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Sound clip: teenagers and state housing

Audio file

To tackle the housing crisis in the late 1930s the Labour government created the Department of Housing Construction. With the help of Fletcher Construction, 3445 state houses were constructed in three years.

It was one of the first principles laid down by the Government that the State houses built under the supervision of the Department of Housing Construction (established 1936) should not be labelled "Government mass-produced houses". Every house erected in one street was to have a different elevation and style, and care went into the layout of both the house and its surroundings. Every effort was made to leave mature trees on properties. The aim was to create integrated communities that had access to communications, transport, workplaces and other facilities. The woman in the photograph seems to be mowing the lawn in her high heel shoes.

Hear Les Bailey talk about housing and adolescent entertainment in the Hutt Valley.


Interviewer: Even as late as 1958 when Les Baily was seconded by the Department of Education to begin organising recreational activities for the children of the Hutt Valley, conditions and attitudes had not greatly changed.

Les Bailey: I was looking around that area, I always felt sorry for them in some ways with the predominance of state housing that was put into the district. All you saw was bare lawns, there wasn't a tree growing anywhere, no shrubs, no gardens, no places where kids could play freely, you know? — and there certainly was a lack of playground space. It wasn't a very attractive area at that time.

Sure they had the riverbank, the riverbank in those days wasn't the playing fields that are all there now, there weren't the stop banks in and so on.

Interviewer: This is the Hutt River?

Les Bailey: The Hutt River, yeah, and there was a lot of these pretty scrubby sort of areas down there and I imagine that perhaps that is where some of the Mazengarb report activities — as reported by them — took place.


Radio New Zealand Replay Radio. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Replay Radio. Spectrum #731, 'The Mazengarb Report', Replay Radio


Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: MNZ-2154-1/2; F
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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Sound clip: teenagers and state housing, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated