Megan Woods – you should read this!


haven’t read the 1949 book “State Housing in New Zealand” but a friend sent me some notes about it a few days ago and I’m going to hunt it out through the local library.

The book can be purchased here or readers can find it from the CCC library here or the National library here.

It should be essential reading for all Labour Party MPs – and Housing Minister Megan Woods in particular.

Here are the notes I got with the recommendation to read:

It is a report, written by Cedric Firth of the Ministry of Works, in response to many requests that they received (mostly internationally) to describe the state house programme in New Zealand.

A few takeaways (from memory) – they start by building less than 100 houses in one year – and then carry on! 

They had a shortage of materials, nationally and globally – hence why houses were built with a wide range of materials. This also meant that various industries were strengthened by the programme.

They ran a training programme – one for young people and one for returned soldiers.

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They thought about community / civic design – e.g. building the Wadestown shops, the Naenae town centre. They worked with the Education board and local churches and allocated them land.

Some were apartments and some were standalone houses.

“They began building 100 houses per year” but this increased to 3,500 per year from the late 1930s. If we were building at the same rate today we would be building over 10,000 state homes per year. However the Labour government is funding just 1600 extra places per year for a state house waiting list of almost 25,000 families with desperate housing needs.

Unbelievably out of touch. Incompetence writ large.

The final words in the book talk about the importance of not just building houses but building communities around “civic centres”

It is felt that this Civic Centre will provide the means for a reasonable community life – that is, a Centre which will function and which will be an expression of civic order.  As such, it forms an important part of the Housing Division’s programme to provide a good environment in which the citizen may enjoy a full and satisfying life.  The whole programme is a contribution towards raising our standard of living.  We have the means to do it.  The means should be used for worthwhile ends.

Can the Labour government rediscover its past values? Can it be forced away from its obsession with pandering to middle-class landlords? We will know for sure when we see the budget.

In the meantime sign and share the petition at



  1. Labour really are in a bit of a bind here. Under their regime they’ve managed to simultaneously badly under deliver on housing, yet allow the reputation of state housing to be damaged, making it easier for National to abandon it altogether.

    4 plus years of Labour have gotten us use to the fact that dumping victims of the housing catastrophe into squalid motels is tolerable. That no one cares enough to fix this crisis, not Labour and certainly not National/ACT. That this state of affairs is just the way it is nowadays.

    And on the social side they’ve allowed anti social loser tenants to terrorise their neighbourhoods plus not pay rent and live violently ever after in their “rented” state homes consequence free. And as far as Labour is concerned, that is just them being kind!

    It’s almost like a long term well thought out plan to once and for all for the incoming National government to do away with state assisted housing.

    Thanks Labour…for nothing!

  2. Interestingly it was Fletchers (the now evil incarnate) that Labour asked to build the houses. Note that in those day as is today, the bureaucrats could but not help themselves with sticky fingers in design that drove up costs. Labour provided the funding that enabled Fletchers to grow into the nemesis it is now.

    Worth a read;

    “Sir James Fletcher snr, perhaps fearing the Fletcher Construction Co Ltd would be nationalised, took up the invitation of the new Labour Government in 1935 to prepare a scheme to build state rental houses. This was opposed by his brothers as too risky, and they were initially right. The houses proved much more expensive to build than first thought. This was because of the high building and design standards insisted on by the enthusiastic parliamentary undersecretary to the minister of finance, John A. Lee, who had no experience of building.

    His scheme provided for most houses to be individual units and to be built from New Zealand-produced materials wherever possible. No two houses in an area were to be of the same design, and construction was to be of a high order. Lee also insisted that interior planning of all houses should conform to modern civilised standards. The New Zealand Institute of Architects’ president considered the scheme expensive and inefficient and Fletcher himself claimed that civil servants had provided house designs and demanded standards of construction on “too lavish a scale”.

    The first house was built in 1937 and by March 1939 more than 5000 state houses were built or were under construction, and contracts had been let for 700 more. Residential Construction lost between £200 and £300 a house and survived only by virtue of a £200,000 government-guaranteed overdraft. It was one of several contractors, and by 1939 it had virtually withdrawn from the business.”

  3. This book used to be online on the Housing New Zealand Corporation website as a digitised electronic copy in the Helen Clark era, but it was taken down, I think under National, and never put back up under the present government who are probably, indeed, unaware of its existence. Further quotable quotes include:

    “Housing was to become a Public Utility, the right to live in a decent dwelling being regarded as on the same level as the right to education, sanitation, to good and abundant water, to an adequate road system and to a certain amount of medical care. Probably it would be true to say that this premise has now gained fairly wide acceptance. … In these days, physically speaking, the house is a kind of knot in a network … with larger and more complicated knots for shopping centres and other community facilities—all of which are necessary if people are to carry out easily the wide variety of activities that are our conception of civilized life.” (pp. 7-8)

    Maybe add a request that Megan Woods not only read it but re-post the digitised version, to your petition?

    • That must be why John Key and National built no state houses in 9 years and in fact sold a lot on to their development mates. It may have been to his property speculator mates who Key helped with his rock star economy between 2010 and 2017. Luxon is promising to bring his friend and adviser John Keys property speculators on board by removing tax deductibility to million dollar mortgages from aussie banks and bright line tests for buying existing homes and flipping them off. Property values are made up of 80% land value and 20% improved (house) value – land prices skyrocketed under Key.

      • They sold 1124 – all the state houses in Tauranga, everywhere else they tried they failed.

        They did build State houses during their 9 years!

  4. Incompetents writ large? I don’t think so. NZ governments have been extremely competent at protecting and increasing the value of residential property in NZ for those that own it. These are the people that turn up to vote and determine the outcome of elections.

  5. The difference is that NZ were united to help people get into housing in the 1940’s and for the past 30 years since the 1980’s everything under Rogernomics and Globalism is about making the most profits while cutting labour and training costs.

    You don’t make the most profits by efficiency in NZ, you make it by not building houses, not building roads, not filling hospitals with ‘expensive’ staff, removing skilled labour and creating building & good material scams.

    A favourite is re-zoning land in Ponzi schemes in the middle of nowhere and with expensive infrastructure paid by the taxpayers and rate payers, to be sold off with consents and and make a killing off. (Generally building the housing is a no go, or by the time there is so much profiteering, then it is better to aim at spec housing for people who you lobby the government to move to NZ rather than aim at the 60% of people on wages in NZ at $30p/h or less.

    Since the Rogernoms have been killing off the incomes of most Kiwis in terms of wages, they need to get new money and people into NZ to afford the goods here now and keep the profits rolling in. AKA our NZ Ponzi. Now the ‘social bond’ Ponzi, where you also can make money off the displaced with various social schemes and a lovely sounding charitable name (often tax free, too!). Fool’s most government officials and lefties!

  6. John
    I love that ‘under designed’ cover page for the 1949 – no expensive agency was appointed to design a ‘cool’ cover. Of course, under this PR and Image centric Labour govt, as we all know so well now, the entire focus would be on finding a catchy ‘maori-centric’ name for the programme with associated logo design and brand manual, then we need a cool slogan that Jacinda from Annoucemnets can announce (hard hat on of course while announcing with Megan standing behind her), then we’ll announce the proposed budget for such ‘cool name’ programme (not at all well calculated and totally out of touch just like the AKL rail link budget), then we’ll appoint all the ‘necessary’ consultants at trillions of dollars (mostly connected to the Labour Party of course and none of them builders)…instead of focusing on everything required to actually build houses. And there you have it John.

  7. Jacinda has done more damage to NZ than Key ever thought possible. He must be so jealous and will be giving Luxon lessons on how to ratchet up the inequality even further. Thank god I left last year, never to return until a real Labour leader gets voted in who actually fixes the unfairness, not adds to it.

    • Half of it on the Wellington offices I see . . . I used to work for an outfit where the Wellington office was called Bullshit Castle, but I am sure that that was then and this is now.

  8. The most concerning thing about Megan Woods is that she was considered by Labour as their best option to replace the inept Phil Twyford as the Minister of Housing during this housing crisis .Woods has been absolutely woeful at every turn. Until she is either replaced by Ardern or sent packing by voters, we can expect exactly the same from her. Zero meaningful progress. No hope of Ardern replacing Woods as she’s more than just a colleagues. She’s a close personal friend.

    Woods enjoys all the perks her position affords and craves the chance of being part of a farcical photo opportunity as some kind of evidence she’s getting the job done. It’s a disgrace. The National Party must be praying Labour keep Woods on as the Housing Minister for another 18 months as she is doing everything she possibly can to guarantee Labour lose the 2023 election.

  9. When Woods first read the book. She found it too simple and unsophisticated. It lacked complexity.

    And therein lies the problem with the edjewkashon system. Too much focus on meaningless invented ‘skill-sets’ to reinvent the wheel of cognitive thinking.

  10. Signed and will participate in Alternative Aotearoa.

    A circuit breaker is needed to get a wide range of people politically active again from a class left position–and what better issue than a state house mega build.

  11. How are you surprised.
    Modern Left parties around the world are full of academics and student politicians (think Jacinda Adern).
    They not have nothing in common with the working class, but not interest in their wellbeing either.
    Hillary demonstrated this beautifully with her basket of deplorables and Adern demonstrated it by tacitly approving her ministers’ use of terms such as river of filth to describe the protesters.
    Whether anyone here is willing to accept it or not, the likes of David Seymour understands the workers far more than Adern, as evidenced by the fact he is the only one calling an end to mandates.

  12. What the dirty filthy tories here, on loan from mincing Farrar’s Kiwiblog don’t mention, is that the Nats are king of “defund, run down, sell off” of public housing. They would likely not build one more state house or apartment than a Labour Govt. and most likely less while denying their is a housing crisis.

  13. If you can dig a hole you can build a house.
    Dig holes, put in piles, then bearers and joists then flooring then wall frames, then roofing and cladding then have a beer.
    Here’s a special secret. Basic houses are not that difficult to build.
    The banks, their crooked minions in the building materials trade and sundry wheedling sycophants to a bureaucracy protecting every crooked, crafty fucker in the building trade would have us believe otherwise of course.
    There’s a grave hysteria enveloping us all and it’s thickening and it’s looming large.
    So you want to build yourself a house because you sleep rough but you can’t because the authorities tell you you’re not allowed to says more about you than it can ever say about ‘authorities’.
    We should all be very, very concerned about where we’re being dragged to.
    I should also add that I’m fully vaccinated, I don’t believe in lizard people, 5 G isn’t going to microwave my brain, and sorry Jesus Freaks but the Earth IS older than 9000 years.
    My advice. Start watching Russell Brand on youtube.


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