Former Reserve Bank Governor and politician, Don Brash says the pressing problem of housing affordability in parts of the country represent a failure of policy.
Speaking on Radio New Zealand as part of a forum discussing the State of the Nation, Dr Brash said housing is now outrageously expensive relative to incomes, with Auckland prices six times the median income.
He said while the Government was beginning to address the issue, there was still a long way to go.
"It causes an enormous amount of the social difficulty we've got, the poverty in Auckland is very largely related to the fact that people are spending an inordinate amount of their income to try and get a roof over their head."
Lecturer in Pacific Studies at Auckland University, Damon Selesa, told the programme most people in Auckland now could not afford the houses they grew up in.
He said housing inequality was just one symptom of the poverty trap affecting Maori and Pasifica people.
Professor Selesa said that OEDC figures also showed New Zealand was the worst country in the group for limiting educational opportunities according to income.
A lack of decent housing and educational opportunities were symptoms of a wider inequality and the issue was only now getting a proper hearing, he said.
"If we live in a society where we can't afford homes if we're poor, and then we are replicating that poverty in our educational performance we've essentially locked out a huge chunk of people.
"And most of those people, at least disproportionately are Maori and Pacific."
He said Waitangi Day was an appropriate time to consider the implications for the future of failing to ensure all New Zealanders have access to quality housing and education.