Housing poverty in New Zealand

  • Families served in 2016: 980 Families served in 2016: 980
  • Volunteers hosted in 2016: 6,085 Volunteers hosted in 2016: 6,085
  • Projects: construction, reconstruction, 'Habitat Hand Up' and 'A Brush with Kindness' Projects: construction, reconstruction, 'Habitat Hand Up' and 'A Brush with Kindness'

Habitat for Humanity New Zealand built its first home in 1993 in Pukekohe, a small rural town just south of Auckland on the North Island.

Soon after, 10 affiliates were established across the length and breadth of the country and the national organisation was established. To date, HFH New Zealand has enabled more than 900 families to improve their housing situation and also supports projects in the Pacific, especially in Samoa.

The housing need in New Zealand

Many low- and middle-income families share the “Kiwi dream” of building or buying their own home, but questions of housing affordability, high household debt and an inability to save for a deposit close the door to ownership for many families.

Rising costs

The cost of housing in both Auckland and Christchurch has risen considerably over the past three years. Substandard housing continues to be an issue for tenants where rental properties are not well maintained by landlords.

Rent increases often see families moving in to share accommodation with their relatives, causing overcrowding and often leading to some families living in garages.

Natural disasters

The February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch has damaged homes and displaced families. This has led to an increase in the numbers of families living in substandard housing, either in their own homes as they await repairs or in rental properties which have sustained damage.

How Habitat addresses the need in New Zealand

HFH New Zealand works with a large number of businesses, NGOs, donors and volunteers in providing housing solutions for low-income…

HFH New Zealand works with a large number of businesses, NGOs, donors and volunteers in providing housing solutions for low-income families. New house builds and renovations are ongoing across the 10 affiliates, with an increased number built in Auckland in 2014 where housing affordability is the highest in New Zealand.

Habitat is working in partnership with the Social Housing Unit to achieve better outcomes for families. In the earthquake affected city of Christchurch the “Habitat Hand-Up” project will provide families with new homes. Under the “A Brush With Kindness” program, Habitat continues to address maintenance on properties whose owners do not have sufficient funds to make essential repairs.

Our projects in New Zealand

Key facts & figures

  • Capital: Wellington
  • Main country facts: Gained independence in 1907
  • Population – circa 5 million
    – Urbanisation – 86.9%
    – Life expectancy – 82.54 years
    – Unemployment – 12.4%

Christchurch earthquake project

bricks construction icon
New houses are being built in Christchurch for families who have experienced transcience, sub-standard housing and overcrowding as a result of the February 2011 earthquake.

Following the disaster, many residents are still living in unsatisfactory housing situations, along with dealing with the many emotional issues resulting from the trauma of the event and the resultant changed circumstances. HFH New Zealand’s research shows that children in particular are struggling in this environment.

Samoa project

hammer construction icon
In 2012, Cyclone Evan devastated much of Samoa and destroyed 2,000 homes. During 2013, 108 “faleo’o”, or “lean to” shelters, which included deep foundations, a corrugated iron roof, gutters and tanks to collect rainwater, bracing and cyclone strapping were built in Samoa. These shelters are resistant against future cyclones.

The faleo’o were built by two of HFH New Zealand’s most experienced volunteers working with local Samoan apprentices. Knowledge and skills were passed on the local people to enable to construct and maintain the shelter. In 2015, HFH New Zealand will be engaging in a further housing initiative in Samoa.

Meet a Habitat family

heart icon construction
Margaret, a single mother, found herself looking after five children with no money in public subsidized housing. While attending a course, she was introduced to the Habitat for Humanity model by a tutor. Partnering with Habitat New Zealand, Margaret invested sweat equity by using her own labor to build not only her home but the houses of others as well.

Margaret ambitiously holds down two jobs to reach her goals. "My goal is to get as much of the Habitat loan repaid as quickly as I can and by joining KiwiSaver I now have hope that I can own my own house and have money to live on by the time I retire. I never ever dreamed this would be possible for me and my family before Habitat came into my life."