State House Building Coalition letter to Housing Minister Megan Woods


To all organisations which signed the State House Building Coalition letter to Housing Minister Megan Woods:

Kia ora koutou,

Yesterday we finally received a response to our 19 July letter to Housing Minister Megan Woods which is attached. (I’ve also attached the original letter we sent to the minister in case you can’t find it!)

I personally think it’s very disappointing and the rhetoric and figures in the letter don’t match the reality on the ground with a growing state house waiting list and increasing numbers of children in motel accommodation.

Please read and consider the response from the minister.

We have organised to a zoom meeting to discuss the minister’s reply and decide what, if anything, we do in response. We hope most of you will be able to be on the call. The details are:

John Minto is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

State House Building Coalition letter to Minister Woods

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Kia ora Ms Woods,

An industrial scale state-house building programme is the only solution to the housing crisis for low-income New Zealanders

The undersigned organisations from across Aotearoa are appealing to the government to reconsider its response to the housing crisis for low-income New Zealanders. 

With this crisis so deeply entrenched and so pervasive, many people have been waiting expectantly for the announcement of an industrial-scale state house building programme to tackle it head on.

However, despite four years of Labour-led governments, there has been no movement on this. The number of state house rentals available has remained largely static (2016 – 67,041 rentals; 2021 – 67,858) while the state house waiting list has soared from 5,000 to over 23, 000.  

In his evidence to the Waitangi Tribunal this month (Wai 2750) Kainga Ora CEO Andrew McKenzie says the organisation has an “ambitious programme” over the next four years which will provide a net increase of 8,200 state houses. However, on current figures this will not even keep pace with the increase in housing need, let alone begin to tackle the enormous backlog.

He confirmed that when the Labour led Government came to power in 2017 officials recommended that the previous Government’s public housing budget be increased so state house building would increase from 1600 to 2000 a year but, astonishingly, even this modest recommendation was not taken up by the government.

Mr Mckenzie also detailed that Kainga Ora’s current Long-Term Plan for expanding the stock of State Housing is to add 23,000 additional places over 30 years. This increase is needed now, not decades into the future. He explained that the ability of Kainga Ora to further expand supply is limited by Kainga Ora having to fund additional housing out of its own resources and borrowings. 

This means Kainga Ora is involved in large-scale privatisation of crown land for private sector housebuilding – on former state-house land – while the state house waiting list and the misery of families waiting for state housing increases.

The latest budget made no move to shift this dreadful situation. There is no sign the government sees the desperation of low-income New Zealanders for decent housing as a social disaster. Desperate families are facing this crisis alone.

The announcement of $380 million for partnerships with iwi to provide housing for Māori families was welcomed but this funding, delivered over four years, will add little more than 250 houses per year while Māori make up over half the state house waiting list.  

We also acknowledge the government has been working with “social housing providers” to increase housing available to low-income tenants and families through groups like the Salvation Army and Methodist Mission. However, as admirable as these arrangements are, only the government has the resources and the capacity to address the scale of the crisis. 

Through existing ownership of land, access to Reserve Bank finance (or the lowest-interest commercial finance available) and using economies of scale, the government could build the warm, dry, quality homes needed to end this crisis for our most vulnerable citizens – cheaper and faster than anyone else.

A stand-alone government agency which designs, builds and tenants these homes using Reserve Bank finance is the way forward. Taking this approach in the late 1930s the first Labour government was building 3,500 state houses per year; the equivalent number today would be 10,000 per year. Instead, the government has provided Reserve Bank finance to the private sector banks which has helped fuel the dramatic rises in house prices, and deepen the plight of low-income, private-sector tenants.

Meanwhile across the country we have huge skill shortages in the trades such as in building, plumbing and electrical work and this shortage can be met through a large-scale, government funded and delivered state house building programme. It would become the training ground for a new generation of skilled tradespeople. Were the government to contract out this building to the private sector the ability to train apprentices would be severely restricted.

The positive social, educational and health outcomes are obvious when delivering healthy, accessible, quality homes at speed for desperate tenants and families on low incomes. In this building programme the government should model all aspects of sustainable building, addressing the housing crisis and climate crisis side by side.

This is not an expensive approach – it is a social investment approach which recognises quality housing as a basic human right. It would save billions through reducing the massive spending on motels (over $300 million per year) and in accommodation supplements (over $1.7 billion per year) These subsidies to private sector landlords are “dead money”. Why are we spending billions on propping up a failed housing market while tens of thousands of our people struggle in unaffordable housing?

You have the opportunity to do something now that future generations will see as a crucial moment in solving the ongoing housing crisis in Aotearoa and closing the housing gap. 

We will support you to implement this proposal.

We would appreciate receiving a considered response, without unnecessary delay, so we can plan our next steps.


  1. John, I don’t think you really need to see the response to guage what the content will be!
    “We have built heaps of houses, more than National”
    “We are committed to…. (insert political jargon here)”
    Something along those lines with a few fluff and bluster sections to bulk up the reply length.
    (Wonder if ‘9yrs of neglect’ will get dusted off?)

    • ‘Yesterday we finally received a response to our 19 July letter to Housing Minister Megan Woods which is attached…. Please read and consider the response from the minister.’

  2. Its a ‘no-brainer’. A mass Housing Construction program is necessary even moreso now to help rebuild the failing NZ economy. Jobs! Homes and Stability.

    • Totally agree Denny, all of which fits with traditional Labour Party policy. The government need to rid themselves of their Roger Douglas legacy, discimate the neo-liberal Wellington bureaucracy, and get on with it.

      • …”The government need to rid themselves of their Roger Douglas legacy, decimate the neo-liberal Wellington bureaucracy, and get on with it”….

        The above,… says it in a nutshell.

  3. You won’t receive a response and even if you do it will be typical of this Labour Government a bunch of weasel words.

  4. Unless, of course, Labour’s master plan is to privatise everything and abandon the poor.
    It certainly looks that way from down here..,.

    • that’s certainly wellie councils plan, hive off state housing to a stand alone entity, which is then bought by a private equity firm, tenants are evicted old properties converted or new build yuppie flats….that’s how it’s done in the UK Canada and OZ

  5. If the government stopped the 300,000 temporary work visas which has ballooned NZ into a highly lucrative NZ visa people trafficking operation then that would also help stop our housing issues and our illegal worker issues and the amount of people in poverty growing here.

    Also since many of those doing the exploitation are new NZ citizens and apparently tell the slaves they can’t be touched. Since one booze baron can amass a $36m property empire, despite failing 19 Labour Inspectorate investigations they are clearly right about that. It’s organised and government and approved.

    Stopping the problem at source is key, because once anyone gets into NZ, seem very reluctant to ever leave and plenty of traffickers paying big money to lobby to keep allowing more migrants to come to NZ under various visas.

    All these people need housing!

    • SNZ. As usual you’re generalising and exaggerating. These 300000 temporary immigrants, who are they? Any immigrants in my area Hawkes Bay are either housed on site or in motel type accommodation that NZrs are trying to get out of. They are not competing for home’s because they can’t afford them and they’re temporary. They go home. Yes there will be some that fit your description but certainly not 300000. You tell a good story but I don’t believe it.

      • In Auckland we have tempory visa workers who work for Chorus taking up the houses flats and accomodation that would otherwise be lived in by the homeless guys hanging around unemployed in the main street of Mt Albert.

        • I’ll bet you do @ Joseph. I’ll bet they were also promised a pathway to residency by a government (no matter the stripe) and its associated officialdom, that not only bullshitted from the outset, but who’re now not prepared to honour promises made. Easy option: blame the victims of the scam – there’s a long herstory of it (in that space, going forward)

          • No they were not promised anything more by government. They were on a temporary permit, it’s the people traffickers and their immigration advisors promising them the NZ residency. If you just refuse to leave NZ, are mentally ill or worried about anything, had kids, you have a huge chance that the NZ migrant protection tribunal will let you stay. Even if you need 2 armed security guards following you, and you knife people in a mall. AKA Samsudeen came in on a student visa, then gave up the course after 1 month and applied for asylum, he failed in his bid, even when he wanted to leave, NZ wouldn’t get him. NZ does love these high needs people as they generate so many legal and other bills. He’s dead, while his victims have to rebuild their lives after being in the knife attack. Meanwhile his family seem fine who were apparenlty being prosecuted.NZ has many people being menaced here, but we don’t get asylum for it. Everyone would have been better off if this person had never got the student visa to come to NZ. Numerous people including his flatmates and family believe he was radicalised in NZ so there is now a huge amount of people who shouldn’t be here being enabled by the woke thinking.

      • From 2019…

        “Last year we allowed in 129 000 migrants for a population of almost 5 million.

        Australia with 24 and a half million, allows in 190 000 (but it will likely be 165 000 this year).

        You can see the immediate difference when comparing NZ with Australia.

        On top of that we have 150 000 international students and workers with temporary work visas who have been obscenely exploited by a de-unionised job market and additional to that, we have almost 4 million tourists visiting us each year.

        Meanwhile more of our assets and land are being owned by overseas interests.

        It is no wonder that our social and physical infrastructure is groaning under unsustainable gridlock.”

        In addition part of the worry is that people coming to NZ, don’t have ‘real’ skills and will have a life of poverty in NZ and compete with NZ’s poor and blue collar workers – we already see the blue collar workers (many Maori and Pacific Island) are already being displaced in the workforce in these industries.

        Liquor migrants can amass a $36m property empire, despite failing 19 Labour Inspectorate investigations. Allowing hundreds of thousands of migrants to get visas into NZ and then change employers is not exactly going to help the housing situation of the exploiter situation, it will increase it! But will be highly lucrative for people traffickers and the plethora of people in NZ profiting off new migrants.

        Wokesafe don’t bother too much if there is any migrant involvement in the deaths of workers. Don’t worry our taxes cover the exploiters use of NZ! Don’t bother paying minimum wages, ACC or any taxes at all with cash labour undercutting other NZ businesses that now can’t compete and opting out.

  6. Sam Stubbs from simplicity is teaming up with a building firm to build houses to rent with long term leases. They are working on a 3 percent return and are starting next week . This is a good use of kiwlsaving money. They plan a 1000 in the first year . They seem to be filling a void not being filled by the state.

    • All praise to Simplicity. But I think they’ll be building houses to rent less affordable than the state houses the Government ought to be building. New Zealand needs 100,000 energy-efficient new state houses built for secure, income-related, lifetime rent by all who want them. It is disgraceful that this Government continues to be diverted by the absurd goal of indulging ‘first-home buyers’ when the average house is priced (not valued) at nearly $1 million.

    • if true good news but in other countries the provision of actual low rent housing has shrunk during the construction process…company says we miscalculated and need more yuppie flats to make the development viable…..local authority goes yup right ok.

      forget developers set up a dept of works but that ain’t gonna happen with these gutless wonders and heaven forfend that tradies should have decent employment rather than serfdom.

  7. My much-loved now-departed former mother-in-law was a wise old bird, and she thought the following recipe to get low income families into their own homes would be workable (there were a lot more state houses around when she proposed this 40 years ago):
    Put a time limit on the occupancy of the state housing.
    At the end of that period, make all of the rent paid during that time available to the occupants, strictly conditional on that money being used as a deposit on a new build home.
    It seemed to me to be an elegant solution. Perhaps I was not clever enough to see any pitfalls at the time. I still believe it could be made to work (or perhaps I’m still not very clever after all these years).

  8. Immigration policy: 106 per cent of net new housing demand

    “From 1991 to 2013, non-New Zealand citizen immigration accounted for around 71 per cent of the change in the number of households (or dwellings required). For the last two intercensal periods the contributions of non-New Zealand citizen net immigration were as follows:

    2001 to 2006 70 per cent
    2006 to 2013 106 per cent”

    The reality is that people in NZ are profiting from pretending that migrants don’t need housing, or are coming to NZ in small numbers.

    Even during Covid 130,000 somehow came into NZ, and they don’t seem the best and brightest, but criminals 501’s and so forth, who came to NZ as children in many cases, for very short periods, get into trouble and somehow our government and woke, can’t wait to get them back here to take up justice, jails, housing, mental and physical health resources, police time, whether they are hardened thugs or petty criminals .. Or there are the retiree’s who join their kids and can get a free pension, health care and aged care here, large amount of pensioners who came back to shelter in NZ during Covid.

    Huge money in NZ for social bonds! The next gold mine to invest in!

  9. hang on, I read last week that building compliances were to be de-fanged…what does this mean in terms of our worker safety? What does this mean in terms of the quality of the construction materials? There’s a lot of houses not fit for purpose, built in a rush, somehow this pie in the sky number does not equate.

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