The government has formally moved to stop the sell-off of state houses.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford today issued an instruction to Housing New Zealand to cancel the sale of the homes.
Mr Twyford said the move would stop the transfer of up to 2500 state houses in Christchurch.
He said Housing New Zealand would rejuvenate its stock by building and buying newer homes where they were most needed and selling houses that were longer fit for purpose.
"A modernisation programme by Housing NZ will mean more dry, warm and healthy state houses."
Sales to renew and grow the housing stock were quite different from the systematic large-scale sales used by the previous government to reduce the role of Housing New Zealand, Mr Twyford said.
According to a according to a briefing paper to the incoming Social Development Minister, demand for social housing increased 72 percent in the past two years.
It said pressures in the private rental market, population growth and decline in home ownership were key factors.
And the briefing said 130,000 children, or 12 percent of the population, live in households that find keeping warm a "major problem".