“Urbanism works when it creates a journey as desirable as the destination.” Paul Goldberger

Auckland Light Rail so far has been an unhappy initiative — it has been delayed by three years and the project is now on its second Minister.

Michael Wood the new Transport Minister has created a new light rail process with public engagement at its core. There will be a six-month work programme undertaken by an Establishment Unit. At the end of the year when the Government receives advice from the Unit, it will make the key decisions on route, mode, and delivery entity.

So, now…

“We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us” Winston Churchill

Source: “The hottest new thing in sustainable building is, uh, wood”

Renting in New Zealand is bad — is how I have written about housing in the last few months. Nobody disputes the narrative. New Zealand’s housing market has become so farcical it is an object of satire. Getting on the property ladder is like joining the landed gentry class in a Jane Austin novel, and mocked for it — Pride and Property, an Austentatious tale.

These kinds of stories cast landlords as a villain in the nation’s story. There is a legitimate beef too — landlords did not pass on…

“While Adam delved (dug) and Eve span, who then was the gentleman?” John Ball priest — hung, drawn and quartered, 1381.

There was no privileged landed gentry in Adam and Eve’s time so why are they favoured in later times?

Source. Real health Price Index versus Real Personal disposable Income (2000Q1=100)

New Zealand is bad at housing its people — very bad. Relative to income, homes in the country are among the most expensive in the world.

(H/T Sophie McInnes for suggesting the title — it is a big improvement)

View of Avondale and Burwood section of Christchurch’s red zone

Post-quake development in East Christchurch remains a difficult question. Greater Christchurch is at the stage where it needs mass transit to shape its spatial growth pattern. There have been several suggestions for this, such as the below ‘Hand Plan’. However, it has been difficult to incorporate the East into these plans due to the effects of the 2010/11 earthquakes, which caused it to lose houses and population. Add in concerns about liquefaction and sea level rise and it becomes hard to justify large-scale public investment.

New Zealand’s Rack-Rent Housing Crisis: Part Four

People might vote with their feet

Actually rather than the middle-class the evidence points to the working class and the lower middle-class being the largest groups leaving California. Image Source

The first three parts of The New Zealand Rack-Rent Housing Crisis series focused on housing inequality, an issue that feeds into and underpins numerous societal ills. Bold political action is needed to make housing affordable and prevent the entrenchment of New Zealand society into a class system based around inherited property wealth. This paper though focuses on productivity.

Jenée Tibshraeny, a journalist at interest.co.nz, has done excellent work investigating the inequality effect of printing money, a strategy employed by the Reserve Bank in response to the forecast economic downturn associated with Covid-19 (articles here

New Zealand’s Rack-Rent Housing Crisis, Part Three: Political Precommitment

On the basis of a warning from his erstwhile lover, Circes, Ulysses instructs his sailors to bind him to the mast of his ship and block their own ears before sailing past the island of the Sirens, whose enchanting song draws sailors to shipwreck. Ulysses and the Sirens is a 1909 oil painting by Herbert James Draper. Source Wikipedia

The end of the John Key government was marked by a desperate scramble to reverse housing policy settings. Media reports showing homeless families living in cars shocked the nation. As a stop-gap measure, the homeless were housed in motels. The former prime minister was forced to contend with the consequences of his earlier housing attention being focused on middle-income earners and his assumption that building social housing was economic vandalism, when in fact housing as a human right was the political necessity.

New Zealand’s Rack-Rent Housing Crisis, Part Two: Economic Opportunity


Former Finance Minister Michael Cullen recently wrote an opinion piece on housing and monetary policy. To paraphrase him: the Reserve Bank are the Jedi Knights of the economy with interest-cutting lightsabers fighting against the evil empire of inflation. This worked when the problem was stagflation — high consumer price inflation and poor economic growth — but it is not working now when the problem is poor productivity, rising inequality and high house price inflation.

The Reserve Bank (RBNZ) has rejected Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s proposal for its monetary policy remit to consider house prices as well as its current inflation…

Executive Summary

Part One: Political Constraints

Part Two: Who are the Jedi Knights of Housing Affordability?

Part Three: Political Precommitment — Depoliticising Housing

Part Four: Is the Housing Crisis Bad for Productivity as well as Inequality?

Part Five: Housing as a Human Right — Restoring New Zealand’s Egalitarian Dream?

Further Reading


Part One: Political Constraints

“We might make mistakes but we will make other things too”Michael Joseph Savage

Renting in New Zealand is bad. The bottom 20 per cent of income earners spend a greater proportion of their income on rent than anywhere else in the OECD. For many decades New Zealand’s housing market has failed low-income earners due to rents inflating faster than wages.

Image source


Executive Summary

Why Adding Multimodal Transport to Urban Land-Use Models is Important

Underlying assumptions of the proposed multi modal land-use model

  • Conceptual images of rapid transit effects on land use

Characteristics of Concentrated Urban Form

Characteristics of Dispersed Urban Form

Factors that help New Zealand make the most from the multi-modal land-use model

  1. Spatial Planning
  2. More Transit Hubs
  3. More Organic Urban Growth
  4. Allocate Scarce City Space More Efficiently
  5. Remove Structural Bias Against Rapid Transit and Multi-Modal Transport
  6. Promote an Urban Design Cultural Movement
  7. Build Homes for the Full Housing Continuum

Appendix -Sufficient land pricing can pay for rapid transit

Executive Summary


Philip George Hayward response to the paper High Land Prices: A Feature or a Bug?

Economist Paul Cheshire found that UK house prices increased after inflation five fold since 1955. But the price of the land needed to put houses on increased 15-fold over the same period. Source

High land prices because of value, is quite different to high land prices because of exploitation of powers to “gouge”.

Your history lesson is instructive as an example of an honorable government providing value; that is, they acted as land vendor in the process of “improving” the land with infrastructure and so on, paying for the improvements with the sale price.

The same is true of some governments at some times and places in history, and also true of private sector operators at some times…

Brendon Harre

Trying to optimise amenity and affordability values for urban areas

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