Christopher Luxon not 'hung up on' using 'Kāinga Ora' despite coalition deal to use English names

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon says the Government isn't "hung up on" the use of 'Kāinga Ora' as the name for the housing agency despite National's coalition deal with New Zealand First saying departments should have their primary name in English.  

A media release from Housing Minister Chris Bishop on Monday afternoon referred to the agency as Kāinga Ora, raising eyebrows considering the Coalition Government's stance on department's names. Kāinga Ora means Homes and Communities.  

The National Party's coalition agreement with New Zealand First says that public service departments should have their primary name in English unless they are specifically related to Māori.  

Transport Minister Simeon Brown has already asked the transport agency to give effect to the policy. It's been known as Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, but the Māori and English names are expected to be flipped.   

But Luxon said on Tuesday, "we're not hung up on" the use of 'Kāinga Ora'.  

He said neither New Zealand First or ACT had raised concerns with him over the use of 'Kāinga Ora' in Monday's media release and wouldn't clarify what other departments would be known by their English name first. He said some would naturally change their names.  

"They've got old jpegs. They just need to replace them in that case. It's very simple."  

Luxon said the policy wasn't part of the Government's 100-day plan and would be looked into next year. He couldn't explain why ministers couldn't just immediately begin using the English name considering the coalition agreement.   

"We have got a lot on our plates. There's a lot more important things frankly right now to deal with," Luxon said before listing off a number of previous Government policies the new Government was repealing, like Fair Pay Agreements and the Reserve Bank dual mandate.  

Luxon said the Government was "very comfortable with dual language", which he said is "entirely appropriate". But New Zealanders should be able to navigate Government departments, he said.  

Bishop laughed when asked why he was using 'Kāinga Ora' on Monday.  

"Yeah, because that's how it's known. That's its name," he said.  

He said 'Kāinga Ora' had been the department's name since its inception in 2019.  

On Tuesday, he said using the English name would be considered in due course.  

"Kāinga Ora is known as Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities. I don't know a single person who calls it Homes and Communities. The transport agency is a bit different in the sense that everyone used to call it the transport agency, and that's how most people regard it, as the New Zealand Transport Agency."