The government have finally announced they’ll build some more houses in Auckland. They say 34,000 will be built over a decade on government owned land but that number also includes 8,300 old houses that will be demolished and thousands more that were already announced or underway, such as at Hobsonville, Northcote and Tamaki.

The Government today has announced a Crown land and building programme that will see tens of thousands of new houses built in Auckland over the next decade.

Social Housing Minister Amy Adams announced that the Government’s Crown Building Project will replace 8300 old, rundown houses in Auckland with 34,000 brand new purpose-built houses over 10 years. 24,300 of these will be built by Housing New Zealand through their Auckland Housing Programme.

Over the next ten years, the Crown Building Project will deliver around:

  • 13,500 newly built social houses
  • 20,600 new affordable and market homes.

“This is a significant undertaking for the Government, for taxpayers, and for our Social Housing reforms. It’s the equivalent of three and a half new houses on every street across Auckland,” Ms Adams says.

“These houses will be for our most vulnerable families, for first-home buyers, and for the wider market. We are building more social houses for Aucklanders and helping provide a pathway into independent, affordable housing.

“The Crown Building Project is the Government making the most out of the available residential land it owns to meet Auckland’s social housing needs.

“These 34,000 new houses are a substantial redevelopment and construction programme on a scale not seen since the 1950s.

Phase one of the Auckland Housing Programme, which covers the next four years, will cost $2.23 billion and will be funded through Housing NZ’s balance sheet and new borrowing of $1.1 billion that the Government has approved as part of the business case. Phase two in the latter years will be funded through the market housing development part of the programme and rental returns.

Ministers have also agreed that Housing New Zealand will retain dividends and proceeds from state house transfers, to help fund the building programme.

“Our plan to build 34,000 new homes over the next ten years has been carefully scoped and designed, is fully funded, and builders are on site getting on with the programme already.”

Below is a map of government owned land in Auckland from a few years ago so might have some slight differences now. Many of the larger parcels are things like schools aren’t going to be part of yesterday’s announcement.

Once you subtract the housing already underway the total number of new houses announced might only be 10,000-15,000. That’s a start but clearly not enough and will only contribute a small amount to the how many homes are needed in Auckland. It’s estimated that over the next 30 years Auckland will need up to 400,000 more dwellings (depending on the rate of growth).

Obviously most of that development is going to be need to be delivered by the private sector but I do wonder if the government and Housing NZ are being ambitious enough with how many houses they intend to build and how fast they intend to build them.

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76 comments

    1. No, we need to down-spec our buildings. We over engineer things. What would Antoine de Saint-Exupéry say?
      There’s no reason houses need to be as complex as we currently build them. Even a basic house is better than living in a car.

        1. Build a house with a single roof pitch, build houses with a single front face, build houses with square rooms. All ways that we could build simpler houses to significantly reduce cost and complexity.

          1. Yes. Don’t have to prefab, but you could have easily have standard floor plans of say 8×12.5 or something (100m2 per floor), with a standard layout, square rooms, central hallway etc. Design it so it’s stackable.

            People need to look into what the UK managed post-WW2 to alleviate housing shortages.

          2. JDELH – thanks for the explanation. Those options already exist as far as I’m aware, it seems the challenge is convincing buyers to choose these options. I guess when you are building a house you want to do something a bit more unique?

          3. I don’t think it’s actually anything to do with convincing buyers to go for it. Buyers are buying mouldy shacks right now. The problem is making the other parts of development fast enough and cheap enough that you can make more profit building 200 of these instead of 100 McMansions.

          4. Are you saying developers determine the house to be built on a given section not the buyer? That’s not my experience of new house building.

          5. “Are you saying developers determine the house to be built on a given section not the buyer? That’s not my experience of new house building.”

            That’s a quite deliberately limited reading of my comment. What I am saying is that developers build the property which maximises their profit and minimises risk. Currently it is so difficult to get consents, and sections are required to be so large that developers maximise their profits by maximising the margin on each house, often by building complex features. ie they increase profit by providing a more desirable good

            In a functioning property market some developers will continue to specialise in this area while others specialise in getting a lot of consents really quickly and pumping out as many simple houses as possible. ie they increase profit by providing more of a good which is desirable enough.

            To draw equivalence to another product. Most new builders are making small batch artisan bread on custom orders from clients, we need to look at why we don’t have a housing equivalent of Vogels, Ploughmans, and Budget Brand bread mass produced, all loaves of bread with the essential features and nutrients, but varying degrees of frill. The reason is probably that it is really hard to get permission to bake every single loaf so bakers are simply producing the most expensive loaf possible.

      1. “What would Antoine de Saint-Exupéry say?”

        You use the conditional tense. Do you mean if he were not dead?

          1. Pourquoi suis-je toujours en vie?
            I’ve left out the swearing; Antoine de Saint-Exupéry would never swear!

          2. I have it on good authority that he would have said:
            “Mon aéroglisseur est plein d’anguilles.”
            A bit of a non sequitur but at 117 years old one can excuse him.

      2. I grew up in a 1000 square foot, three bedroom one bathroom house on a quarter acre section. Built in 1961 to a standard Fletchers design, it was stoutly constructed of native timber and pine and even came with a fire place. It even had a porch. It saw a family of mum and dad and six children grow up to adulthood, Over the 50 years my parents lived in it, it sprouted an extra bathroom and bedroom, an external garage, a garden shed, a swimming pool and a conservatory. Nowadays, everyone seems to think “entry level” is twice that size, with an integral garage, two bathrooms and a covered outdoor entertainment area.

        But I reckon if you dusted off those Fletchers designs, updated them for modern materials, and perhaps redesigned them as four or eight unit apartments with the aim to sell them for 400-500K, you’d have queues of young couples.

        1. Pretty much right -perhaps also update for modern planning considerations such as open plan living and indoor/outdoor flow -even if it is just to a balcony.

    1. I notice they mention land banking in the advertisement. I wonder how much demand there is for that given prices are already extremely high and are showing signs of falling.

  1. I think it’s a great start. I guess most of these homes will be beneficiary or state housing.
    And most will be duplicated, provided it done well we shouldn’t end up with ghettos.
    But the private sector and even 1st home buyers could play a larger roll in Auckland new housing​.
    But After looking on trademe, I couldn’t find any affordable sections most advertised “developers dream or opportunity” and we’ll over 1500 m2 and the rest had been over developed with perfect flat sections carved into the hillside, with house plans already consented. None of these are ideal for 1st home buyers.
    So i would like to see more affordable bare bones sections, so 1st home buyers have the option of building to there budget. And obviously adding to Auckland’s housing.

    1. When bare land is selling at $1,000 to $2,000 per m2 ($500k+ in Swanson & Hobsonville), then it is hard to see how anyone can build an affordable home anywhere in Auckland.

          1. That is exactly where I would like to live. Unfortunately it was all but illegal to build for the last 60 years.

    2. It was as late as March Bill English was saying rental shortage, for example, was a “Problem of success” and not a sign of a crisis. Then from nowhere the Nat’s pluck this major policy out of thin air, or their arses, and bingo, they going to build, oh I don’t know, a shit load of houses. Why bother if we things are that successful?

      Honestly the only reason this fiction was even announced was their focus groups were picking up on peoples revulsion for working families living in cars thanks to National’s policies.

      10 out of 10 though to Amy Adams for her Oscar winning performance at making this look real and for keeping a straight face.

      1. The National party has no credibility when it comes to implementing an effective housing affordability policy. Ten years ago National called housing a crisis. Check out John Key talking in 2007 about how the National party knew how to provide affordable housing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWPgoAI1cLE

        But strangely since then massive housing inflation has morphed into a denial of it being a crisis and finally this nonsense message that NZ’s housing situation is a sign of success.

        It is hard to express how big a sick joke all this is.

        1. As strangely as Labour doing nothing about it, revising the Income Tax Act twice under their watch with no CGT as prices doubled, and then suddenly giving a shit in opposition? Neither party has any credibility of history of action, with the exception of National’s tinkering around the edges with depreciation etc.

          1. I am not a particular fan of the last Labour government. But that was 9 years ago. The next Labour led government will be a different beast.

            I also think that the John Key/Bill English National government had/have a greater responsibility to address housing affordability than the Clark/Cullen government did. In the sense that Clark/Cullen did not really understand the consequences of unaffordable housing and the drivers of it. Whereas post GFC (which was originally caused by a US housing bubble) this excuse doesn’t hold.

            In the last 9 years there has been a huge debate and increase in knowledge about urban matters -including coming in part from this good website. But this National government has had to be dragged kicking and screaming to implement even a small part of what is needed to be done.

            National have fluffed their chance to implement effective urban planning/affordable housing reforms to such a degree that the outrage has driven this issue to the top of the public’s concern. It will certainly raises credibility questions for a lot of voters.

          2. Yes it is more than a little bizarre to be holding a government that ended in 2008 more to account for not foreseeing and solving the current housing crisis in advance, than the government that has been in charge both before and during the crisis over the last nine years! That’s some Olympic level double standards.

            Especially when one of the things that Clark/Cullen did do, that with hindsight looks incredibly prescient, was to build such a solid financial bedrock of government finances that enabled the country to weather the global crisis that followed their term, even enabling an unwise tax cut for wealthier households.

            Is this idea because we do look to the progressive side of the house to actually solve problems, but the country party simply to hold things steady until new problems build up, and changes are needed? That does look credible; we do seem to have a pattern of electing roughly a decade of steady-as-she-goes Nat led govs, interspersed with a term or three of the other lot to make big changes.

            Changes that are always mocked and railed against by the provincialists when in opposition, but not repealed when they get the gov benches back; Working for Families, Kiwi Saver, Kiwi Bank, Cullen Fund, Nuclear Free…. etc etc.

            Question is; are we at another of those change moments again, or are the small gestures the gov is now making in Housing, Transport, Cities, Water quality, Local gov, etc going to relieve enough pressure for change…?

            Place your bets.

  2. My understanding was there are around 5000 new homes in the existing developments, how did you get from 26,000 homes down to 10,000 – 15,000 in reality?

  3. One of the worst effects neo-liberalism has had on New Zealand’s politics is the cynicism and distrust bred towards all activities of the State. National, and to a lesser extent, Labour are parties that are now low on vision and low on principles. The only solutions they seem able to conjure are short-term exigencies. As a result they cover systemic issues, like housing and transport, with bandaids instead of attacking the root causes. This (coupled with Labour’s modestly more ambitious program) is another such bandaid. It’s no wonder so many people are disillusioned with politics and don’t vote.

    1. And as long as you feed the electorate the Holy Grail carrot of tax cuts, any government can be elected. No matter how much it affects the supply of the social services many people or their family rely on.

      Tax cuts are the new panem et circenses.

      1. +1, it doesn’t seem to matter that more than 1 in 100 kiwis are now homeless, or that quarter of a million people live in poverty, as long as we get $5 a week in tax cuts.

      2. There would not need to be the tax cuts (in reality tax bracket adjustments) if the tax brackets were moved yearly with inflation.
        It gets called a tax cut for the rich when the reality is that it just moves the tax brackets to where they should be so that workers are not disadvantaged by inflation.

  4. At last, thankfully. Very late, and tentative, but at last the only player that can provide affordable housing has woken up.

    By definition the market cannot deliver below market rate dwellings. Because the property market has long since leapt ahead of incomes: Affordable dwellings can only be delivered by an extra-market force, and the only such body of any scale is central government.

    Get on with it, they wasted so many years pretending there was no issue, they have such a pattern of this. Oh for a government that deals in reality more than ideology…

    1. When you say below market rate dwellings are you thinking of the state house component of this announcement or the private sale part of this announcement? If it is the latter then wont the people who buy these houses below the market rate just on-sell them for a profit?

      1. It doesn’t matter if they do, so long as you build 100,000 or more of them as they will drag the market down to a more sane place. Unfortunately National are proposing to build too few, not restrict the sales at all, and not charge CGT on any gains. This is using taxpayer money to allow the landed gentry to earn tax free income.

        1. I can see your argument, however the price will only go down over time, initially there will be profit to be made on-selling these houses.

          Of course it would be possible to restrict on-sale of these houses until after a certain time. Depending on the time period this could be quite restrictive to those who have legitimate reason to move, or run the risk of prices having not dropped to eliminate profit taking. If these houses are sold below market rates there will be over-subscription meaning methods will have to be derived to ration the supply.

          I think both parties should stop pissing around with affordable houses and just build houses. Build enough of them and they will become affordable.

          1. Yes but Sailor the market *cannot* supply either below market rate dwellings nor a market destroying quantity of dwellings at any rate, logically, can it?

            Imagine, there you are the CFO of a volume building company (up and/or out) and you are asked to sign off on a project that will supply so many dwellings as to make those very dwellings worth less than it costs to buy the land and build… it would be more than a little career limiting to go; ‘what the hell; let’s borrow, build, and bankrupt oversells!’

            My point is that yes the market will supply a number of new dwellings, and they will be new and non-cheap, and this will lift both the average quality and number of dwellings in the region, and even enable some trickle down of older poorer quality and/or located homes to lose some value. But without a player also adding ‘affordable’ dwellings at scale to the mix, this system will not meaningfully shift the dial to help those at the bottom of the ‘market’ gain the security of reasonable shelter.

          2. “Yes but Sailor the market *cannot* supply either below market rate dwellings nor a market destroying quantity of dwellings at any rate, logically, can it?”

            Why not? The market has done the same for Tulips, gold, silver, oil, grain, electricity, and all manner of other goods.

            In fact the very same thing happened with housing in the 1990s and 2000s. It suddenly became so easy to build apartments in the CBD that apartments in the CBD remained at roughly the same nominal dollar value for almost 2 decades.

            This would happen if council got out of the way enough and gave the problem enough time. Council has gotten a lot further out of the way, but they haven’t gotten out of the way enough and we simply don’t have enough time. The government needs to step in, but not sell beneath market value. They can simply promise to build so much that the market value decreases and then sell at market value.

          3. Hmm, there isn’t one market though, but many markets in a city the size of Auckland.

            The market very well could supply “below market” housing, compared to some measure of average at least. This doesn’t necessarily pull down the rest of housing prices either.

            For example, say someone starts building cheap compact terrace houses in the middle burbs and can sell them for $400k each with a normal profit*. That’s ‘below market’ at a broad level, and affordable, but probably won’t mean a thing for the price of a villa in Ponsonby or a house on the cliff in Browns Bay.

            *It should be feasible to produce a 100m2 floor-area two story terrace on 100m2 of land in somewhere not especially fancy, and still make 15% profit selling at that price.

          4. Yes, a terraced house like that would be affordable, but apparently houses like that cannot be built in Auckland. The end.

            As to why, I have no idea, it would be illuminating if someone with more knowledge made a list of “7 reasons why we can’t have a 100m² terrace on a 100m² section”.

          5. Nick – you are correct as long as that type what people want long term. If it is just what people want now because everything else is so expensive then there is the potential to just flood the market with this type, lowering their value to the point where they are junk value, while every other type stays where it is.

            If these are genuinely a popular type then it would be successful as it would draw people in from other housing types lowering all values more evenly. Of course I don’t think a house that might sell for $600,000 in the current market when it might only be worth $400,000 in a more stable future market is ‘affordable’.

          6. Actually Roeland they now can, since the Unitary Plan went through about six months ago. I’m working on doing exactly that with my section.

          7. @nick How does that work in practice?

            There’s one item on that list I’m able to figure out — the street grid is too coarse. If blocks get wider than 50m, then 100m² sections will get too narrow. Many areas have blocks of about 100m wide. So how do you manage go get 100m² sections in practice?

            There are a few patterns which kind of achieve this but they have their own problems. The sausage flat pattern and the infill house in the backyard pattern cover almost all open area with driveways. The slightly bigger section with the private driveway pattern requires a body corporate, and often isolates the development from the street. How do you get around this?

          8. What about permeable area + vegetation? Building 100m2 on 100m2 sections means no permeable area and no vegetation, both of which go against general environmental considerations

          9. “What about permeable area + vegetation? Building 100m2 on 100m2 sections means no permeable area and no vegetation, both of which go against general environmental considerations”

            That must be trolling? Surely? No one accidentally argues in that bad of faith.

          10. Somewhat belatedly replying to Roeland about possible patterns to solve the problem: “the street grid is too coarse”…

            which is a valid point, and yes the problems you list are real. The issue is solved if each house can have just pedestrian access instead of car access. Then, the units can be arranged according to the sun orientation, in strings either parallel or perpendicular to the road. In effect, the “connection to the street” does get reduced but is replaced by “connection to the pathway”, which could be better.

    2. After 9 years of these guys and their dishonesty why would anyone even bat an eyelid at this crock?

      It is very subject to what has already been committed to, what has been completed (Tamaki property developers scheme) what will be sold off or demolished, done over their infamous X amount of years or decades time frame and best of all done on the National Party accounting principal of smoke and mirrors.

      And then its also open to selling off whatever few actual extra houses are built and funded by the taxpayer to speculators like the Minister for Housing anyway!

      Sorry but this “announcement”/recycled old news had all the credibility of a $2 Shop Rolex

    3. Agree. But far too late, and nowhere near enough. At least 20,000 short.
      And they need to shift the focus from their black and white view of housing which is ‘social housing for the destitute’ or “affordable” housing to buy, ie. they also need to be building mass rental housing for low-middle income earners, as is done in Europe.

  5. This is nowhere near enough. It’s yet more of National trying to look like they are doing just enough to stop the middle class voting for Labour in disgust at National’s complete ineptitude or malice over the housing crisis.

  6. Too little, too late but as far as National is concerned it’s certainly an improvement.
    Really the government should be developing proper medium density (3-6 levels or even more) in suitable areas while holding onto the land itself.
    Then in areas further away from main centres building 2 level attached housing (and again holding onto the land in most cases). Standard designs keep the costs down, build them basic but built to last and as much pre-fabricated offsite to speed up construction and to help keep those costs down while improving productivity. They should even consider building some high rise apartments and again hold onto the land but perhaps not offer those as social housing as such (could be a nice little money spinner to help pay for more housing projects). Ideally they should plan a whole heap now (even if they don’t build all right now) so that when the next economic downturn happens they have a whole lot of projects ready to go to keep the construction industry humming (which didn’t happen during the GFC when half the builders etc quit for Australia etc which helped cause the current shortage).

  7. Yes but will the actually do it or is it another of their ‘we are going to be pest free’ type of empty statements?

    1. Maybe they could just increase the threshold for affordability so high that all houses are affordable, like rivers with more e-coli than the average toilet.

      1. Yep, waiting for your average cesspool to be given the clean bill of health under Nationals clever accounting!

      2. I expect National will change the Transport Act to rename cars as ‘minor dwelling units’ and declare the housing problem solved.

  8. One observation about housing – are we building the sort of housing that might actually meet the requirements of an aging and increasingly solitary population? Building three and four bedroom homes on postage stamp sections won’t meet the demands of retirees, or even middle aged people who like to live alone all of whom would probably go for a two or even just one bedroom place that wasn’t a shitty sausage block unit built forty years ago or a shoebox apartment downtown.

    1. Mental health would suggest allowing them to live alone is going to have negative outcomes (unless you mean clustered 1-bedroom flats in a village)

      1. What? How is living alone in a one bedroom apartment worse for mental health than living alone in a four bed house? How do you figure that we are just letting the elderly do something? They are people, not just a liability to be managed. Also, apartments are, by definition, clustered, if you build several apartment buildings together, for example by zoning a contiguous area to allow their construction, then that is called a village.

    2. The answer to those concerns is always the same. Build more than one kind of housing.

      Case in point, you know those European cities, with block after block of little terraced houses? If you look close enough you’ll notice that many of them are actually walk up apartments (another thing which somehow doesn’t happen over here). Some of them have shops or other businesses on their ground floor. Or where I studied, some of them have been renovated as student accommodation.

  9. All social housing should be replaced by affordable owner occupied housing, or rent to own housing.

    Social housing cause ghettoization. Everybody is losers.
    The tenants can’t have any upward mobility.
    Housing NZ also paying a high maintenance to people who never care the house.
    Nearby property owner suffers crime and rundown poorly treated house.

    1. Hi Kelvin
      1. Learn history. NZ developed social housing in the 1930s and it didn’t cause ghettoisation, because social houses were scattered around other non-social housing. John Key grew up in a state house – what a loser! My mother grew up in a state house – so forgive me for telling you to eff off.
      2. Can you provide evidence about the crime effects of social housing? If you go to Nz Dot Stat you can break down crime rates to specific areas; you could correlate this with social housing and then get back to me.
      3. No upward mobility? So no state house owners can ever move up? So John Key *doesn’t* live in a Parnell mansion, he still lives in his state house? And what is “upward mobility”? There is nothing ignoble about living in a state house, in a proper country all property would be state-owned.

      1. Regarding social mobility.
        John key and your parents are the few who managed to move upward.

        Unfortunately the majority of the state house residents are encouraged to earn less so that can stay in their state house as well as all the social benefits.

        People who gets too comfortable with their socially funded lifestyle will lost all their motivation.

        1. Motivation for… what? Making money? People make money from all kinds of work that I would prefer they were not doing, like making pointless stuff, advertising pointless stuff, providing IT so advertisers can advertise pointless stuff, working out logistics for freight to move around pointless stuff, teaching people how to design and make pointless stuff… and of course they make money when their capital is put into rental housing, even if that is substandard and over priced. I don’t value any of that.

          I’m quite happy for my tax to provide social housing for people to be, to live, to raise precious children, to have a chance at a decent life, while earning less money. Plenty of important, noble work is being done all around me by people who can’t afford to own a house or even pay market rents in Auckland: volunteer work, caring for young, old, injured, disabled, growing plants for food and to mitigate all the ecologically unbalancing acts inherent in our modern lifestyles, helping out at schools and charities.

          Humanity is rich. I have enjoyed living in a duplex attached to a state house, across the road from more state houses. These state tenants have been wonderful neighbours, well-integrated into the community.

          I wouldn’t say the same for plenty of the money makers around here, who are wasting the world’s resources on too much driving, flying, and disposable stuff.

          Yes, policy should always aim to increase the percentage of owner occupiers, but please don’t make sweeping statements about people in state housing.

        2. I think he refers to the unintended consequence that if a family’s income rises a bit and crosses the threshold, they’re no longer eligible for state housing, they will have to move to a “market rate” house and consequently will be financially ruined. The treat of financial ruin is a very strong motivation to avoid moving upward.

          I’m not sure if this is a possibility over here with state housing, but entitlements for people in need often have this kind of side effects.

          1. Yes, and Kelvin often has good ideas about better ways forward. I don’t disagree that income thresholds can have an unintended side effect in a market like ours. Many of the negative social aspects of poorly maintained housing that Kelvin describes are more correctly associated with the privately owned investment rentals. Certainly I have visited friends in appalling and unsanitary private rentals in Morningside, charged at exorbitant prices because these immigrants get turned away from anything better.

  10. Did any one else notice that the Housing NZ portion (light blue part) on the ‘Feasible Enabled Residential Capacity’ graph notes that they will be supplying an additional 39,000 dwellings, yet this announcement by Amy Adams indicates they will only be supplying an additional 26,000 (34,000 minus the existing homes being demolished.

    What’s changed in HNZ’s planning since the IHP released their version of the unitary plan that means they now intend to deliver LESS houses than they previously indicated?

  11. That’s great news. Every year people build more and more new houses and government support them. As for me I can say that I want to build small house in near future. I have already found nice place for building. There are many building company in Auckland but I prefer to contact with Maxcontracts http://www.maxcontracts.co.nz/What-We-Do/ Maxcontracts company have already built nice house to my friend. I want to contact with this company in future.

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