Winston Peters walks off amid questioning if he knows English name for Kāinga Ora, doesn't say he does

  • 19/12/2023

Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has walked off amid questions over whether he knew what the English name for 'Kāinga Ora' was.

It comes after the Government referred to the house agency as 'Kāinga Ora' in a press release, despite the National and New Zealand First coalition agreement saying that public service departments that aren't specifically focused on Māori should use their English name primarily.

Asked on Tuesday afternoon whether he believed it was a breach of the deal, Peters replied: "We are not going to go around pointing out small mistakes." 

He said the Government would "get it right over time" and he was focused on the services being delivered rather than "woke virtue signalling".

Peters said he didn't raise any concerns with National over the use of 'Kāinga Ora' as he said he knew media would.

He wouldn't say if he knew what the English name for the agency was.

"Don't you know?" he initially responded to the journalist asking. 

When the reporter said they did know but wanted to know if Peters knew, the Deputy Prime Minister said: "If you don't know go back to journalism school 101... don't be so arrogant."

"I was around doing things for Māori before you were born."

He then walked off without answering.

The English name for Kāinga Ora is Homes and Communities. 

Later in Parliament, Peters asked Housing Minister Chris Bishop if he could put out a press release explaining what Kāinga Ora means "because there are journalists out there asking Members of Parliament what it means and this is a desperate situation that we have reached at this point in time".

Bishop said he enjoyed putting out press releases.

Earlier, Peters said the Government should be communicating in a way that the majority of people understood.

"If 95 percent don't understand what it is, then maybe we should understand, when it comes to communications, and I'd try to impress upon the media that all communications is about understanding and comprehension, if it doesn't fit that bill, then what are we doing?"

ACT leader David Seymour said the main priority was for Kāinga Ora to deliver new homes, but in line with Government policy it should be called by its English name first.

"That immediately allows people to understand what it actually is and does." 

He referred to it as Housing and Communities, when it is Homes and Communities.

Seymour said he wouldn't lose sleep over people calling it 'Kāinga Ora'.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon on Tuesday morning said the Government wasn't "hung up on" the use of 'Kāinga Ora'.

Bishop said it was fine to use it as it's a "known" name and had been used since the agency's inception in 2019. 

"Kāinga Ora is known as Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities. I don't know a single person who calls it Homes and Communities," he said.

"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."