In lieu of the Government's lacklustre housing announcement last week, I embarrassingly emailed 120 MPs asking for their housing status, not realising you can access the information online thanks to the Pecuniary and Other Specified Interests register.
It's thus unsurprising I received just 17 responses, but the latest register (as at January 2020) doesn't include those newly elected to Parliament in October last year.
Nevertheless, in light of the February tenancy law changes and Labour's pledge to tip "the balance away from speculators and back towards first home buyers", are New Zealand's representatives really "in touch" with the everyday New Zealander?
Before we go into whether our MPs own multiple houses, their salaries are determined by the Speaker of the House, under section 23 of the Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Act 2013. Last year the Speaker's Directions 2020 came into force last September.
On top of a salary (backbenchers make $163,961 a year and the Prime Minister makes as nearly half a million dollars, at $471,049), MPs are entitled to travel by taxi as opposed to plebeian ride-share options, and a select few may drive with a chauffeur and are allowed dinner up to the value of $80 if they're out in the far reaches of their empires.
Generally speaking, MPs are entitled to a printer, printing services, a telephony (sic), high-speed internet services at the office and at home, and standard office software (let's hope the taxpayer isn't paying for Adobe suite for those MPs who dabble in photography). For MPs who have a flair for interior design, they can kit out their offices with extras thanks to party and member-support funding, the directions read.
Interestingly, "value for money" and "cost effectiveness" is highlighted in the principles section of the 2020 Directions, where members are asked to "seek appropriate value for money when using entitlements" and "whenever reasonably practicable, members should use the most cost-effective option available".
In layman's terms we can quantify this measure by asking, 'do I want that bottle of $10 cleanskin wine, or do I need that bottle of special reserve pinot?' Any reasonable person - notwithstanding the upper echelons of the public service - would see cleanskin wine to be down-right offensive.
On that note, I have never seen a politician on a JetStar flight. It says a lot, really.
Without further ado, here is A-K of MPs' property interests, with L-Z to follow next week.
Home is where the heart is
Jacinda Ardern owns a family home in Auckland, and has a mortgage with Westpac Bank and as of January last year the Prime Minister had clothing on loan from designers Kiri Nathan, Kate Sylvester, Harman Grubisa (which is no longer), Juliette Hogan, TAC Pacific, Mena, Maggie Marilyn, and Tanya Carlson.
Of our MPs, beginning alphabetically: Kiri Allan jointly owns two properties in Gisborne and Whakatāne. Ginny Anderson - of The Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill (No 2) fame - jointly owns a property in Lower Hutt.
National's Andrew Bayly owns a family home in Karaka, a farm in Tuakau, a share of house in the Coromandel, a share of property in Ōnehunga, and an apartment in Wellington. All, with the exception of the property in Ōnehunga, are held in trust.
National's David Bennett owns not one, not two, but three dairy farms in Te Awamutu, a drystock property in the same region, and a residential property in Hamilton.
Chris Bishop jointly owns a family home in Petone, and interestingly has a stake in the craft beer company ParrotDog.
Simon Bridges jointly owns a family home in Tauranga, an apartment in Parnell and an apartment in Wellington by way of a Superannuation Scheme, and a commercial property in central Tauranga under EHJ Property Limited - a company in which he has controlling interests.
Labour's Rachel Brooking has been a landlord in the past. When she and her family moved to the UK, they rented out their family home until they returned to Aotearoa. She acquired this family home at the tender age of 27.
One of the younger pup MPs, Simeon Brown, jointly owns a family home in Pakuranga. Depressingly, he's just 29. On a brighter note, he has never had any rental properties. There's hope for us all.
Gerry Brownlee owns a property in Havelock, three residential properties in Christchurch and has a beneficial interest in a residential property in the Marlborough Sounds.
Former health minister and mountain biking enthusiast David Clark owns a family home in Dunedin and a holiday home in Alexandra. Both properties are owned in trust.
Tamati Coffey has a family home and investment property in which he has a property manager. He first purchased property in 2009.
"Our whānau home is mine and is our whānau papakainga with mum and dad downstairs, sister in the whare too. And two dogs," he said.
Judith Collins has a family home via trusts in Auckland, a commercial and residential property in Wellington and a residential property in Nelson. The Wellington and Nelson properties are owned by a superannuation scheme.
Labour's Liz Craig has a family home in Invercargill, a farmlet (includes house) in South Otago, and a conservation block in the Coromandel.
In true Green Party fashion, Marama Davidson does not own any property and she says she is not, nor has she ever been a landlord.
Kelvin Davis owns a family home in Kaitāia.
National's Jacqui Dean has a rented property in Ōamaru, an apartment in Wellington, and a rural block in Wairau Valley - all of which are owned by a superannuation scheme. She owns a commercial office and apartment via trust in Ōamaru, and she otherwise owns another apartment in Waikawa.
Matt Doocey owns a family home in Rangiora and a residential property in Merivale, Christchurch. They are owned by trust.
Paul Eagle jointly owns a family home and a rental property in Wellington.
Justice Minister Kris Faafoi owns a family home in Porirua.
Julie Anne Genter owns an apartment and a house in Wellington and fellow Green MP Golriz Ghahraman jointly owns a family apartment in Freemans Bay, Auckland.
Paul Goldsmith owns a family home via trust in Remuera and a half share in a house in the Waitākere Ranges.
Labour's Peeni Henare does not own property.
Chris Hipkins jointly owns residential property in Upper Hutt, and a residential property via superannuation trust in Paraparaumu.
Willie Jackson jointly owns two family homes in Auckland, another jointly-owned family home in Rotorua, and a further jointly-owned apartment in Wellington.
Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki jointly owns a family home in Ōnehunga and a rental property in Totara Heights.
National's Barbara Kuriger owns a family home in New Plymouth, a family home in Te Awamutu, two dairy farms in Ōpunake, and an apartment in Wellington via a limited partnership. She otherwise has a joint leasehold interest in a dairy farm grazing unit in Ōpunake.
Feeling positively deflated, I'll leave the rest of the alphabet for another column.
As you can see, the number of houses owned by MPs is not representative of the population seeing as the rate of homeownership has fallen to 65 per cent. Census data shows it's the lowest rate since 1951.
[For the A to Ks, Chris Baillie, Camilla Belich, Glen Bennett, Rachel Boyack, Mark Cameron, Naisi Chen, Karen Chhour, Simon Court, Barbara Edmonds, Nicola Grigg, Shanan Halbert, Emily Henderson, and Elizabeth Kerekere, didn't respond to my request for information.]