Last week I wrote about the housing crisis in New Zealand and how it's no longer solely an Auckland issue but is creeping insidiously into the regions and that it's going to be a battle of the policies of the political parties to help rectify the problem for the regions in particular.
It was with interest, therefore, that I set upon the task of searching out the websites of the various political parties to see in detail what their respective policies actually were in relation to the housing crisis in New Zealand, and who will or won't help address the issue in the regions in particular.
I will say, trying to trawl through the websites for the policies and even find the websites to start off with wasn't the most efficient exercise I've done in life. An hour after starting I was still Googling some of the names of parties trying to find their websites.
Prevailing, I got there. In a nutshell, it's no surprise that nearly all political parties purport to support the notion that every New Zealander has a right to live in a safe, warm, healthy, dry home. How each party will (or will not) go about this, however, is a maze of different stories.
The National Party's main solution to the issue is to build more houses, claiming that it's largely a supply issue and to keep pressure on councils' planning processes and infrastructure development to free up land.
Labour's policy is to also build more houses but it will also target and tax and crack down on the speculators and foreign buyers. Labour claims that banning foreign buyers will help all of New Zealand because these speculators are pushing prices out of reach of first-home buyers.
For this to mean anything to the regions, we must bring this down to what these policies may mean or look like implemented on a local level.
The policy of the National Party is to focus a lot on "high-demand" areas. My concern is that, up against all the other major cities and regions in New Zealand, including Auckland, Hawke's Bay simply won't exist far enough up the food chain to be considered a "high-demand area" for much investment along this front.
I give credit to National Party candidate for the Tukituki seat Lawrence Yule, who showed up to the housing rally held last week to explain what National was doing to help the housing situation.
Mr Yule explained that Social Housing Minister Amy Adams had committed to a package of social housing support to build thousands of social houses in New Zealand but he could not commit to a specific number for Hawke's Bay. Though he did suggest (if I remember correctly) somewhere in the vicinity of perhaps 100-200.
Though Mr Yule could not commit any numbers I appreciated the suggestion or speculation because its numbers our region now needs. We need to know exactly how the policies will, or at the very least may, affect our people and our cities, region and people within it.
I am aware Labour has had the forethought to extend its offering to build houses beyond Auckland, recognising the need all over New Zealand. However, again (unless I've missed it) I don't believe numbers for Hawke's Bay have been given.
Other parties' policies I have read, such as the Opportunities Party, the Greens, NZ First, Maori Party and Act, have some good elements. Some, I believe, will have more effect locally in Hawke's Bay on the ground than others.
There's too much in each for me to canvass here and now, except to say the respective policies are worth a read and are online - if you can find them more efficiently than I, that is.
*Jacoby Poulain is a Hastings district councillor, a board member of the Hawke's Bay District Health Board and is on the EIT Council.