‘Have and have not’: How the housing crisis creates two New Zealanders – a photo essay | New Zealand
RReturning home to a country he could not afford to settle in, New Zealand photographer Cody Ellingham began pacing the streets of the suburbs at night with his camera. In a new series of photographs, he reflects the unease and discomfort of a generation left out of one of the world’s most unaffordable housing markets.
Earlier this month, real estate data analysis companies said the national average house price was between NZ $ 937,000 and $ 1 million, nearly eight times annual household income. Data from the Real Estate Institute shows there was a 31% increase in the year through July.
The major New Zealand cities of Wellington and Auckland have some of the least affordable real estate markets in the world – New Zealand homeownership rates have been declining since the early 1990s in all segments of the economy. age, but the decline is particularly pronounced for people in their twenties and thirties.
The images he captured form a visual recording of that experience: New Zealand homes documented with a sense of alienation and affection. âIn the sense that I cannot afford a house, like many young people, I am excluded from the housing market. And so I look from the outside, I look inside.
âIt’s those kind of relics – the architecture, the houses – they represent something. Objects from another time. State houses represented idealism when they were first built, they represented a home for every New Zealander, âsays Ellingham. “The reality of that symbol now is that they’re sort of breaking down and falling apart.”
At night, he says, the buildings are made strange and less familiar. âYou can see the building not only for its reality, but also for its most magical aspects. By filming it at night, I kind of try to unravel and find the history of the building.
Ellingham’s footage captures everyday scenes of New Zealand domestic life: the white planks of state houses, built by the thousands in the middle of the century, a burst of blue television through a window, a collection of children’s toys abandoned in a doorway. Ownership of these types of houses, once considered a birthright in New Zealand, is now beyond the reach of all but a few. The next generation will be increasingly divided between those who can leverage generational wealth to secure a deposit and those who are locked out.
âComing back and exploring New Zealand, I was really struck by this great divide that I saw between the haves and have-nots of this country,â he says.
âThis glaring difference in New Zealand, expressed by accommodation, was quite shocking because I created these myths in my mindâ¦ I grew up in Hawke’s Bay in the 90s and New Zealand that I remember, the New Zealand of my parents and grandparents, was a very egalitarian society, [a society] dreams of owning your own house, having a good job, having a good life. And a lot of what we see is starting to fall apart. “
Earlier this month, Consumer NZ spokeswoman Gemma Rasmussen said that with housing prices rising so rapidly, even high-income millennials will find it difficult to save for a deposit without benefiting from intergenerational wealth. . âWe’re heading to a place where there are two New Zealanders: the people who have assets, they are safe and their capital gains will continue to grow, and then there are people who are locked out. “
The country’s self-image, which emphasizes values ââsuch as egalitarianism and fairness, is fragmenting, says Ellingham. âOld New Zealand slips through our fingers like sand. “
Ellingham’s Auckland, New Zealand Nocturnes exhibition has been postponed to 2021 due to Covid-19 lockdown