Individuals served in FY17: 1,050
Volunteers engaged in FY17: 7,249
- Capital: Wellington
- Main country facts: Women gained the right to vote in 1893
- Population: Over 4.8 million
- Urbanization: 86.5 percent live in cities
- Life expectancy: 81.3 years
- Unemployment rate: 4.9 percent
Source: World Factbook
Habitat for Humanity in New Zealand
Active in New Zealand since 1983, Habitat for Humanity has a national support centre in Auckland, 11 affiliates and a network of 18 ReStores spread across the North and South Islands. Habitat New Zealand gives families a hand up to improve their housing situation and also supports projects across the Asia-Pacific region, especially Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.
The housing need in New Zealand
New Zealand has been described as the most expensive country in the world to buy property when compared with household income, according to international ratings agency Fitch. In Auckland, where demand outweighs supply, housing cost has more than doubled in recent years. This has locked many families out of the prospect of owning homes for generations, and placed pressure on rental availability and cost. About one third of New Zealand’s total housing stock, about 1.3 million houses, consists of rental houses with the other 65 percent owner-occupied. The effects of cold and damp housing on children’s health in New Zealand are well documented, particularly with poorly insulated and badly maintained rental may share accommodation with relatives. Entire families including children are known to live in uninsulated garages. In rural areas, Habitat has encountered low-income families who live without electricity, running water or proper bathrooms as well as those who the end of their structural life span.
How Habitat addresses need in New Zealand
Habitat New Zealand works with volunteers, corporations, NGO partners and donors, and through funds raised via ReStores to enable families to build decent, affordable homes. Through its 11 affiliates, Habitat also provides assistance through “A Brush With Kindness”, a critical home repair program, unique regional activities such as social rentals, reconstruction following the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, group accommodation facilities and partnerships with government agencies.
Assisted home ownership
Habitat works with families in need of decent housing to carry out critical home repairs through “A Brush With Kindness" program that provides further opportunities for volunteers to be part of Habitat’s work. The ReStores accept donated goods and resell them to the general public at a fraction of the retail price to help the Habitat communities.
Global Village volunteer program
New Zealanders have the chance to participate in small and large volunteer builds around the world, helping families achieve a decent place to live. In 2018, volunteer destinations include Nepal, Samoa, Fiji, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Myanmar and Argentina.
Focus areas in the Pacific Islands
Following the devastating February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, Habitat New Zealand worked with the government to house 21 affected families. Habitat New Zealand also lends a hand to its Pacific Islands neighbors such as Samoa and Tonga. Both were affected by Cyclone Gita in February 2018. This saw Habitat ramp up its project in Samoa, supporting 286 families into decent strong homes. Currently, Habitat is developing a five-year project in Samoa in conjunction with the New Zealand government. Habitat has also partnered with the New Zealand government and a local partner in Tonga to repair 300 homes and train families on building and maintenance techniques. Habitat is aiming to support up to 200 more families with major repairs and full house reconstructions in Tonga. This work in Tonga builds upon Habitat New Zealand’s memorandum of understanding with the government of Tonga, singed in 2016. Habitat has also partnered with Habitat Fiji and the New Zealand government to engage in an extensive multi-year project, helping 40 communities to be disaster ready, thereby reducing the potential damage and loss of life during tropical cyclone season.
Meet a Habitat family
Jaimee and Himi and their young children moved into their new Habitat home in Dargaville, New Zealand in mid-2015 after years of living in cold houses filled with mildew. The kids were always sick and needing inhalers. But after their first year in a safe and decent home, Jaimee said the inhalers are no longer needed. “It’s a big improvement; no mold, no condensation!” A year after moving in, they welcomed baby Ay’ce. The family of six is thankful. Jaimee said: “Everything we are working for is going toward our own home. We are both working and to know that all of our rent money is going on our home and not someone else’s mortgage is a big change for us.”