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Dr Muriel Newman

New Developments in Housing

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Auckland housingLast Wednesday the Green Party’s co-leader Metiria Turei made a shock announcement – the Green’s want to reduce house prices to half their present value, to create more affordable homes.

The Greens’ radical ideological agenda is why no ruling party should have anything to do with them – and certainly not as partners in Government. Whether it’s banning smacking to stop child abuse, killing cows and sheep to prevent global warming, or prioritising Maori separatism over equal rights, their policy ideas are so extreme, that most sensible politicians have ruled them out of any formal positions within a Cabinet.

Their plan to collapse the property market is just another example of their extremism.

Labour, of course, which recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Greens, tried to distance itself from their announcement, with leader Andrew Little saying, “It won’t be happening under a Labour Government. There are plenty of people who have entered into mortgages and a house price crash is going to destroy them. And we’re simply not going to do that.”

However, it’s all very well for Andrew Little to say that if he was Prime Minister there is no chance that the Green Party’s price crash policy would be introduced, because, as we all know only too well, strange things happen under MMP. Who would have thought that former Prime Minister Helen Clark, who’s Labour Government was strongly opposed to a ban on smacking, would ever introduce the policy. Yet, when she lost her majority in Parliament, due to the resignation of Labour MP Philip Field, the law was passed as a condition of Green Party support.

And just look at what has happened to National in government – the Party that campaigned so strongly on one law for all and on abolishing the Maori seats is now bending over backwards to impose the separatist policies of the Maori Party onto the country, including tribal control of fresh water, and a Maori veto of local authorities through the proposed ‘Iwi Participation Agreements’ in their Resource Legislation Amendment Bill.

In spite of having a ‘no surprises’ clause in their agreement with the Greens, Labour was not given notice of their housing policy announcement. As a result, less than 2 months into their new relationship, Labour is already becoming tainted by the extremism of the Greens and the reality that Labour needs them if they are to form a government.

As expected, Prime Minister John Key condemned the Greens’ plan, saying that they were trying to ‘destroy the savings of New Zealanders’: “If we were to get in a position where the Greens along with the Labour Party have a policy of reducing house prices by 50 percent then most New Zealanders who have saved up are literally going to be taking a match to their own savings, because the other 50 percent – the bit that is left – is probably in all probability the bit that is owned by the bank.”

Last Wednesday was also the day that the Auckland Council, a Unitary Authority formed by National six years ago through the amalgamation of eight local authorities, released the region’s long-awaited Unitary Plan – a blueprint for growth that replaces the dozens of plans and strategies inherited from the original councils.

Under requirements in the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010, an Independent Hearings Panel of 11 members, appointed by the Environment and Conservation Ministers, was tasked with re-writing the original plan proposed by the Council in 2013. During the two years they had to do the job, the Panel held 249 days of hearings, listened to 1.5 million submission points, and published a 200 page report.

The Council now has two weeks to consider the Panel’s recommendations, which it must ratified by August 19 so any procedural appeals can be resolved and the plan adopted by the statutory deadline of September 19. While the council meetings to discuss the plan will be open to the public, the time for public input has passed.

Essentially, the Unitary Plan had to address the dual problems of Auckland’s rapidly rising population and increasingly unaffordable housing. With an estimated shortfall of 40,000 houses at present and forecast growth in demand of 13,000 houses a year, the Panel’s main recommendation is for the city to go up as well as out. Zoning changes to enable intensification, as well as an expansion in the city’s urban boundary, are expected to deliver an additional 422,000 new homes over the next 30 years.

Within the city, almost 60 percent of the area will be re-zoned for higher density housing. While the existing planning rules relating to height and distance to boundaries have been retained, the minimum section size for a stand alone dwelling has been substantially reduced, to accommodate the building of terraced houses and apartments without the need for resource consents.

Much of this multi-unit development will be located within walking distance of suburban centres and public transport hubs, to accommodate up to 270,000 new dwellings within the existing urban boundary.

In addition, that boundary will be moved outwards to increase the total metropolitan area by 30 percent, allowing forty percent of new housing development – some 152,000 homes in total – to be built in rural areas and around towns like Warkworth, Pukekohe and Kumeu.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, Dr Phil McDermott, a consultant in development planning for over 30 years and a former Professor of Resource and Environmental Planning at Massey University, has grave reservations about the plan, including the fact that it is not doing enough to address Auckland’s housing affordability problem:

“The Panel acknowledges that the Plan is no recipe for affordability. Yet, the evidence of the past decade – and the economics of demand and supply – demonstrate that policies arbitrarily limiting the introduction of new urban land to cater for expansion play a key part in pushing up the price of what land is available.

“Certainly, the Panel’s recommendations improve prospects for future greenfield land being brought to market, especially if sufficient land owners can negotiate their ways through the private plan change process and the Council can “streamline network infrastructure provisions”.  However, these are tasks still to be done: the Independent Hearings Panel could never deliver on the urgent current need, or its consequences. By continuing to restrain the release of new land, the Plan will keep costs high throughout the city for some time to come, locking a generation of Aucklanders out of the housing market.”

In particular, the Independent Hearings Panel has recommended that the council’s minimum 40 square metre apartment size requirement should be removed – with size determined through the Building Act rather than by regulation. Also to be deleted from the Plan is the requirement for developments over 15 dwellings to contain 10 percent of affordable houses, the protection for pre-1944 heritage villas, and some 3,600 sites of potential value to Maori.

Reaction to the plan has been varied.

While many are cautiously optimistic, there are concerns about an apparent disconnect between the centres of population growth and jobs, with most residential growth outlined for west and south Auckland, while most of the new commercial development will be located in the north and central areas of the city.

There are also concerns about the removal of the ‘affordability’ requirement for new developments, although, as the Panel states, “the most appropriate way for the Plan to address housing affordability in the region is by enabling a significant increase in residential development capacity and a greater range of housing sizes and types. While these measures are unlikely to resolve the issue of housing affordability in isolation, they are the primary way the Plan can contribute to address this issue.”

The removal of protections for pre-1944 ‘heritage’ villas and the deletion of all ‘unscheduled’ significant historic heritage places have been criticised, but the Panel is of the view that, “If the Council wishes to protect historic heritage, it should follow the identification and scheduling process provided for in the regional policy statement, using the plan change procedure.”

This is the same principle the Panel applied when recommending the removal of 3,600 sites of ‘potential’ cultural value to Maori, since, “While those sites of value were identified in the notified Plan, no criteria had been applied to be able to evaluate them or verify that the sites actually existed and what their values were.” The Panel explained that if the Council wishes to identify, evaluate and schedule these sites, then they can be included in the Plan through a Resource Management Act Schedule 1 plan change process.

As a consequence of deleting these sites, the Panel also removed all requirements for cultural impact assessments, which they deemed to be no longer necessary.

It is worth remembering the underhand way in which those controversial sites were included on the Plan in the first place. When Auckland’s draft Unitary Plan was first released for public submissions, only 61 sites of significance to Maori were identified. However, once submissions had closed, at the behest of the Maori Statutory Board, a further 3,600 unauthenticated sites of potential value to Maori were added. This forced landowners living within 50 metres of such sites, who wanted to make almost any change at all, to apply for resource consents and seek cultural impact assessments from up to 19 iwi.

When the NZCPR first reported on this back in February 2014, we called for all 3,600 sites to be suspended while a comprehensive and independent review was undertaken.

While the Auckland Council eventually facilitated a review – in the main, instead of proper site visits, ‘desk-top’ audits were undertaken. Nevertheless, a recommendation was made for 1,373 sites to be removed from the plan – 752 sites were found to have no significance at all, 73 sites were non-Maori or duplicates, 552 sites had no confirmed location, and at 10 sites, the results were inconclusive.

However, as a result of the objections of the Maori Statutory Board, only 600 sites were removed.

In the end, the Council stepped in and last November all sites on private land were removed – until they had been “accurately identified and mapped”.

If the recommendation of the Hearings Panel to delete all sites is agreed, what can only be described as an unmitigated fiasco, will finally end. Those officials, Councillors, and Maori Statutory Board members, who were responsible for inflicting this debacle onto Auckland property owners, have a lot to answer for. They have subjected ratepayers to nearly three years of stress, cost and delay. A full inquiry is surely called for.

This recommendation by the Panel to delete unauthenticated sites has far-reaching implications for councils around the country. All sites of significance or value to Maori, that have not been verified and clearly identified on Council plans, should now be removed pending a thorough evaluation and review process. Confirmed sites can then be rescheduled through a plan change. In addition, all requirements for cultural impact assessments should now be discontinued.

Given the controversy caused by the vested interests of the Independent Maori Statutory Board, and the fact that as appointed members they are not democratically accountable to the people of Auckland, a number of Councillors attempted to move consideration of the Independent Hearing Panel’s Unitary Plan recommendations from the Council’s Development Committee which includes voting members of the Statutory Board, to the full Council which does not. But the motion was lost, 13 votes to 8.

It remains to be seen what the Council ultimately decides to do with the Panel’s recommendations, and whether they have sufficiently mitigated the planning restrictions that have dogged Auckland in the past. Or indeed, whether the only hope for the city’s future success will be through fundamental reform of the Resource Management Act.


Would you support all councils around the country being required to remove any unauthenticated sites of value or significance to Maori from their long term plans, until they have been accurately identified and mapped?


*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.

Click to view x 120


What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine simply pulling on the heart strings of weak Government. Warren
Shambles. Should not have been allowed in the first place. Norm
More attempt to promote separatition!!! Tony
Makes common sense. Stewart
All sites of significance have been mapped, well in the past. The Auckland experience just shows up greedy Maori interests with their spiritual rubbish dumps etc. claims. Monica
Sooooo sick of the re-writing of history to suit! Much of it is aural and as time goes on embalished beyond all credibility. Seems to me, if you say it enough it will become unquestioned fact (for some! them that want to believe at all costs) for whichever agenda that suits. Carol
With A. a maori partner, or B a back pocket payment problems go away. This is from my own experience. Colin
It’s all a sham anyway!!!!! And no doubt ratepayers money will be involved. When are we simply going to say “GO AWAY”or perhaps the same message in stronger terms. Alan
Duh! Fiona
What a crock. Sites of value or significance. Just a load of maoris wanting to be paid again and again. Neil
Why would you do it any other way? Steve
There is no place for race based privilege in a democratic society. Kevin
I’m getting more and more convinced a lot of these petitions to segregated Maori and giving them what they wont from the rest of New Zealanders shows the witless aptitude of our politicians and local body representation. Maori not only go in the back door but also the front and have convinced those the house and local body offices the fear of Utu or slipping it into their drinks at Ballamys. Robert
Hopefully when new city council is elected, sanity will prevail. Rodney
Support it in principle, but am nervous about the cost… Andy
Definitely! Ross
Definitely! To go by unproven claims in such important matters as land development ( and the massive $values involved) forensic and archeological research has to be done to establish facts from fiction. By looking at the numbers here Maoris seem to claim any ancient trash heap as being a historic site. We might as well turn around and declare any wild rubbish dump in the country older than 50 years as an archeological site for that matter!!!! The big question is : I f we go by the law of the country the claimant has not only to establish a case by providing evidence but has to pay for all the costs resulting from these claims. And this cannot be the tax payer. These tribal leaders can use their own funds like the rest of us when we have to go through the legal system.The big problem again is that several Government parties in the past ( and present) have pandered to Maori demands to such an extend that hundreds of millions are pissed into the wind every year to fund everything from Whanau Ora to the infamous Waitangi Tribunal not to mention TOW settlement payments. Hence the taxpayer is bled white for this gargantuan ponzi scheme. Michael
It’s just another Maori con job. Ronmac
Although voting for the question I think it is too loose and does not answer the question as to whether the sites have a sufficient significance to Maori and particularly pre European Maori, to warrant their inclusion in any district plan. It is site quality and significance that needs to be properly authenticated. John
Another instance of ; Lets have a go, there could be some compensation money here from the gutless pakeha.. A.G.R.
Absolutely YES, when are our politicians and councilors going to get enough spine to tell theses greedy Maoris to start living in the real world, as it is they who are holding NZ back with all their stupid nonsense. Athol
Yes! Absolutely!! Couldn’t happen too soon. We’ve had this ‘rort’ going on for way too long….almost since Palmer tabled the RMA, and ignorant local bodies got in on the act for political advantage. Just bring back democracy and the original Treaty. Ced
The cost and interference from Maoris in what individuals do with their piece of land is of no concern of theirs. Maoris devised this scheme to interfere with land they don’t own and in the process, rake in huge sums of money for ‘consultation’ that they have no right to. They need to keep out as they also need to be removed from non elected positions on Council, which is related to this nonsense. Chris
One needs to look deeply to find out how all this has come about …. if not removed NZ society is moving into another racially controlled and divided country. Stuart
Yes, yes; a thousand times yes! Rob
Yes – the only thing that would need to put in place once this has been properly done, is some legal mechanism which would forestall any attempt by the parasitic elements within Maoridom to treat it as a sponge to squeeze yet more largesse from the long suffering NZ taxpayer. Scott
Only sensible course. Jim
Protecting significant sites is important, but decision-making shouldn’t be in the hands of interested parties. Don
These unauthenticated sites are an illegal unconstitutional impediment should NEVER have been listed in the first place. It is a travesty that they should be noted on a title without a title owners consent. This is another fixation of the looney left that puts priority on past history instead of clearly focusing on the real and current needs of the present community including freehold ownership rights. Richard
I am all for keeping and looking after inificant sites. There is value in real history. All councils should be required to clean up the list. It is high time for all those unelected chair warmers to be send back to the place they came from. They are trouble makers looking for a title and power. Johan
Just a load of Iwi nonsense. Jeff
NZ should not have laws based on race. Donal
Definitely! Our partially built house was burned to the ground because a couple of local iwi “claimed” it was their hill and that there was a “burial cave” on our property. ALL UNSUBSTANTIATED. But they managed to get a Wahitapu designation over 400 acres on the hill based on a local legend, through NZ Historic Places Trust. Sue
We have to stop all forms of maori nonsense as soon as possible, at least, until a robust and sensible overhaul of the RMA can be carried out. Lloyd
Time to get rid of ‘The Maori Mortgage’. David
This is a great idea and would stop much sniping about who should be paying and who should be classed as owners for rating charges. Elizabeth
Such sites are a continual cost to development and cause massive delays to progress for very little reasons. Graeme
Providing that the embargo on the Waitaha site, which was placed after the Auckland University did a dig there in the 80s. Murals on the walls of the caves there showed people had yellow hair. If that is done, and the locals there who threaten visitors with violence, and are confronted with WARRIORS carrying shotguns, are put in their place by the authorities (police) which has not happened yet. But the most worrying thing about the whole issue is, that an archaeological dig run by such an august body should have the results of the dig, embargoed until 2063 We as tangata whenua cannot, or should not expect favour or charity from anyone unless we can substantiate justifiable claims by way of evidence or unfettered truth,…. fair enough?. So brothers and sisters let us start this journey by investing some of our Waitangi Treaty money in providing our moko’s with their much needed pepe pods. What an opportunity for Sealord to come to the party and fund the whole bloody undertaking. As, sooner or later, we will not know the difference between fact and fiction, and the more convenient option will be adopted. Wiremu
And quick about it. Wayne
Any other choice is insanity. John
Enough is enough! Let’s call a halt to pandering to Maori self-interests, such as dubious sites of significance, and act for the benefit of all New Zealanders. No-one should have preferential treatment based on race, which, sadly, this National government seems to have forgotten – the party which campaigned on abolishing Maori seats, and which now bends over backwards to appease and please Maori demands. Laurence
Not before time. Barry
Agree totally who is to be trusted to accurately identify and map sites need total transparency. Leo
The whole thing with the Maori Party is disgusting, a wholesale move to rule the country by back door politics. It’s a pity more people don’t open their eyes and see the rorts taking place, this being only one of them. Lorraine
Currently the unauthenticated sites unreasonably restrict the property owners’ ability to develop the site(s) affected. Ian
Keep New Zealand for all New Zealander’s not for just a few who think they should have privileges, such as Maori. Ian
As far as collapsing the housing bubble is concerned, I’m in favour. But it should be the banks and other lenders funding overheated prices who should take most of the knock. Colin
Stupid & NOT fair to most kiwi’s. Council should be ashamed to be taking notice of UNELECTED iwi. Cindy
Logic must prevail. Dennis
Yes they must remove all unauthenticated sites from the plans until they have been accurately identified and mapped, otherwise it is a Maori land grab. Frank
Racist Maori bids for power must be stopped. Barry
Absolutely!! a complete no-brainer! Frank
A few bones are not worth preserving. It’s not like we have historic monuments coming to light in excavations. Tony
If they are not removed, then 0ut is likely that the Maoris will find a precedent has been set and then that will become the first step towards total ownership of NZ by the Maoris. Maurice
Yes, definitely. If they are not authenticated, then why on earth are they there? Geoffrey
There are far too many sites which have no authenticity by Maori!! Jon
Most of these sites have only become identified since the rise, like nearly all the other culturally sensitive to Iwi developments, of the iwi Taniwha money gouging technique was developed. Bob
How are these “sites” are determined. There are no doubt some legitimate ones but history tells us to be wary of human greed & they are no different when claiming land. Nick
Once again we are one country with everyone having equal rights. To think otherwise shows a large degree of immaturity. Tom
It’s the only fair way. If Maori can PROVE an area is significant, then it can be considered – otherwise it is simply land-grabbing. Carl
Every property owner in NZ faces losing his property to public works (roads, etc). It is part of society and a cost of being in a community. Edgar
Yes. Just stop this RACIST MOARI AVARICE! Mark
They should not have been included in the plan in the first place. This “race” will say anything if they can use their culture to get their own way. Rog
The current situation is a nonsense and another divisive device in our society that we do not need. Ray
All sites should be look into accurately and identified for what these site are and fully mapped for their history value. Robert
Apartheid NZ does not need any more PC bending over backwards to the early settlers, who themselves were preceded by the Vikings using Chinese Maps. The Charts and Maps I believe are held in the National Danish Maritime Museum at Helsingor. Tom
End this Maori Gravy Train (it has many disguises). Kevin
Remove the sites indefinitely! Wally
Even if authenticated so what. How many more village rubbish dumps do we need to identify. Max
Yes this nonsence has to stop and the cost of mapping and identification should be bourne by those making the claims which Im willing to bet will evaporate when the gravy train disappears This whole nonsence is a bloody disgrace and regretably we elected the pointy heads that allowed all of this. Phil
Most definitely and the sooner the better. Mabel
A midden is not a site of value, neither is a site where some chief blew his nose a century ago. Mark
Of course this is what should happen. Decent law abiding citizens have had a gutsful of these plastic Maoris holding the country to ransome over their bullshit claims. Ralph
Most definitely YES, otherwise Right Is Might becomes, Might Is Right and the tribe with the biggest bludgeon wins! Don
Absolutely. Di
More racism I sick of the part Maori forcing their part heritage on us kiwis Greg
More political claptrap? Ian
Same old story, IWI want it all. Edward
The current Maori claims over sites of significance to Maori are a wrort to extract $$$$. Rex
Oath, yes. The emperor IS naked, who is gonna stand up and call a spade a spade? If it looks like a rort and smells like a rort, chances are its a rort. Lesley
Time to end this legalised rort. Frank
Made submission to The Unitary Plan so. Hugh
Maori have no rights on another person’s land. George
Absolutely. Good grief how much longer are we going to put up with this stone age culture that the Maori should have given up on years ago. This is the 21st century not the 13th. If you pay them enough money they sites will lose their significance to the Maori’s just like the Taniwha’s in the Waikato that were blocking the motorway development Don’t give these greedy sod another cent. Colin
Opportunities to identify and map sites of significance have been available for decades. Random unauthenticated sites are often an unsupported fiction used as a weapon to control land use. Henry
This could destroy history. K
Has to happen otherwise it is holding anyone wishing to do anything to ransom. Bryan
We have to stop this industry of the Maoris making up one thing after another simply to get their support. Rayward
They should not be mapped and identified at all. Identification and mapping being somewhat loose terms will enable any alleged culturally significant sites real or imagined to be brought back into life by the shrill demands of the IMSB. Garry
I totally agree check out the sites for accurate identification. Paul
How can you put something into law if it hasn’t been looked into and proven. Murray
Of course. Andrew
The whole structure of Palmer’s invented Maori provenance should be tossed forthwith – and the sites in the Waipoua forest that provide evidence of a civilisation far older than Maori occupation should be immediately released from the 75 year moratorium placed on them and subjected to intensive investigation. Jim
Absolutely. Geoffrey
I’d go further and impose conditions requiring the removal of sites identified as having significance due to myths and superstitious belief as well as so called psychic “hot spots” supposedly linked to the death of Maori in the distant past. Peter
Get rid of this pie in the sky crap that some so-called native has dreamed up. Sam
I will vote for any party or councillor who has the guts to start saying ‘NO’ to the ever ending demands being made. Alan
For a site to be included it should be established by the applicant that on the balance of probabilities it actually exists and warrants protection. Alan
Scrap the whole plan. Colin
Waste of time for no good reason. Gerard
Absolutely YES! Ron
Just another loss of property rights. It has to stop. Lachlan
Of course. The are yet another propoganda move and not the truth. David
YES. I would insist that every Council in NZ be required to accurately identify any site claimed to have value or significance by Maori or any other group. Proof has to be established by positive evidence, not just tribal hearsay. Then the site has to be clearly identified, based on evidence, and the position mapped. Ernest
Most certainly. Their places of value are of no relevance in 2016 unles they are validated by an independant authority. Peter
Once again Maori got there stick little fingers in the pie when is this Maori fiasco going to come to an end just sick and tierd of there carry on. Russell
Rampant racism must be checked and halted. Bruce
Can’t come quick enough! Alan
Of course Maori should be required to validate all claims of ‘value’ or ‘significance’ attached to any particular sites. For too long, they have been allowed to get away with airy-fairy assertions, based on mere whim or myth, and this must stop. Their claims can have devastating effects on others, without any comeback; indeed, they have been able to charge ‘consultation fees’ for this outrageous rort. It’s high time that reason prevailed: my message to Maori is this: “Put up, or shut up!” Graham
Absolutely! And by the way, go to change.org and put your name on the petition to Pete Dunne to ‘Restore the Original Treaty of Waitangi’. This is a really important petition for everyone in NZ. The truth should be told. Equality for ALL NZer’s is essential. Maddi
Just a rort. Colly
I am over all things Maori right now. Chris
They are nothing more than another device for Maori to use to increase their influence in Council and draw fees. Peter
Thank goodness someone has at last suggested some common sense with regards to the whole significance to Maori nonsense. I reckon most of these sites are just invented to extract a fees from councils and payments from ratepayers. Tony
Asolutely – bring it on! Michael
Yes definitely all sites should be removed as at present they are all kept secret from landowners, which is a crazy situation. Ian
This whole iwi consultation has gone way too far. It needs to be stopped and Maori need to be treated like everyone else – and that goes for their cultural concerns too. They can be treated as historic sites and sceduled accordingly, if they stand up to the authentification process. Donald
The debacle in Auckland was just so iwi could become consenting authorities. It was collusion between council staff and the Maori Board. Heads should roll. Brian