On the house

State house, Taitā, 1949 (pic: New Zealand Herald)

State house, Taitā, 1949 (pic: New Zealand Herald)

It seems as though everyone is talking about housing at the moment. What is causing high house prices, particularly in Auckland? What role should government play in the provision of housing? Do renters need greater rights and security?

If you want some background and wider historical context for these discussions, Te Ara is the place to go. You could start with the entries by urban historian Ben Schrader on housing and Māori housing – te noho whare. But there are also entries on such topics as housing and government, domestic architecture, building materials, home décor and furnishings, Māori architecture – whare Māori and real estate, as well as information on more specialised subjects such as railway housing and inner-city flats.

Here are some interesting things about housing I read on Te Ara:

  • New Zealand’s first building regulation – the Raupo Houses Ordinance – was passed as early as 1842. It sought to deal with the perceived fire risk of buildings made from raupō or other grasses by imposing financial penalties on such buildings.
  • From the 1870s, Māori were incorporating European materials, including glazed windows, into traditional wharepuni (sleeping houses).
  • The first state house was opened (with Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage famously carrying in some of the furniture) in the Wellington suburb of Miramar in 1937.
  • Māori were not admitted into state housing until 1948, and were placed into predominantly Pākehā neighbourhoods (‘pepper-potting’) to encourage assimilation.
  • New Zealand’s home ownership rate peaked at 73% in 1986, and had fallen to 62% by 2006. You can see a chart of housing tenure (owner-occupied versus rented and other) over a 90-year period here.
  • In the early 2000s, average house prices in the Queenstown Lakes area overtook those in Auckland. I wonder how they compare now?

And when you’ve finished browsing through all the fascinating information about houses, you can always return to Te Ara’s home page by clicking on – what else? – a little icon of a house!

4 comments have been added so far

  1. Comment made by David || July 21st, 2015

    Thanks Ewan, very interesting blog. According to the ENZ website – this appears to be a helpful resource for foreigners thinking of moving to NZ – the average house price in Auckland in May 2015 was $829k, while in Queenstown Lakes it was $720k.

  2. Comment made by Ewan || July 24th, 2015

    By the way, Ben Schrader wrote an interesting piece on Signposts last year, about the difficulties of calculating the figures on housing tenure: http://blog.teara.govt.nz/2014/06/03/the-joy-and-frustration-of-number-crunching/

  3. Comment made by Mike || July 29th, 2015

    Thanks for this – I would say that after the 2008 crash and the boost in Auckland, Queenstown’s time in sun as leading NZ’s house prices is over, as David states below.

  4. Comment made by Melissa || December 4th, 2016

    A lot has changed in just over a year! Unfortunately, according to the NZ Herald this week (Thursday Dec 1, 2016)… QV house index shows Queenstown house values hit $1 million: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11758390

    This is as bad as Auckland now, if not worse and realistically not great for the average New Zealander!

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