Hawke's Bay has had one of the biggest losses of state housing in New Zealand according to statistics which emerged yesterday as Minister of Social Housing Paula Bennett was in the region.

She was being challenged about what one local MP says is "a growing crisis in the regions".

The figures, released after Bennett, in her role of Associate Minister of Finance, delivered the Government's post-budget statement to Ngati Kahungunu iwi representatives in Hastings, show Hawke's Bay has lost 377 state houses since 2011.

Nationally, the state housing stock had dropped from a peak of 69,742 to 65,550 - Auckland losing 851 homes, Greater Wellington 573 and Hamilton 385.


The lost Hawke's Bay homes include about 300 in the Napier-Hastings area, which Opposition member and Hastings-based Ikaroa Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri says has placed the region in a housing crisis, without sufficient homes built to house those dislocated.

The concerns were also raised by Maureen Mua, chief executive of social services provider Roopu A Iwi Trust and chairman of the Richmond School Board of Trustees, both based in Napier suburb Maraenui which lost well over 100 homes.

They included 96 units in the levelling of 33 blocks in late 2014 and early last year - half regarded by Housing NZ as earthquake-prone and the other half because they were "old, poorly configured and no longer fit for purpose".

In a hui that turned sharply to housing issues from the Minister's post-budget spiel - as delivered "35" times around the country already by Minister of Housing Bill English - Ms Mua said there had been no sign of redevelopment - only the seven two-bedroom homes clustered on the corner of Longfellow and Percy Spiller avenues and opened before the major loss was announced.

"We have a real issue," said Ms Mua, and Ms Whaitiri says it is becoming a greater crisis by the day, adding: "I have become aware of four families in four days being placed in motels."

Asked what new housing would be provided, Ms Bennett said there are announcements to come, but also said: "I don't want a country full of state houses."

She said the country needed more "right now", but added: "It's kind of where's the line of it being enough. I'm sure for some it will never be enough."