Whether or not Kiwis can keep a roof over their heads should keep our politicians up at night.

The ability for New Zealanders to buy their own home or pay the rent to live in someone else's is at the heart of whether we're prospering as a nation or if living standards are slipping.

It influences (or at least should) a huge number of policy decisions and where taxpayer funds are spent.

Which is why it beggars belief that the Government's official data on this issue - the Housing Affordability Measure - is so woefully out of date.


The second version of that index, released today by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, is hardly a surprise.

It reveals that in the year to March 2017 (a period of surging property price growth) finding an affordable house in this country was getting harder for first-time buyers.

It shows that the share of potential first-home buyer households with below-average incomes after housing costs increased from 77 per cent in March 2016 to 80 per cent in the same month last year.

And on the renting side, the share of people with below-average incomes after housing costs was unchanged at 61 per cent.

Both measures would have been of good use at the time — particularly in the face of denials from some members of the previous Government that the country was grappling with a housing crisis.

But more than a year on, it's hard to see that the data is of any use at all.

It doesn't help the Government juggle competing demands for either its attention or money and is cold comfort to first-home buyers or renters priced out of houses last March.

The measure was almost five years in the making and was plagued with delays as MBIE boffins worked out the yardstick they would employ.


Given how irrelevant the information is, it's hard to see why they bothered.