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How The Property Market Is Destroying Our Social Fabric

ON THE COVER: The Great Housing Divide

The cover story this month is one that affects every Kiwi. In a must-read article, award-winning journalist Rebecca Macfie follows the thread of soaring house prices, plunging home ownership and exploding housing insecurity all the way back to its starting point. It’s the story of a country where most people could afford a healthy home, where you could work hard on a modest wage and buy a house in which to raise a family and leave something behind for your kids, a country with one of the lowest inequality rates in the developed world — and how we deliberately dismantled all of that, piece by piece.

Although the housing crisis is in the news every day, what Rebecca uncovers is shocking.

  • Since the late 1980s, houses owned by investors have increased by 191 per cent.
  • More than 40 per cent of children live in rented houses.
  • In the early 1990s, around a third of new construction consisted of affordable homes. By 2014, around 60 per cent of construction was high-end houses. Only 5 per cent was low-cost homes.
  • Around 70 per cent of first-home buyers need help from the Bank of Mum and Dad for a deposit.
  • There’s a timebomb of elderly poverty coming down the line: In 20 years, fewer than half of people turning 65 will be home owners.

The story is also about how the property market is changing us. As Rebecca shows in devastating detail, allowing house prices to climb out of control has created a two-tier society — one becoming increasingly prosperous, the other increasingly precarious. Even for those on the luckier side of the fence, the question of how their kids will build a stable life as home ownership soars out of reach is becoming more and more urgent for many.

Also in this issue:

  • Who’s getting left behind in the vaccine rollout: Why Māori are being vaccinated at almost half the rate of Pākeha (and why Cabinet chose not to follow MoH advice to consider vaccinating Māori in younger age bands due to higher health risks.)
  • The first-time Kiwi film director who has Hollywood calling: The story behind surprise hit Coming Home In the Dark.
  • Plus: Why Simon Bridges has a collection of photos of his wife asleep with her mouth open: The former National Party chats about his political memoir that he insists is not a political memoir and whether he plans to take another shot at the top job.

The September 2021 issue of North & South is on sale nationwide from Monday 16 August.

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