Hundreds of millions in state house land sold by Labour in the middle of a housing catastrophe for people on low and middle incomes


Behind the headline “$200m boost for new homes” is a sordid tale of a government demolishing state houses, selling most of the land to private property developers and in this case building fewer state houses than were previously there.

Housing Minister Megan Woods says the investment in East Porirua means 186 existing state houses will be demolished to be replaced by just 100 new state houses while most of the land will be sold to private property developers.

Meanwhile we have 25,000 on the state house waiting list, up from just over 5,000 when Labour came to power in 2017.

If a National government was doing this Megan Woods would be raging and demanding the resignation of the minister. If only.

The country desperately needs an industrial-scale state house building programme but Labour is moving in the opposite direction.

An answer to an Official Information Act request reveals the extent of the privatisation of state houses and crown land occurring under this government.

In the last three years Labour has sold $131million in former state house land as well as tens of millions in state houses themselves (this second point will be covered in a subsequent blog)

There are six LSP (Large Scale Projects) being run by Kāinga Ora since 2017 – the six listed in the table below and East Porirua (described in the first two paragraphs of this blog)

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The pattern in each LSP is the same. Demolish hundreds of state houses, sell most of the land to private property developers and use the proceeds to build small numbers of new state houses – small in terms of the numbers actually needed.

The government’s plan is, despite the ballooning numbers on the state house waiting list, to keep the total number of state houses at just 3.6% of the total housing stock. And by selling crown land to fund state house building, the government doesn’t have to put in a cent.

In addition to the $131million in land sold so far, hundreds of millions more is in the pipeline.

According to Kāinga Ora the total land involved with these LSPs is 458 hectares with half this land projected to be sold to private property developers – all in prime locations which would be ideal for the large-scale state house building so desperately needed.

I have previously described Labour’s sale of former state house land as the largest privatisation of state assets since the 1990s. The figures bear this out.

At a time when our housing crisis for low and middle-income families has become a catastrophe (the Salvation Army’s word) the government is looking the other way. The state house waiting list has been growing at twice the rate the net number of state houses is increasing. When Labour came to power in 2017 we had 63,315 state houses – as at June this year we have 69,509. An average increase of just over 1200 per year for the 25,000 on the state house waiting list.

It would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic.

More to come…


  1. But…but, Labour and the PM have publically stated they are doing better than the numbers you have quoted John, they wouldn’t be telling lies would they?, Or ommitting to reduce the total demolished houses when giving the total built?
    Why that would be like giving the total of child poverty reduction total without including children in emergency motel housing….St Jacinda is too nice to be that underhanded surely, that’s not kindness!

  2. John
    They need to sell all that land to finance the massive increase in middle management at KO. So typical under this Labour govt – all govt depts are hugely overstaffed with clipboard anarchists. What do they all do?

  3. Tragic is almost an understatement.

    It’s a pity we have no provision for impeachment in NZ. Or for that matter, the ability to sue the press for not making Government underperformance front page news.

    The very same people who are sitting on that waiting list will likely go to the ballot box next year and vote for them without realising what utter b**stards they are.

    At least when National screws you, you know they are going to do it.

    • @Fantail, I agree but it is also a real problem that the lefties who influence government and in the media constantly who said nothing when they announce the plan, have only just clicked on this – I am seriously concerned about critical thinking levels in this country in particular the left! It is like a fog of incompetence and brainwashing – emperors new clothes.

      • We desperately, urgently need journalism and also independent analysis of actions, effects, human suffering – not sports-commentating a game on a tiny field, as if that field was the whole nation and meaningless parliamentary point-scoring was all that politics was about.

        Thank you for persevering, John. Sports reporting does not show the people who are being destroyed by this disgraceful pageant.

    • Fantail i would disagree that National are transparent on this issue. I don’t think they are any different than Labour. They are all disingenuous on state housing. Labour have just kept using the same target that National did. Sure the list is bigger but if Nat ACT target a higher percentage of stock than they have in the past I will eat my hat ( it’s probably cheaper than food anyway).

      • Tories/Act haven’t added one house to the state housing stock for more than 25 years. They wont change now – previous Natz/JK housing policy was to invite property speculators in to create a hill-billy rock star economy (words of JK’s hard right Auzzie economist).

    • Yes I agreed, you know who you are fighting and you know you will be stabbed in the front, but Labour stabs you in the back time and time again.

  4. Quite right, John. And your cartoon hits the nail on the head — “Winnie” wasn’t blocking progressive change whatever the heck that means. (In today’s world it seems to mean including a few more letters in your list of of possible sexual proclivities and including a few more words in Te Reo.) And speaking of housing, NZ First has absolutely nothing against state houses, either retaining (and fixing up) old ones or building new ones. “Build up the country by building more affordable homes.”…hey, that’s a pretty nice economic nationalist slogan that fits in well with NZF’s approach. Maybe I’ll write “Winnie” and suggest it to him…

  5. Welcome to NZ.

    But where were the outraged left voices when they first started doing this with the exciting ‘Kiwibuild’ 8 years ago, as it was clear it was a privatisation Thatcher policy implemented by a so called left government and supported by NZ lefties, while the policy was already a huge failure in the UK. Still to come NZ government buy back the houses or rent them at an enormous mark up to what they were previously when they were state owned and struggle to pay going forward.

    In the UK

    “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”

    Now to 2022, It has been a disaster and the standard of accomodation got worse, because the defence not longer owned the housing assets and the armed families are now suing the UK government!
    Army families suing MoD for poor housing told to drop claims or have pay docked

    In addition there is nothing wrong with the state houses they are demolishing in NZ, they just need insulation and heat pumps in most cases, maybe a rewire or new plumbing – the old state houses renovated will last a lot longer than the new builds just put up for triple the cost and more when you add in all the free land given away and paying for temporary accomodation for years! Next scandal is that there will be problems and remedial work needed in that space, all covered up, of course. Kainga Ora needed to add more houses to the land themselves.

    Not to mention the amount of people who are removed from state housing while waiting for their new build to be built…… kids growing up for 5 years in emergency housing.

    You have to wonder how incompetent/compromised these executives are who thought it all up, because when you add in the free land that needs to be rebought, the emergency housing costs for years and the legal and managerial costs – it is costing a fortune for this folly, while removing capital from government.

    Panuku board member resigns after collapse of development company

    Plans by the Auckland Council controlled Panuku to sell a historic Auckland building to a developer has led to calls for more transparency from councillors

    Kainga Ora Blows Out On Staffing Costs

    Meanwhile they keep increasing poverty levels in NZ by allowing people to come into NZ on visas and sponsor in their kids and partners for $43k – who are going to need all the cheap housing they can supply and more. Since apparently it costs about $160k for a family to live comfortably in NZ – that’s allowing people to live on 1/3 of what they need! So of course there is endless demand for charities, state and emergency housing, foodbanks and more social welfare as 2/3 of income needs to be found from other sources in NZ such as charity and crime. We have to ask ourselves what happened to the initial 1 million of migrants that came to NZ who were supposed to solve the worker shortages, because they don’t seem to be working in the crap jobs that they replaced the ‘lazy drugged out’ kiwis in, and now it’s even harder to find NZ workers who have given up working whether much touted new migrant or Kiwi.

    The opposite, working people are fleeing to OZ so they are not on $43k in NZ.

    • On that note in the UK – no public consultation on their NHS data – contract designed to be handed to a private intelligence company founded by a Trump supporter.

      Health officials confirmed this weekend the proposed £360m new data platform for England will incorporate the NHS shared care records that track patients across the health and care system.

      Ministers have disclosed in parliamentary answers that the patient information project does not require a public consultation before the five-year contract is tendered or additional patient consent. They say the project, called a federated data platform, will help improve care and provide new insights into the nation’s health.

      Clive Lewis, the Labour MP, said: “This looks like the contract has been set up to hand it to Palantir. There should be a proper debate about the use of this data so people can make an informed choice.”

      Campaigners warn the government risks undermining public trust with plans to “shove hospital data” into a private contractor without proper consultation. They say patients have a “legal right to a say”.

  6. What is laughable is that all the Nat Act supporters will rip into Labour for acting like Nat ACT. Labour are saying one thing and it appears doing the opposite, and the main opposition will howl at the wait list but do exactly what is being done now. Why don’t all parties just come clean to the public on why successive governments do the same thing.

      • I’m not ok with loads on the waiting list at all. I am saying for whatever reason, all parties talk of concern, and promise to fix things, but then set targets that won’t.

        • Im right this waiting list is a misnomer, this actual list comes from the days when the NACT. government took people off the waiting lists to make the figures look good, just like the waiting hospital lists , just like National standards. A list is a very easy political tool and so easy to fiddle with. As they say “what you reap you will sow “ its all about fudging numbers to suit the narrative. Why doesn’t John Minto (who has absolutely got nothing good to say about this labour government) get into politics he wouldn’t be the kind to fudge numbers or would he to suit his own narrative.

    • Of course they will be out on the streets demanding change. But that is what tribal Labour do. They never ever call their party to account.

  7. What is it with this government? They are now simply taking the piss and are a disgrace!

    Labours epitaph on housing will read “FENTON STREET”! That’s it, that’s all they’ve achieved.

    Good reporting by the way. Obviously it reads somewhat less flattering than the weapons grade horseshit from Woods or Ardern on the same subject!

    • Vote Maori Party for two reasons:
      If we get it right for Maori it will be right for everyone.
      They have the best climate change policy of any political party in parliament.

      Stop voting for those two main parties. As Minto has said in the past there is barely a cigarette paper between them.

        • They are a one issue party – yes of course we should legalise cannabis but climate change is a more pressing issue than absolutely anything else.

        • As has been proven by the green attempt, they will just get walked over by Labour, given the democratic process run around and its still a no or over regulated into irrelevance

  8. Oh my God..! Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo surprised.
    Labour, National, ACT, NZ First, The Green’s and The Maori Party = neoliberalism = capitalist fascism. Or fascist capitalism. Which ever rolls of the tongue the easiest. Hitler Clones less the Class slaughtering the powerless to make a dollar to keep. All for themselves. Forever.
    I think the psychology of what neoliberals do, propose, or otherwise hard sell to us for their profits needs careful consideration. I think we need a royal commission of inquiry into our politics and our economy going back to refrigerated shipping 140 years ago. I’m now also beginning to think we, as a whole, need psychiatric and psychological evaluation / study / dissection with an open forum to expose and encourage discussion with all of us. Say an hour an evening five days a week on TV, Radio and a pod cast.
    The thing that always shocks and surprises me is remembering that roger and his attack moustache liberated neoliberalism onto us all nearly forty years ago. To me, that does, quite literally feel like last year. Maybe I’ve gone, or am going, bung in the head but that doesn’t change the fact that children who were born at that time are now having children of their own and they have no idea what neoliberalism is or was. Knowledge is power and the inner most mandate of neoliberalism is to keep we, the general populace powerless while the proponents of the introduction of the enduring crime of neoliberalism are buried under time in a shallow grave. Pity it’s not going to be literally.
    The problem with housing in AO/NZ is that it’s ridiculously easy to do. We have vast resources of materials, no end of expertise and when the house is finished we can grow vegetables out the back with a chicken or two for conversation. What’s the problem with you that you ask?
    Because our economy is earned by exporting agricultural goods and the sale and trade in those good is so profitable to the middle men and women who stand in knee deep in the income stream scooping up the money, that money needs to be laundered. Farmers must never be allowed to comprehend what’s been happening for 140 years. I mean, c’mon? Someone has to build them Remuera Mansions. Jonkey’s old house on Trademe. You’ve got to read the description. Re defines gag worthy : Jonkey’s a salary earning money fiddler… but who’s money does he fiddle with? Hmmmmmmm…? Borrowing from now foreign owned banksters to build absurdly over priced houses is one way of laundering money. Perhaps adrian orr could explain that better than me.

    • No matter what fucker John Key is, he is no longer PM, in fact he has left the building some years ago. The PM is Jacinda Ardern, has been for a few years now, and Jacinda is cut of the same cloth as is John Key. Or do you really think that Jacinda works for New Zealand Aotearoa.

    • Yes Fenton Street is now a metaphor for the tragically inept Ardern Labour Government.
      To be consistent Woods should resign she’s an embarrassment.

  9. So how do we get past this ‘rinse & repeat pseudo’ capitalism?

    Step 1. Make a hung parliament in 2023
    Step 2. have no list MPs, just 120 regional MPs constituency based and governed/ruled.
    Step 3. Have a crack and governance by referendum
    Step 4. Get rid of the party bs. It doesnt work.

    Then role out all the constitutional decisions in the public forum for debate and referendum.

    MP’s do not have any powers or authority to make any decision without the constituents they represents authority.

    Grassroots politics!

      • Just thinking – if we don’t get better thinking and outcomes from policy in NZ – we will be eating grass,. But then has any academic done research on which variety would be digestible by humans? How to prepare it, perhaps soak it first or make grass soup with carrots and onions etc so we get needed minerals and stuff?

        The more I read about the compartmentalised brains of leaders who have separated mentally and monetarily from the ordinary wonderful or awful human beings, and think of avoidable starvation such as the Great Irish Famine not the lesser one, and think about the decision that Jews were in the way in WW2 and other times, defensive practices seem no longer OTT flights of fancy.

  10. Agreed, state houses need to be built on an industrial scale. But if Labour, in 2017, couldn’t cobble together the wherewithall of materials and labour and land and expertise to build 100,000 KiwiBuild homes under public/private development, what hope is there for the building of 50,000 state houses (Martyn’s figures)?

    • They donb’t have the will to cobble it together, of course they could do this.
      The middle class is who they want to vote them in and the middle class think all this sort of stuff helps the poor too much.

  11. I cant wait for NZ’ders to catch up with the fact that Goldman Sachs and Blackrock Inc amongst others have captured a large chunk of the NZ Superfund to go on a spending spree which they already have in NZ!
    Blackrock have already set up shop in Auckland.
    NZs richest man has got into the housing game too!

    They’re all here to mop up NZ Incs spare capital floating around A Orrs feet.

    NZ debt is a 15% in the new money or 39% in the old if you take into account Robo doing the switcharoo with the ACC & NZ Superfund accounts are now the Crown cash cows.

    The multinational vulture capitalists know that ‘a’ government will eventually crack open the piggy bank and go on a investment in infrastructure splurge soon.

  12. isnt it written into kainga ora legislation that they have to support a balance of housing, public and private? what they were set up to do. maybe they should give the land back if they dont want it for the purpose of housing.

    • You do realise cp don’t you, that that is pakeha dominant thinking, Maori should do with the land what pakeha want. In the olden days of true colonialism pakeha brought in a law that Maori had to first, prove that land wanted by settlers was their iwi’s land and second that they were actually using it or it would be designated ‘waste land’ and therefore someone else who had a use for it could have it ie settlers. Ahi kaa came to be a commonly used approach as a result. (Look it up on google and learn some te reo and tikanga as well!)

      Eddie Izard showed this process in motion and then what happens when you have to go battle about it using whatever weapons are at hand!

  13. From the above article: “Housing Minister Megan Woods says the investment in East Porirua means 186 existing state houses will be demolished to be replaced by just 100 new state houses while most of the land will be sold to private property developers.”

    Not true. The existing 186 state houses will be replaced with new equivalents, and an additional 100 new state homes will also be built. The public housing stock will be increased by 100 units, private developers will potentially add a further 458 homes.

    “‘The combined $340 million investment will enable the delivery of up to 744 new homes on Crown land. This includes replacing 186 old Kāinga Ora homes that are no longer fit for purpose, building an additional 100 public homes, and up to 458 affordable and market homes,’ Megan Woods said.”

  14. it’s almost like they sit round the cabinet table looking for ways to make the public despise them even more….well if you can’t be loved….

    • It’s not that deep child psychology is it? Where the psychs find that some children may be so starved of attention and meaningful positive communication that they just go wild to incur some response to themselves to prove that they do exist?

      Could we resolve this government’s angst by setting up schedules for going up to them every day, muttering or expounding pleasantries, shaking their hands, patting them on the arm or back, even kissing their cheeks (if appropriate to your form of gender)? As we are coming up to Christmas should we turn up with little bits of home cooking and love heart balloons filled with helium? Could this turn us round on a sixpence? We could reward them with some tribute about achieveing some particular election promise that you have been monitoring; say present them with a decorated scroll handwritten by some priest in a cave on a mountain or perhaps screen-printed by a bold young artist for publicity of instant fame.

      I am now going to look up Philomena Cunk’s Moments of Wonder to see if she has been able to get to the bottom of this sort of problem. I’m not sure whether this is the quintessence of formulae for our dilemma but she has done one on Christmas 2016. With a drop of brandy it may have seasoned well over the years.

    • Reverse psychology can be a wonderful thing.

      Maybe if they can be even more destructive, negative and antisocial than the Nats, Labour will be even more admired by the sheeple, and gain a shock victory in an election they hardly deserve to win..

      • Ah yes response – ‘These are difficult times, and we need tough even hard measures to deal with them.’ I can just imagine a certain type of person to come out with that circular reasoning – wouldn’t know enough to know what a vicious circle is. Too self-complacent.

  15. ” to build small numbers of new state houses”

    And they are smaller homes. 3 bedrooms replaced by 2 and 1 bedroom apartments and the grassed area not big enough for the kids to play backyard cricket thats if there is any grass at all.

    You would think the current Labour govt could follow the example of the first Labour government and finance the build without selling the peoples land.

    And if they want to be neo-liberal capitalist about it they could take the advice of the property investors federation, “Never sell land”

    Or the experience of Maori which led Dame Whina Cooper to say “not one acre more”

    Meanwhile without bothering to use the advantages of economies of scale from a Min of Works paying normal size wages we have Signature Construction and the like making absolute killing$.

  16. At what point do you stop looking behind and referencing everything against Bert’s idol from 5 years and counting, and using this as some form of excuse?

    This was in my mind on par Jacinda’s biggest call after angry Andy stepped aside, alongside ending child poverty.
    Homeless blah blah blah. Housing crisis under National, blah blah blah. Kiwi build.
    When I read this, my emotions fluctuate from feeling sick to outright anger.

    And in all this; where’s Tova, and the hard questions?
    Where’s John Campbell?
    How about old mate Jessie Mulligan? And his other so called comedian’s turned (I’m not even sure what they are?)
    We all know everyone’s favourite Mike Hoskins would put her to the sword, but of course Jacinda figured this out a couple years back.

    If it wasn’t for TDB or JM we wouldn’t have a clue what was going on.

  17. Yes Mick it can make one very disappointed,even mad.
    I avoid mad it’s such a dreadful emotion.
    The self described hard hitting interviewers so politically biased they’re nowhere to be seen.
    Tova who?

  18. It’s not going to be possible to have less than 100,000 state houses at income related rent in the 21st C without hardship consequences.

    1. Buy 10,000 properties (while prices are down) – those with room for a small factory/easy/mobile home build addition. Thus 20,000 extra houses asap and later use the money from sales for new builds.

    They could be sold as homes with granny flats (there will be a rising demand for these), or as partnership properties for older retirees (mutual care arrangements/including disability).

    2. 10,000 factory built or existing homes relocated, or on site new easy/small mobile builds for iwi land (for older Maori to retire to).

  19. In my 20’s National introduced market rents to state housing as well as flogging some off.
    The Labour govt before the last National govt my wife was a HNZ housing manager and Labour were flogging off 3 houses in the provinces to pay for one new one in Auckland.
    The last National govt used a meth scam to empty houses, do them up and flog them off on the open market.
    And now we have Labour doing what they did the last time they were in.
    I think we need to replace both main parties, they’re just not interested in helping the less well off.

  20. this is effing tragic. NZ is a capital captured nightmare. Concerned about the price of everything and knowing the value of nothing. But hey, I’m alright (until some dis-enfranchised outlaw on the run smashes into me).


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