Families served in 2016: 16
- Population: 4.4 million (July 2015 est.)
- Urbanization: 86.3 percent lives in cities (2015)
- Life expectancy: 81 years
- Unemployment rate: 5.8 percent (2015 est.)
- Access to improved water sources: 100 percent (2015 est.)
Source: World Factbook
Habitat for Humanity in New Zealand
Active in New Zealand since 1983, Habitat for Humanity now has a national office in Auckland, 10 affiliates and a network of 13 ReStores spread across the North and South Islands. HFH New Zealand gives families a hand up to improve their housing situation and also supports projects across the Asia-Pacific region, especially Samoa.
Housing needs 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 67 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 properties. Urban dwellers who cannot afford to rent a house 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 can’t afford maintenance and repairs on houses which are nearing the end of their structural life span.
How Habitat addresses need in New Zealand
HFH 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 10 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
Across New Zealand, 10 affiliates build homes with families in need of decent housing and carry out critical home repairs through “A Brush With Kindness”. The affiliates also operate 13 ReStores which provide 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 affiliates fund the construction of homes within their communities.
Global Village volunteer program
HFH New Zealand’s Global Village program offers New Zealanders the chance to participate in small and large volunteer builds around the world, helping families achieve a decent place to live. In 2016, volunteer destinations include Samoa, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Fiji, Cambodia, India and Chile.
Following the devastating February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, HFH New Zealand continues to work with the government to house 21 affected families. Eleven families have moved into their new Habitat homes in 2015. HFH New Zealand also lends a hand to its Pacific Islands neighbors such as Samoa which was hit by Cyclone Evan in 2012. A total of 108 “faleo’o” (meaning “lean to”) cyclone- resilient shelters were built by two of HFH New Zealand’s most experienced volunteers working alongside Samoans. Currently, Habitat is helping Samoan families through a three-year, NZ$1.49 million (over US$1 million) project funded by the New Zealand government. About 260 families are expected to be trained in financial literacy as well as in the cyclone-strapping of roofs and maintenance. In 2015, HFH New Zealand undertook a new housing initiative in Samoa and is raising funds for rebuilding in Fiji following February 2016’s Cyclone Winston. In April 2016, HFH New Zealand inked a memorandum of understanding with the government of Tonga, committing to helping families whose shelter may be affected by disasters.
Meet a Habitat family
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 HFH New Zealand, Margaret invested sweat equity by using her own labor to build not only her home but the houses of others as well. In the five years that she is a Habitat home partner, she has been maintaining a high standard and savvy with finances.
“We have a well thought out budget…I was very fortunate because my daughter helped on the building site, and through this experience I have taught her that each of us has responsibilities,” said Margaret.
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.”