Why we should hikoi for homes

The idea that housing is a basic human need has escaped the imagination of politicians and well housed bureaucrats who advise them. Housing is now simply about markets and the interests of investors, banks and builders. There is little concern in the media or in politics for low income people and their families who struggle to rising rents. There is no concern for the thousands on state house waiting lists with no hope of ever getting in a house which is secure, safe and affordable.

Housing is at the sharp end growing inequality in New Zealand. Property owners get richer on rising property prices and their untaxed capital gains. Meanwhile, younger people and those who have struggled for a lifetime on low wages and unreliable employment struggle to pay rents and to cope with the insecurity that comes with being a tenant. This division will get sharper unless there is a radical rethink of how we run housing and how we tax wealth in New Zealand.

This rethink needs to involve us seeing housing not as a commodity but as a human right, essential for people to prosper and for our children to be nurtured well. This means that the government needs to be more hands-on and to become an active investor and developer in the housing market – just as it was for the 50 years before 1991. This means, too, that we must adopt a long-term view of housing and to ensure that tenants have more rights.

Only through public pressure on politicians will such a rethink occur, and while elections might help to change things more action is required. To increase pressure for a radical rethink of housing, community groups and trade unions are organising protest marches. These protests are known as Hikoi for Homes and will be held on Saturday 21 November in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Be a part of a growing demand for major changes around housing in New Zealand by coming along to one of these hikoi. These are family-friendly events that offer something for everyone, so bring your friends and whanau, your banners and voices, and hikoi for homes.