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Building the New Zealand dream.

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Dunmore Press with the assistance of the Historical Branch, Department of Internal Affairs., ,

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Ferguson’s book provides an historical overview of the housing landscape, especially in the context of the state housing construction boom in the post-World War II era.

Ferguson outlines the evolution of housing policies and practices, including the development of state housing and the suburban explosion that followed the war but had been preceded by the First Labour Government’s housing programmed developed in the late 1930s. “For better or worse,” writes Ferguson, notes “the homes built during this time came to symbolise the very heart of the New Zealand dream.” Since the late 19th century, Ferguson explains in early chapters, New Zealand’s housing landscape has been deeply influenced by government interventions, primarily through affordable loan finance for home ownership. This commitment to supporting what is known as ‘The New Zealand Dream’ – a suburban family home – has significantly shaped both the society and the physical landscape of the country and it is both the national understanding of this and the government’s varying capacity to deliver it that forms the core of the book. Government involvement in housing reached its zenith in the 1960s, followed by a gradual decline, with the book detailing the role of finance, public-private partnerships, visionary leadership, planning, and architecture in delivering record numbers of houses in the mid-century. The book presents a detailed discussion on how government initiatives, economic factors, and cultural attitudes shaped the nation’s housing sector. In later chapters, Ferguson addresses the impact of privatisation and market forces on housing accessibility and affordability in the 1970-1990s. The book also delves into the architectural changes over the decades, reflecting both technological advancements and shifting societal norms. Through this historical journey, the book sheds light on the complexities and challenges of housing policy in New Zealand, offering an in-depth understanding of the interplay between housing and national identity.

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