Labour would commit to building 240 more houses for Hastings and Napier if elected, party leader Jacinda Ardern told a crowd at the Maraenui shopping centre this morning.

In Hawke's Bay to make this housing announcement as well as a family announcement later today, she said there was nothing more basic than getting housing right.

"Having a home is a right - just in this area there's maybe up to 1400 people who are homeless - either couch surfing or living in places that are not up to scratch.

"Home ownership is down in Napier by 10 per cent and there's 150 people on waiting lists for housing."

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She noted the land just across from the Maraenui shopping centre had previously been a site of state houses that had since been taken down.

"How can you take down state housing when you have people waiting for a home."

She said half the 240 houses promised for Hawke's Bay would be state housing, and half would be entry-level affordable houses for first home buyers - they would be built under Labour's Kiwibuild programme.

Because the infrastructure was already in place where previous state houses had been located, she said the rebuild could start quite quickly dependent on the labour being available.

Her visit attracted about 100 people to Maraenui where after her announcement got a positive reception.

She spent some time chatting to people and posing for photographs before moving on to meet students at EIT in Taradale.