About Long-term Insights Briefings

Long-term Insights Briefings (Briefings) are a requirement of the Public Service Act. They’re designed to provide the public with:

  • information about medium and long-term trends, risk and opportunities that affect or may affect Aotearoa New Zealand and our society
  • information and impartial analysis, including policy options for responding to these trends.

Long-term Insights Briefings must be published every three years. The requirement to publish a Briefing is a statutory responsibility of departmental chief executives, independent of ministers.

Each agency developing a Briefing must consult with the public on:

  • the proposed subject matter of their Briefing, and
  • the draft Briefing.

Find out more about the process for developing Long-term Insights Briefings on the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet website(external link).

Our Long-term Insights Briefing

Our Briefing will look at how our ageing population will impact the future of housing and urban development in Aotearoa New Zealand, including:

  • the types of dwellings needed and how we need them to perform
  • the housing stock, its size, its position in towns and cities, and the design of neighbourhoods and the built environment
  • housing affordability and security.

We will consider how the ageing population affects housing outcomes for:

  • Māori
  • Pacific peoples
  • seniors
  • young people
  • people ageing with disability.

The Briefing will also look at how different regions, cities, towns and rural areas are affected.

How the population of Aotearoa New Zealand is ageing

In the next decade, there will be more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 15 in Aotearoa New Zealand. This will have an effect on future housing and urban needs, and will be an important influence on the labour force needed for buildings and services.

Pākeha New Zealanders are the oldest group in Aotearoa New Zealand’s population, followed by Asian ethnicities. In contrast, Māori and Pacific people have shorter lifespans than non-Māori, and have a much younger population structure.

For more information about the population structure of different ethnicities in Aotearoa New Zealand visit 2018 Census ethnic group summaries | Stats NZ(external link).

Regional variations

Some regions have much older (or younger) population structures than others for example, Marlborough has one of the oldest regional population structures, while Auckland has one of the youngest population structures, but there are many more people over the age of 65 in Auckland than in Marlborough.

Generational differences in the housing market

Different age groups have different experiences of the housing market. Today’s seniors tend to own their own homes because they entered the housing market when they were young, under a very different housing system, when house prices were relatively low and took a lower proportion of their incomes.

Younger people are struggling to own their own homes, partly because house prices are high and partly because the housing system is very different from the past. As these young people age, unless there are major changes, our population will become increasingly rent-dependent in all age groups.

Housing stock and the built environment

Our existing homes and many of our towns and cities have struggled to look after the wellbeing of our people and whānau, of all ages.

Our housing stock doesn’t cater well for different household makeup, or for different sizes such as the increasing number of one- and two-person households or very large households with more than one generation.

An ageing population also has implications outside the home. The way people engage with their local neighbourhoods, and the relationships between where people live and work, change with age.

Housing security and affordability

We will need more homes that are affordable to both rent and to buy.

Owner occupation has been declining in all age groups and in all local government areas for several decades. There has been a corresponding increase in people renting.

Home ownership among Māori and Pacific peoples has declined significantly. The cultural preference for multi-generational housing is not well catered for by market forces, and for Māori there are tensions between housing affordability and whenua connections.

Some New Zealanders, including disabled people, women, Māori and Pacific peoples, have statistically lower incomes and are vulnerable to housing and urban conditions. As those populations age, pressures on housing affordability and security are expected to increase.

Where is HUD up to?

In late 2021 we consulted on the subject matter and confirmed that we will look at the implications of our ageing population on housing and urban development.

We are currently developing a draft Briefing for public consultation in the third quarter of 2022.