Labour leader Andrew Little attempted to show reporters an overcrowded house in South Auckland yesterday - but it backfired when the indignant owner insisted it was only being renovated.

Journalists were told to turn up at an address in Otara that was being used to highlight the housing plight of the poor.

There have been recent stories in the media about overcrowding in Auckland, with people having to live in cars, garages and tents on properties.

The problem appears to be worst in Otara, where one house in particular reportedly had 17 people living on the property, with some forced out of the house to sleep in a tent.


The media were given an address on Bairds Rd in Otara, which fitted the description of the above house, to wait for the Labour leader.

However, as the cameras were set up, the occupant came out and told journalists the house was in fact being renovated and the tent was full of furniture and renovation materials.

Labour's communications director Sarah Stuart redirected journalists to the party's local office before Mr Little arrived.

At the office, Mr Little was a little lost for words and confused about which house he was earlier meant to be at.

There was a house with a tent in the yard whose occupants his MPs Jenny Salesa and Peeni Henare had been working with, he said.

"I haven't been to that house, I'll need to clarify which one that is - there was a house that I was invited to go and talk to the people of, then asked not to go, people didn't want the level of attention," he explained.

And then to emphasise just how bad it is in Otara, a recovering Mr Little said: "I am told it's pretty much expected, around Otara at least, that if you go past a garage, it's likely that somebody will be living in it."

Ms Stuart, who'd arranged the press conference, called later saying it was never about the house in the background.