Days to the General Election: 39
See Party Policies here. Party Lists here.

KiwiBuild head Stephen Barclay hands in 'immediately effective' resignation; Minister Phil Twyford can't comment because it's an 'employment issue'

KiwiBuild head Stephen Barclay hands in 'immediately effective' resignation; Minister Phil Twyford can't comment because it's an 'employment issue'
Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford. Cartoon by Jacky Carpenter

The head of KiwiBuild, Stephen Barclay, has resigned after less than eight months in the role. 

The CEO of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Andrew Crisp, at lunchtime today (Friday) received a letter from Barclay, which said his resignation would take immediate effect. 

Crisp says he's "considering how this affects the employment process currently underway" and will make no further comment. 

A spokesperson for Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford says the Minister can't comment either as the matter is an "employment issue". 

Media reports in December suggested Barclay had been off work since about the beginning of November due to an employment dispute. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last month swatted away questions on Barclay, but said Crisp had advised her his absence had nothing to do with the KiwiBuild policy or the implementation of the KiwiBuild programme.

National's Housing spokesperson Judith Collins has today been quick to criticise the Government, saying Twyford needs to "come clean". 

"How much has this employment issue cost New Zealand taxpayers? Kiwis deserve to know how many months the Government has been paying Mr Barclay, especially if it was to the end of his contract," she says. 

“It’s taken three months for Mr Barclay to exit from a role he held for only four months. This is extraordinary and needs a full explanation from Mr Twyford, and whether it was due to a relationship breakdown.

“If, as the Minister has said, the situation involving Mr Barclay taking leave would make no difference to KiwiBuild, then why was the role created in the first place at what is, no doubt, a huge expense?

“KiwiBuild has been fraught with issues from the beginning with houses just not selling. Despite significant changes by the Minister to encourage sales, the policy isn’t working.

“The KiwiBuild scheme is now almost a year in, and, following the resignation of its Head less than a year after he was appointed, these issues can no longer be described as ‘teething’."

Barclay's career spans construction, consulting, event management and government. Before taking up the KiwiBuild role, he was 'Chief People and Transformation Officer' at the Ministry of Health. Prior to that he was CEO of the San Francisco America's Cup Events Authority. 

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


The preparation of the 2013 America's Cup wasn't exactly a momentous triumph of organisation. How was this not a red flag?

Again the CoL dumps the bad news (Kiwibuild fiasco and Czech drug importer linked to the govt) on a Friday afternoon, when the PM and other senior ministers are safely out of the country.

Least open and transparent government - EVER


1.25 years into their first term, 33 houses built, about 1 every 2 weeks, 99967 to go in next 8.75 years so they have to raise their build rate by about 400x (~45 per working day and rising) ... Lost their CEO after just 6 months - reeks of it being an organisational trainwreck. Houses far beyond promised prices, and concerns that they are still going to have a hard time shifting them due to bad locations and bad neighbours. Weekly embarrassment of answer questions about it in media and parliament. How long before Labour admit they are hopelessly out of their depth and end this fiasco?

Courage in Leadership isn't about fear of failure ( which is what all and sundry predicted for Kiwibuild). It's about 'giving it a go' based on the best of expectations and information available. Sure, failure happens, but at least Labour 'gave/is giving it a go". What would you have prefered? The status quo under National, that saw social housing wrecked over their 9 years? Maybe you would. But for those who want a Government to look after it's most vulnerable; those that the private sector would ordinarily shun, at least Labour is trying.
(NB: I voted for John Key, first up, and what a disappointment he was on this topic, and NOTHING got done under his Governments that HE didn't approve of first)


A 9 year old can have a go, doesn't mean it's wise. Also having a go doesn't mean soundbites without any plans or not have any regard for unforeseen consequences. At least get Twyford to step down and let someone else "have a go". It's not like our tax money is going to be spent wisely anyways under the current lot.

And if our tax money isn't spent wisely, vote them out at the next election. That's how it works. But until then, we have the Government WE elected ( and yes MMP is a debatable concept with a small population) but Labour campaigned on Kiwibuild, and that it isn't delivering as planned doesn't mean it wasn't worth trying. Is Twyford the man for the job? If he has the courage to asses things as they progress and change, then yes. Otherwise, I guess he'll join Barclay ( whatever the real reason was that he's gone) as a has-been.
But I'll ask you - How would you fix the Social Housing disaster?

Correction, this government was cobbled together by WINSTON first.

Maybe National should have tried the 9 year old. He couldn't have done any worse than they did...

Could have picked one of the 9 year olds from the selection of artists that contributed their ideas for the flag referendum.

Giving it a go simply isn't good enough.

The CoL bleats about nine wasted years, but they spent all that time in opposition without creating a single significant policy solution.

Kiwibuild - not thought through
1,000,000,000 trees - not though through
Fees free tertiary - middle class welfare, while ignoring potential students from disadvantaged backgrounds
Offshore oil and gas - ban without a plan
Provincial Growth Fund - money for Shane Jones to chuck around on projects not properly appraised
Education reforms - union-driven
Health - abolition of monitoring and reduced current spending

And I'll ask you the same question as Steve-O above - What would you do to fix the Social Housing disaster?

Drop Kiwibuild (welfare for developers and realestate agents, not to mention all the MBIE employees on kiwibuild), funnel extra resource into State house building (which is going reasonably well already), and give the state housing building program the access to a severely streamlined consenting process.

Wiping out the excessive housing regulatory costs is the key, then industry will do the building job for you. And fix local govt so that they can get infrastructure built cheaply and efficiently (as they did decades ago). The state shouldn't have it easier than everyone else form a regulatory point of view - they should be subject to the same unnecessary regulations as everyone else so that they are more motivated to fix them.

you are right on the money Pragmatist.

If fees free tertiary is middle class welfare, what is fees free primary and secondary education? What makes tertiary so different?

The difference comes down to age and personal choice. We shouldn’t be subsidising adults as much as we do now let alone the fees free etc introduced by labour.

If you think you are going to get enough graduates in the needed areas (medicine, science, engineering etc) if the locals have to pay what the international students do (ie, not subsidised) you're dreaming.

$44k a year for undergrad engineering at Auckland for international students. so 4 years = ~$176k for a basic Engineering Degree.
~$420k for your basic Bachelor of Medicine.

We need to cut down on funding the crap courses that the education sector is pumping out to suck up the money, not try to discourage people from doing the degrees in areas we need more qualified people.

Yep, it might mean not everyone can go to Uni, but if you aren't good enough to get close enough to the top of the queue to get in, perhaps you should look at on the job training or a trade?

Agree. Invest in useful qualifications (uni or trade) for the return. We get a much worse return off paying a universal pension to net-negative boomers but you don't see the same folk campaigning for an end to that.

Would love to always "give it a go". Would you let anyone else "give it a go" for anything without being sure they are qualified?

Um, if you are getting paid $500k to do absolutely nothing would you end this cluster f**k?

The Government has painted itself into a corner by setting a floor price for any cook-and -push unit coming onto the market at $650k , and the real value of these hovels is closer to $300k.

Comes from interfering with the market

It looks like that NZ has been in a situation where politicians just truck along and kick the can down the road as long as they can for quite a while.

The direction of NZ's social, environmental, and economic development has not been seriously guided by any governments for so long!!!

Even the staunchest Labour lefties now must know that their idols are totally incompetent!
Ardern and Robertson away to see Mrs May re free trade deals?
As if she is going to be concerned with those two lightweights!
Pike River hold ups again, total waste of taxpayers money and Andrew Little damnwell knows that, but thinks he can pull the wool over our eyes!
Seriously they have not done anything to the benefit of NZs growth or prosperity since they have been in the COL!
Ardern even stated prior to Xmas that she doesn’t like the politics in being in Government!
And this is our Prime Minister, Who really needs to take her role as PM seriously or take up full time childcare, where a I am sure she would do a far better job!
This COL are gone big time!

And you too - What would you do to fix the Social Housing disaster?
(And, no. The Private Sector wouldn't respond to the need, otherwise, it would have by now - under both factions of Government, and we wouldn't be in the situation we are now)

He doesn't want to fix it because he profits from it.

What Social Housing Disaster?
What the disaster is, people who are expecting the country to support them and their family!
There are people that just think that they are owed a living when they need to take responsibility for their own life!
We see heaps of people looking for rentals all the time and there are heaps that we just wouldn’t even consider taking them on as tenants, as we don’t need the hassles!
They turn up with kids in tow, not working cos they can’t be bothered and often pregnant again and we find out they have credit issues!
They expect us to provide them with shelter but we do not go there because they will more often than not be trouble!
Plenty of others that don’t have the baggage and want to be sheltered in quality accommodation.

"What the disaster is, people who are expecting the country to support them and their family!"
Report today of a hardworking 13 hour a day family having their shop ram raided overnight by scum. The reefer-rendun will add even more dopes so I think you better get used to the no-hopers TM2

Well Im sure you will agree the answer is not building houses in effing Wanaka right?

Im not going to jump on the bandwagon and say they done it 100% wrong, but its closer to that than 100% right. If you were to grade it you wouldn't even give them a pass mark at present.

And that "giving it a go" stuff is nothing more than hogwash. The best part about playing soccer is everyone gets a trophy right?

No, the best part about playing soccer is everyone gets a McDonalds Cheeseburger voucher.

Huge number of new jobs created in the taxpayer funded working groups industry - who cares if it is costing 100's of millions to keep the coalition's mates in tea and chockie biscuits. And heaps of growth in working age beneficiaries managed by the coalition. So that's all positive then.

Working groups were about the same number as for the last incoming National government. Tea and chockie biscuits.

Agree we should be addressing benefits. Especially accommodation supplement and Working for Families ("communism by stealth" - John Key), as well as emergency housing payments. But no one is willing to address such issues. National were campaigning on increasing WFF and the accommodation supplement.

So who will do it?

Judith Collins telling someone else to "come clean". Well...ain't that something?

Go Crusher Go. she takes no prisoners

Since when? Paper tiger

Labour have been handing out a lot of fake jobs so far. I would also like one of these fake jobs where you don't turn up to work or the job disappears and they pay you out before you do anything.

I'm going to suggest a radical idea where Government employees only get paid if they actually turn up to work. I know it's a crazy idea but it might just work.

In principle Kiwibuild is a great initiative. Unfortunately there is an idiot of a minister in charge of it

And Labour doing their usual Friday afternoon bury-the-story press dump. Gotta be the most open and transparent govt ever after all (even after firing Minister for open govt for hiding and lying about stuff). Today's entries: This addition to the growing pile of kiwibuild embarrassments. And a very chummy thank you text to Ardern for granting residency to a jailed p-importer that she first tried to pretend didn't exist, then stonewalled over and finally released only as she jumps on a plane to leave country.
Key line: "thank you to Ian [sic] and yourself for giving him another chance" implying she was involved in the decision making process and had been asked to help. Something she denied in parliament.


Phil Twyford broke his election promises and made the task impossible.
Kiwibuild pre-election - cut costs and build lots of affordable houses in the $400,000 range.
Kiwibuild post-election - inflate the bubble, ratchet up costs and build in $600,000 range.

Sorry but Twyford is hopelessly incompetent and needs to go!
When are we going to hear from him again, and what is his thoughts still on KiwiBore and rental costs that he is driving up by his ridiculous targeting of landlords?

Barclay has a strong track record of successfully working with powerful and demanding bosses. His time with the MOH was a turbulent period that he successfully negotiated, including the under pressure exit of CEO Chai Chua. Incoming health minister Clarke would have probably vouched for his competence. Barclays boss at Oracle Larry Ellison is famously competitive , demanding and brash, yet Barclay appears to have successfully managed that relationship. He's clearly a robust character.

So was it a clash on policy or strategy ? - unlikely given Barclay would have been well aware when he took the role that Twyford as minister had all the say. It's possible Twyford's ego convinced him he was better at line management than this experienced manager which resulted in the minister frustratingly micro managing him but my money is on the fall out being mostly due to Twyford's bombastic abrasiveness. If so it's time for Ardern to step up and make a 'captains call' on this failing minister.

Twyford should be sacked

Hi Fritz
Anti Twyford comments coming from a leftist commenter like yourself is strong stuff

Why are Kiwibuild houses not selling ?

Well Kiwis are not that stupid

These units ( in Auckland ) are simply not good value for money and certainly not worth anywhere near $650k

The Government has painted itself into a corner by setting a floor price for any cook-and -push unit coming onto the market at $650k

Fear not, the labour led government is going to build 100'000 affordable houses

This lot couldn't build a sand castle at the beach. They score highly on entertainment value but not so good on delivery. Why? Because the lot of them have no real world experience. They're all statist theorisers. Running a small country at the bottom of the planet is tough work. Are they up to it? I don't think so.
Prove me wrong Jacinda.

One thing I know absolutely for sure, is that National will do less than nothing about the situation around housing in this country. Kiwibuild might not be the answer, in fact I too, am sure it isn't, we need to look to the past to see the solution for the future, as far back as Michael Joseph Savage. The government has to roll up its sleeves and build lots and lots of state houses, we need to get rid of the situation of the government subsidizing private rents through top ups by building back up the stock of social housing. Some of them could then be made available for purchase on a rent to buy type of arrangement.
The mess is far too large for the private market to solve, the private market is not interesting in solving the situation, as it would be akin a to a bird shi**ing in its own nest.
And we have to stop thinking that exploding the population of this country is a good thing, it's not.
There are many problems that require solution and actually housing might be one of the easiest, tackling the malaise that has settled around much of society will be much, much harder.

Your access to our unique content is free - always has been. But ad revenues are under pressure so we need your direct support.

Become a supporter

Thanks, I'm already a supporter.

Days to the General Election: 39
See Party Policies here. Party Lists here.