The Government’s answers to the Auckland housing crisis are coming under constant fire as values rise with apparently no stopping.

Yesterday the Prime Minister was forced to defend the decision not to offer surplus Government land to local iwi as part of the “right of first refusal” clause in most Waitangi settlements.

Mr Key said that Ngati Whatua did not have a right of first refusal to surplus Government land in their Waitangi settlement – instead it was bound up in the Tamaki Collective.

The Collective is a group of iwi who all have had competing claims to various land feature son the Auckland isthmus.

They jointly administer the city’s volcanic cones. (Maunga).

But Mr Key also said the Government hadn’t yet identified which four or five hundred hectares of land it was going to develop from about 150,000 hectares of surplus land in the city.

He said any case against the Government by iwi would have to be over a specific piece of land. “It would have to look a pieces of land that  they believed  were subject to right of first refusal and they would have to be ones that the Government wanted to develop,” he said.

He said the Government had faced a similar situation in Christchurch where it had used 11 hectares of surplus New Zealand Transport Authority land in Hornby to develop 275 “affordable” homes.

“Ngai Tahu were interested in the right of first refusal on the land but ultimately they weren’t the successful bidder on it,” he said.

“We are quite confident that the law quite clearly says the Government is free to carry out its stated aims when it comes to housing.

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“It’s quite free to use existing Government land for its stated aim of the provision of housing.”

Mr Key may be confident that he has prevail over the Tamaki Collective in court but the Government faced other charges yesterday that it was allowing a large number of Auckland houses to stand empty while speculators waited for prices to rise.

Labour’s Phil Twyford has called for a “crackdown on speculators” in the wake of this report though he did not specify how he thought that might be achieved.

Interestingly, Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler told last week’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee that the Government’s “register of foreign interests” – the Government requirement for foreign property buyers to provide New Zealand tax numbers from October 1 – would be “quite important” in terms of restraining house prices in Auckland.

And in further evidence of the big role speculators are currently playing in Auckland, in a report last week, CoreLogic’s Director of Research, Jonno Ingerson said: “Our analysis of sales turnover shows that in Auckland the most common ‘hold period’ is 1 year.

 Compare that to the rest of the country where properties are most commonly held for 7 to 8 years.”

But ultimately, as Mr Wheeler told the Select Committee, supply will fix the problem in Auckland.

He pointed to how house price increases in Christchurch had come down to below five per cent once the supply increased.

And in Christchurch the Government was able to prevail over iwi and their claims of right of first refusal on the disposal of surplus land.