The average household's spending on housing climbed 11.1 per cent over the past two years, outstripping growth in incomes.
Statistics New Zealand's Household Economic Survey (Income) found that in the year to June 2014 the average household spent $284 a week on housing costs (principally mortgage payments, rent, rates and insurance) up from $256 in the 2011/12 year, the previous comparable survey.
The average household income, before tax, rose 9.1 per cent over the same two-year period to $88,600 a year and the median household income rose 7.8 per cent to $71,700.
In the latest year housing costs ate up 16.3 per cent of average household income, compared with 15.8 per cent over the previous seven years.
Average household income is highest in Auckland at $101,000 but so is the share of income spent on housing - 18.2 per cent compared with 16.3 per cent nationwide.
One household in eight nationwide spends 40 per cent or more of its income on housing; among renting households the proportion is 22 per cent.
Compared with two years ago mortgage payments rose 9.1 per cent, to an average $389 a week. While interest payments rose 5.9 per cent, there was a 14.8 per cent rise in repayments of principal.
Over the same two-year period rents rose 6.3 per cent to a national average of $290 a week. Rents are highest in Auckland at $353 a week.
Local body rates rose nearly twice as fast as rents, by 12.5 per cent over the past two years.
The biggest factor in the 9.1 per cent rise in average household income over the past two years was a 7.7 per cent rise in wages and salaries. Household income from New Zealand Superannuation rose 5.9 per cent while investment and private superannuation income rose 23 per cent.
Personal income rose by 9.3 per cent over the past two years to an average $45,500.
Of the people in the top income decile, with $86,000 or more, three out of four are male, nearly half are aged 50 or older, 88 per cent are European, and 44 per cent have university degrees.
The survey also randomly selected one person over 18 in each household to answer questions about life satisfaction and income adequacy.
Eighty per cent said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their lives and only 6 per cent were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.
But when asked about the adequacy of their income, only 58 per cent said it was enough or more than enough to meet their everyday needs.
House versus income
• 11.1% rise in average household spending on housing over past two years.
• 9.1% rise in average household income, before tax, to $88,600 a year.
• 16.3% of average household income eaten up by housing costs in latest year.
Kiwis remain a nation of savers
Households were collectively net savers to the tune of $8 billion or 2.1 per cent of their disposable income in the year ended March 2014, Statistics New Zealand data shows.
That makes five years in a row the household savings rate has been positive, at an average of 1.9 per cent. This is a turnaround from the previous nine years when households spent more than their income by an average of 3.6 per cent a year. Finance Minster Bill English (left) said: "Households have been nudged towards this by ... the 2010 tax package which lowered taxes on income and savings and increased tax on consumption and property speculators."