Habitat celebrates 30 years of delivering decent housing – but much more to do

Oct 30, 2023

Habitat for Humanity New Zealand is celebrating 30 years of building homes, communities and hope in Aotearoa and the Pacific, however it also recognises there is still a lot more that needs to be done to achieve its vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. 

Since 1993, Habitat’s New Zealand operations have supported thousands of families to thrive through housing.  

“The families and individuals we work with are at the centre of everything we do and our ultimate aim is to support them to thrive in life through housing. The outcomes and impact we have achieved over the past three decades is incredible. A warm, dry, safe home is a fundamental enabler to a person’s strength, stability and self-reliance. It’s at the core of a thriving community,” says Alan Thorp, Group Chief Executive Officer, Habitat for Humanity New Zealand. 

“However, we can’t do this without the collaboration and support of our staff, volunteers, funders, central and local government our corporate partners and our supporters who donate to us in many ways. We bring people together to be part of our community, so they can be the heart of change in theirs. 

“What’s more, it’s clear we’ll be here for at least three more decades too – there is so much more work to do. New Zealand families and the Tongan, Samoan and Fijian communities we work in, still need our support to access affordable, adequate homes.”  

Over the past three decades, Habitat’s work in New Zealand has resulted in more than 550 families moving into home ownership through a rent-to-buy model, supported more than 3700 families in housing need improve the place they call home and assisted many more through various education programmes such as financial literacy or becoming ready-to-rent. 

In the Pacific, Habitat for Humanity New Zealand has primarily focused on community-led development programmes and responding to disasters as required. Via its five year strategic partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) to the value of $9.2M, it works with communities in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to identify and prioritise what their local safe shelter needs are, along with skills to make buildings safer and stronger, deliver water and sanitation programmes and financial literacy education. Over the past three decades it has assisted almost 1000 families in the Pacific have a more habitable home through major repair work and initiatives which help make a home safer, such as cyclone strapping. It has also built 600-plus dwellings.  

Next year, Habitat will be reinvigorating its Global Village programme which sees volunteers working abroad on a housing project to directly improve a local family’s access to a decent place to live. Hundreds of volunteers from New Zealand have supported the Global Village programme and made a positive impact on housing in 20 countries, including Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam, Fiji, Samoa, India and Mongolia. The programme was paused in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19 and global travel. 


Habitat for Humanity’s first house dedicated in New Zealand. This house was located in Pukekohe and handed over to the first Habitat partner family in March 1993.


Working on-site to build Habitat Nelson’s first Habitat home and the 50th home built in New Zealand.


New Zealand sets a new Habitat World Record for the fastest house ever built during a Speedbuild event. March 1999.


females in the trades build a house carry a constructed wall.

An all-female team of tradespeople constructing two homes at a Women Build event, in a first for New Zealand. September 2000.


Former Prime Minister The Rt. Hon. Helen Clark visited the first Woman Build site in Wiri and was greeted by a Habitat for Humanity volunteer. (Photo by David Hallett/Getty Images)


Volunteers work on construction during the Samoa Hope Project, Habitat New Zealand’s disaster response project following the 2009 tsunami in Samoa. This was also Habitat New Zealand’s first disaster response. June 2010.