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Public sector cuts: Over 800 jobs to go at Kāinga Ora, Ministry of Education, NZQA, Stats NZ, Housing and Urban Development

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More than 800 jobs in the public sector have been cut today – marking one of the darkest days for the civil service with five departments and ministries announcing role reductions.

Kāinga Ora, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Statistics New Zealand, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and the Ministry of Education all announced workplace change proposals on Thursday.

The Secretary for Education, Iona Holsted, said 755 roles across the Ministry of Education would go. Only 439 people would lose their jobs, however, as 316 of the roles in line to be scrapped were vacant.

Some 35 people would lose their jobs at the NZQA. The union representing civil servants, the Public Service Association, said a proposal was handed to staff today showing a total of 66 roles, 13 of which were vacant, would be disestablished.

At Statistics New Zealand, a total of 153 jobs have been slated to go. This figure came from 29 earlier job losses, and a further 124 cuts the government statistician predicted in December last year.

Statistics New Zealand offered a voluntary redundancy scheme to all of its workers today. Chief executive Mark Sowden said the scheme would give staff “some agency over your own future”.

At HUD, meanwhile, 30 people would lose their jobs. This was on top of a further 10 roles which were vacant but would not be filled in future.

Kāinga Ora’s chief executive, Andrew McKenzie, then announced 159 positions at the state housing department would go, with more possible in the future – contingent on the results of an independent review expected soon.

All up, that was 816 people who were confirmed to have been losing their jobs in one day.

These recent cuts were the latest announcements in a series of sweeping job cuts across the public sector as the Government seeks big cuts in spending ahead of the Budget and savings of $1.5 billion each year.

The savings are comprised of cuts to certain “backroom” spending of 2 per cent, ordered by Labour before it left office last year, and 6.5 or 7.5 per cent ordered by National, as well as cuts to consultant spending.

Some 3534 have already been confirmed to be losing their jobs in the civil service since this tranche of cuts began.

‘Dangerous, damaging, rushed, ill-considered’ – union

PSA assistant secretary Fleur Fitzsimons commented on most of the planned cuts, criticising those at Kāinga Ora for coming at a time when the state housing wait list was in the tens of thousands, and questioning those at NZQA for coming when new qualification standards were being implemented.

Labour Party housing spokesman Kieran McAnulty, meanwhile, called the cuts at HUD and Kāinga Ora “reckless”, claiming it would slow the country from coming out of its housing crisis.

“The National Party needs to make its mind up, does it want to end the housing crisis or does it want to see the end of Kainga Ora? It can’t have both,” McAnulty said.

“Every time we ask them for an answer about the social housing build programme they point to the review underway. But they’re quite happy to strip the jobs away from people that were finding available land and building houses before the review reports back,” he said.

Labour Party housing spokesman Kieran McAnulty. Photo / Bevan Conley
Labour Party housing spokesman Kieran McAnulty. Photo / Bevan Conley

Fitzsimons said: “The Government’s cuts to public services are targeting Kāinga Ora – the agency charged with fixing the public housing crisis – at a time when 25,000 people are on a waiting list for social housing.

“[These] cuts . . . are rushed and ill-considered, coming at a time when the country is facing a housing affordability crisis.”

Fitzsimons also criticised the cuts for coming before the results of an independent review were announced. As McKenzie said, further jobs could go once this review was done.

On the roles to go at the NZQA, Fitzsimons said this would make the setting of qualifications harder.

Public Service Association assistant secretary Fleur Fitzsimons. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Public Service Association assistant secretary Fleur Fitzsimons. Photo / Mark Mitchell

“NZQA plays a critical role in making sure New Zealand qualifications are nationally and internationally recognised and respected, these cuts will make their job harder,” she said.

“A number of the roles proposed to go relate to the delay in the implementation of the new NCEA Level 2 and 3 standards, which is disappointing as critical expertise will be lost and despite the delay, planning and other work needs to occur now.

“The scale of proposed cuts across the education sector is dangerous and damaging and should concern parents and everyone who cares about the future of our children.”

Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.

Azaria Howell is a Wellington-based multimedia reporter with an eye across the region. She joined NZME in 2022 and has a keen interest in city council decisions, social housing and transport.



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