A West Auckland school principal has opened her own home to two new staff as teachers recruited from overseas struggle to find housing in Auckland's squeezed housing market.
A Fiji-trained teacher who arrived on Saturday with his wife and 1-year-old child, and a New Zealand teacher who returned from Brazil two days before school started, are staying with their principal at Flanshaw Rd School in Te Atatū, Dr Cherie Taylor-Patel.
A newly arrived Canadian teacher at Greenmeadows Intermediate in Manurewa, Michael DiTommaso, is also staying in a hostel in downtown Auckland until he can find somewhere to live.
Barfoot and Thompson director Kiri Barfoot said other teachers and professional people were struggling to find a home they could afford in a region where the average three-bedroom rental was now $564 a week.
"It's expensive to rent in Auckland if you're on a teaching salary, and in January and February there is always more demand for property because students come back and want to rent," she said.
"Teachers, police, fire people - it's tough. There potentially does need to be an Auckland subsidy because we need those people."
One in six Auckland schools was still advertising for teachers when school started this year, despite a Government-sponsored global recruitment campaign which brought in 225 teachers from overseas by late January, including 150 in Auckland.
Taylor-Patel said she had only "a limited pool" to choose from to fill three vacancies for the start of this year and ended up sourcing all from overseas, including another returning Kiwi who had family in Auckland to stay with.
"For the teachers from Brazil and Fiji, the Auckland housing market is such that I just said to both of them: 'Don't worry about where you are going to live, we need you to come,'" she said.
"We had just moved into a big house, so we had room for them."
She employed the Kiwi who had been teaching at an international school in Brazil late last year, but she couldn't get here until two days before the term started on February 1.
The teacher from Fiji, described by Taylor-Patel as "a high-flier in his own system", did not arrive until Saturday because he had to give notice of leaving the Fijian system and could not apply for a work visa here until he had a job offer.
"So he arrived last Saturday evening off the plane. On Sunday he was in a class. On Monday we had him working with a New Zealand teacher who actually started the class for the first two weeks," she said.
DiTommaso, 26, who arrived from Toronto in early January, said he had visited flats for rent but decided to stay in a backpackers hostel until he could find somewhere with quiet space to work in and close to a train station because he had arrived without a car.
"It's easy enough to find a shack, but why take a shack when you can hold out for something a bit better?" he said.
"I have been looking around, but at the end of the day the most important thing is the students. My number one task is getting to school every day and having a space to work in."
He said Toronto's housing market was also "insane" so he was used to it.
"It's actually not too different here," he said. "I'm in my element, being from one of the most expensive cities in the world."
DiTommaso said he was paying about $25 per night to share a room and that he's looked at a couple of places that are more permanent.
His principal at Greenmeadows, Cathy Chalmers, said DiTommaso was one of nine newly arrived overseas teachers who started at the school this year, along with two others who were teaching at other NZ schools last year. The 11 overseas teachers make up almost half her teaching staff of 24.
She said the recruitment agencies told her that many of them would have preferred to go somewhere else in New Zealand if they could have.
"Auckland's housing is well-known overseas. They all knew that Auckland would be expensive and, to be honest, that is their biggest problem here," she said.
"A lot of them can't believe how expensive it is to live here in Auckland and they are struggling, particularly as they are having to do it from their own currency at the moment. Some have not been paid yet because we are still trying to get that sorted.
"They are all in places, but it's temporary."
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said: "The sales figures for Auckland all point to a soft property market - good for buyers, but for renters in the city, it's a whole different scenario and one that could significantly worsen.
"The loss of tax breaks for landlords - flagged by the Tax Working Group - could see the pool of available rental properties shrink, as investors decide that it's better to withdraw from the market. Equally, rent levels for the remaining rental stock could increase as landlords try to offset their losses.
"This could put the squeeze on an already struggling teaching profession - many candidates may come to the conclusion that Auckland is too expensive and lacking in places for them to live."
Ministry of Education deputy secretary Ellen MacGregor-Reid said 239 overseas teachers had now accepted roles across New Zealand, including 155 in Auckland.
"Currently, our recruiters are working to fill 254 lodged roles, of which 162 are in Auckland," she said. "Some roles lodged are for term 2."