Minister announces new Kāinga Ora board, lays out ‘expectations’

The government has announced a refreshed board for its housing agency, and laid down new expectations including material reduction in operating losses.

It follows the resignation of chief executive Andrew McKenzie on Tuesday, with a redundancy payout of about $365,000.

One of the new board members – Ceinwen McNeil – is also a member of the three-person team who reviewed the organisation, alongside former National Party prime minister Sir Bill English, and Simon Allen.

The previous chair of Kāinga Ora Homes & Communities was replaced by Simon Moutter in May, after the review was delivered to the government.

In a statement, Housing Minister Chris Bishop confirmed McNeil – along with Arihia Bennett, Jenn Bestwick, Alan Dent, Peter Jeffries and Fiona Mules – would replace Robin Hapi, Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, Nicole Anderson, Sir John Hanson and Campbell Roberts.

“To ensure continuity, John Duncan remains the deputy chair until the end of his term in September this year, and John Bridgman will continue as a member until the end of his term in December,” he said.

He accompanied this announcement with the release of a new letter of expectations for the board, with financial sustainability the top priority followed by delivery on wider government objectives, and “continued delivery with an enhanced focus on doing so in a fiscally responsible way”.

Bishop said the board was also being asked – as set out in the recommendations from the Bill English review – to provide a credible “turnaround plan” to eliminate losses.

“The plan is expected to materially reduce operating losses and manage within the approved debt appropriation, and will include investment scenarios, greater visibility of total capitalised costs incurred within the social housing programme, approaches to treasury and liquidity management practices, the approach to delivering Crown-funded programmes and statutory obligations, and detailed implementation plans for the savings proposals incorporated into Budget 2024,” he said.

“Kāinga Ora is a $45 billion company with over $2.5 billion expenditure each year. It owns about 70,000 homes and is a landlord to approximately 185,000 people. It is essential that the organisation functions well.”

Labour housing spokesperson Kieran McAnulty accused the government of dismantling the country’s best assets.

“Instead of building more public houses and setting New Zealand up for success, Chris Bishop and his friends look likely to transfer houses away from the state to other organisations. They just need to tick off a few boxes before they do it, and this is one of them.”

He claimed the English review was “rigged”.

In May, the New Zealand Herald reported Kāinga Ora’s board had defended itself in response to the draft version of the English report said some of the findings were based on anecdote rather than proper assessment.

“Unsurprisingly, instead of dealing with their concerns, the minister has given them the flick,” McAnulty said.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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