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History of state housing celebrated

20 June 2005 Media Statement

History of state housing celebrated

A century of state housing is celebrated in a new book launched today by the Prime Minister Helen Clark, at the Dixon Street flats in central Wellington.

We Call It Home – A History of State Housing in New Zealand, by Ben Schrader, is the result of a joint project between Housing New Zealand Corporation and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. It is published by Reeds Publishing NZ Ltd.

“The book aims to provide a broader historical perspective on social housing,” said Helen Clark.

“More than anything, it’s about the people who have lived in state houses, told against the backdrop of changing policies, designs and trends in housing over the past century.

“This year's budget contained an additional $134 million over four years to provide 1300 new homes for those in need. Housing New Zealand Corporation currently owns or manages more than 65,000 homes.

"It is also timely to launch the book this year, one hundred years since the Workers Dwellings Act of 1905. That legislation led to the first houses being built by the state, as a response to the appalling housing conditions of the time.

"These houses, some of which are still standing in the Wellington suburbs of Petone and Newtown, were the forerunners of the large scale state housing programmes of Michael Joseph Savage’s government. In 1937, members of the First Labour government gathered at 12 Fife Lane, Miramar – the first house of the biggest state housing scheme New Zealand has seen.

“The image of Michael Joseph Savage carrying that dining table into the home of the McGregors, the first tenants at Fife Lane, has become one of the iconic photographs of state housing, and indeed of political history in New Zealand. It is fitting that the cover of the book features that house,” said Helen Clark.

The book includes interviews with past and current tenants of state houses, as well as portraits by Wellington photographer Victoria Birkinshaw.


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