Housing NZ 'can do better' - CEO

JAZIAL CROSSLEY
Last updated 14:21 13/02/2013

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State accommodation provider Housing New Zealand "can do better" according to its new chief executive Glen Sowry who started the job last month.

At a Select Committee meeting this morning, he told members of parliament that he had spent his first month on the job on the front line, attending meetings with tenants at its South Auckland drop in centre at Otara and listening in on calls to its contact centre.

"Since I joined Housing New Zealand I've made it a real focus to get out around the business to try and understand its operations, its people and its customers. I've spent time in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch meeting staff and customers," said Sowry, who is on the board of trustees at Sir Peter Blake Trust and was previously general manager of airline operations and planning at Air New Zealand.

"Housing New Zealand has much to be proud of, but there is a lot we can do better."

Its recently implemented national 0800 phone number was receiving an average of 27,000 calls a week at the call centres in Porirua and Manukau. Wait times had reduced to as low as two and a half minutes, from around 40 minutes when it first launched due to the large volume of calls received.

However, customer satisfaction had not improved, instead remaining "stable".

After comments from Labour's housing spokesperson Annette King that some state homes had been empty for more than three months, one of its goals was reducing the time houses can be vacant between tenants to 45 days.

Housing New Zealand planned to repair and rebuild 2000 of its earthquake damaged Christchurch properties in the next year, reaching 5000 within three years. In South Auckland, it was looking at extending existing three bedroom properties to five bedrooms to meet the needs of larger families.

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