Key denies housing crisis in Christchurch

5:32 am on 29 June 2012

Prime Minister John Key says there is no housing crisis in Christchurch - despite one of his ministers saying that there is.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples said Christchurch residents who are living in cars should squat in safe red-zoned properties to get through the winter.

Dr Sharples stood by his comments.

Dr Sharples stood by his comments. Photo: RNZ

But Mr Key says it's wrong to suggest anyone should stay in an abandoned home, because it is illegal and potentially dangerous.

Mr Key says if people cannot find accommodation, they should make contact with one of the Government's social welfare agencies.

But Dr Sharples is standing by his belief that homeless people should squat in safe, red-zoned properties in Christchurch if necessary.

But the Maori Party co-leader says he shouldn't have made the comments while he was on a ministerial visit.

Dr Sharples says people living in cars risk dying in the cold, and the housing shortage is a crisis.

He says his remarks were irresponsible as a minister, but as the Maori Party co-leader he meant every word.

Dr Sharples says he's seeking funding to get more help for homeless people, as contracts for workers in his ministry's whanau support programme have not yet been renewed.