Twyford Clearly Never Had a Rubik’s Cube

Last week, Property Council CEO Leonie Freeman was talking on The AM Show about the upcoming ‘reset’ of Kiwibuild. In part of her segment, she opined: quote.

“It’s important to understand there’s a lot going on… Kiwibuild is just one part of it. I liken it to a Rubik’s cube – what we’ve got to do is get all the little colours and the little cubes in the right place working together.

Twyford Rubik’s cube. Photoshopped image credit Pixy

In many ways she is right. As WH discussed in Whaleoil recently, there are hundreds of little things that need to line up to make something like Kiwibuild, or any major housing project for that matter, actually work. Heck, even trying to get a single house built presents itself as a monumental task when you first look at all the ridiculous red tape, absurd rules and excessive costs. If hoop jumping were an Olympic sport, our councils would all be gold medalists.

But I was thinking about the Rubik’s Cube analogy. At first glance, completing the clever toy without any knowledge is almost impossible. Many of you will have played with the device. Initially it is quite easy to start getting the wee blocks of colour lined up. Having one side completed is but a matter of a few turns and swivels. Even getting the bottom row around that completed side is pretty simple, but things start to go a bit pear shaped as you get higher up. It seems that every time you make a change, it stuffs up something else around the cube and you end up back at square one. Perhaps that is the better analogy for Kiwibuild, running around in circles not knowing how you are going to get the thing finished.

“Anyone got any idea? Anyone? No? Umm.

When I was a kid back in the ’80s when these things first became the rage, everyone had one. We would spend hours each day fiddling the little blocks back and forth. Many a school lunchbreak was spent with our mates sliding little rows of plastic around in our hands. We even started bringing little cans of silicone spray to school to make sure the internal gubbins were well lubricated. And of course that made it easier to pull them apart and put them back together in the right order. If only Kiwibuild had some silicone.

However the reality is that the Rubik’s Cube is actually very easy to complete. You just have to know how. After a little while, people stopped buying as many Rubik’s Cubes as they tended to get frustrated: they seemed undo-able. We would hear stories of people who had completed them but in reality, they were probably all urban myths. So in order to keep moving these little plastic money trees, they started selling them with instructions.

You see, all you need to complete a Rubik’s Cube is to know the sequence required. There is a basic algorithm that makes it all pretty simple. From memory, there were about 113 steps you had to make to complete it fully. All you had to do was remember the sequence of the moves, pick the right starting point and hey-presto, you were the awe of all the girls and admired by all the boys. Eventually, everybody was memorising the sequence and we would have races to finish them against the clock. If my memory serves me correctly, my record was about 68 seconds although some of my mates were quicker than that. Maybe they had better silicone lubricant than I!

So the reality is, Kiwibuild is probably doable, they just need to know the right path. They need to know the right sequence, and they need to lubricate the gubbins to make life easier. They also need to start asking the right people how to do it. Having the minister (who was at the time in charge) actually turn up at the Kiwibuild Conference might have been a good start. Instead, he ran away and hid, sending in a replacement who forgot that she was part of an ‘Open and Transparent Government’. Or perhaps Salesa was also just hiding the fact that she also has no clue about how to solve the Kiwibuild Cube.

At least Dr Woods gets to have a crack at the cube now. Funny, I’ve never seen a relay race where the first runner hands the baton off to multiple other runners, but hey, it could work; after all, she apparently did her PhD thesis on the best lipstick colours for Maori between 1942 and 1969 or some such! But best of all for the Coalition of Nincompoops, now that there are so many people responsible, no one will be accountable.

Or will it just be another case of a ministry becoming too big to fail? Perhaps we will just have to put up with the nonsense for another few years until someone else is in government and the whole thing can be chucked in a box up in the attic along with all the other toys of the moment that eventually fall out of fashion.

At least until the next socialist government comes along, makes some tweaks and sells it as a whole new toy.