Dad living in car 160km from family to pay bills

A working family has been torn apart due to soaring living costs in Auckland.

Jones Ioane and his pregnant partner, who also have a five-year-old son, have been struggling for the past year to pay $420 to rent a two-bedroom house in Papatoetoe, despite the couple both working.

Mr Ioane earns $575 after tax working 40 hours a week as a storeman at a south Auckland warehouse.  His partner earns on average about $250 a week. But after rent and bills they're left with nothing.

"And we still can't survive? There's something that's not right here you know," the 27-year-old told Newshub.

"It really hit us when we realised we couldn't afford it."

Faced with the prospect of never getting ahead, the family gave up their rental last week and Mr Ioane's partner and child have moved to Whangarei where the cost of living is cheaper.

Mr Ioane is now living in his car four nights a week, staying at parks and in alleyways close to his work so he can provide for his family 160 km away.

"We're out here working our butts off for what really?" he says. "I barely even get to sleep because the neighbourhood's dangerous you know.

"I don't get to spend time with my family, I don't get to see my son or pick him up from kindy.

"This is the sacrifice that me as a dad, as a partner, is doing for my family. Some days I cry but there's only so much crying you can do."

The young family moved into the rental at Papatoetoe a year ago - it was the first home of their own. Prior to that they lived in a garage attached to a house where 11 others are living.

Mr Ioane says he's worked almost his entire adult life and his family means the world to him.

He says he knows many people who are struggling with low wages and high living costs and he's speaking out to highlight the issue.

Mangere Budgeting Services told Newshub they know of at least four other cases like Mr Ioane where fathers are sleeping rough away from their families just to cover basic living costs.

The budgeting service says policy changes mean Auckland's housing situation will improve within the year. But for now it's still at crisis level, with overcrowding and some stressed-out families sleeping rough.

A Productivity Commission report out this week shows Kiwi workers are worse off. It shows that for the 20 years to 2016, workers share of total income earned by the country fell by two percent. The rest went to people like business owners and investors.

However, the Council of Trade Unions says the decline is much greater  - more like a 10 percent drop - since the early 80s.

It says if workers had the same share of income now, they would be $11,500 dollars better off.

To stop the decline the Productivity Commission says Kiwis need to be equipped with news skills.

Mr Ioane agrees, saying more training is needed so low-skilled workers can progress up the ladder.

"When is it our turn to progress and not just become 'that labourer guy'?" he says. "These labourers that are out there doing the hard yacker need to be acknowledged and get a bigger piece of the slice."

He says those with money and power need to remember not to forget about the little guy.

"If it wasn't for some us down here doing the dirty work you wouldn't be sitting where you're sitting. We're hard-working people just like you but we're struggling - we don't have the big income like you do.

"Maybe come down and see what it's like living in our shoes."

Mr Ioane says he'll be able to relocate to be with his family in Whangarei if he can find work that matches his income in Auckland. Until then, he'll be sleeping in his car.

Anyone wanting to get in touch with him regarding a possible job can email: