Epsom MP and Act leader David Seymour has hit back at Housing Minister Phil Twyford's suggestion that opponents of social housing in Epsom should move to Pokeno, saying Twyford's "pugnacious" attitude would do little to get houses built.

Stuff reported that at a West Auckland meeting last week, Twyford suggested people such as those in Epsom objecting to new social housing developments in their area should move out of the city to less populated climes.

"If you don't want to have affordable housing or quality density housing in your neighbourhood, you go and live in Pokeno or Dairy Flat."

He added he expected cases of "nimbyism" to escalate as the Government went ahead with its KiwiBuild building and state housing projects, but all areas needed to accept intensification.


Twyford later stood by his comments to the Herald, saying "leafy" suburbs would not be exempt from the Government's moves.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Seymour said it was rich of Twyford to try to dispatch Epsom residents to Pokeno, pointing out that was in Waikato District Council and if Twyford had done more to open up land in Auckland no such moves would be needed.

"Phil Twyford has not done anything serious about constraints on land supply and is instead creating division in communities by forcing people to live on top of each other."

He then returned fire at Twyford for nimbyism asking if Twyford, a West Auckland MP, would be prepared to repeal the Waitakere Ranges Protection Area which prevents development in that area.

"There are hundreds, if not thousands of homes that could be built minutes from train stations in West Auckland which are banned by an Act which is the height of nimbyism."

It follows Twyford criticising Seymour for "scaremongering" by organising a public meeting in Epsom about a proposed Housing NZ development. Seymour had said it could house people with social or mental health problems.

Seymour stood by that, saying he believed local residents deserved to know what impact such a development would have on the community, and what steps were in place to deal with any such issues.

"If we are going to have social problems in our neighbourhood, we want to know how it is going to be managed. It may come as a surprise but people in Epsom are a lot like the rest of New Zealand, they don't like to be grabbed when they go for a run or walk outside to see people publicly urinating."


He said Housing NZ's only consultation was to notify the immediate neighbours of the development in question. "[Twyford] should be much more concerned about the performance of his own department than taking pot shots at me or anyone else."

He said as a result of his public meeting a fortnight ago the community had put together a committee to talk to Housing NZ to ensure the development went well.

He said Twyford had a big job to do and should focus on that rather than being "vindictive".

"I don't think this pugnacious approach from the minister is actually really becoming of someone who has got a major policy problem to solve for the whole country."

He suggested Twyford had the "Nick Smith housing minister gene", a reference to former Housing Minister Nick Smith who Labour accused of doing nothing to get housing supply up and running.

In recent times Twyford has been reprimanded by the Prime Minister for dismissing Treasury estimates of Kiwibuild's impact as written by "kids" and stripped of his Civil Aviation portfolios for talking on his phone after the airplane doors had closed on a flight.