The housing crisis in Hastings has been described as a "New Zealand disgrace" by National MP Lawrence Yule.

That's prompted Housing Minister Phil Twyford to snap back, saying Yule only has himself to blame - "after all he was mayor of Hastings for 15 years".

Hundreds of children in the city, and 440 across Hawke's Bay, are currently living in emergency and transitional housing.

In a speech to Parliament, Tukituki MP Yule questioned the Government over it's "incompetent" delivery of new state houses for the region.

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"It is outrageous, that in my community, 440 children are living in motels for this winter, and for many of them, for over a year," Yule said.

In September, 2017, when the current Labour coalition Government came to power, Housing New Zealand had 1195 houses in Hastings.

As of March 31, 2018, there were 1184 - 11 fewer.

Phil Twyford announcing new housing policy at the home of Stephanie Belcher in Tamatea, Napier. 24th August 2018 Hawke's Bay Today Photograph by Paul Taylor.
Phil Twyford announcing new housing policy at the home of Stephanie Belcher in Tamatea, Napier. 24th August 2018 Hawke's Bay Today Photograph by Paul Taylor.

Six Housing NZ houses have been built in the city since Labour came to power and the Govt had purchased seven private sector houses.

Yule says the movement is "simply not fast enough".

"My issue is that despite the housing register going ballistic, effectively in one whole year, the number of available houses has gone backwards."

Yule said he accepted some of the decisions made by National, by not replacing some houses earlier was "wrong", but the situation had become "dramatically worse" in the last 18 months.

He said the housing register for about four years was "flat", before increasing at the beginning of 2017.

"It has continued to go up at an exponential rate since."

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said his Government was having to rebuild Hastings' state housing stock after "years of it being run down by National who denied there was a housing crisis for nine years".

Twyford says the "small reduction in state house stock is temporary".

Seven homes have been sold - six of those to Housing NZ tenants.

A further two leases on privately owned homes expired and 15 houses were demolished; eight because of fire or other damage, and seven because they were no longer fit for purpose and are being redeveloped into even more housing.

"Housing NZ currently has four homes under construction which are due to be finished by mid next year. A further 134 homes are in the planning stages and will be built over the next three years.

"This is in stark contrast to the former government's track record.

"Just after National came to office in December 2008 there was 1437 state houses in Hastings.

"Under National the number of state houses in Hastings decreased by a massive 242 homes."

Yule, however, says he doesn't know what the delay is, with 1.8 hectares of land available in the district.

"They have managed to do it in Napier, but they're clearly going backwards in Hastings and there's not enough urgency.

"I think they need to reprioritise some resources from other parts of NZ back to here when you've got a housing register that's going through the roof."

A Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Public Housing Supply Group spokesperson said the government had committed funding to deliver an additional 6400 public housing places by June 2022. Of those, 120 are for Hastings.

"There are also complex issues in Hastings, including a high volume of seasonal workers and of tourism, both of which contribute to the economy but put pressure on housing.

"HUD is working with the council, Ngāti Kahungunu, HNZ, MSD and other agencies to reduce reliance on motels as temporary accommodation in Hastings, and increase housing supply."

Ikaroa-Rawhiti Labour MP Meka Whaitiri said "it doesn't help anybody if we keep blaming the course of how we got here".

"We are here, it is real, and it is not going to get fixed in two years."