100 individuals and families have taken up the government's offer of financial help to relocate to the regions from Auckland. Minister for Social Housing Paula Bennett says this is a "fantastic result" but is this sentiment shared by those on the ground in the regional communities?
With nearly double the unemployment rate of all other regions and the lowest average weekly income rate in the country, what do Northlanders think about households being paid to relocate from Auckland to the regions?
Northland local Dolly Baker says, "The Government moving them on is sort of sweeping them under the carpet really, you know if they're not seen or heard there's no problem."
The Minister for Social Housing Paula Bennett has announced nearly 100 families and individuals have taken the $5000 grant to leave the big smoke, and repayments would be unnecessary if they did not return within the year. But opposition MP Phil Twyford says this is "laughable" and paying people to leave is not a serious or credible response to the housing crisis.
"It's not always about money, it's a lot of the time about their personal whanau take that's happening. But you start with communication and you work from there and if we can identify what it is actually happening for them then we could probably target some really good programmes and resources to help whānau."
The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) says households that have moved under the Relocation from Auckland initiative have relocated all over the country, but the top three cities included Hamilton, Whangarei and Christchurch.
Te Hiwi Preston says, "I think there is already a stretch on the social services throughout Northland as it is but I guess with the added pressure what it will do is it will see more of our whanau who work in regional roles across the rohe finding themselves more thinned-out than they already are."
MSD says although there is still a demand for social housing in those three regions, the needs of the households relocating suited the profile of properties available in those areas, and those being placed were not given priority over others still waiting in the area.