8 Feb 2017

Housing NZ boss defends meth eviction campaign

6:55 pm on 8 February 2017

Housing New Zealand's chief executive has defended the agency's meth eviction campaign, denying it ignored ministry advice.

For five years the housing agency misused Health Ministry guidelines - designed to make sure former meth labs were safe to live in - when it evicted tenants it accused of smoking the drug on its properties.

The Ministry told RNZ News it repeatedly advised Housing New Zealand the guidelines applied only to meth labs, and were not intended to monitor homes where the drug has been smoked.

Hundreds of tenants were evicted from their state homes, after Housing NZ detected tiny traces of methamphetamine in them, and some have been made to pay tens of thousands of dollars in cleaning fees.

At a social services select committee hearing held today, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei asked the housing agency's chief executive Andrew McKenzie why it continued to ignore the advice from the Health Ministry.

Mr McKenzie responded by accusing the media of incorrect reporting.

"I think that is what was reported, but if you were actually working with the Ministry of Health, they certainly do not say that they told us we were using it wrongly," replied Mr McKenzie.

Mr McKenzie refused to speak to the media after the hearing.

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