An average of $7735 is being paid out today to compensate 55 people for being wrongly evicted from Housing NZ homes after a flawed methamphetamine test.

But Housing NZ is asking any other people to come forward who may have been adversely affected, as it has only contacted 295 of about 800 eligible former Housing NZ tenants.

The Government made a regulation change on Friday so that the payments would not affect any benefit payments, and the first payments are being made today.

It follows an apology in September from Housing NZ for kicking out about 800 tenants from their state homes for meth tests that were wrongly used and not needed.


Between July 2013 and May 2018, nearly 5000 Housing NZ properties were tested for meth contamination, but Housing NZ used testing guidelines that had little merit and had cost $100 million in unnecessary tests and cleanup.

About half tested positive for the standard at the time, which was 10 times lower than the new standard that has been in place since May.

About 800 tenants were found responsible and evicted. Many threw out all their belongings because of fear of meth contamination.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said in addition to the first 55 payments, a further 92 assistance claims had been approved and, once an offer was accepted, payments would be made immediately.

"Housing NZ is working with other government agencies to find those affected and contact has been made with 295 people so far."

There was no cap on the payments, and Twyford urged any people to come forward who may be eligible.

The payouts were because of material losses and were made on a case-by-case basis, covering expenses such as moving costs and furniture replacement.

Twyford said whether methamphetamine was in the house at all was "a separate issue".


"But if there's no baseline testing going on, you have no way of knowing who is responsible for this infinitesimally small trace of meth residue," he told Newstalk ZB.

"To throw someone out on the street and, in some cases, to make them homeless - that's a terrible breach of natural justice.

"The average payment so far is $7735 and each affected tenant has received a formal apology from Housing NZ."

He expected the total cost to come between $4m and $5m, which would come out of Housing NZ's operating expenditure.

"We're committed to putting this right because this systemic failure of government had far reaching consequences for many people."

The apology from Housing NZ followed a report from the Prime Minister's chief science advisor that found there was no evidence of any real risk from passive, third-hand exposure to meth.

The discredited meth test meant that tens of thousands of harmless properties had been cleaned and tested at a cost of millions for dollars.

Twyford said Housing NZ has new social objectives to make sure their focus is on continuing to be a compassionate landlord.

The objectives include providing warm, dry, and healthy rental housing for those who need it most, while assisting tenants to sustain a tenancy and be well-connected to their communities.

They also include being a fair and reasonable landlord, treating tenants and their neighbours with respect, integrity and honesty.