Ondine Grace

Ondine is living proof that it’s not impossible in Aotearoa for young people to buy a whare and gain the financial stability that comes with it. Whānau do it by saving hard, and thinking outside of the square. The “it’s impossible to buy a median-priced home” attitude never got anyone into their own whare.

“You WHAT?” This was the reaction when the then 20-year-old Ondine Grace (Ngāti Kurī) told her friends that she was buying her first whare. Even more shocking for some of her friends, who had see-money-and-spend-it tendencies, was that Ondine had saved $22,000.

Ondine’s mātua had always told their tamariki to buy property as soon as they could. When the whānau returned to Aotearoa in 2008 from three years living in France, the whānau all opened KiwiSaver accounts.

Ondine began topping up her KiwiSaver account before she even started working full time – thanks in part to a KiwiSaver housing deposit subsidy, which is a KiwiSaver benefit for first-home owners. When she started a full-time job Ondine diverted eight per cent of her salary plus an extra $30 to $50 a week into KiwiSaver. Her employer also contributed.

Ondine had other tricks to ratchet up her savings. Every day or two she would check her bank balance and transfer small amounts into her savings. If for example there was $123 in her account, she’d transfer the $23 to her savings “to help save a wee bit more”.

“I always bought second-hand clothes and I didn’t have a car until two years ago,” she adds. Even when she bought a car, she tried to drive it as little as possible.

Over the four years from 2008 to 2012 Ondine also saved nearly $4,800 into Whai Rawa. With matched savings, annual distributions and accumulated earnings, she withdrew nearly $7,000 towards the cost of the $182,000 property.

Ondine is living proof that it’s not impossible in Aotearoa for young people to buy a whare and gain the financial stability that comes with it. Whānau do it by saving hard, and thinking outside of the square. The “it’s impossible to buy a median-priced home” attitude never got anyone into their own whare. – report by Diana Clement.

Diana Clement is a freelance journalist who writes on personal finance, and property investing. She has worked in the UK and New Zealand, writing for the top personal finance publications for over 20 years. In 2006 and 2007 she was the overall winner of the New Zealand Property Media Awards.