17 Feb 2020

Kāinga Ora rejects council criticism

6:24 pm on 17 February 2020

Housing development agency Kāinga Ora has rejected council criticism that it left them in the dark and poached staff off them.

Part of a housing development in the Tamaki area in Auckland.

Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

The agency is in line to get extraordinary powers under the Urban Development Bill before Parliament which would allow it to authorise and coordinate large-scale development projects.

This has unnerved councils around the country and forced them to protest to the agency about how it was recruiting their building officers.

However, Kāinga Ora, which now incorporates Housing New Zealand, cited nine meetings or briefings with councils in 2019 alone.

"Senior leaders... have been engaging with councils and the wider industry across the country for many months," it said in a statement.

The agency has employed about two dozen building officers and has applied to become accredited to do all the consenting and sign-offs for all its projects.

It did not use recruitment agencies, as alleged by councils, it said.

"The only places used to promote the roles available at Kāinga Ora were our website, the Government jobs website and Seek or, in other words, applicant-lead."

The Society of Local Government Managers said the agency directly approached every single building inspector at one council, and others at other councils.

Kāinga Ora said it had recruited 13 technical staff who had worked at Auckland Council, but the council puts the number at 18.

RNZ has asked Kāinga Ora to provide the content of its meetings with councils and to detail where it laid out its recruitment plans.

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