There's an easy way the Labour government can build 'affordable' homes in Auckland. Just go back a year to when National was denying there was a housing crisis and the then Minister for Housing Nick Smith suggested using Crown land to build homes.

Back then I floated the idea of leasing this land to home-buyers so it would cut $200,000 or more off the price of a new home. Home owners would pay a peppercorn rent for the land, and the Crown would retain a valuable asset.

It seems such an obvious solution to me. Why do we need to sell publicly-owned land to a developer at all? Build and lease equals cheaper homes for first-time buyers. Simple.

And developers need to build homes people can afford. Couples only need a two-bed home, not four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a double garage.


Near to where I live I have watched as large homes have been built on sections that could have accommodated three terraced properties or a pair of semi-detached homes. The developer could have built at least twice as many homes, but for some reason decided not to.

Fixing the housing issue requires clear direction from the top as to what's needed, and buy-in from the bottom to make it happen. Right now, it is a free-for-all — and we as a society are paying for it every day as the social cost of the housing shortage takes its toll on human health and the public purse.

Free on Monday

Free with the NZ Herald on Monday is the first of this year's Property Reports.

In this edition we have a one-on-one with Minister for Housing Phil Twyford, we investigate bad landlords and ask why is it that tenants are being asked to repair their absent landlord's homes.

All that and more in Monday's Herald.