Calls for Housing NZ CEO to resign

By Leah Te Whata

The State Housing Action Network is calling on Housing New Zealand Chief Executive Andrew McKenzie to step down.  This follows revelations that the danger of methamphetamine contamination was a myth which saw vulnerable families evicted from state housing.

State Housing Action Network convenor, John Minto, says, "We're calling for the head of Housing New Zealand, Andrew McKenzie, to resign because it was under his watch that these bogus standards were put in place and hundreds of families evicted and untold suffering."

Minto says that Māori and Pasifika are the ones who have been most affected.

"Disproportionately, the number of people removed from housing because of this meth contamination have been Māori and Pasifika people.  They have disproportionately suffered as a result of Andrew McKenzie and his policies and he's just got to go."

According to Minto, the blanket apology made by Housing Minister Phil Twyford to those who have been wrongfully evicted isn't enough and further action needs to be taken.

In a statement to Te Kāea, Minister Twyford said:

"I have confidence in chief executive Andrew McKenzie who is working hard to restore Housing NZ as a compassionate landlord. There's no question that people have been unfairly treated in this situation.

"I'm directing Housing NZ to produce a comprehensive report on this entire episode. I want to know how many houses were tested, what the results showed, the levels of contamination, who had their tenancies terminated on the basis of what evidence, who was evicted, who was banned from public housing, who was taken to the tenancy tribunal and who was forced to pay for remediation.

When I get that report, I'll make it public. Until I have this report, I am not in a position to say whether Māori and Pasifika were disproportionately affected."

Minto says, "The government has to put its money where its mouth is, it's got to make sure on a case by case basis that all those families are looked after, that those families that have paid extra rent that they shouldn't have paid in the private sector- that they're compensated for that.  They have to be brought back to a position that they're no worse off than they were before and they need some compensation for the hurt and the suffering that they've suffered in the meantime."

Te Kāea contacted Housing New Zealand for comment but they are yet to respond.