Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is staying tightlipped on Kiwbuild head Stephen Barclay’s uncertain role spearheading the government’s flagship house-building policy. 

Media reports speculated Barclay had left his role as head of the Kiwibuild unit, something Ardern declined to confirm, saying it was an “operational matter”. She did say it had nothing to do with the Kiwibuild policy or implementation of the programme. 

“It’s appropriate it remains with the public service and they are dealing with it,” she said at her weekly post-Cabinet press conference. “This is a matter relating to an individual public servant and needs to be dealt with by the chief executive.”

Ardern said she was seeking assurances from Housing Minister Phil Twyford that the work continues and said she thought the minister was doing a good job. 

Twyford declined to comment on the matter in an interview on TVNZ’s Q+A programme yesterday, saying that he knows Barclay wasn’t at work but that it wasn’t appropriate for him to comment on an individual public servant. 

Barclay was appointed to lead the Kiwibuild programme in May, leaving his role at the Ministry of Health as chief people and transformation officer. Prior to that, he’d been in charge of the San Francisco America’s Cup Events Authority. 

The government’s Kiwibuild programme is spearheading its capital spending plans with $2 billion flagged over three years, underpinning a long-term goal of delivering 100,000 houses in a decade. 

Its oversight falls under the newly-created Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, with long-serving public servant Andrew Crisp appointed chief executive last week. 

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