The Government's failure to meet the targets of the KiwiBuild scheme has been difficult, but blame shouldn't fall squarely on the shoulders of Housing Minister Phil Twyford, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this morning.
"Some bits about the market have changed," she told TVNZ1's Breakfast. "We have seen an increase in the percentage of first homebuyers. It's gone from 18 to 24 per cent. That's great, but the number of available homes that would be considered affordable - that's an area that we will need to continue to encourage that development."
Ms Ardern said while the Government knows tweaks must be made and has been actively working to make those changes, she is not looking to "remove the goal that we have of disrupting the market because there has been a failure".
She added that KiwiBuild's failure should not fall squarely on Mr Twyford, who it has been speculated could potentially lose his portfolio when Ms Ardern is set to announce a "minor" Cabinet reshuffle on Thursday.
"I don't think it would be fair to just single out individual personalities here in that way because Phil has had an incredibly hard job," the Prime Minister said. "No one's ever tried to do this before, and we are building more houses than any government has since the mid-1970s."
On Breakfast yesterday, Opposition housing spokesperson Judith Collins called for Mr Twyford to lose his portfolio due to the failures. Ms Collins also offered to help the Government with housing, making it a bipartisan effort.
The Prime Minister laughed at the idea today.
“On housing, we have taken fundamentally different approaches," Ms Ardern said. "The last government was selling state houses. They weren’t willing to do what we’ve done, which is directly intervene in the market and say we need more building in this area.
"But look, if she’s willing to say that intervention is required, by all means, she can call us."
Ms Ardern reiterated that while the ambitious KiwiBuild scheme has failed to meet its lofty targets, the Government shouldn't simply give up and ignore the wider issues at play, saying, "I guess the question here is, 'Should we remove our ambitions simply because we don't like the politics of having to deal with targets?'
"We have to deal with the fact we had those numbers out there and that it hasn't delivered at the pace that we want – it doesn't mean that the problem has gone away, or that we can ignore it."