Cabinet minister Phil Twyford acknowledged some of Tauranga's biggest issues during a visit to the city yesterday – including homelessness, housing and traffic congestion.

Twyford, who holds the housing and transport portfolios, broadly outlined the Government's plans to address those issues in an interview with the Bay of Plenty Times.

"I'm very well aware that actually the sharp end of the housing crisis is being felt right here in Tauranga – totally unacceptable levels of homelessness. Our Government's determined to do something about that."

Read more: Tauranga City Council knew about glass recycling issues since 2014
Planners converge on Tauranga to debate housing issuesTauranga couple bitter that unsafe Bella Vista house got council sign-off


The Government's plans included more emergency and transitional housing places and more state and community homes, he said.

There would also be additional services available for people who needed help getting their lives back on track, and Twyford referred to the introduction of the Housing First model in Tauranga this year.

He said the Government was still thinking about the future of Special Housing Accord legislation due to expire in 2019. He criticised that legislation when he was in opposition.

"There are still Special Housing Areas that are coming through ... our Government wants to work much more closely with the councils here ... to do master-planned housing developments that build whole new communities for people that include affordable housing for young first-home buyers."

When asked if affordability measures would be introduced, he said: "We're giving that issue some serious thought right now, haven't yet reached a decision on it."

Twyford did not say how many Kiwibuild houses would be built in Tauranga or when that could start, but referred to "a significant number".

In regards to the $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund, which Twyford criticised when he was in Opposition, he said the "money's there in the fund and we're going to make sure it's well spent and I'm very happy that Tauranga's going to be the beneficiary of some of those funds to help develop new infrastructure".

However, he said the fund was not a lasting solution to the problem of a broken system for financing infrastructure and one of the Government's big priorities was to create a new system.

Housing and Transport Minister Phil Twyford offered hope for some action in Tauranga during a visit yesterday. Photo / George Novak
Housing and Transport Minister Phil Twyford offered hope for some action in Tauranga during a visit yesterday. Photo / George Novak

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter, who was also in Tauranga yesterday, spoke about wanting to take a more multi-modal approach to fixing the city's transport issues.

"The key thing is as Tauranga grows, it needs to have viable, frequent, high-quality public transport that works for more people."

That included safe walking and cycling options – particularly around schools.

Genter said investing in a more balanced transport network was one of the key ways to reduce congestion in Tauranga.

Twyford said the Government would also be spending more on local roads, which would make it easier for local councils to upgrade intersections and improve road quality.

There was no update on passenger rail in Tauranga, he said.

"The first step is actually Auckland to Hamilton and we're working on that right now.

"I would hope we'll have a plan in place and something to say to people [in Tauranga] in this term."

Twyford was also asked questions about safety concerns with State Highway 2.

"We know that the people around State Highway 2, particularly around Omokoroa, feel strongly about safety on that highway," he said.

"People are justifiably concerned about the deaths and injuries that have been taking place."

He could not say how much money would be spent on safety improvements to that road but he said the residents could expect some kind of safety improvement.

"The New Zealand Transport Agency is right now working through the programme case and the design for what should happen on that road and safety's the top priority.