Former New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has slammed the NZ government after a shock report revealed the extent of the nation's cost of living crisis.
NZ media reported that hundreds of New Zealanders were suffering through a freezing Winter living in their cars with those on the ground describing the conditions as 'heart-breaking'.
"The latest figures show there are now around five times the number of people living in cars than there were before Labour was in government. How can the ‘be kind’ Labour Party explain that?," Peters, now leader of the New Zealand First party, posted on social media.
"With most in the media being distracted by a friendly narrative surrounding the current government, New Zealand is quickly turning into a place we only thought existed in other parts of this world."
At the end of 2017, NZ Ministry of Social Development records showed 108 Kiwis reported living in cars but latest figures show that number has blown out to 480.
In an updated statement, New Zealand's Ministry of Social Development clarified that:
"The 480 figure is not a measure of who is currently living in a car. 480 is the number of people on the Public Housing Register who said they were living in a car when they first applied for public housing."
Last month a 72-year-old woman died while living in her car on an Auckland suburban street in freezing conditions.
The New Zealand Herald reported:
She and her vehicle were so well kept that neighbours only realised she was living inside it when they spotted her wiping the car's windows from the inside because of the condensation that had built up.
The Auckland City Mission, which typically gets about 15 calls a month saying people are sleeping in cars or rough, says that number has now jumped to about 15 calls a week.
The cost of living crisis has especially hit New Zealand hard after it spent over two years pursuing a Covid-19 elimination strategy and harsh lockdowns which divided the nation while Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern enjoyed global adoration from the mainstream media.
However, latest polling figures show Ardern's approval has tanked to its lowest rating since her Labour team took office in 2017.