Twyford and Goff to skip KiwiBuild Summit

Housing Minister Phil Twyford will be a no-show at Monday's KiwiBuild Summit in Auckland.

But industry experts say his absence won't matter, as they're more interested in the nuts and bolts of delivery, rather than "high-level numbers" and politics.

"Phil's been replaced by Sir Brian Roche, who's the new chair of the Housing and Urban Development Authority - we're really keen to hear from him, because he's the one who's tasked with delivering this," Property Council CEO Leonie Freeman told The AM Show on Monday morning.

"[Twyford] was on the agenda at the beginning, but I understand he can't make it."

The KiwiBuild scheme, which promised 1000 homes in its first year and 100,000 in a decade, is off to a slow start. Its first birthday comes in a week but only 119 homes have been completed, and another 400 under construction.

Twyford used to be a regular on The AM Show, but hasn't been on since last year - he's declined 11 invitations to appear. In his place at the KiwiBuild Summit will be Associate Housing Minister Jenny Salesa.

Amid speculation Twyford could be stripped of the housing portfolio in the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle, Freeman defended Twyford's efforts to date in fixing New Zealand's housing crisis.

"This is a huge challenge. Phil came out with a very brave and bold target - and I admire and respect him for that. We could achieve - as a country - any target that we set, if were prepared to have a resolute and uncompromising focus on delivery. That's what I'm hoping this reset [will bring]."

Leonie Freeman.
Leonie Freeman. Photo credit: The AM Show

Twyford is expected to rejig the KiwiBuild scheme sometime in the next few weeks - possibly as early as Monday afternoon, when he's expected to speak publicly in Wellington.

Freeman said there has been a lot of work going on behind the scenes, not just in KiwiBuild but the private sector.

"It's important to understand there's a lot going on... Kiwibuild is just one part of it. I liken it to a Rubik's cube - what we've got to do is get all the little colours and the little cubes in the right place working together.

"It was a really brave and bold target, and I think in hindsight they've learnt that perhaps it wasn't realistic. But I'm hoping the reset will actually give a lot more clarity on how this can be done."

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff will also be a no-show at the KiwiBuild Summit, but Freeman says while his input would be useful, attendees are more interested in the delivery, rather than politics.

"To solve this - and it's absolutely critical for our country that we solve our housing issues - we need the Government, we need the council and the entire property sector all together."

The summit begins at 9:45am.

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