Over the years, Greater Auckland has become well-known for its work on transport. We’ve also published some fantastic articles on housing, but these have tended to be one-offs; we haven’t had a clear editorial direction on housing.*

In transport, we carved out a unique position saying constructive, evidence-based things that others in New Zealand weren’t saying, based on international best practise. We also came up with proposals and strategies – most obviously the Congestion Free Network and Regional Rapid Rail – resulting in policy influence and, indeed, those two strategies becoming government policy.

Housing is not like transport. It gets attention from everywhere – councils, government, universities, NGOs and the private sector are all looking at it, evaluating policies and coming up with new ideas. Solutions are often national-level, not local or council-level, and housing is less dogmatic than transport (or is it?)

Perhaps a typical development in future Auckland – 6 houses replaced by 30 new apartments and other homes. Image source: https://kaingaora.govt.nz/developments-and-programmes/auckland-developments/

This all means that Greater Auckland couldn’t, and shouldn’t, have the same influence on housing that it does on transport. Still, we want to contribute more than we have done. This year we’ll publish a lot more content on housing. We’ll have an overarching theme that we build up through these posts, as well as through a page at https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/housing/ which I’ll update through the year.

We’ve called this housing theme “20/20 Vision”. We want to:

  • Provide a better picture on housing in Auckland and nationwide; new homes and old homes too
  • Identify blind spots in housing that aren’t being talked about
  • Discuss the housing/ transport interface (they’re two sides of the same coin)
  • Get to the root of high housing costs.
  • Encourage some broader perspectives (i.e. from others outside the usual sphere)
  • Bridge the gap between public conversation, academia/ research, and practical Auckland issues

We welcome comments, ideas or guest posts that will help us do a better job. One of the best things about Greater Auckland is our awesome and engaged readers, and being a forum where we can discuss these issues.

As for my own ‘blind spots’… hopefully others can help to fill them. I’m an economist with a strong professional interest in most of the stuff above, I work for a design and property consultancy so I’m closer to property development than most economists are, I’ve lived in the city centre for 10 years, I’m dad to a toddler.

But like most of us at GA I’m Pakeha, professional, middle class, a homeowner – I’m nowhere near the pointy end of the housing crisis. I haven’t had to make really hard decisions about whether to spend huge chunks of my income living centrally or to have a long commute. I’ve never been discriminated against when looking for a place to live. So if I (or we) are naive on this stuff, call me out on it. Auckland should be a place where everyone can have secure, affordable housing that meets their needs; we’re a long way off, but that’s the goal.

I identify myself as an “expert” in some of this stuff, but by no means all of it. I don’t know much about social housing, design, Maori housing aspirations, and many other topics that we’ll touch on this year. Again, we want to bring in others who can share their own expertise, or their own experiences.

So, let’s start the ball rolling… what else should Greater Auckland cover on housing this year? What would be interesting or vital to tell this story? What are the ‘blind spots’ that the media doesn’t cover well enough? What are the things that confuse you? It’s good to be confused, as we’ll see, there’s plenty that confuses me too…

* I’m simplifying here; GA obviously tends to support intensification more than sprawl, and we’re quite YIMBY and not at all NIMBY. We’ve also advocated and campaigned on housing at times, mainly on the Auckland Plan and Auckland Unitary Plan, including the short-lived Coalition for More Homes. That was short-lived because the final approval of the Unitary Plan ended up being easier than we were expecting, but maybe there’s room for a ‘coalition’ like this to return?

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  1. Missing discussion is the wish, often expressed among older people, for a version of co-housing to be available to us as we age and wish to downsize. We resent the takeover in this sphere by large, profitable companies and the offers to live in luxury as we age – yet the primary alternative offered seems to be staying put in our houses.

    The Abbeyfield model, seen in Sandringham, Auckland, seems an excellent one, and is designed for those with financial constraints yet in good health. There is no expansion of this model, however, or any variants upon it.

    GA could fruitfully investigate here. Should the private sphere have taken over housing older people for profit, as it has in educating and caring for preschoolers? These were not foregone conclusions – we just let them happen.

    1. Agree! Some of us are aging, no longer need or want our family homes but the alternatives for downsizing are very limited. The retirement village, with all it’s fish hooks, seems to have captured this part of the market. This is really just a huge transfer of wealth from families to the Rymans et al. I want to be able to help my kids into secure housing and downsize into something more appropriate for my on-going needs without lining the pockets of developers or retirement/resthome companies. Have followed the Nightingale development model in Australia (mainly Melbourne) and it looks great. Maybe some exploration of how this could work in NZ & why it hasn’t yet got underway here) would be interesting.

      1. We downsized from the four bedroom family home to a two bedroom apartment in Kensington Park, Orewa. Freehold, body corporate, lock and leave. KP is worth a look as a model.

    2. Hi Helga and Geoff, The cohousing movement is growing in NZ. There are a number of groups in existence in Auckland – The Urban Advisory explore new ways with these groups to collectively own, democratically develop and manage housing throughout NZ. The government is even showing interest in this area, and a number of programmes are looking at how they can assist the growth of this ‘community-led’ sector. You can read more about the specific examples here:
      and generally about the different models here

      1. As ‘mid’ boomers on the brink of retirement we have traded down. Not to Ryman’s world view but a smaller stand alone house. This was the option we chose; http://www.habode.com Small, cheapish, relocatable, pre-permitted, so a straight forward project for older people without the energy/willingness to engage in NZ’s bespoke new house industry.

    3. Thanks for this Helga – I was definitely going to cover co-housing, and a post on housing for the elderly is also a great idea (including Abbeyfield), as it’s the fastest growing age group after all!

  2. Some topics that may be good
    – How tax drives decisions, for example property vs land tax for rates
    – how leasehold land could be structured to support more affordable housing. i.e. There is no loan ratio, meaning smaller deposits for same house. NZ society is now accepting of appartments, but not really a house on leasehold land yet common overseas
    – Alternative approaches to structure of social housing around the world (private, local government, central government, mixed, other) and the benefits of each. I.e. Is the approach used by Habitat for humanity where you have to contribute to the build scalable?
    – what could be done to make it easier and most cost effective for employers to provide accomodation (and other non salary/wage) support? Already happening around Queenstown/Wanaka)
    – Impact of the way we work (remote, compressed days, always open businesses) on town planning?

    1. Yes a very good reason, it was practically illegal until recently!

      The rules have recently changed so we are seeing a lot more brick midrise buildings coming through, however up until about four years ago the building code required brick buildings over one storey to have a steel tie anchoring every individual brick to the superstructure (!). With thousands of bricks on a facade the extreme expense of this requirement meant it was simply infeasible to build a building that way.

      Meanwhile, we had a couple decades where shoddy monolithic plaster and panel systems were legal, and cheap, so in effect the building codes made brick all but impossible to deliver commercially. You saw it in a handful of premium private homes and that was about it.

      What changed was actually a result of the Christchurch earthquakes, these resulted in a huge amount of data on the seismic performance of brick facades, which revealed brick is actually far less of a risk than previously thought.

      Now the code only requires a shelf angle support along the floor slab of each storey, and one anchor tie per m2 of brickwork, which is much cheaper. Meanwhile the cheap monolithic plaster and aluclad panels are now basically banned, so brick is now a cost-effective option.

      I’m something of an instant expert on this because I’m on the body corp committee of an apartment in a building that was designed for brick but the council of the day effectively required it to be built in plaster instead… now they’ve banned plaster and we are required to reclad the entire thing in brick! Oh well, guess we got there in the end.

      PS: Anyone who is interested in brick high rise should google Bogota, things like this are on every corner: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/1a/7b/44/1a7b44a98c09c1dfaf2acc059472ad88.jpg

      1. Thanks! Wondered about this. We’ve seen so many 2-storey townhouses apparently aimed at (semi)-retirees being built on in-fill sections that have the upper levels (or both) in some kind of painted cement/fibre board product rather than full brick. The future maintenance of these multi-storey properties is a serious issue & cost making them pretty unsuitable for many of us looking for lower/easier maintenance properties for our retirement years. Perhaps this may change with new building code rules?

        1. “We’ve seen so many 2-storey townhouses apparently aimed at (semi)-retirees being built on in-fill sections that have the upper levels (or both) in some kind of painted cement/fibre board product rather than full brick. The future maintenance of these multi-storey properties…”

          I would expect that many of them will have to be demolished in the next decade or two.
          On the bright side; it could make redeveloping the areas with better apartment blocks easier.

      2. I think it is still just used as a brick veneer in this country so you have to pay for a structure to hold the building up. In countries where they have no earthquakes you can build double skin brick or concrete block on the inner layer and brick on the outer. Using the brick to carry load as well as keep out the weather makes them twice as useful.

        1. Oh any you also need to factor in the Bright Line test which basically says if you buy and subdivide straight away they charge you tax. Wait five years and you don’t pay any. Given those incentives who wouldn’t wait? It is actually what the Government want you to do otherwise they would have that tax rule.

        2. Correct, in NZ brick is a cladding system over timber frame or steel-reinforced concrete block, and structural brick hasn’t been used for about a hundred years.

          But this is the same with weatherboards, shiplap, steel, stone, plaster etc. None of those are structural and they mostly have greater maintenance requirements. Brick just needs periodic cleaning, and repointing every hundred years or so.

          I think tilt slab panels are about the only thing you can still use that doesn’t require a separate cladding layer. Even concrete block has restrictions on how much area you can have, as it is porous.

        3. Well yeah, I know that it’s still sometimes used for Brick cladding (with a timber or steel construction).
          But I was talking more about double-brick construction.

          I understand that it fell out of favour in NZ after the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake, where a high death toll was attributed to the double-brick buildings faring poorly. But should this also apply to Auckland with its much lower Seismic risk?

          Because double-brick is ideal for erecting terraced housing and low-medium rise apartment blocks. And if designed & built & maintained properly; brick buildings can last for centuries.

          And it should be noted that this construction method was invented by the Romans/Etruscans, who inhabited one of the most earthquake-prone peninsula’s on earth. and that it’s used in plenty of earthquake-prone places (Balkans, Anatolia, across Latin America). I’m not saying that NZ outside of Auckland also should though…

        4. Auckland is a lower seismic risk than the country to the south but it still has a substantial risk compared to places like Britain or Australia. Unreinforced masonary construction, e.g. double brick, is hopeless for seismic. The bulk of the seismically deficient flagged buildings in NZ are double brick.
          Precast reinforced concrete panels are far less labour intensive, have no cracks, gaps or leaks. They’re available with textured or exposed aggregate finishes on the outside requiring little maintenance, and can be made with pumice aggregate for insulation and a smooth finished surface on the inside. A better modern alternative to brick.

        5. @ Anthony
          “Auckland is a lower seismic risk than the country to the south but it still has a substantial risk compared to places like Britain or Australia.”
          Can you verify that with sources?
          Because the pga and EMS maps I’m seeing show Auckland having not much higher vulnerability to Earthquakes than the British isles.

          “Unreinforced masonary construction…”
          Neither I nor anyone else ever said anything about unreinforced masonry.

          “The bulk of the seismically deficient flagged buildings in NZ are double brick.”
          But does that apply to Auckland?

          “Precast reinforced concrete panels are far less labour intensive, have no cracks, gaps or leaks. They’re available with textured or exposed aggregate finishes on the outside requiring little maintenance, and can be made with pumice aggregate for insulation and a smooth finished surface on the inside. A better modern alternative to brick.”
          Plus they often look ugly and depressing.

      3. “Meanwhile, we had a couple decades where shoddy monolithic plaster and panel systems were legal, and cheap”
        Which no doubt is related to the leaky buildings all across NZ built in the 1990’s and 2000’s

        “these resulted in a huge amount of data on the seismic performance of brick facades, which revealed brick is actually far less of a risk than previously thought.”
        And all of those beautiful late Victorian and Edwardian buildings in Wellington got knocked-down and justified purely because of their brick structure and had them replaced with modern Architecture eyesores…

    2. Given the climate emergency shouldn’t we be building in wood. One other thing when we say brick we are not talking about fire brick as far as I know. What is being used are concrete brick. So cement is used to make the brick. Carbon dioxide emissions from cement manufacture come from two sources firstly the coal and some waste wood to fire the kiln and secondly carbon dioxide is driven off from the lime stone which is used as a raw material. I see some high quality weather boards are being produced using wood fibre and recycled plastics.

      1. When I’m talking about brick for my building I do mean conventional clay brick, not concrete block.

        From the research I’ve seen brick is significantly better on emissions and embodied energy than concrete, something in the range of one quarter to one half.

      2. I thought most bricks sold are clay bricks fired in a kiln. Firth do a range of concrete bricks. But most others are clay. https://www.claybricks.co.nz/about make them in Huntly. Monier are fired and Austral do a range of fired bricks and masonry blocks that are not fired.
        The problem with concrete bricks is they bleed lime for their whole life while clay bricks are inert.

        1. Well I was wrong then. However I wonder if there is still a percentage of cement in their process. The new bricks don’t look much like the bricks of old.

      3. I’m sorry Royce, but you’ve got this the wrong way around.

        Cutting down more trees for more timber weatherboards is more harmful for the environment than constructing with Brick. Beyond the initial construction; you’ve also got to continue treating the timber with toxic paints and other chemicals until eventually needing to replace them altogether.
        Brick cladding doesn’t need painting and only needs replacing if the Cement was poor quality and even then only after 50-100 years.

        And what you’ve described applies to concrete Bricks, but not to the clay bricks used in construction.

        And I’m wary of these Timber & plastic weatherboards. Let’s see who they hold up after 10 years and if the plastic causes the wood component to rot, or how it fares to solar radiation, etc.

        1. New Zealand’s framing timber comes from plantation forests that are replanted after harvesting. It’s actually carbon negative as you cut the tree down and sequester it’s carbon in a building, while the replanted tree absorbs more carbon.

          Sure most of it is kiln dried and treated, but the embodied energy if far less than baking limestone into Portland cement. Probably less than baking bricks too.

        2. Replanted trees take some time to breath as much carbon as adult trees do.
          Although it is a fair point that the carbon is trapped in the timber instead of rotting away (as quickly) in a forest.

    3. If you go down to Huntly, you’ll see that most of the houses there are brick – in fact, brick as a material still clads about 50% of NZ homes, according to BRANZ: http://www.level.org.nz/fileadmin/downloads/Materials/LevelMCBrick.pdf

      But our NZ brick is not really used in a structural sense any more, anywhere in the country. We (NZ) just use it as a thin cladding material – so the standard thickness of a brick overseas (100mm+) is way thicker than the “brick slips” we use here at about 40mm.

      There’s a problem using skinny bricks though, as may be seen here:

      It’s not very good really – especially when timber flexes (good) and bricks don’t flex (bad) then the two part company…

      1. Oh yeah I’m well aware that across the Northern Waikato and around Pukekohe; Bricks were still popular for housing & buildings up until the ’90s. A lot of my extended family lives around that wider region.
        And I’m aware that it’s only used as cladding, which is what my OP was alluding to: Why not allow double-brick in Auckland? Because the reason why it was banished was because of the seismic risk which is not very high in Auckland.

        1. Low risk doesn’t mean no risk.

          Downtown Auckland is less than 50 km from an active rift fault system (ditto for Hamilton). There are a series of fault scarps running from near Tirau through to the Firth of Thames and continuing offshore to near Waiheke Island. These are evidence of (geologically) recent surface ruptures. Some of these show repeated movement in the last ~20k years. Single earthquake offsets in the range of 1-2m vertical. Estimated magnitudes based on rupture lengths of individual fault sections are M5.8 to M6.6, potentially up to M7.4 if multiple sections rupture simultaneously.

          There’s also the Wairoa North Fault fronting the Hunua Range, but that is less well understood. Some sign of (geologically) recent movement where surface is offset but not enough detail to identify single earthquake event(s). It is likely much less active than the Hauraki Rift.

          Then there’s the historically documented quakes. A sizable shallow earthquake in the South Auckland area around 1835 (GNS estimated ~M6.5, possibly centred near Clevedon). Better documented was the 1891 Port Waikato Earthquake (GNS estimated M6.2, centred off the coast from Port Waikato). This toppled brick chimneys in Auckland. Neither of these quakes had a surface rupture.

          For an example of damage to unreinforced structural brick buildings caused by a small earthquake (M4.3) in a location that “doesn’t really get earthquakes”, see the 2007 Kent (England) earthquake. Plenty of pics via Google …

          As for citing Italy of using structural masonry in an earthquake prone area, Google “Italy earthquake damage” and look at the photos for some recent examples of what can happen. Over 600 dead in the last 20 years…


          New Zealand Active Faults Database

          Persaud et al, 2016. The Kerepehi Fault, Hauraki Rift, North Island, New Zealand: active fault characterisation and hazard. https://doi.org/10.1080/00288306.2015.1127826

        2. Our house in Greenlane was built in 1955, The lower storey is of solid brick and the upper storey is brick clad with a timber frame. So this type of construction was in use in Auckland at least until the mid 1950s.

        3. @GK
          “As for citing Italy of using structural masonry in an earthquake prone area, Google “Italy earthquake damage” and look at the photos for some recent examples of what can happen. Over 600 dead in the last 20 years”
          I’m not quite sure what your point is. Are you trying to say that nowhere in the world should ever use double-brick construction?

        4. @ Daniel
          You pointed out that double brick was used in many earthquake prone places, including the Italian peninuslar. I pointed out one of the main downsides of that – prone to collapse during earthquakes, with many deaths.

          I am saying nowhere in NZ should use it, even the the so called low risk areas. Low risk is a relative term and not necessarily comparable areas deemed low risk overseas.

  3. I work a lot with developers, and the biggest hurdle to making a viable development in Auckland (and other popular cities) is the price of land. Land cost is housing’s equivalent of “shipping” for everyday items. Supplying $2 products by only using a $5 courier is a tough sell, for example.
    There is masses of unterutilised land in Auckland’s urban area. Those that own it have no incentive to sell it to those who need it, because they can earn themselves a fortune doing nothing but sitting on it- essentially holding it for ransom.
    Various economists have favoured a Land Tax instead of income or company taxes to improve this. To be effective, it would need to be, say, 6%pa for mean $/m2 land, scaled up or down for high or low value land respectively, and introduced progressively over a long time. But people have a strong resistance to its concept. I’d love to find some solid research on why this resistance exists (I can certainly draw my own uninformed conclusions…) but it seems scarce… does anyone know a good source?

    1. It would be interesting to see some analysis of Vancouver’s ‘empty house’ tax and whether a similar approach could increase supply of rental housing here?

      1. I’m very skeptical of an ’empty house’ tax – see past GA articles on ghost homes, the evidence suggests that there are not that many genuinely empty homes which would be likely to shift into rentals if such a tax existed. There are other tax/ rating ideas which could have better potential, but successive governments have vetoed these, unfortunately.

        1. Yes, the Tax Working Group raised a land tax as a legit option, but it was immediately shot down by Ardern with “so long as it doesn’t apply to the family home”. Like… Kim Dotcom’s family home? Or the primary farmers’ home, while the farm hands’ home on the same land isn’t exempt? It’s a shame, it meant the idea got no real limelight.

    2. I am in that situation. If I build three more houses on my site then I will have to sell them to recover the cost of development. Then I won’t get any further capital gain. Holding gives me a tax free gain without any risk or need to sell yet. The whole thing is driven by planning rules that limit land supply and an immigration policy that is not connected to housing capacity. If the future gain is better than the current return then only an idiot would develop now.

      1. The land value does increase but I’d expect the rate of return would not be as high as developing the land and selling the houses/sections (perhaps at the right end of the market).

        If this was the case there would be no developers. Only land bankers.

        1. The return for developing comes as a one off at the end of your investment. So a sensible person who doesn’t want to carry massive debt holds the land until they actually need to take out their money. at that point you do the development.

          Add to this the fact the Government wants people to hold the land at least five years and you get land banking. The Bright Line test means after five years the capital gain is tax free. They will pay you 6% per year to hold the land and not sell it for those five years and that is on top of the capital gain you had. Not bad when your opportunity cost 2.5% or 1.65% after tax on a five year term deposit.

        2. In comparison the government taxes employment from the first dollar earned so the message seems to be that they prefer land banking to working, speculation to wealth generation.

        3. The government also prefers people to work in April rather than in February and March as the tax rate is a lot lower. Hence my additional leisure time at this time of the year

    3. I totally agree. TOP (the political party) had Land Tax in policy. I am possibly a little young, but I understand NZ used to have a land tax, that was cut in about 1988 by Douglas and was supposed to be replaced, but he never finished the job. It, and heavy tax on unused/ghost houses make so much sense the questions is actually why are they not being implemented (allowing for reduction in tax on productivity – company and personal tax rates). It work well in Vancouver to knock down the land banking problem. i am trying to buy a family home in Nth shore at present, up from Wellington. In general, the quality for cost is just disgraceful. Just talked to my mother and she said the last period of housing boom and low interest rates 3-5% in the 1950s, sections were about 500 pounds and build cost about 2500 pounds. Working class man (15 pounds per week) could afford at about 4x house cost/annual salary. There is something fundamentally wrong. I think it is the price of land and what is driving that – and this needs two be unraveled urgently. Nice website and work. cheers. PS. keep on expanding the cycling infrastructure – that, with ebikes and return of local communities and close-knit living (vs urban sprawel and everyone has a palace idea), have a great future, if done right (e.g. lots of people spaces and…. removal of car dominated landscapes).

      1. In some respects amazing things have been achieved with housing in recent years.

        – We have massively increased construction levels, and we are now building the 15,000 dwellings a year.
        – Most development is within the existing urban area, despite massive new sprawl areas being opened up.
        – Apartments are popping up in lots of places, so are terraced houses. There’s a much wider variety of homes being built.

        We should celebrate these successes. The goal must surely be to keep going.

    4. 6% sounds very high. Most of the proposed Land Taxes I have seen are something like 0.5% to 1%. The $1.5 million houses you find in Auckland have a land value of around $1 million.

      1% of that is $10k per year which sounds reasonable and would be proportionate to other taxes. 6% will be $60k which is unrealistically high.

      1. It is super high, but I think the idea is to start with something tiny like 0.2%, and scale it up over a few decades, so that those who have depended on land for their retirement aren’t sliced off at the knees. And by the time it reaches 6%, land values have been forced right down. Exactly what the right values are would need some seriously good analysis.

    5. I think a land tax is applying the stick before you try the carrot. They need to get rid of all the restrictions on development well before taxing people for not developing.
      In my case we looked into demolishing our house that sits in the middle of a large plot and building units instead. This was just before the unitary plan and at that time it looked like our planning wasn’t changing: a ridiculous one house per 500m2 which was not going to work. So we decided to extend the existing house instead. Is it really fair for a government to tax me because the council didn’t allow me to subdivide?

  4. The real issue is why people buy the housing they do, and all things being equal, it’s the price that is the main determinant.

    And the main reason the price is so high in NZ is due to our restrictive land policies which make all types of housing more expensive than it needs to be.

    There is plenty of research out there that explains the dynamics and it will be interesting to see if any solutions proposed by GA are universal in nature, and are not just to support their Auckland transport narrative.

    1. I have enough faith in my GA colleagues that I’ve effectively outsourced my transport strategy/ planning to them; I trust them to do a pretty good job on it. That frees me up to tackle the housing side, and I’m aiming for a lot of it to be applicable across NZ, not just Auckland. There will be quite a bit on home and land pricing, although I’m hoping to stay away from tax issues as I don’t want to put anyone to sleep with posts published at 7 a.m.!

    2. DAS – I’d disagree actually. Its not the price that is the main determinant – it is the ability to pay the price, and hence it is tied in with the cost of borrowing money. Currently the cost of borrowing money is at an all-time world low – not just here, but just about everywhere except Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

      When you can get a loan for 3.5% then you can afford to pay more – and so you do. When you have two incomes paying for a mortgage instead of one, then you factor in the two incomes: back in the 50s and 60s it was far more normal just to have one solo income, and so that is all that banks would lend on. So house prices were naturally lower then.

      An average man, earning the average wage, used to be able to buy an average house at an average cost. Add in the second salary and what they can afford to pay goes up – so they pay more – so the price goes up. The problem we have is that this is a one-way equation only – we can’t put it back in the box. The real crunch point will happen if / when the interest rates start going up again. Suddenly then. everyone’s mortgage payments start going up massively, and foreclosures happen. We’ve seen it all before. It’ll happen again…

      1. Totally agree Guy. If interest rates were still at 8% like before the financial crisis then house prices would be significantly lower.

        1. Between 2000 to 2008 mortgage rates fluctuated between 6-10% p.a., and everything was hunky-dory…

          Akshually, it was a period of strong growth in the median house price in Auckland.

          The first graph in the link below shows that prices doubled in the 7 years leading up to 2008.


          It was a major criticism aimed at the govt. at the 2008 election by “John Key’s National Party” (public speeches by National MPs at that time usually included a cringeworthy line like that -LOL).

          So whatever the issue is, it’s not simply interest rates.

        2. Kevin – i think it is worth noting that the average house price back then was roughly half of the current house price in Auckland. From memory average price in Akl in 2002 was about $460,000 – and of course also there was a small thing called the Global Financial Crunch in 2008, when banks forgot how they worked, which stopped the lending of money. There has been constant dropping of the bank interest rates since then – resulting in increasing amounts of money available – and so rapid house price increase, far out-stripping any real reasons for house price inflation. Follow the money – its always the money….

        3. TimR: Alas, if I understood money I would be rich.

          I wanted to point out that, high interest rates or low, the rate of growth in NZ’s median house price is pretty much the same either side of the GFC.

          I suspect I’m being obtuse, but it looks like the low interest rates post-GFC are intended to keep the pre-2008 growth rate going, rather than increasing its pace.

      2. Two points.

        1. If the price is lower, you have to borrow less, so the ability to service the borrowings at whatever the rate is less of an issue.

        And 2. in jurisdictions where land/housing is supplied at the rate of demand, the house prices are low relative to income, and they also have low-interest rates.

        The only way that interest rates feed into the cycle you mention, which you are correct on, is if there is a restriction within the system that causes demand to exceed supply.

        That restriction is land supply.

        1. Is it? Or is that just the myth that needs overturning? Perhaps instead it’s about restrictive regulations preventing intensification, and poor land use – entire small cities can fit inside the space taken up by some sprawl motorway interchanges.

          And is it relevant anymore, given we have committed to C40, which requires our upholding our compact city strategy?

          We know from the Global Commission into the New Climate Economy that the cost of infrastructure involved in sprawl between 2015 and 2030 will be $US 3 trillion, if we don’t stop sprawling. We know for Auckland, we’re spending billions of dollars on sprawl infrastructure, which takes our fertile land and despoils it, plus adds infrastructure to maintain. We’ll be spending billions on carbon credits too, many of which will only be required because we’re sprawling.

          So let’s stop talking about restrictions on land supply, and talk about better land use within our already-too-large city.

        2. Gee Hiedi, when you said time to stop talking I didn’t expect it to even stop my right of reply. Where did your reply button go?

        3. This has nothing to do with a compact city or low density, it’s about how do you make any density more affordable, and without it having to be subsidized.

          41m2 two-bedroom apartment Auckland CBD at $475 per week, there is your compact city model.

          A huge % of development and build cost is in the form of rentier capital solely brought about by the monopoly restrictions.

          One of the main reasons people have to move put to the suburbs is they can’t afford to live closer in for the amenity they need.

          Density up a city and having to retrofit infrastructure is more expensive than greenfields infrastructure.

          Elite soils are not so much bought by the developer but are sold by the farmer landowner in conjunction with the council who rezone the land. if it’s that important as elite soils don’t sell and zone it for development.

        4. “This has nothing to do with a compact city or low density, it’s about how do you make any density more affordable, and without it having to be subsidized.”

          It has everything to do with a compact city or a sprawl city, because a sprawl city involves a lot of subsidies – most noticeably to the mode of driving in the form of carbon emissions reductions required elsewhere, but there are many others, too. Like the ongoing cost of maintaining the km of pipe infrastructure, and acres of roads and carparks.

          “Density up a city and having to retrofit infrastructure is more expensive than greenfields infrastructure.”

          Once a whole-of-life, whole-of-society, and environmental lens is used, the picture is quite different.

          Take roads, for example. You can’t just build more roads and development further out, without the central roads becoming overloaded. Retrofitting the central roads will be required whether the homes are put into sprawl or as density. The difference is that with density, the modeshift opportunities it provides mean that the trips people take are healthy, sustainable ones, so the retrofitting can be towards a healthy street model. Sprawl just means the retrofitting needs to accommodate all those far-flung residents who can’t be expected to do anything but drive; hence social pressure for parking and “congestion relief” of more lanes, wider intersections, etc.

          Similarly in wastewater. Technology and expectations of quality are changing. Any city should be updating its infrastructure, but given the neglect of wastewater infrastructure that the drive to keep rates so low for so long has created, we’ve got a lot of maintenance and upgrading to do. Density puts the development dollar alongside the rates to mean the retrofitting then leaves us with up-to-date infrastructure and cleaner waterways. Sprawl just means the money goes into new pipes, to be maintained in addition to the old ones that are only slowly being upgraded, and to a lesser quality than is required.

          Essentially, looking only at the incremental costs of new sprawl infrastructure – without including the externalities of that sprawl imposed on the whole city – keeps costs for developers artificially low.

          Developers’ money should be being put to far better use, in shaping this city the way we need, want and have committed to. Sprawl doesn’t do that.

        5. You assume it is about sprawl vs Compact which means you have given up on affordable housing. In fact, the compact city model needs housing to be unaffordable so disposable income is so reduced that you have no option but to walk.

          It seems impossible to you that you could have affordable density, and yet other jurisdictions do.

          Your model sees a huge amount of non-value added costs ie waste added to the price of housing, which is evident in the price. This is wasteful of human resources and not sustainable.

          The very worsening outcomes we are seeing in Auckland are directly due to the unaffordability the compact city model creates.

          It also assumes people living on the fringe, need or want to go into the CBD. In fact, your model needs to force them into the CBD for it to work. Even now less than 20% work in the Akl CBD. The CBD needs everyone else more than the rest of the country needs them, as Christchurch CBD found out.

          And again using outdated wastewater infrastructure methodologies when STEP systems are cheaper and better for the environment and are the future for greenfield sites, and many brownfield sites in combo with status quo systems.

          Same with carbon re transport, with electric/hydrogen reducing that footprint, and telecommunications for work.

          Most people want affordable housing at whatever density they prefer.

        6. DAS: there have been a large number of studies globally, including several for Auckland (https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/about-auckland-council/business-in-auckland/docsoccasionalpapers/the-brownfield-bounce-march-2018.pdf, FULSS costings, etc), showing that brownfields infrastructure improvements are cheaper than new greenfields infrastructure. I’ve never heard any suggestion otherwise from Auckland Council. If you have good evidence that greenfields infra in Auckland is cheaper than brownfields, please show it.

          There’s no assumption that everyone travels to the CBD. More broadly, though, a large share of jobs in Auckland are reasonably central. And, again, at least three separate studies have shown that people living further out in Auckland have higher transport costs, as urban economic models would predict (https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/2014/08/05/auckland-fuel-spending-by-area/). Those costs, of course, are balanced to an extent by lower housing costs.

        7. The ‘Brownfields Bounce’ paper gives an infrastructure cost figure for greenfields development but doesn’t give a figure for brownfields development. The FULSS doesn’t provide a comparison either. Has anyone properly crunched the numbers on the difference in infrastructure costs between edge development and intensification strategies to provide new housing stock in Auckland?

          My guess is that total greenfields costs are higher, but I don’t know if the difference will be that large. An intensification strategy might have some big costs – for instance if you intensify along the corridors, you might need to do the Congestion Free Network sooner / bigger. As DAS may have been pointing out, any retrofitting of infrastructure in existing built up areas will be expensive, though I’m not sure how much of that would be required.

          I looked at some of the papers on housing + transport costs. Has anyone published an Auckland analysis, just looking at the raw total costs, not adjusted for income of the people living in the different areas?

  5. Yes why not.
    Housing and transport goes hand to hand as it affect spatial efficiency of transport , therefore indirectly affect amenity vibrancy and social well being.

  6. Here’s my question John – it might be relatively straightforward. But I want to know how many income-earning hours go into affordability calculations. Are we saying houses are at 8 – 9x household income on the proviso we have two working adults, and how does that compare to previous generations? Is there any allowance for the additional, not-unsubstantial costs of two working adults (e.g. childcare) in the affordability calculations? ‘Household incomes’ might be a simple-enough metric, but given our low wages and long hours, I’m interested to know whether our problem is actually worse than the simple household income test would suggest.

    1. It covers total pre-tax household income, so yes includes however many people are working within the household. But ‘median house prices vs median incomes’ aren’t a good way to measure housing affordability. It’s better to look at housing *costs* rather than house prices – so that would mean rents, or mortgage costs etc.

      And better still is to incorporate transport costs as well, since those are closely linked to housing costs (and form part of the usual urban economics model)

      1. Are you sure you are not already showing a bias?

        The median multiple is acknowledged by the likes of NZ Treasury, World Bank, United Nations, Harvard Uni, Alain Bertaud, Paul Cheshire, Shlomo Angel, Robert Bruegmann, etc. as one of the main measures to determine the efficiency of the housing market.

        A high median multiple highlights a dysfunctional housing market.

        If it has any criticism is that it underestimates the dysfunctionality because of the fact, as you mentioned, of the household income being from all household income. So even though more people have brought income into the household, the prices have risen faster.

        Also if you are going to look at house ‘costs’, don’t forget to separate value added costs from non-value added.

        1. This is the point at which we’re likely to part ways. Demographia’s comparisons are deeply flawed, and get far too much attention in NZ as it is. There is very little place for them in urban economic analysis.

          I agree, though, that Auckland housing affordability needs to improve drastically.

          You’ll hear very little about “median multiples” in this blog post series; however, you’ll hear about how urban economists analyse housing markets (transport costs are an intrinsic part of this), and I’ll also go through a (development feasibility-style) price breakdown of NZ/ Auckland housing costs to show the extent that different factors make to prices.

          However, I am keen to avoid bias so it would be great if you can please clarify what you mean, and I’ll try to address it if I can.

        2. And yet most of the people I quoted above that reference median multiple are economists, and very good ones too, so it is more than me you are parting ways from.

          The common denominator that the median multiple highlights is that cities with more affordable housing have fewer land restrictions, so it doesn’t matter whether you want to build up or out, it is more affordable.

          Further, where supply is allowed to equal demand, low-interest rate savings won’t be capitalized back into the asset price.

          The research has all been done, start with some of the names I mentioned above, or at least read the Productivity Commissions Report on Housing.

        3. I can see some sense in both measures. The problem with just focusing on prices is that you may overstate current costs after interest rate reductions. But the risk with just focusing on current costs is that you may overstate long-term affordability if interest rates rise. I haven’t looked at it closely for a while, but last time I looked a lot of countries were still operating post-GFC style monetary policies.

        4. Hi DAS, you mention some excellent economists there, and the vast majority of their careers have *not* been spent talking about median multiples, although they may refer to them in passing. Median multiples do have some use, although there’s nothing magic about the number “3”.

          Demographia’s reports don’t withstand scrutiny; they’ve been debunked in past posts on GA and more thoroughly at https://www.planetizen.com/blogs/97706-true-affordability-critiquing-international-housing-affordability-survey. They get more airtime in NZ than they deserve, and this blog series is trying to steer clear of the ‘same old’. There’s plenty of space for that in the Interest.co.nz comment threads instead.

          Alain Bertaud’s intro to the 2019 Demographia report was good, and the first such intro I’d read that acknowledged there was more to urban markets than simply “urban limits are the source of all evil”. The 2020 case study on Singapore was interesting as well. I have some hope that Demographia itself may make a more useful contribution to the debate in future (they could start by reading Edward Glaeser on kinked supply curves, and wider urban economic literature on the various kinds of planning constraints), but that still seems a way off.

        5. I never said those economists spend all their time on median multiples and GA’s and Planetizens ‘debunking’ is hardly in the same neutral without bias zone as the economists, World Bank, NZ Treasury and Harvard Uni that I quoted and that do use it.

          Planetizen’s debunk misses the point entirely.

          Do you not even wonder why someone in say Houston can live in the CBD in an apartment that is half the price of an Auckland one, and it will be better built? They can catch the train or bus just like anyone else.

          The price is set at the fringe, lower on the fringe, rising steadily to the center, that same graph slope is the relatively the same in any city in the world, so if you are 3x on the fringe, then you are 3x in the center, and if you are 9x on the fringe, you are 9x in the center.

          Auckland has had to push apartments out to Hobsonville to make them ‘more affordable.’ That’s compact city generated sprawl.

          The restriction on the fringe allows gaming of the system all the way into the CBD by allowing the addition of non-value added costs.

          That’s what you should be looking for.

        6. DAS, you are completely ignoring that the fringe exists in three dimensions, not just two. That is a result of bias. You’ve looked at a problem (high house prices), identify the problem (restrictions on supply), and then cherry picked the restrictions (horizontal spread of the edge) you discuss to fit your bias.

          A less biased approach would recogise that vertical and hoizontal restrictions (including urban boundary and property boundary restrictions) both contribute to increased housing costs, and then state a justification for why you think the horizontal edge one is the only important one.

          I’m not convinced that none of minimum section size, minimum dwelling size, minimum parking requirement, minimum ouytdoor space, minimum service space, maximum height, maximum coverage, minimum setback, or maximum HIRB are important. Especially as someone who recently abandoned a development as these restrictions made the homes created unaffordable.

  7. Will be interested in this. I live in Te Atatu Peninsula and were are having a lot of construction going on ( HNZ repurposing single dwellings and private businesses doing the same) I would be very interested to hear of any examples where this redevelopment was on a larger, street wide scale- presently we seem to get one house on large section becomes two large houses on a section – how do we get to terraced housing, apartments or other complexes.

    1. Yes, this is something I’d like to see talked about too. Obviously far easier when you are developing a whole block or suburb like Hobsonville or Northcote, but how do we roll out density done well in suburbs so other residents will get on board? After all, more intense use of the surrounding land would be good for their own property values when it’s time to sell, so this shouldn’t be as hard to do as it seems like it is.

      1. Maybe as more and more of the baby-boomers pass-on and whoever inherits their house isn’t so attached & doesn’t want to pay the rates and upkeep?…

    2. Vinny – re “how do we get to terraced housing, apartments or other complexes?” – take a trip out to Glen Innes – existing State houses have been taken away, and new terrace housing / duplexes have been inserted instead. It’s happening already.

      1. By allowing it I guess?

        And mainly by accepting a city is not normally built as “finished” in one go. In most other countries those lots would be gradually developed one by one. It would of course look more messy than what we’re used to over here.

      2. Everywhere gets rebuilt and more dense over time. Take Manhattan for example – it was originally 1-2 storey homes, then small terraced housing, then mid-rise, and now very tall apartment buildings – the island has effectively been rebuilt in 4 waves of construction over the last 350 years. There are still pockets of most of the former scattered over the island. The problem with Auckland is that it does not realise yet that it too should be like an island – building towards Pukekohe is the greatest crime in Auckland’s history. Constructing low-rise crap housing over the land that is your main / your only food supply is a really bad move.

        1. Enough with the dramatics, Guy. The Pukekohe horticultural area primarily produces potatoes, onions and brassicas. These are transported all over NZ and the world. As such it is not the main food supply for Auckland, far less the only one.

          How is construction “towards” Pukekohe on land that was not previously used for horticulture (eg. Paerata Rise) the “greatest crime in Auckland’s history”? Let’s debate on the basis of facts rather than wild hyperbole.

        2. People should grow their own vegetables. Planter boxes, containers or raised beds for those who are short of space. Grow spring onions and let them mature a bit there alright in stews or curries. Brassicas are simple to grow and grow well in winter as do carrots and parsnips,celery and leaks. Just let pumpkins grow all over the place for a bit of fun in spring and summer. Potatoes are more difficult.

        3. MFD – wild hyperbole, right? so did I just imagine this then?
          “Horticulture NZ’s chief executive Mike Chapman said Pukekohe was at enormous risk.
          “It’s critical for feeding Auckland, it’s also critical for feeding New Zealand through winter. We’ve got vegetables that grow better in Pukekohe and will not grow in the colder South Island during winter.
          “So lose Pukekohe – the entire country will suffer.”
          If nothing changes, the country will have to rely on imports and pay higher prices for local produce, he said.”

          “With its unique volcanic soil, flat land and temperate conditions, Pukekohe is the food bowl of Auckland. And as one of the only regions producing year round, it punches well above its weight.
          It contributes more than 25 percent to the country’s entire vegetable revenue, despite making up just 3.8 percent of the nation’s fruit and vege growing area. But with 10 percent of the area already lost to housing, that is going to cause problems as Auckland’s demand for produce continues to surge.”

        4. https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/agribusiness/79606735/imports-needed-to-replace-veggie-growing-land-consumed-by-urban-sprawl

          “New Zealand is probably the only civilised country in the world that does not have a policy for food supply and food security. There is this presumption in Government that there will always be vegetables on the table; there will always be fruit.
          “They have forgotten what they are doing around Auckland. For example, the Auckland City Council wants to put another 50,000 houses in Pukekohe, taking away key vegetable growing land. If that land is lost, New Zealand will have to import vegetables for domestic consumption.”

        5. Well there it is. The only requirement for a food supply is a seaport.

          (I was going to add a sarc tag but I suspect this is actually true.)

        6. Thanks, Guy. MFD, the point is not about what’s happening now in Pukekohe, but what’s heading our way.

          The more logical the steps we take now, the healthier our future will be. We’re be facing restricted energy availability and crumbling infrastructure we can’t afford to maintain. For me, frugal hedonism is a winning vision for a low-carbon future, and fresh fruit and vegetables grown locally are powerfully attractive.

          I’m wondering how the pear crop’s doing, actually… I’m in the mood for making some perry… 🙂

        7. Pears are coming along well Heidi, although we are away on holiday at the moment so will need to take a good look when we get back on the weekend.
          Plums were great but I had to give a lot away in a hurry prior to going away. Avos looking really good.

          I am not advocating building houses on good growing soil at all…but good debate and decisions require good data rather than false or misleading claims. Holiday reading for me is Youval Harari’s “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”. A key theme from that is that in a world awash with information, clarity is power.

          Have you read Sapiens or Homo Deus, Heidi? Very thought-provoking.

  8. I’d like to see more 12+ storey apartment buildings built with more than just the usual 1 or 2 bedrooms per apartment, to better cater for a wider range of people/families. They have lifts for those less mobile who can’t deal with stairs, are secure compared with standalone housing and have enough economy of scale to be affordable. Also big enough to have some onsite facilities: gym, pool, BBQ, tennis, squash, sauna, residents garden, etc. and social interaction. Idealy located near transport and town centres, foot traffic is sufficient for the ground floor to be shops, cafes, hairdressers, service businesses, etc. The land efficiency should allow park/green space between buildings and sunlight to windows.
    I have the feeling that a lot of town centre terrace housing developments are simply not dense enough for the long term and very built over.

    1. Yes to that, apartments are not by definition small. I’d hate to think about the price however.

      The gym, tennis, etc, I’d say we’re better off if these are separated, i.e. in public parks, tennis club, swimming pool…

      For social interaction I’d be interested to learn how that is done in high rises. I lived on the 8th floor for a while and the high rise struck me as the final stage in “engineering out all possibility for social interaction”. And I’d expect some self selecting population of people who value that isolation.

      1. Seems you get the super nice pools, gyms, tennis etc things in the very tall Surfer Paradise etc (in Australia) type apartments that started going up like wildfire in the 80’s boom & continued which can be quite big too. Hefty prices though I bet now. I think Heidi mentioned some link/book/post or was it just a comment quite a while back all about a study into the social affects of towers that are too tall that stuck in my mind.

    2. “’I’d like to see more 12+ storey apartment buildings built…”
      And I’m afraid hardly anyone else shares that desire.

      1. Maybe where you live, but not in Auckland. We’ve had several new buildings over 12 storeys, they all sell out off the plans and have near zero vacancy rates. Auckanders clearly want to buy and live in apartment towers.

        1. With the housing shortage; people will take anything.
          I’m talking more about what people actually want built in their area. For many good reasons; people don’t want these sticking out in their neighbourhood.

        2. Yes with a housing shortage people want housing. Ideally affordable and actually available. Hence why they want apartments.

          People who already have homes don’t want anything built in their area, that’s hardly a revelation. If you think apartments are exceptional I can only assume you’ve never put in a planning application to subdivide and build a single storey detached home either.

        3. We can have apartment blocks. People are warming to them.
          But what people, are not going to stand for are 20 story residential towers suddenly sticking out in suburbia. And for very good & justified reasons.

        4. Auckland has these in New Lynn, Glen Eden, Albany, Ellerslie, Takapuna, Manukau etc already. Not sure what you are really arguing against, reality is wrong?

        5. Those towers in new Lynn are an unpopular eyesore that people strongly opposed and which will galvanise opposition to any more of them elsewhere.

          Manukau is already a built-up CBD, not suburbia.
          And I saw no big towers jutting out at Ellerslie when I was there a few weeks ago.
          I’m not arguing against anything. I’m pointing out that the vast silent majority don’t want 12+ story residential towers sticking out in suburbia and they will resist them tooth and nail.

          And it’s incredible that I’ve had to explain that to you.

        6. Daniel – somewhere along the way we seem to have gone from 12 storeys to 20, but I should note that under the Unitary Plan very few zones allow even 12. It’s really only a few of the largest “centre” zones where the height limits come close to that.

          The Merchant Quarter apartments in New Lynn (a ‘metropolitan centre’) were ten storeys over a four-storey carpark building – not aware of there having been any opposition to that, however I did read an article about opposition to the Westlight apartments in Glen Eden more recently. That building is ten storeys I think. Both buildings are in town/ metropolitan centres, and on the train line – they seem like excellent places for it.

          Height limits are not rigid no-pass lines, but certainly any development over the 4-6 storeys allowed in many places would be scrutinised very carefully.

        7. “Daniel – somewhere along the way we seem to have gone from 12 storeys to 20,”
          Erm actually it was “12+ stories”.

          “but I should note that under the Unitary Plan very few zones allow even 12. It’s really only a few of the largest “centre” zones where the height limits come close to that.”
          But that’s something you need to tell Anthony and John D.

          “The Merchant Quarter apartments in New Lynn (a ‘metropolitan centre’) were ten storeys over a four-storey carpark building – not aware of there having been any opposition to that”
          Well of course there was. Even this glowing Herald story mentions it:

          “Height limits are not rigid no-pass lines, but certainly any development over the 4-6 storeys allowed in many places would be scrutinised very carefully.”
          Which is how it should be.
          But Anthony and John D seem to oppose that.

        8. Daniel Eyre, what are those very good and justified reasons you keep mentioning (out of interest)?

        9. “under the Unitary Plan very few zones allow even 12”

          John P, Is the series going to look at how much scope the Unitary Plan currently gives for intensification and whether some provisions might need to be relaxed if we want to significantly change supply through intensification?

        10. Sherwood – best answer to that is “hopefully”! At this stage, I suspect that more upzoning will be needed than what the Unitary Plan currently allows, and there could be a range of ways to get there; one or more ‘plan changes’, a new National Policy Statement, etc. I think that’s the position we’ll land on later in this series. Auckland Council is monitoring things, too, as required under the current National Policy Statement (NPS-UDC) and may well have to upzone to meet these requirements.

        11. It is a bit odd to see those towers rising up in otherwise low density areas. Wouldn’t walk-up apartments outcompete those due to the difference in construction cost? But maybe not anymore since even for new builds the land is more expensive than the building. (Which by itself is weird)

          Maybe this is due to barriers to development which only high rises can overcome. In that case it is kind of an own goal.

        12. @Anthony
          As you’d expect with physical intuition; those towers house hundreds of people each.
          And this is a considerable increase in population per square meter. A sudden increase in population means improvements in needed infrastructure to deal with it, with the likely otherwise resulting an increase in crowding.
          And we know that the improvements in needed infrastructure are unlikely to occur at first.
          So that means more crowding in local roads (which also increases noise), local health facilities, local schools, local libraries, etc.
          People don’t generally like suddenly being crowded at all, and the dislike is more exacerbated when this area was previously a quiet leafy suburb of detached housing (which is why they chose to live there).
          Plus there’s the factor of visual pollution; people don’t like (what are usually fugly) residential towers suddenly ruining their view or peering into their backyards.
          And finally; unless on expensive, highly sought land where their maintenance and upkeep can be paid-for; they have a tendency to deteriorate into slums.

          I don’t mean to be rude; but these good reasons are pretty common sense. And it’s why you’re not going to see many (if any at all) of these beyond the CBD.

        13. @Roeland
          I agree entirely.
          It’s just common sense that the first steps to increasing population density should be terraced houses and low-rise apartment blocks of 3-4 stories with blocks more up to 6 stories near high streets/transport nodes for most areas.

          Towers only for the very high valued land (like close to the Auckland CBD) please.

  9. Discussion about optimal YIMBY policy is fun and good, but I’d really like to know how we can get involved and actually enact this stuff? Can we go to meetings to let our pro-density views be known etc? Some articles on this and notifications of upcoming events would be good I think

    1. Only people who want to complain go to meetings. You could go to the meetings with praise, but expect to be shouted down and spat at by people who should know better.

  10. Question: it is often said that you should “move closer to where you work”. How does that work if you value your community? I like to think that for some people the set of neighbours is not a fungible item.

  11. Pukekohe vegetable growing takes place to the west of the town, Guy. Construction towards Pukekohe is to the north and northeast of the town. None of this construction has resulted in a decrease in land growing vegetables. Your claim that “building towards Pukekohe is the greatest crime in Auckland’s history” is therefore false, and as such makes a poor basis for further debate on the subject.

    Your further claim that this construction from the north is diminishing Auckland’s main or only food supply requires us to believe that the the bulk of the city’s food consists of potatoes, brassicas, onions and carrots and furthermore that these are sourced almost exclusively from the Pukekohe area. None of this is true.

    If the Wilcox website is to be believed potatoes are grown in Northland, Matamata, Ohakune and Canterbury as well as the Pukekohe area…and that is just one of the growers. Onions? 90% of the crop is exported with 10% for consumption in NZ…so shall we say 3.5% of the crop ends up in Auckland?

    As for the propaganda from Mike Chapman; what was the point of posting it? Even were it true it did not support your claims. It is Chapman’s fellow growers who have been selling this land and then shedding crocodile tears as they trouser the proceeds from the tenfold increase in land value.

  12. Good-looking figs, Heidi.
    My neighbours grow figs commercially, mainly for export. It’s on one of those “lifestyle blocks” that fall under the claimed “10% of vegetable land lost to housing”.

    In other news…I am growing okra and romanesco this summer. Last time I successfully grew okra (in Virginia) it was mown down by turtles. I am hopeful that together with the chillis I am growing I can make some good bindi and gumbo.

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