All images by Joel Thomas.

Auckland Creatives Show Us How They Survive In a Housing Crisis

"The walls had holes in them and there was mould everywhere."

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07 August 2017, 5:09am

All images by Joel Thomas.

Say the words "Auckland housing crisis" and what comes to mind is a generation of those who would previously been able to get on the ladder locked out by rising prices. But the other housing crisis is even more insidious, and disproportionately affects those who were never going to be able to afford a house anyway: the poor.

It is a crisis of poorly built homes, of inescapable cold, damp, and mould. Of the resulting hacking cough that arrives every winter, the sick children. And of landlords ambivalent to the welfare of their tenants—a recent online survey found that more than half of properties have mould issues, but that only four percent of landlords believed that damp and mould were serious problems. It could become an election issue: The Opportunities Party this morning released policy that would drastically enhance tenant's rights and ensure that homes were dry and warm. "The reality," TOP's leader Gareth Morgan told Stuff, "is we are heading to a world where 60 percent of the population are life-time tenants—so we have to be protect the majority of people."

VICE wanted to investigate how struggling Aucklanders live now, so we asked four young artists—people who generally know about living week to week—to show us around their digs.

PETER WALSH - artist, musician, and luthier, in his self-renovated Remuera room.

"I decided to try the minimalist thing over summer but I probably shouldn't have thrown all my clothes away. All I have now is the stuff I make music with, the stuff I make art with, some clothes, plus a few Star Wars trinkets."

"The flat was pretty unbelievable when I got here. All the walls had holes in them and there was mould everywhere. I had this weird time where I slept on the couch and just renovated this room."

"I like the idea of fixing things. I think that's something that's lost: making or reusing, this idea of the craftsperson. That's one of the reasons I started building guitars from found wood. As beautiful as a Fender is, how special is it to know where the piece of wood came from or who crafted it?"


LIAM DARGAVILLE aka DBLDBL - one half Auckland rap duo HEAVY, in his Balmoral flat.

"Working in hospo, I'd come home at like four in the morning excited about burrowing into bed. Especially in winter. But you'd open the door and a breeze would literally come out from inside our house."

"I've lived in a lot of shitty flats. But usually with the most amazing people."

"I guess everything's connected. Even my little list of mouldy abodes to the music I'm making today. Which I guess I'm happy for."

PARIS CURNO - photographic artist, in her Eden Terrace flat.

"The landlord said they're gonna demolish the house sometime soon to put apartments up. He doesn't give a fuck about the house. I seriously think the dampness affects our health."

"I don't want to live in an apartment. I think they feel more hostile. This house may be old and cold but at least it has character."

"Do you wanna eat and put a roof over your head? It feels like you've got to do commercial work to survive here. Who is making money out of art photography in New Zealand? We're all shooting headshots and lookbooks."


HOLLY PAYNTER - multimedia artist, in her Balmoral flat.

"Moving to a small town and not paying much rent and just doing art is romantic, but I'm a social being, and being social is experiencing things with other people."

"I collect things for the space. It's nice to just curate a room. It's kind of like cutting your hair. You can just change it whenever you're in a mood."

"My friend wants to move into the cupboard under the stairs, which would be cool. Another person moving in saves like $10 a week."

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