS to monitor his international mail. Nothing threatening national security was ever found”
    “In 1990 his only child Koa committed suicide while living in Christchurch, contributing to his retirement to Kawhia.[5] After his retirement from the peace movement, he was active in the New Zealand Archaeological Association.[6]
    Having suffered bouts of depression all his life, he died by gassing himself in his car on 12 May 2005.”
    I knew Owen’s daughter Koa. She was a beautiful, gentle kid.
    And so there you go. Now you know what you need to do and what you’re up against as you retire back to your shop doorway under the Sky City Casino with the other wretched homeless people living in dirty, dangerous conditions in full view of a spineless, gutless, cowardly, sniveling, greedy, grasping, wage and salary earning public passing you by in a scurry to the nearest cocktail bar to dull the senses at $19.00 a shot.
    It’s a sobering thought; That while we know what the problem’s are/is and we fail to act then we are part of that problem.

  14. One more thing, lest we forget?
    Remember the Ch Ch earthquakes? Remember all that lovely timber, stone, steel etc that was trucked to the dump and buried? That new hill in Bottle Lake Forest? That new hill is old Christchurch. It should be called Shame Hill because we should be ashamed of ourselves for it being there.
    That, was materials that could have easily been used to build houses for the homeless. Support and train the homeless on how to build homes for themselves! And if they fucked it up? Look the other way for fucks sake. Who cares? ( The insurance swindlers would I hear you say? Well, fuck them too then, I say.)
    Hundreds of thousands of tons and meters of it. Rimu, Kauri, Oregon pine, beautiful stone quarried and horse drawn to the city to build Edwardian infrastructure… fucking gone. Wasted. Wasted because some shriveled little ball bag in an expensive suit said it must be so. What does that make of us though? We were bullied by little ball bags? How embarrassing? I do truly feel shame about that.
    Remember those pathetic little signs warning people to stay clear of red zoned land? They may still be there. Warning in case pools of water appeared without notice? That’s puddles to you and me, for fucks sake? Deadly puddles might sneak up and wet your shoes. Now there’s a insurance industry funded, neoliberal disaster movie just writing itself right there.
    Old people will talk about it in time to come.
    “Remember them deadly puddles Brian? Remember the horror? Remember how they only took 12 hours to surge up those three inches!? All them drowned earth worms? I saw a black bird get its arse feathers wet! Was horrible. Nothin’ you could a done about it. We just had to dry out our socks and learn to live with the nightmares… All y’ could do aye? And when the death-puddles dried out? Then we were told we must live in fear of them comin’ back! All we could do was live in fear. Nothin’ happened, of course but we did learn to live in fear just in case something awful did happen. Be prepared, I say, aye Brian? It’s easier when y’ live in fear. Everything’s taken care of for ya’. Nothin’ to worry about then. “

    • Excellent point country boy. BTW, the problem isn’t labour in NZ for construction as present, the problem is supply chain on the materials, cos we don’t make much in NZ anymore. Apparently in AK they are running out of things like ply! It’s not the wood, it’s the glue they can’t get, high end taps, etc…

      They could have recycled the CHCH materials but sounds like the Rogernomics culture of non recycling and landfill was the norm with the insurance and officials.

    • Aah no but all those building materials taken to the dump Business wanted that, they wanted their business to sell us ‘new’ stuff, yah know how it is. And of course the earthquakes were good for our GDP and that is apparently what matters.

  15. One more, one more thing.

    “Massive Attack: ‘You resurrect ghosts when you bring something back from the past’
    Robert Del Naja, of the Bristol pioneers, talks about the power and danger of nostalgia as well as his work collaborating with Adam Curtis”
    The Guardian.
    The Youtube clip within the article is particularly ‘interesting’.
    This, is a direct link to a fascinating video.

  16. Fletchers has a monopoly on building products and is 80% Offshore owned, keeping supply tight on building products they can maximise their returns to their Offshore Shareholders. Simple business common sense. Maybe John Key and National should not of sold those State Houses to their mates for a pittance.

    Transferring State Wealth to Private Individuals.

  17. Agree with Kevin Brown. I didn’t & will NEVER vote for the Blairite. She is all about how she LOOKS – not what she DOES! I think too many people (including some connected with TDB) think that St. should preface the PM’s name. She looks good, talks “good” (AFA some people are concerned) but is not & IMO, will never be, a DOER. I haven’t a shred of respect for her!

    • Ditto Isabel.

      The great hand wringing angsting Ardern who then sits on her hands. She who gave so many people some hope for real transformational change. She has done zilch!

  18. If you really want to do the “build-it-yourself”thing and end up with a basic consented house (MBIE multi-proof consent) with no need to involve an LBP and at a cost that blows other factory houses into the weeds ….. try House arrives in a shipping container and clicks together. Very well documented process. Buy as a kit, a shell or a finished house.

    All done in NZ not China. I have no association with them ….

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