This is a guest post by Meredith Dale, senior urban designer and strategist at The Urban Advisory.

There’s a saying that goes something like: ‘what you measure is what you value’.

An RNZ article last week claimed that Auckland was ‘hurting’ because of a more affordable supply of homes, particularly townhouses and apartments within the urban areas. With different data, there’s a different and potentially more interesting story to tell. It could reveal how new housing supply has reduced the cost of living, by providing more affordable and secure homes for many households, and enabling more people to live closer to transport, amenities or family, for example.

When it comes to housing in Aotearoa, we’re accustomed to ‘measuring’ our housing system by measuring market performance, tracking house prices, interest rates which values housing as an asset class. The Census provides some insight on household size, tenure too – and councils collect data, like the number of consents approved by a given council or homes completed (CCC issued).

But we don’t see or understand housing demand, or housing choices well. New Zealand is experiencing an enduring housing crisis, with some of the least affordable homes in the world, a chronic shortage of rental housing and poor housing provision close to public transport and amenities. The choices people make with housing today reflect what is available in the market. But we all make tradeoffs (e.g. cost, location, quality), and have needs that aren’t being met by the current housing options available.

To understand housing barriers and help to plan for those needs, we need new data and insights. We need better qualitative and quantitative data about housing from local communities to ensure decision making, policies and planning is truly informed by people and what they need. We need this data to help us shift the narrative in how we talk about and collectively value housing in Aotearoa for what it provides for us, our families and communities.

This is where New Zealand’s Housing Survey comes in!

New Zealand’s Housing Survey goes beyond available statistics to provide a more nuanced understanding of housing need and demand. It plugs a critical gap in the information needed for meaningful decision making about housing. It has been developed and tested throughout Aotearoa, for Aotearoa by The Urban Advisory.

New Zealand’s Housing Survey aims to build awareness around how people live, want to live and what barriers are in the way to achieving their housing aspirations.

The survey has three sections: current housing, future housing and demographics, and takes about 30 minutes to complete.

The results of this nationwide survey will provide iwi Māori, government organisations, Councils, and developers information needed to support informed decision making about housing across New Zealand. Importantly, responses to this survey will provide evidence and community intelligence to improve our understanding about what kind of housing people want and need, and how this is different from what is currently available to them.

For example, Housing and Business Capacity Assessments forecasting future housing demand could have more detailed insight from New Zealand’s Housing Survey, which could improve our Future Development Strategies, spatial plans, and District Plans and how they work together to enable and provide for local housing needs.

New Zealand’s Housing Survey is the only survey that provides standardised insight around people’s housing choices, creating a consistent nationwide dataset. The survey is independent and will remain open (in other words it is a longitudinal study) meaning it can be used to understand trends over time.

Once there is a statistically significant database of responses, The Urban Advisory will issue bi-annual high level reports with enhanced or area specific reports available on request. This survey goes beyond available statistics to provide a more nuanced understanding of housing need and demand. It is designed to be easily comparable to national datasets to support both quantitative and qualitative research initiatives.

New Zealand’s Housing Survey is the culmination of many years of work in the housing sector; researching housing, developing housing strategies and housing needs assessments, and working with different groups to deliver housing that meets their unique needs.

Jump online, have your say, and share in your networks:

Share how you live and how you want to live in the future so that decisions around our housing include all our voices. And the more people who complete the survey, the sooner the reporting on these insights can be released, and the sooner the impact on our future housing begins.

Thanks to Greater Auckland for helping to champion this piece of work, so together we can understand the housing wants and needs of New Zealanders across the motu. If you are in the room with a regional or local council, please let them know about the survey and connect them with The Urban Advisory to talk to further.

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  1. Good survey. WIll fill it in today.

    Quite aside from some pundits’ assumptions that a “good” housing makrket is one where prices increase constantly, the use of “hurting” as an intransitive* verb always makes me wince.


  2. Important work. How is the survey analysis going to be dealing with sampling/selection/volunteer bias, given that it relies on encouraging people to visit the site to complete it and different groups are unlikely to be equally reached or responsive? (I did look at the FAQ but it’s not really addressed).

    1. Good question, fraggle. Our goal is to achieve a respondent base that is a fair and accurate representation of Aotearoa’s diverse communities. To do this we are using a range of methods to elicit responses. Opt-in responses is one of these, and we will also be reaching out to and working with organisations active in different groups or communities, or using cohort specific focus groups, to help us to reach groups often underrepresented in national surveys. The analysis methodology for the survey also evaluates how representative the responses are of the population, and will report on data limitations.

  3. It’s also worth noting that we (NZ) are not alone in experiencing a “housing crisis”. Australia says that it is also. UK definitely is also. Various parts of Europe definitely are as well, and many places in the USA are as well. We are not alone.

    Issues that have a definite effect overseas include immigration and war (one causes the other and vice versa) as well as baby boomer growth rates, climate-change driven mass population movement (large amounts of Africa seems to be heading to Europe to seek a better life), political upheaval (Europe, North America, Palestine, Ukraine, Mali, Sudan, Libya, etc).

    Not so many of these issues are applicable here though. So why is our housing crisis as bad, or worse, than others?

  4. I’m not sure what this housing survey is going to achieve that every other housing survey hasn’t but good luck. I figure the main purpose is to create a media headline.

    The fundamentals behind our housing predicament are well understood by anyone with a modicum of economics understanding. The Resource Management Act is the single biggest problem but that has been compounded by other legislative requirements which deal with building materials, zoning etc.

    We’ve taken the approach of telling people how high they can build, where on their property they can build, what materials they can build with all the while disincentivising councils to allow building by sending new build generated taxes to central government. We’ve made it hard to build a house and even harder to build the house you want for your needs. Some then wonder why people don’t build houses!

    The answer is to remove ineffective regulation and fund councils via GST collected in new builds. Sadly neither major political party has the fortitude to make the changes we need.

    1. Agree that they shouldn’t be so proscriptive on what people build (why does the council tell me how far back from the street my porch has to be, why do they have a say in how big my bedroom window is?), but regulating how we build is very important. What’s the ineffective regulation you want to remove?

      Last time we did that for the sake of ‘cutting red tape’ and streamling builds it’s created the leaky building crisis which cost the country $47 billion to remediate.

      1. The size of your bedroom window affects the amount of light and ventilation, and was based on years of research by the old state housing ministries endeavouring to make life better for tenants. Wonder if the regulations have kept pace with advances in insulation and building materials?

        The other issue with relaxing regulations in the unintended consequences, such as permitting 3×3 units everywhere resulted in developers snapping up the cheapest largest sections which were naturally the furthest from the rapid transit network and infrastructure networks. My semi rural street 15-20 minutes walk from a train station has had 50 new units built on sections that previously had just 4 houses, with minimal onsite parking, swale drains restricting on-road parking, has no footpath on one side, and the storm water drains into a stream that is lined with red stickered houses.

      2. Regulation needs to ensure buildings are safe, warm and durable.

        But we should also remain vigilant to the institutions that write the regulations being captured by special interests.

        BRANZ did the study that lead to untreated timber being used in the 90s and early 2000s. That contributed to leaky buildings. And parts of any house built during that period will be slowly rotting – moisture always gets in. Your house it not a submarine.

        These days it is far easier to get council to approve BRANZ-certified systems. Speak to any builder about how the builder materials suppliers nickel-and-dime you on all the components that add up to a certified system.

    2. It could be that the underlying economic issue is not resource management legislation but is the neoliberal ideology that the country has been following since the mid 1980s.

      One consequence has been the massive drop in the number of new houses in the lowest quartile of house value and the large increase in new houses in the top quartile of house value. Another consequence is the financialisation of housing.

      1. The RMA cut against neoliberalism by imposing more restrictions on property owners – not less. Multi-storey apartment building in residential areas died under the RMA.

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