We examine housing speculation in Auckland, New Zealand, the second most unaffordable market in the world. Although political leaders have decried that the 'speculation-driven housing bubble in Auckland is a social and economic disaster,' the government's main anti-speculation tool – the Income Tax Act’s intention test – sits idle and inoperable. By holstering this key policy tool, politicians promote residential property investment in part to buttress New Zealand’s asset-based welfare system. We develop novel methods to objectively distinguish speculators from genuine investors, measure the speculative pressure applied by individual rental property purchasers and outline an evidence-based approach to operationalise the intention test and the nexus between expenditure and taxable income. We find that housing speculation in Auckland is endemic and its housing market is a politically condoned with investors broadly betting on tax-free capital gains.