'Took a strip out of my hide': Phil Twyford admits KiwiBuild 'failed to get traction'

Phil Twyford, Minister of Urban Development, says he wears his fair share of responsibility for the problems with KiwiBuild, and has unveiled a new plan to improve housing affordability.

"The problems that we had with KiwiBuild in those early months took a strip out of my hide," he said during his first interview with Newshub Nation since 2018.

This week he released a new plan to increase housing development in urban areas.

The National Policy Statement on Urban Development, released on July 23, aims to improve housing affordability in urban areas by setting up new rules for city councils.

It will direct councils - in particular the five growing cities of Auckland,  Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, and Christchurch - to free up their planning rules, such as on height limits.  

Twyford says he's been "totally focused" on making system changes to get the market to work better.

"What we're trying to do is allow our cities to grow to accommodate the population growth."

The plan aims to build apartments in metropolitan central zones to at least six storeys, "building heights and density of urban form to reflect demand for housing and business use in those locations".

Twyford says talking to the councils and Mayors in those centres, most of them welcome the idea of six-storey buildings alongside rapid transit routes.

"If we don't do that, we'll never build enough housing, we'll never bring down the price of urban land, and our kids won't be able to afford to live in our high-growth cities."

KiwiBuild aimed to see 100,000 houses built in 10 years. Three years after Labour formed the Government, only a few hundred have been built.

"Looking back on it, people recognise that we set an ambitious target," said Twyford. 

"We failed to get the traction that we needed to in the early year or two, but our Government hasn't stepped away from the need to tackle the housing crisis."