Auckland Council candidates are split almost equally over whether the new council should play a bigger role in providing social housing for low-income people.

Mayoral candidate Len Brown and 17 other candidates have told a survey by the Waitakere Housing Call to Action group that the council should maintain or expand the pensioner units it will inherit from existing councils, and work with the Government and community groups to provide more social housing.

But 15 others, led by former North Shore mayor George Wood, said social housing was not a local-government responsibility beyond the existing pensioner housing.

Mayoral candidate John Banks is also aligned with this group, although he told the survey that the Auckland Council would have a role in "orchestrating" the use of central Government funding.

"I want to see central Government create a social and affordable housing structure that encourages social entrepreneurship and philanthropy in social housing and enables Auckland Council to do its part in orchestrating better outcomes in social and affordable housing," he said.

Social housing is seen as a political litmus test in the election. Mr Banks famously sold Auckland City's pensioner housing to the Government in his first term as mayor from 2001-04, whereas Mr Brown told a social issues forum in Otahuhu yesterday that he wanted to double the existing number of units.

He advocated putting "1000 new units of affordable housing, both personally owned and rented", into Housing NZ urban renewal projects at Tamaki, Clendon and Papakura.

The candidate survey found some unexpected bedfellows. Far-left mayoral candidates Penny Bright and Annalucia Vermunt both urged expansion of social housing - but by the state, not the new council.

Mr Wood, a Citizens & Ratepayers candidate, said he supported keeping existing pensioner units.

He said the council should provide the land for housing development but the money would come from central Government.

Housing line-up
For bigger council role in housing: Len Brown (mayoral candidate); Vincent Pereira, Christine Rose (Rodney); Uzra Balouch (Albany); Steve Ashby, Joel Cayford, Grant Gillon, Ann Hartley (North Shore); Bill Daly, Penny Hulse (Waitakere); Jeremy Kirwan, Ruby Schaumkel (Whau); Cathy Casey, Glenda Fryer, Gary Russell (Albert-Eden-Roskill); Richard Northey (Maungakiekie-Tamaki); Sir Barry Curtis, Toa Greening (Manurewa-Papakura).

Against council role in housing beyond existing pensioner units: John Banks, Penny Bright, Vanessa Neeson, Annalucia Vermunt (mayoral candidates); Tom Ashton (Rodney); Laurie Conder, Ross Craig, Margaret Miles, Cameron Slater (Albany); Vivienne Keohane, Christine Rankin, George Wood (North Shore); Noelene Raffills (Whau); Chris Fletcher (Albert-Eden-Roskill); Steven Afford (Manukau).

Noncommittal: Hugh Chapman, David Willmott (mayoral candidates); Ian Bradley (Albany); Tenby Powell, Rob Thomas (Waitemata-Gulf); Sylvia Taylor (Manukau).