Most Auckland KiwiBuild buyers have household incomes below the city average, dispelling "the myth" buyers needed a high salary, the Housing Minister says.

Thirty-eight KiwiBuild homes and apartments have so far sold in three developments in South Auckland, with 31 of the buyers having household incomes less than $120,000 per year, according to new figures obtained by the Herald.

Out of these, 18 had incomes less than $100,000.

Auckland's average household income is $124,578, according to Stats NZ.

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Minister Phil Twyford said that while KiwiBuild was not affordable for those on "very low incomes", the data showed a large "slice of middle income" Kiwis could afford them.

"Everyone understands that if you are on a very low income, it is not realistic to think you can take on a $400,000 or $500,000 mortgage," he said.

"But the truth is that people who are on middle incomes – lets say in a place like Auckland that is a household income of $90,000 – they can afford a Kiwibuild home."

His comments come as criticism of KiwiBuild and its plans to build 100,000 affordable houses for first-home buyers has centred on just who would end up with the properties.

The programme allows potential buyers to earn household incomes as high as 180,000.

But critics argue this means KiwiBuild will benefit wealthier Kiwis rather than those on lower incomes, who are in need of a helping hand into the property market at a time when ownership rates are their lowest in 60 years.

Judith Collins says KiwiBuild benefits high-to-middle-income Kiwis and that it should better be aimed at those who need it most. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Judith Collins says KiwiBuild benefits high-to-middle-income Kiwis and that it should better be aimed at those who need it most. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Many pointed to graduate doctor Derryn Jayne and partner Fletcher Ross, a marketer, as an example of this when the couple fronted the media earlier this year as the first successful buyers of a KiwiBuild home.

Community groups have also said as many as 200,000 Kiwi families - including those of teachers, nurses and cleaners - would not be able to afford a KiwiBuild home in New Zealand's main cities.

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With billions of taxpayer dollars being spent on it, National Housing spokeswoman Judith Collins said KiwiBuild should be targeted at those who need it most.

"More than half of the people who have been successful in the three KiwiBuild ballots in Auckland so far earn more than $100,000 a year," she said.

"Labour has argued they will be offering housing support to Kiwis on a range of incomes, but in reality the only people who can access that support are those on a middle to high income.

She said applicants should show they have made a demonstrable effort to buy a home before they are eligible, and that people should be prioritised based on need.

But Twyford said KiwiBuild had not been designed to help Kiwis on very low incomes buy homes, he said.

Instead, it was "always" aimed at those young Kiwis who - a decade ago - would have "naturally thought they had a crack at owning their own home" but who had now been shut out of the market by skyrocketing prices.

KiwiBuild would help these young Kiwis get into the market by incentivising the construction of more quality starter homes priced below $600,000, he said.

There was currently a "pretty miserable" range of homes being sold for these prices.

"The market simply has not been building quality homes in that price bracket for the last decade or two," he said.

He said a Kiwi household with an income of $90,000 and a $30,000 deposit could afford KiwiBuild homes around $585,00 - the price of the recent two bedroom homes released in Otahuhu.

This was because they could also get a Homestart grant from the Government of up to $20,000 and because they could also dip into their KiwiSaver savings.

Over a 30-year mortgage, this meant they might then roughly be making $1000 per fortnight in repayments, he said.