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Habitat for Humanity New Zealand

Country Profile

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. It has since grown into one of the most innovative national programs in the Asia-Pacific region. HFH New Zealand works through a network of 11 affiliates. A national support center based in Auckland coordinates finance, marketing, fundraising, and volunteer and disaster-response programs.

Housing needs 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. The country faces a housing shortage of about 45,000 homes, according to the Bank of New Zealand, one of the country’s largest banks. A 2011 study by Demographia International, a consultancy, found that housing in New Zealand was severely unaffordable with property in the capital Auckland being the least affordable. Median house prices are 6.4 times median incomes, compared with 3.5 times in 1991. This is double the figure in the United States.

How Habitat for Humanity works

Under the guidance of the national board and office, HFH New Zealand’s independently governed affiliates undertake their own building initiatives. The national organization leads and coordinates HFH New Zealand’s involvement in Habitat’s international work particularly special builds and responding after natural disasters in neighboring Pacific island states.

A typical Habitat house in New Zealand is usually a stand-alone structure comprising three-to-five bedrooms, 95 to 125 sq. m. in floor area. Houses are constructed with suitable and affordable building materials. Typically, houses feature timber framing with plasterboard internal lining, suspended flooring on treated timber foundation piles, fibrous cement cladding and iron roofs. On average, it takes three to six months to build a house. Some affiliates undertake five-day special Blitz Builds to attract public attention and secure large scale or strategic volunteer engagement.

In 2009, local affiliates commenced A Brush With Kindness program, aiming to help homeowners unable to keep up their repairs and maintenance. The program, involving work valued at less than NZ$20,000 (US$16,500), helps in particular the elderly, people with disabilities and single parent families. The beneficiaries repay the costs through affordable loans. HFH New Zealand sees this program growing rapidly and a way of engaging many more volunteers, different types of donors and local communities. To date, A Brush With Kindness has helped 115 families.

HFH New Zealand has become active in responding to natural disasters in neighboring Pacific island states following its successful rebuilding in Samoa following the 2009 Pacific Ocean tsunami. HFH New Zealand worked with the Samoan government, local communities and New Zealand corporations and over 600 Kiwi volunteers to build 89 new homes. Habitat’s effort in Samoa led New Zealand donors to express a long-term interest in supporting the housing needs there. HFH New Zealand is looking at establishing a presence in Samoa under a model that addresses complex issues including land tenure. HFH New Zealand supports the work of HFH Fiji. It has provided members for the local board of directors, as well as volunteers and funding. More than 30 Kiwi volunteers helped HFH Fiji to build 46 new homes for families affected by 2010’s Cyclone Tomas.facilities.


HFH Vietnam hosted 21 international teams from Australia, Canada, China, New Zealand, Singapore and the U.S. comprising over 400 volunteers, in the fiscal year to June 30, 2011. Five corporate and school teams from within Vietnam, some 156 volunteers, also built with Habitat.


HFH New Zealand works with corporate partners and other supporters in building homes, communities and hope. Supporters include CISCO; paint maker Dulux; American Express; charitable trust The Lion Foundation; air conditioning systems company Fujitsu General; insulation products maker Pink Batts; steel roofing manufacturer Dimond; Winstone Wallboards, a maker of plasterboard and drywall; and building materials company James Hardie.


• January 2012: HFH New Zealand begins repairing homes with the help of skilled volunteers in Christchurch which was hit by an earthquake in February 2011.

• December 2011: Dedication of first HFH New Zealand house to be built inside a prison. Six prison inmates built the house for a family of five in Hastings city, North Island.

• November 2011: HFH New Zealand mobilized more than 150 volunteers to build homes with 22 Cambodian families during the Khmer Harvest Build.

• October 2011: Habitat Build Challenge attracted more than 60 teams to raise funds for HFH New Zealand by seeking sponsors for benches, chairs and other items that the teams had made. The items were later donated to kindergartens, play centers and schools.

• October 2010: HFH New Zealand mobilized 150 volunteers for the week-long Everest Build in Nepal.

• June 2010: HFH New Zealand was bestowed with the title of Agaiotupuolemalaetoto’amalemalaeolea’ava, or chief master-carpenter by the Samoan community; the award was presented by the Samoan prime minister to HFH New Zealand chairman Grant Cathro. More than 600 Kiwi volunteers helped to build 89 traditional houses in Samoa after a tsunami in September 2009.

• November 2009: 142 volunteers from New Zealand joined the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, which took place in five countries in the Mekong River region.

• September 2009: As part of New Zealand Fashion Week, 300 women volunteers from the fashion industry and corporations took part in a five-day blitz build. Led by local fashion designer Trelise Cooper, the volunteers built a house on Auckland’s waterfront which was later transported to a Habitat home partner.


Population: 4,290,347 (July 2011 est.)

Capital: Wellington

Area: 267,710 sq km

Ethnic groups: European 56.8%, Asian 8%, Maori 7.4%, Pacific islander 4.6%, mixed 9.7%, other 13.5% (2006 Census)

Languages: English (official) 91.2%, Maori (official) 3.9%, Samoan 2.1%, French 1.3%, Hindi 1.1%, Yue 1.1%, Northern Chinese 1%, other 12.9%, New Zealand Sign Language (official)

Religions: Protestant 38.6% (Anglican 13.8%, Presbyterian, Congregational, and Reformed 10%, Christian (no denomination specified) 4.6%, Methodist 3%, Pentecostal 2%, Baptist 1.4%, other Christian 3.8%), Roman Catholic 12.6%, Maori Christian 1.6%, Hindu 1.6%, Buddhist 1.3%, other religions 2.2%,

none 32.2%, other or unidentified 9.9% (2006 Census)

Literacy: 99% (2003 census)

Urbanization: 100% (2008)

Access to Improved Water Sources: 100% (2008)

Sources: World Factbook, World Bank