Why we can’t afford a house
Doco sets out to explain why home ownership has slipped out of the average Kiwi’s grasp.
You only need a passing acquaintance with current affairs to know that house prices and affordability are rarely out of the headlines, but what’s the story behind the numbers? In oneoff local doco Who Owns NZ Now (Tuesday, 8.30pm, Three) journalist Bryan Bruce attempts to answer that question.
He leaps into the topic with some figures on dwindling home ownership and increasing homelessness and yep, the numbers are a bit of a shock. And they just keep coming. But numbers mean nothing without some explanation and that’s what really interests here.
Bruce uses his own life as an example. His parents were able to buy their first home with a state-assisted mortgage and just a 5 per cent deposit. Bruce was a teacher in the 1970s and was able to buy a home in Christchurch for just $26,000 – twice his annual income back then. The maths works out very different for a teacher on an average salary today.
A bit of history is thrown in as we head back to the 1980s, the rise of neoliberalism and financial deregulation. Bruce hops around the globe talking to economists, professors and other experts and examines the issues around overseas buyers. He heads to Vancouver, often held up as one of the most desirable cities to live in despite being the third most unaffordable. And right behind it, in fourth place for that dubious accolade, is Auckland.
This fascinating documentary deals with a very topical issue in an accessible and interesting way. It answers questions about how we got to where we are in terms of housing, but also throws up interesting debate on how the issue might be solved and, ultimately, what sort of society we want to live in.
Another local doco, Why Are We Fat? (Sundays, 8.30pm, Prime), treads a more familiar path. This threeparter sees celebrity chef Simon Gault in new territory. Hit with the news that he’s officially obese and is developing type-2 diabetes, he heads off to explore the issue of our growing fatness.
I won’t even stand on the scales in front of my dog, let alone another human being so fair play to Gault who strips off and subjects himself to all sorts of depressing tests and measures of fatness.
He’s poked and prodded and put in a special pod and given an MRI, each test serving to just throw a little more salt in the wound. And the professor who measures Gault’s ‘‘visceral’’ (internal) fat takes an almost horrified delight in the results. Looking at the figures he concludes that’s ‘‘a massive amount of fat’’, ‘‘that’s phenomenal’’ and then, just to hammer the message home, ‘‘this is really, really bad’’.
It feels a bit familiar and let’s face it, docos about how fat we’re all getting are hardly rare. But Gault is a pleasant enough presenter and it’ll be interesting to see how he tackles his troubles.
Bryan Bruce bought a house in the 1970s for just $26,000 – twice his teacher’s salary back then. The maths works out very different for a teacher these days...
Chef Simon Gault puts himself under the microscope in Why Are We Fat?