Labour’s betrayal of low-income New Zealanders

Earlier this year 28 organisations wrote to Housing Minister Megan Woods urging the government to adopt an industrial-scale state house building programme to meet the desperate housing needs of low-income tenants and families.

The answer we received ignored the issues we raised. Instead, it was a PR exercise to deflect criticism. At the end of the letter the minister said “Thank you for taking the time to write and share your ideas”. I can live with the patronising tone but I detest the endless spin.

On housing and welfare this Labour government couldn’t give a stuff about low-income New Zealanders. The interests of middle-class landlords trump the desperate housing needs of tens of thousands of low-income tenants and families.

Labour is determined to keep state housing at just 3.6% of the total housing stock rather than the 5.4% it was before the betrayals of the welfare state by Labour and National in the 1980s and 1990s.

This is confirmed in Labour’s housing plans – a net 2,000 additional state houses per years over the next four years for a waiting list of almost 25,000! And these state houses are being funded by Kainga Ora selling off land to private developers. Yes, you read that right!

It’s pathetic – the state house waiting list has been increasing at twice the rate Labour has been building state houses. And Labour is relaxed about that – nothing to see here says Housing Minister Megan Woods.

A campaign is being organised to force Labour’s hand. Instead of billions in handouts to businesses we demand an industrial-scale state house building programme as was undertaken by the first Labour government from 1935. That government was building 3.500 state houses per years from 1938 for a population a third of the size we have now. In todays’ terms this means the government building 10,000 extra state houses every year until every New Zealander is living in a warm, dry, affordable home.

Nothing less is acceptable!

Here is the petition which is the first stage of this campaign: Individuals and organisations can sign it at

Petition for an industrial-scale state house building programme

We, the undersigned, are calling on Aotearoa New Zealand’s parliament to affirm housing as a basic human right and insist the government adopt an industrial-scale state house building programme to end the housing crisis for citizens on low incomes. Specifically, we are asking parliament to insist on:

  1. The government acknowledging that 50% of the current state house waiting list of almost 25,000 are Māori tenants and families and provide iwi and Māori organisations the funding and resources to meet the Crown’s responsibility to provide housing under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  2. The government funding and building state houses on the same scale as the first Labour Government (1935 to 1949) to deal with the housing crisis so as to build in the short term at least another 20,000 additional state houses to raise state house provision from 3.6% of the total housing stock to its former level of 5.4%
  3. The establishment of a state-run house-building ministry (eg a Ministry of Green Works) to implement this industrial-scale state house building programme by utilising
  • lower borrowing rates and Reserve Bank credit available to the government
  • economies of scale in the purchase of housing materials
  • access to crown and local body land and properties
  • the ability to fast-track planning, design, development and infrastructure provision for the programme and providing an extensive apprenticeship training ground for the next generation of tradespeople (carpenters, joiners, drainlayers, roofers, electricians, painters and related building trades)


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