18 Jun 2015

Smith accused of 'picking fight' with iwi

7:25 pm on 18 June 2015

The Labour Party is accusing the Housing Minister, Nick Smith, of picking a fight with iwi over the right of first refusal for surplus Crown land in Auckland.

Housing and Building Minister Nick Smith at Crown land at Manukau in Auckland that has been identified for housing.

Housing and Building Minister Nick Smith at Crown land at Manukau in Auckland that has been identified for housing. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Ngati Whatua and Waikato-Tainui have instructed their lawyers to file documents in the High Court as they believe they should be the first to be offered Government land set aside for housing.

In Parliament today, Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford asked Dr Smith to confirm whether iwi were planning to file court proceedings on Monday.

But Dr Smith had only this to say: "All I can confirm at this point is that the discussions were very constructive and in my view we will come to a common sense solution that will see houses built for New Zealanders," he said.

Phil Twyford questioned Dr Smith further.

"Has he reflected on the fact that by picking a fight with iwi over right of first refusal he has put his entire budget housing policy at risk and, if so, who or what does he blame for this particular

comedy of errors?"

Dr Smith rejected that and said his Ministry had met with the 13 iwi of Auckland a month before the Budget.

"I would draw the member's attention to the number of iwi that have actually come out very supportive of the programme," he said.

Dr Smith said he was confident of working through the issues with both Ngati Whatua and Waikato-Tainui.