National is accusing the Government of locking first-home buyers out of the market by purchasing $750 million worth of houses from the private sector.
But Housing Minister Megan Woods has defended her housing agency's actions, saying the spending was only needed to plug the state housing gap left by the previous National government.
Woods was grilled on the topic by National's housing spokeswoman Nicola Willis in Question Time this afternoon.
She revealed that Kāinga Ora had spent $750m over the past three and a half years on buying property across the country, to turn into state homes.
Willis got the information through a written question, which showed 1053 homes that the Government agency bought from the private market.
The response to her question points out that 1053 is part of the 6131 public houses the Government has delivered.
Most of those 1053 homes – more than 660 – were in Auckland but there are houses from across the country on the list.
Willis said this has locked first-home buyers out of the market.
"There's no way struggling Kiwis who are trying to buy their first home can outbid Kāinga Ora. Changing the label on whether a house is state-owned or not does nothing except change who misses out," she said.
But Woods later hit back by saying: "National can't hide from its failure to deliver public housing or the fact it did nothing to ensure affordable housing was being built.
"That's the legacy we inherited but I'm interested in how we're going to fix it, which is why we are proud to have the biggest public housing programme in a generation under way."
Meanwhile, she said New Zealand's state housing waitlist is "spiralling out of control".
The State House waitlist has increased from 6182 in December 2017, to 22,409 in November 2020, Woods confirmed in question time today.
"Rather than move houses from one category to the next, the Minister should get on with addressing the root causes of our housing shortage by taking urgent action to remove the planning and regulatory measures preventing new housing supply," Willis said.
The timeframe the housing agency was buying the homes over starts in 2017/18, so some of them could have been bought while National was in government.
But Woods said in the House that there has been a steady decline in the number of buy-ins that Kāinga Ora have been doing.
"This was an agency that had to re-equip itself to actually build houses rather than sell them off, as had been happening under the previous government."
Today's figures come after Woods was forced to reveal that the Government's Progressive Home Ownership scheme had housed just 12 families since it was announced in 2019, and officially launched in July 2020.
Woods said 133 homes are contracted through the programme and about 50 families expected to be in homes by June.
The programme, which cost $400m, was launched as part of the "reset" of the failed KiwiBuild programme.
Although Willis said the low number of families housed "beggared belief", Woods put out a video saying she was proud of the scheme.
She pointed out that more families are in the pipeline and between 1500 and 4000 families will get their own home through the scheme.