Wellington Scoop

The church and real estate

by Lindsay Shelton
What does a Naenae church have in common with Tommy’s real estate agency? The answer: both are concerned about the shortage of houses.

The congregation of St David’s in Naenae is planning a peaceful protest this weekend by camping on vacant Housing New Zealand land opposite their church. They say:

It has been four years since Housing NZ gave notice to hundreds of tenants throughout the Hutt Valley. Scores of houses were boarded up, then eventually knocked down, leaving 17,000sqm of barren land. This has helped create epic demand for housing, which has in turn led to rental price hikes and housing prices pitched way out of reach for too many urgently needing housing.

St David’s spokesperson Rev Martin Robinson says

“Housing is a basic human right, but we don’t see the Government responding to that need in our neighbourhood. Instead, what we see is 100 applicants turning up to rent an ordinary house. We see overcrowding, with all of the flow on health and family issues. We see the numbers of people on MSD’s social housing register doubling from 107 in Dec 2014 to 215 in Dec 2016. And we see 94 of these are for Naenae…“

“We are not seeing any action to rectify the situation. Four years is far too long. During this time, we saw eight Housing NZ units demolished across from our church, and nothing has happened to replace them. The same has happened on Naenae Rd, and on an epic scale throughout neighbouring Epuni. By way of contrast, during that same period, we as a church have built four houses with our own limited resources: two of these on the church land itself.”

Tommy’s isn’t planning a protest, but its managing director says

…”the number of houses for sale in Wellington is significantly less than ideal. This is particularly so, given that this period is still considered the busiest time of the year.”

And more

“This is a reflection of the significant shortage of available and affordable housing and, with current building levels, this situation seems unlikely to improve significantly in the foreseeable future. This is not a new problem. Building has lagged behind demand for 2-3 years and has been exacerbated by high levels of immigration and increasing urbanisation as people move from the regions to metropolitan centres.”

He questions the Wellington City Council’s $5,000 rates incentive for first home builders.

“No doubt this will be welcomed by the recipients if not by other ratepayers facing rating increases but we don’t think it will necessarily result in any more new housing being built. We suggest this money would be better directed to giving new home builders and developers lower consent fees, a quicker turnaround for gaining consents, and providing advice to make the process simpler and quicker.”

Time for Mayor Lester to respond. As well as Housing NZ.


  1. Helene Ritchie, 7. April 2017, 17:17

    The families who lived here in Naenae were my childhood neighbours. I went to Epuni school with them. Today “they” have been banished to somewhere, and their homes are gone, empty, boarded up. Their children are shunted from established communities and housing, from established schooling to homelessness, to multiple locations and tenancies, unaffordable rents, and their parents to unstable incomes.The response? The Government removes the roof over their heads, demolishes it, builds fewer houses. Is it any surprise that we have a new “Ministry for Vulnerable Children.”!

    Economist Shamubeel Eaquub told a Planning Institute Conference yesterday in Wellington there has been a change in philosophy in what underpins the housing market. “One very good example is what we have done with our social housing sector. Housing NZ started building social housing in the late 1930s and stock accumulated over the next 50-60 years to a peak in 1991. Since then, we in net…have not added more social housing. On a per capita basis we have the lowest number of social housing in New Zealand since the 1940s. This is an ideological position where we do not want to create housing supply for the poor. We don’t want to. This is not about politicians. This is a reflection on us. It is our ideology, it is our politics. Our politicians are doing our bidding. The society that we’re living in today does not want to invest in the bottom half of our society.”

    But, they are our neighbours……Can’t we do better than this? We have to! Don’t we?

  2. Lindsay, 8. April 2017, 9:36

    At Scoop’s ‘opening the election’ meeting last night, the housing crisis was identified as one of the most serious issues facing New Zealand today. The Naenae congregation deserves everyone’s support as they campaign for more, not less, HousingNZ homes in the Hutt Valley.

  3. Troy H, 8. April 2017, 14:31

    Drive through the Hutt and you’ll see the many vacant lots from the govt’s recent demolishing of the state housing supply. Then they move to make ratepayers and taxpayers pay for new state housing to try to replace what they have demolished (or evicted).

  4. Michael C Barnett, 8. April 2017, 16:31

    In December 2012,the Office of the Children’s Commissioner released a report ‘Solutions to Child Poverty in New Zealand.’ That report recommended making investment in four key areas,namely: pay people a living wage, provide better housing, make nutritious food affordable and keep kids engaged at school. The travesty is this current government has ignored these recommendations and failed to act on any of them.