The waiting list for public housing in New Zealand has hit an all-time high of more than 12,000 people. That is despite the Government far surpassing its targets for public housing.

Newly-appointed Housing Minister Megan Woods said today that 2178 public housing places had been delivered in the last year by Housing New Zealand and community housing providers. That exceeded a target of 1600 for the year.

It was the biggest annual increase to public housing in nearly 20 years, Woods said.

"On average Housing New Zealand is building four new homes a day," she said.

"As well as this, Housing New Zealand currently has about 2000 homes under construction or under contract."


The fine print shows that not all the public housing places are new builds.

A unspecified portion of the total includes properties redirected from council housing or the private rental market - which advocates say is still positive but does not reduce the waiting list for public housing, It also cuts the number of affordable houses available.

Despite the big lift in public housing supply, the number of individuals or households urgently seeking a home has passed 12,000 for the first time, rising by 656 applicants in the last three months. The typical wait for a house is around 120 days.

"The Government recognises that the demand for housing continues to rise, driven in part by a shortage of supply, inadequate housing, homelessness, and insecurity of tenure," Woods said.

"We will continue to build more public houses and make sure people move into them, and off the Public Housing Register as quickly possible."

The shortage of affordable and public housing means more people are being housed in motels as a temporary measure.

The number of emergency housing grants - most of which pay for people to stay in motels for up to three months - fell slightly in the last quarter. But they have doubled over the last year.

In Queen Street alone, 1021 grants were issued in the three months to June 2019 - twice as many as two years ago.

National Party MP for Auckland Central Nikki Kaye said she was shocked to see the number of grants double in that time.

"We need more social housing in central Auckland," she said. "I am worried about what looks like a huge jump of people in motels which is particularly challenging when people have young children."