Roughly 150 new state houses are to be built in the regions over the next few months, Housing Minister Phil Twyford has announced.
But Mr Twyford admits many of them were already in the pipeline under the previous National government.
The Labour-led government has previously promised to build at least 1000 state houses a year.
"This is the first step in building more new homes to help those most in need in our regions.
"In total, it will build more than 270 bedrooms for individuals or families in the areas where they are needed most," Mr Twyford said.
The mostly one or two bedroom homes will sit on Housing New Zealand's vacant land in areas ranging from the far North down to Invercargill. Napier/Hastings will get almost 50.
"Work will begin on these houses this month and it's expected that people will start moving in from mid-2018."
The initiative was Housing NZ's largest regional building project in decades and would put a "small but significant dent" in the waiting lists, Mr Twyford said.
"A trickle is going to turn into a creek and into a river and into a flood.
"Today is a down payment - an indication of this government's seriousness about building more houses and fixing the housing crisis."
The Opposition said today's announcement was a cheeky stunt.
National's housing spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said those state houses were all planned by the former government and Mr Twyford was taking credit for its work.
But Mr Twyford admitted many of the new builds had been in train for some time.
"Some of those houses - I couldn't tell you exactly how many - would've been in the pipeline.
"But we've given Housing New Zealand the green light to ramp up the build of state housing," Mr Twyford said.
"If more state houses had been built in the past decade, we would not have the levels of homelessness we do today."
Michael Woodhouse said Mr Twyford knew exactly how many of the state houses he announced today were planned by the previous government.
"They all were - and he should know, he's either being mischievous or he's not on top of his game.
"Either way, I think the public should be aware the minister is talking an extremely good game and leading them up the garden path when it comes to both Kiwibuild and state houses," he said.
The Salvation Army's transitional housing director Lynette Hutson said it was a welcome start from the government but many more state homes will be needed.
The new state houses are planned for the following regional centres:
- Far North - 10
- Rotorua - 8
- Whakatane - 8
- Napier / Hastings - 49
- New Plymouth - 6
- Whanganui - 7
- Palmerston North - 11
- Nelson / Marlborough - 20
- South Canterbury - 19
- Dunedin - 14
- Invercargill - 3