Weekend Rewind: Looking back on the Auckland property market

By Nicky Harrop

TVNZ reporter Hamish Keith, 'South Auckland, Two Cities' 1982. Photo / NZOnScreen
TVNZ reporter Hamish Keith, 'South Auckland, Two Cities' 1982. Photo / NZOnScreen

It's the conversation that never ends – what's happening with the Auckland property market? And it seems it's been going on for a lot longer than we think. A look through the archives reveals a long-term obsession, a sickening realisation at just how much prices have grown, and a touch of déjà vu.

This footage from the mid 1950s captures Auckland at a time of new prosperity, and of a move towards further home ownership. We see the opening of New Zealand's first full-scale exhibition of small houses in Mt Albert, a government-sponsored group building scheme designed to lure in buyers, based on the underlying philosophy that if people own their own homes, they will have a stake in political stability. Young couples are shown looking at "one of the cheapest", a free-standing two-bedroom home for £2310 plus section cost.

Watch an excerpt from The City And The Suburb here:

From 1960, this newsreel item offers a somewhat overzealous commentary on Auckland's subsequent suburban sprawl – a city "infected with the excitement of seeing vigorous growth everywhere you look". Reflecting a time when "a town the size of Whangarei goes up in Auckland every 12 months", we see bulldozers breaking ground on the development of Glen Innes, and shots of burgeoning Takapuna, already with a "population of over 20,000!".

Watch an excerpt from Expanding Auckland here:

Made in 1971 to mark Auckland's 100th anniversary, Auckland City Centenary – Last, Loneliest, Loveliest looks back on the development of the city. Anticipating Super City angst, then-Auckland mayor Sir Dove-Myer Robinson frets that Auckland "is a city in search of a soul". In a not dissimilar vein, we learn the jaw-dropping details of perhaps the biggest (/most contentious) Auckland property deal of them all – William Hobson's 1840 purchase of 3000 acres of the Waitemata for an assortment of blankets, clothes, cash, tobacco and other sundry items.

Watch Auckland City Centenary – Last, Loneliest, Loveliest here:

Fast forward to 1982, and the city is looking quite different again. Heading to South Auckland, TVNZ reporter Neil Roberts finds two rapidly growing but very different communities. Otara and Mangere are becoming New Zealand's industrial powerhouse, but an influx of Māori and Pacific Island workers and their families are struggling to adapt in a brand new city that was farmland just decades earlier, and lacks amenities for its new citizens. Meanwhile, to the east, Howick and Pakuranga are also booming, but their more upwardly mobile, prosperous and largely Pākehā citizens seem to be living in quite a different environment.

Watch New Streets - South Auckland, Two Cities here:

From 1999, (then considered the height of the property boom), comes Location Location Location, a series following the tension and drama of buying and selling real estate. In this clip, following a couple looking to trade down, we hear a phrase unlikely to be uttered again any time soon: "something in Auckland under $200,000 … something with potential."

Watch an excerpt from Location Location Location here:

- NZ Herald

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