John Key admits homelessness has risen on his watch

John Key says his government is working on many initiatives to combat homelessness, conceding that the issue has risen to prominence during his time as prime minister.

The Prime Minister told ONE News Political Editor Corin Dann that rising housing prices inevitably affect those most marginalised. Source: Q+A

Speaking on TVNZ's Q+A programme this morning, Mr Key was pressed on the issue.

"Do you accept homelessness has risen on your watch?" ONE News Political Editor Corin Dann asked.

Mr Key agreed, but also defended his government.

"Yes, there are more people but equally we are also implementing a very significant plan," he said.

"There's no question that if house prices rise and if pressure goes on rents it has a significant impact on those most marginalised, not just those who are homeless."

Mr Key is at the annual National Party conference and says homelessness is at the top of the agenda while the party celebrates its 80th birthday in Christchurch.

He says 135 people a week are going into social housing initiatives and that Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett has had plans and summits in the works for a long time.

B and her family arrived at Te Puea Marae with nowhere else to go, but now have a house to call home. Source: 1 NEWS

"There are many initiatives there, we accept those issues, but we have to continue to focus to do more on that."

New Zealanders have been taking a strong stance against the government, calling for more to be done after a marae opened its doors to 40 families who were living rough.

Hundreds have slept in cars in solidarity with the homeless over the last few weeks.

Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith says the Government can't just build houses by a "magic click of the fingers".

Marae 'B' has been at the marae for 12 nights with her father and four siblings. Source: 1 NEWS

"We certainly are building a lot of houses. What we do need to be careful of is there is only so much capacity in the building industry, you can't just build houses by a magic click of the fingers," he said.