Finance Minister Bill English says the proceeds from selling state houses are unlikely to be spent on new state houses and may go into the Consolidated Account.

"I mean, if we want less stock, there's not much point in rebuilding stock with it," he said in an interview with Herald journalists yesterday.

"So it might go into other forms of housing support or whatever. Some of it could go into the Consolidated Account. We just haven't made a decision about that."

The interview was arranged after Mr English was appointed Minister Responsible for Housing New Zealand last week on top of his role as Finance Minister.

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Read the full transcript of the interview here.

He said the Government planned to sell some of the country's 68,125 state houses, which are currently valued at $18.7 billion, but did not have any particular target for the number of units that would be sold.

Tainui leader Tukoroirangi Morgan said yesterday his tribe had first right of refusal over state asset sales in its area from South Auckland to the Waikato and wanted to use the right to buy state houses for its people.

"This is being debated in our tribal Parliament, we've had a number of discussions about that. We have a plan that is being formulated now," he said.

"This issue requires a lot of money to be spent, so it would be in the tens of millions."

Mr English said buyers would not be restricted to non-profit entities and he had already had talks with consortiums involving major iwi (tribes) and banks.

"We can sell to anybody," he said.

He said Housing NZ was too slow to develop new houses in areas such as Tamaki, and had failed its tenants by not helping them to become independent.

The agency stopped providing social services in 2011 to focus on its role as a landlord.

"If you are a sickness beneficiary and you get in here [state housing] because you meet various criteria, and you have undiagnosed or untreated depression, no one ever came and knocked on your door and said, 'How are you getting on, maybe you could work now'," he said.

"So where we are selling a house, it's not greed, it's to get all better houses instead of treating them like shit, which is what's happened with Governments and state housing for years."

He said the goal was to provide income-related rent and social services for everyone who needed them.

Community housing providers were now free to get the same state subsidies to provide income-related rent as Housing NZ got, but he expected they would need financial partners to buy state houses in any numbers.

"We will just go to the market and see who turns up, basically," he said.

"Generally, particularly financiers and developers are not interested in social housing because it's hard. What drives their [buyers'] interest is wanting to do a better job with the tenants, you know, wraparound services or whatever."

Selling state houses
Q. Why is the Government selling state houses?
A. Bill English says community providers will look after tenants better, and will work with private developers to develop new housing faster, than Housing NZ has.
Q. Which houses will it sell?
A. Mr English says he is open to offers in both high-demand areas such as Auckland and low-demand areas such as Wanganui.
Q. Who will buy them?
A. Mr English expects buyers to be consortiums likely to include community housing providers, financiers and possibly property developers and iwi.
Q. How will they decide on the price?
A. Mr English says the price will be set by the market. If it's is too low, he won't sell.