Newshub has obtained documents that paint a picture of exactly how the KiwiBuild targets unravelled.
In October, everything seemed peachy. Housing Minister Phil Twyford was told there was a high certainty of 627 homes being complete by July this year, and a further 430 were in the works.
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That would have pushed KiwiBuild across the line to meet the first-year target of 1000 homes.
But by the end of November, everything came crashing down. Suddenly, just 347 homes were highly likely to be built by July.
How did it all go wrong?
Communications released to Newshub under the Official Information Act show concerns about the number of houses being contracted were first raised way back in August.
On August 5, former head of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development’s KiwiBuild unit Stephen Barclay text-messaged Mr Twyford, saying: “To be frank, I’m disappointed a number of leads I talked to you about haven’t closed.”
A week later, in an email to Mr Twyford’s staff, Mr Barclay said he needed to give the Housing Minister an update on the numbers, saying: “He and I both agree it is the most pressing issue.”
The official figures showed that by October, things seemed good.
But on November 8, a new manager began at the Ministry. Around that time, Mr Barclay left the office, never to return. And by November 26, the number of homes that were highly likely to be built plummeted.
The Ministry would not do an interview with Newshub, but sent a statement saying it became aware of potential issues with the numbers, and looked into it further.
Confusion over October status report
After an audit of KiwiBuild, the Ministry found the numbers were way off.
Its official statement says: “The number of dwellings reported in the October status report included a very broad definition.”
That meant houses that were in very early stages of negotiations were being sold to the Housing Minister as a done deal.
In a statement, Mr Barclay told Newshub his numbers were accurate, and that it appeared something changed after he left.
Phil Twyford is in Australia so was unavailable for an interview, but sent Newshub a statement.
“This matter is related to an ongoing employment dispute so it would be inappropriate for me to comment,” he said.
“There is new leadership in place in the KiwiBuild Unit which is working hard to get much-needed affordable homes built.”
The National Party’s housing spokesperson Judith Collins has been scathing about KiwiBuild’s management, saying: “As a Minister you’ve got to ask the right questions and you’ve got to have a culture whereby people will tell you the truth.”
Barclay’s resignation a surprise to Twyford
Newshub can also reveal that Mr Twyford only found out about Mr Barclay’s resignation in January when Mr Barclay himself sent out a press release announcing it – an hour after he sent his formal resignation letter.
ACT Party leader David Seymour says the Minister should’ve been across it.
“Failing Phil has failed at every hurdle,” he said. “Knowing who’s in charge of your flagship policy is Minister 101, but Phil Twyford has failed at that too.”
Since the annual targets were dropped, the Government has been using “over 10,000″ as the number of KiwiBuild homes that it’s got contracted or committed.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern celebrated the figure in her official start of the year statement.
But figures released to Newshub show that just 341 of those 10,000 will be built this year, and nearly a fifth won’t be built until the final two years of the programme.
The number of houses expected to be built
- 2019: 341
- 2020: 1121
- 2021: 1515
- 2022: 1205
- 2023: 1329
- 2024: 1022
- 2025: 917
- 2026: 1045
- 2027: 1010
- 2028: 850
It seems KiwiBuild is still not hitting any targets.