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Mike's Minute: Megan Wood's KiwiBuild silence is deafening

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Fri, 9 Aug 2019, 9:35AM

Mike's Minute: Megan Wood's KiwiBuild silence is deafening

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Fri, 9 Aug 2019, 9:35AM

OPINION

Props to Shamubeel Eaqub, the economist with the slightly eclectic view of the world, who has drummed up an answer to our housing issues.

At least he has ideas, seemingly unlike the new minister in charge of the government's greatest cock-up, KiwiBuild, who six weeks since her appointment has said basically nothing.

And when I asked the Prime Minister whether or not something might be headed our way by way of news, she said "stay tuned." Which is Jacinderism for ... who would know?

Megan Woods has, to my eye, been a relative success story with Christchurch. She seemed a woman of some action and progress. So it was with no small amount of anticipation I was looking forward to how she was going to take Phil Twyford's mess and somehow cobble it back together again.

The crickets are chirping.

Meantime, Eaqub is suggesting more prefabs and the help of the Chinese.

One of the problems I have - and this is not to be unkind to him - but I saw him interviewed in his apartment at the time he was arguing it was better to rent than own, and he didn't own his own place. And it seemed to me that when you looked at his own place it appeared the concept of home ownership wasn't his bag.

Most of us love our home, it defines us. We like a cushion, a throw, and a bit of knick and knack and bric and brac. Living and Giving is in business for a reason, as is Briscoes.

I can't help but think Eaqub's plans involve cold, white, prefab boxes. In other words, he's solving housing by numbers. It's Lego housing. Numerically it works; real world it's a ghetto.

He does make some logical points. Window sizes in Asia are all the same, hence you make heaps and save money. Our windows are all different sizes. Do we really want cookie cutter houses?

This, maybe, is why KiwiBuild was such a bust. Size of house, location of house, and for a price that didn't entice. Even in a so-called crisis, people will not fork out their hard-earned cash on stuff that doesn't gel. You can't just produce a unit and expect the human aspects to fall into place.

And that's before you get to the Chinese part that Eaqub's sprooking. This country right now, sadly, whether through foreign house buying, Winston Peters and his speeches, our new fascination with the Pacific, not to mention Huawei, is a bit prickly with China. You think we will all embrace mass produced Chinese boxes as Eaqub prescribes? I don't think so.

But, as I say, at least he's thinking and has got things to say. Hello Megan? Come on, any time you're ready.

ON AIR: Overnight Talk

12AM - 5AM