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America's Cup could bring in $1b: MBie

21 November 2017

The America's Cup would give New Zealand's economy a boost of up to $1 billion - and create up to 8300 jobs, according to a new MBie report.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment this morning released its High Level Economic Assessment Evaluation report for the 36th America's Cup.

Its key findings include an estimated benefit of between $600 million and $1b to New Zealand's economy from 2018 through to 2021. MBie estimates hosting the event would also create between 4700 and 8300 jobs.

"The economic evaluation does not capture any of the broader benefits associated with hosting an event of this scale, including showcasing New Zealand to international audiences - and associated reputation impacts - high performance sport outcomes and participation and engagement of New Zealanders that may have 'feel good' effects [such as] increasing national identity and pride," MBie said.

Sectors to reap the benefits included services, manufacturing (mainly around boat building and super yacht refits), tourism, hospitality and accommodation.

The cost-benefit analysis ranged from 1.2 to 1.8.

"This cost-benefit ratio is for the economy as a whole; the costs included relate to all parties including, for example, the Crown, Auckland Council, syndicates, Emirates Team New Zealand, retailers and tourism providers."

The divergence in the estimated benefits reflected different assumptions about the number of syndicates that would compete, how many super yachts would visit and international tourist numbers.

However, MBie said its findings were in line with Treasury guidelines for studies of this kind.

"The study makes no assumptions around location or whether there are any incursions into the harbour or not. It does not, therefore, take account of any loss of value from reducing the available harbour space."

New Zealand net migration rises

22 November 2017

Annual net migration rose to 70,700 in the year to October, from 70,300 in the same period a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said.

The figures show 72,100 non-citizens arrived in the year, while 1,400 New Zealanders left.

New Zealand has been experiencing record levels of net migration in recent years, which made rising immigration a key election issue as it strains the country's infrastructure and is blamed for inflating property markets.

Net migration peaked at 72,400 in the July year.

"Non-New Zealand citizen migrant arrivals continued to drive the high net migration levels," population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said.

"The fall in annual net migration from the peak in the July 2017 year was mainly caused by an increase in non-New Zealand citizen migrant departures."

The number of net migrants from Australia moved back into negative figures in the year, with 22 more Australians leaving than arriving, compared to 1900 net arrivals a year earlier.

Australia is the only country monitored which had negative net migration to New Zealand in the latest year.

Migration from the UK and South Africa had the biggest increases on a net basis, with UK immigration up 26 per cent to 6600, and South African immigration up 31 per cent to 5000.

There was a 13 per cent increase in work visas granted in the year, to 46,000, while student visa numbers dropped 4 per cent to 24,000 and NZ and Australian citizen arrivals rose 3.4 per cent to 38,000.

New Auckland settlement to rise on northern outskirts

13 November 2017

Infrastructure is being created for a new settlement to be built on Auckland's northern outskirts.

Contracting and development business Fulton Hogan is preparing the site ready for the creation of a new 3500-residential suburb and town centre south-west of Orewa.

Warren Frogley, marketing consultant for the developers, said earthworks were now well under way to create the first and second stages of Auckland's newest suburb, to be called Milldale.

Frogley said work building first homes should start in the next year.

A new town centre is also planned for the master-planned Milldale, with green areas and waterways, he said. Residences around Milldale's centre would be higher density, fanning out further to mid to lower density, Frogley said.

Frogley said Milldale would have natural features which would be enhanced, including as a long stand of Totora trees beside the origins of the Weiti River.

Significant infrastructure improvements have been made in the area to cater for its growing population, he said.
"Looking to the future, expansion is being made to water, power and broadband services. Improvements to roading and public transport are underway, with more planned," he said, citing new industrial, commercial and retail areas.

"The name Milldale derives from the Kauri that was milled from the land in the early 1800's, as far inland as Wainui," Milldale's web site says.

"The development is overlooked by Mt Pleasant to the west, bordered by Wainui Road and Orewa River to the north, and Pine Valley Rd and Weiti River to the south. The land between forms a natural valley, or dale.

A motorway interchange was opened two years ago for traffic to get on and off at Millwater.

Frogley said that would also serve the new Milldale community.

Air New Zealand takes top spot in ratings site awards

3 November 2017

Air New Zealand has been named airline of the year by AirlineRatings.com for the fifth year in a row.

The awards, judged by six editors with over 180 years' industry experience, combines major safety and government audits with 12 key criteria - up from nine last year - that include fleet age, passenger reviews, profitability, investment rating, product offerings and staff relations.

"In our objective analysis Air New Zealand came out No 1 in virtually all of our audit criteria, which is an exceptional performance," said AirlineRatings' editor-in-chief, Geoffrey Thomas.

The airline was being honoured for its record-breaking performance, multi award-winning in-flight innovations, operational safety, environmental leadership and motivation of its staff.

Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said the award was testament to the huge effort from the airline's staff to deliver a world-class Kiwi experience on the ground and in the air.

"It is extremely rewarding to see their hard work recognised by such an experienced panel of aviation judges."
Last month the airline was named top airline in the world by luxury lifestyle and travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler.

New city near Auckland mooted

29 October 2017

A plan to build a new city with housing for 500,000 people on farmland to the south of Auckland has piqued the interest of the new Labour-led government.

The idea of a scale housing development at Paerata, a small settlement immediately to the north of Pukekohe, was presented in a discussion document at an Infrastructure New Zealand conference on Friday.

Pukekohe is known as the bread basket area of the Auckland region with its market gardening on rich volcanic soil.
New houses would be built near an existing rail connection, which would be electrified all the way to Auckland's CBD and have two lines, one for passenger trains and one for freight, Infrastructure New Zealand chief executive Stephen Selwood said.

Prefabricated housing could be used, he said.

He said the plan was a good fit with Labour's Kiwibuild policy, which seeks to build more affordable housing, and Labour's Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford was aware of it.

On Sunday Mr Twyford appeared open to the concept, tweeting let's plan for growth, building around transport infrastructure.

Mr Selwood told NZ Newswire the development would be so large it would be attractive to international developers who currently did not look at New Zealand.

The city could eventually extend northwest to Karaka and across the Pahurehure Inlet to Weymouth.

Mr Selwood said the concept had been floated by unsuccessful mayoral candidate John Palino and also drew from developments like Springfield, southwest of Brisbane.

"We have another million people expected to be in Auckland by circa 2050, " he said.

That was going to clog the city up.

The plan envisages initially about 30,000 houses. By 2050, there would be tens of thousands of homes serving a population of 500,000 people within 30 minutes of central Auckland.

He said some of the farmland was currently not zoned for residential and some was.

"The value of the land unzoned is about a tenth of the value of the land that is zoned. There is a real opportunity here for government, council and the existing landowners to partner," he said.

The city would be a mixed development with high and medium density housing. Some of the land had views of Manukau Harbour where less dense and higher value housing could be built.

The land is south of the flight path of Auckland Airport. Long term a harbour crossing from Karaka to Weymouth could open a new corridor to the airport.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff will travel to Wellington next week to meet Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Mr Twyford.

New Zealanders continue to return home in strong numbers from Australia

18 October 2017

For decades, Kiwis have been moving across the ditch in search for a better life in Australia. Now they're coming back, news.com.au reports.

A resurgent and more confident New Zealand continues to lure expatriates home in strong numbers as interest in the Australian economy begins to wane.


Queensland-based New Zealand citizen, Rachel Ellison and her husband have entertained the idea of a return home.
"New Zealand's economy is doing quite well and the optimism from friends and family at home is hard to ignore" she said.

"The country has been able to reform its tax system and the education system in New Zealand is one I would like for my daughter."

Ms Ellison highlighted the country's unitary government also stood out next to the federation style of government in Australia.

Rachel Ellison, a New Zealander, lives in Queensland but is thinking returning home with her husband and daughter
In more recent years New Zealand has become a magnet not just for returning citizens but for people all over the world.

In 2016, New Zealand recorded a net gain of 70,000 migrants and long term arrivals.

Interestingly, Australian citizens are migrating to New Zealand in larger numbers as well, with a record 3500 people moving across the Tasman last year, compared to 1600 in 2006.

ANZ economist Philip Borkin notes the number of New Zealanders returning to live effectively offset departing residents seeking to travel or work offshore; a big improvement from five years ago where the country was losing 30,000 citizens annually.

"New Zealand has in the last 10 years undertaken a pragmatic reform program against a backdrop of political stability which has seen the country's labour market participation rate now testing record highs," he said.


Australia's political gridlock, high housing costs and flat wage growth have also assisted the flight of the Kiwi.

New Zealand in the last decade has undertaken sweeping economic reforms including raising the country's goods and services tax while slashing personal and income tax rates.

New Zealand is rated as the 10th most desirable place to work and live according to Expat Insider Survey, while Australia has fallen to 34th on the same list.

In terms of returning residents and migrants with strong skills sets, the value placed on overseas experience and the knowledge gains that come with that is also well received.

This stands in stark contrast to Australia which places a greater value on local experience.

recently returned to Australia after almost 15 years in Hong Kong and Singapore, said that from a professional standpoint New Zealand had a lot to offer.

"On the surface it appears New Zealand places a greater premium on international experience than Australia does and its economy is benefiting from skilled migration and a more light-handed tax environment," he said.

New innovation hub in Auckland hopes to attract Kiwis from all over the country to tech sector

7 October 2017

The race is on to make Auckland a tech power-city and a new innovation precinct was unveiled yesterday in a step towards making that possible.

A new arm of Auckland's innovation precinct opened today in an effort to grow the 47,000 people in the city already working in the tech industry.

It was a first look at virtual hospital procedures including MRIs and X-rays which are all being trialled in an Auckland Hospital.

Revealed was the latest model of a virtual baby with a theoretical brain and central nervous system.

With already 47,000 people working in Auckland's tech industry, the expansion hopes to make it the technology epic centre of the Asia-pacific.

The new precinct is expected to inject close to 400 million into Auckland's economy by 2024.

Jacinda Ardern, aged 37, is New Zealand's prime minister

19 October 2017

Jacinda Ardern, the charismatic leader of New Zealand's Labour Party and a former advisor to Tony Blair, will become the country's youngest prime minister.

In more than 150 years after the maverick head of a small anti-immigration party praised her "extraordinary talent" and announced his bombshell decision to back her.

Mr Peters, a 72-year-old eccentric populist, had effectively left the nation in limbo during weeks of negotiations following the September 23 election but admitted that he only made his decision some 15 minutes before revealing it.

Appearing jubilant after the dramatic announcement by Mr Peters, Ms Ardern pledged to "build a fairer, better New Zealand".

Ms Ardern took over the party leadership - becoming its youngest-ever leader - less than two months before the election in September and admitted it was "the worst job in the world".

But she oversaw a remarkable turnaround in Labour's fortunes as her charismatic, relaxed demeanour captured the nation's attention in a phenomenon that became known as "Jacindamania".

Her sudden rise was likened to that of other youthful leaders such as Canada's Justin Trudeau and France's Emmanuel Macron.

Ms Ardern, who was raised as a Mormon but abandoned the faith due to its stance on homosexuality, earned a degree in communications before working as a policy advisor to Mr Blair and former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark.

Ms Ardern is set to replace Bill English, the head of the ruling conservative National party, who took over as prime minister following the resignation last December of John Key, a popular leader who won three elections.

But the National party fell short of a majority at the election and won just 56 seats in the 120-member parliament. Labour won 46, NZ First won nine and the Greens won eight.

With the expected support of the Greens and NZ First, Ms Ardern's Labour party will be able to form a ruling majority. She has promised to address child poverty, housing affordability and decriminalise abortion.

New vehicle rise 4.5% in September

New Zealand new vehicles sales rose 4.5% in September to hit a new high for the month, eschewing expectations for a slowdown during the election.

Some 15,000 new vehicles were registered in the same month last year and the highest ever level recorded for a September month, according to the Motor Industry Association.

Passenger car and SUV registrations advanced 1.6% to close to 5000, while commercial vehicles registrations jumped 11 percent to nearly 5000, with both segments reaching their highest lever level for a September month.

New data out on Auckland: Economy, employment, migration strong

3 October 2017

New data shows how Auckland's economic growth, retail spending and migrant arrival numbers are outstripping the rest of New Zealand.

Employment is rising and migration is continuing to run so strong that Auckland got slightly more people than the entire rest of New Zealand in the past year.

The Auckland Economic Update for October, issued by Auckland Council research and evaluation unit analyst Ross Wilson, gave new information on how fast the city's economy is growing.

"In Auckland, real GDP for the year ended June 2017 was 3.4 per cent higher than for the year ended June 2016. In the rest of New Zealand, the annual growth was 2.5 per cent," Wilson's report said.

Auckland is spending up large. Real retail sales for the year ended June 2017 are up 4.8 per cent higher than for the year ended June 2016. The rest of New Zealand's annual growth was 3.8 per cent, data showed.

The city continues to be a migrant magnet, attracting 36,796 for the year ended August 2017, compared to 35,276 for the rest of the country, according to the report.

"In Auckland, real GDP for the year ended June 2017 was 3.4 per cent higher than for the year ended June 2016; in the rest of New Zealand, the annual growth was 2.5 per cent," Wilson's data showed.

Job growth is running strong throughout the city.

"In Auckland, the number of people employed in the quarter (not year) ended June 2017 was 4.2 per cent higher than in the June 2016 quarter. The unemployment rate in Auckland in the quarter ended June 2017 was 4.5 per cent," the data showed.

The total number of houses sold in the year to August was 23,161 and the city had a median city sale price of $840,000.

"The total number of new dwellings consented in the year ended August 2017 was 10,265. The real value of new non-residential buildings consented in Auckland in the year ended August 2017 was $1.831 million," Wilson's report said.

Tourists spent 7.4 million guest nights in Auckland

Residential consents hit 13 year high in August driven by Auckland

30 September 2017

New Zealand's monthly residential building consents rose to a 13 - year high in August with more apartments and retirement village units in Auckland driving gains.

Some 3166 new houses, apartments, townhouses, retirement village units and flats were consented in August, up 10% from earlier Statistics New Zealand said in a statement. Of that total, 2025 houses were consented, up 0.5 percent from August 2016, while consents for apartments rose 65 percent to 384 and consents for townhouses, flats and units dropped 10 percent.

Retirement village unit consents more than tripled in the month.

Auckland accounted for 1184 of the new homes consented in the month and 346 or the 384 apartments consented along with 124 of the 295 retirement village units.

Kaikoura rail rebuild largest since WWII

16 September 2017

The first freight train to travel on the main north line since the Kaikoura earthquake in 2016, has successfully completed its journey into Christchurch.

The rebuild, which has been the largest rebuild of rail since World War 2, saw the first train since the earthquake 10 months ago, roll into Christchurch on Friday.

KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy says that before the earthquake, KiwiRail was carrying one million tonnes of freight on the line for customers per year.

After the quake, freight has had to be moved south by road, which has put pressure on the inland route.
"It's meant additional costs for freight forwarding companies and it hasn't been easy for truck drivers," Mr Reidy said.

"While our initial services on the line will be low frequency and take place at night, to allow rebuild work to continue during the day, we estimate they will help take 2000 trucks a month off the inland route.

"Each tonne of freight carried by rail also represents 66 per cent fewer carbon emissions than when carried by road.

"I want to thank our people who have put in long hours and spent time away from their families to get us to this point today."

Biggest hotel development boom in NZ history

A hotel expert said investors are taking advantage of the tourism explosion that started in 2013.

Auckland is leading the way in the biggest hotel development boom in New Zealand's history, with nine projects under construction, totalling about 1400 guest rooms.

Colliers International hotels director Dean Humphries says there are also at least 30 pipeline projects in the early planning/ design and feasibility stages. If they go ahead it will give Auckland additional 3500 hotel rooms.

"This level of hotel development activity is unprecedented in the New Zealand context and is a reflection of the exceptional growth in hotel trading conditions over the past four years," he says.

"It is an exciting time in the industry - we have never seen this level of activity ever."

The latest market indicators to the year ended June show Auckland reached an average occupancy rate of 87% at an average room rate of $200.

Auckland's capacity is being strained to build additional new hotels over the next few years because the construction resources are being tied up with the significant infrastructural and private sector developments such as the International Convention Centre, City Rail Link and Precinct Properties' Commercial Bay development"

It is also evident there is also now a significant investment interest to develop the unfulfilled demand to cater for medium priced hotels.

Transport hubs the new frontier for developers

Transport authorities, retailers and property developers are set to unlock the commercial power of previously dormant transport hubs.

Auckland Transport (AT) anages more than 300,000 trips a day on its rail, ferry and bus net-work and that is expected to increase. The network comprises $16.5 billion of mainly road and public transport assets. The train stations, bus interchanges and ferry ports represent substantial value to be unlocked.

Part of the strategy is to lease as much terminal space as possible to retailers for grab-and-go coffee and food outlets, ATMs, cafes, restaurants and other services, such as drycleaners etc.

The central city transport hub, which is home to Britomart rail station and has nearby a major bus interchange, the ferry and cruise ship terminals and the soon to be up-and-running City Rail Link, is undoubtedly the focal point of commercial development in Auckland. One of the reasons Precinct Properties chose to build its $680 million Commercial Bay office and retail project on Quay Street was the waterfront site's transport options. The listed property company worked with AT and Auckland Council early onto achieve a cohesive and co-ordinated development.

Integrated transport

Another listed property company, Kiwi Property, is working with the council on plans for its holdings in the South Auckland suburb of Drury.

It has bought two land parcels, totaling 42.7ha, for $39.8 million, and secured agreements to acquire a further 8.6ha. The three greenfield sites are dose to the junction of the Southern Motorway, Great South Rd and the. North Island main trunk railway line, about 35km south of Auckland's CBD.

Kiwi Property chief executive Chris Gudgeon says the company plan is to develop a town centre, to complement the exist-big Drury town centre.

"We will work with the council and infrastructure providers to secure a town centre zoning providing for commercial and retail uses integrated with high, medium and low-density housing, all within walking distance of an integrated public transport node."

Auckland's $3.4 billion City Rail (CRL) tunnel link work begins

Work has begun on Auckland's $3.4 billion City Rail Link cut and cover tunnels.

The excavation involves digging 18 metres - about five storeys - at the deepest (southern) point using long-reach excavators above ground and, smaller machinery inside the reinforced trench.

This represents about 10% of the 3.45km length of the twin-tunnel underground rail link.

The tunnels will then be constructed with a cast concrete floor, walls and roof before the trench is backfilled.

The work will be undertaken progressively from Windham St at the southern end to Customs Street at the northern end.

Excavation at the southern end is expected to be completed by October this year and the northern end by the middle of next year.

Construction o f the tunnel box is expected to start late this year and be completed by late 2018.

CRL project director Chris Meale says the start of bulk excavation is another milestone for the project "This work marks a significant point in the construction process as we will start to see the tunnels taking shape," he says.

"It will be exciting and challenging work from an engineering perspective, as we build rail tunnels below groundwater level while maintaining surface level access to Albert St for foot and vehicle traffic.

Cut and cover construction is being used at each end of the CBL tunnels - between Britomart Station and the future Aotea Station and, later where it connects to the western line at Mt Eden.

Between Aotea and Mt Eden stations, the tunnels will be between 13 and 42 metres below ground.

The contract for the stations and bored tunnels is expected to be awarded late next year.

By spring 2019,this section of Albert St will be reinstated with a new road surface, bus lanes, widened footpaths and Street furniture.

The city rail link is jointly funded by the government and Auckland Council and is expected to be completed in 2023-24. Their joint venture company, City Rail Link Ltd took over the project on July 1.

The New Zealand economy in 2016

The New Zealand economy grew by 2.5% over the year to March 2016, following rapid growth of 3.4% the previous year.

Rental, hiring and Real Estate Services was the biggest contributor to growth, with value-added lifting 4.4%. The sector has benefited not only from higher levels of property sales, but population growth and better conditions for businesses have also pushed up property and machinery rentals. In a similar vein, GDP for the construction sector rose 3.6% lift over the March 2016 year.

A range of service-based industries experienced strong growth over the past year. An expanding population, coupled with better job prospects, pushed up value-added by retail trade by 5.6%. Professional, scientific and technical services (3.0%) and finance and insurance series (3.1%) also experienced rapid growth.

Another record-breaking year for domestic and international visitor spending saw GDP for accommodation and food services increase 5.2%.

Valued-added from agriculture, forestry and fishing climbed 2.8%, despite challenging conditions for dairy farmers. The standout performer in the primary sector was agriculture and fruit growing (6.8%), while sheep, beef cattle and grain farming (3.6%) also grew strongly. Some of this additional activity flowed through to rural contractors, with value-added from agricultural support services and hunting climbing 7.5%.

How fast has Auckland's economy grown?

This section measures economic performance in Auckland during the year to March 2016 and previous years. All GDP estimates are measured in constant 2010 prices.

  • GDP in Auckland measured $83,848m in the year to March 2016, up 3.5% from a year earlier. New Zealand's GDP increased by 2.5% over the same period.
  • Economic growth in Auckland averaged 2.2%pa over the last 10 years compared with an average of 1.8%pa in the national economy.
  • Growth in Auckland reached a high of 5.5% in 2003 and a low of -2.5% in 2009.
  • Auckland accounted for 37.5% of national GDP in 2016.

Auckland's train network hit 20 million trips last year

8 September 2017

It was a figure which wasn't expected to be reached for another 3 years.

Passenger numbers have steadily increased 20 per cent each year.

Growth had to come at such an unexpectantly high rate that Auckland Council needed to grant $207 million towards purchasing 17 new trains in order to meet the demand.

Forecasts from a joint Auckland Transport (AT) and Kiwirail plan are predicting rail patronage to drastically increase over the coming 30 years, with an expected 30 years by 2025 and hitting 60 million by 2045.

The Auckland Rail Development Programme (ARDP) outlined the infrastructure required to manage this high level demand.

ARDP's key initiatives include a completed central rail link, new park and ride facilities, and station enhancements at Newmarket, electrifying the Pukekohe to Papakura line and adding additional services from West to East.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said while 2045 was a while off, the city needed plans to prepare for the time when Auckland's population would reach 2 million.

Goff said we need light rail particularly from the city centre to the airport and right around the city.

NZ wine pops export cork

7 September 2017

The export value of New Zealand wine has hit a record high of 1.66 billion, making it the country's fifth-largest export.

New Zealand Winegrower's annual report showed that the value of wine exports had increased by 6 per cent in the 12 months to June 30.

Exports to US led the growth; passing $5-00 million in value for the first time and making Kiwi wine the third most valuable wine import into that country, behind France and Italy.

"With diversified markets and a strong upward trajectory, the industry is in good shape to achieve $2 billion of exports by 2020" said New Zealand.

Winegrowers chairman Steve Green "Our premium reputation remains the greatest collective asset fo5r New Zealand wine, and underlies our commands in global trade".

New Zealand's wine exports achieved an additional layer of protection this year with the introduction of official geographical indication legislation. The geographical Indications (Wine and Spirit) Registration Act first passed in 2006 allows wine regions to register with the Intellectual Property Office New Zealand and ensures wine of that area.

Building work on the rise

5 September 2017

The value of New Zealand building work rose in the June quarter with both non-residential and residential activities up.

The seasonally adjusted value of total building work rose 0.9 per cent in the three months ended June 30.

Residential work rose 1 per cent while non-residential work increased a seasonally adjusted 0.6 per cent in the quarter.

Non-residential building activity was down 0.7 per cent and residential activity shrank 0.4 per cent from the March quarter.

The actual value of all building work was $5.16 billion, up 4.9 per cent on the year.

Of that, the value of residential building work was $3.36b, up 7.6 per cent on the year while the actual value of non-residential building work was $1.8b, up 0.2 per cent on the year.

The value of all building work in Auckland was $1.95b, up 6.8 per cent on the year.

New Zealand beat England in 2017 Women's Rugby World Cup

29 August 2017

Soccer mad England turned on an all time viewing record as their women's rugby team was beaten by New Zealand in the final of the rugby world cup.

New Zealand's Black Ferns proved a hit on English TV, with their World Cup final on Sunday morning (NZT) smashing viewership records.

Of course, it helped that they were playing the heavily favoured and defending champion home team.

The keenly contested encounter - a 41-32 triumph for the Kiwi women - was watched by 2.6 million people at its peak on ITV1 and the programme averaged 2 million viewers, almost twice the number of a typical Premier League game on satellite channels Sky Sports and BT Sport.

While the result may not have gone their way, fans hailed the spectacle as a "fantastic game - supreme athletes" on social media.

Special note : New Zealand now are world champions with both their mens and womens teams.

Tourism boom keeping Air NZ, Auckland Airport in clover

24 August 2017

New Zealand's ongoing tourism boom is showing no sign of letting up and companies at the forefront such as Auckland International Airport and Air New Zealand are keen to keep riding the wave.

"The reality is that tourism has become our biggest industry," Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon told BusinessDesk. "It's 10 percent of our GDP, it's 12 percent our workforce, 17 percent of GST receipts and 21 percent of total export income. It's a really important industry for New Zealand and New Zealanders and all the country is involved in tourism in my view."

Auckland Airport CEO Adrian Littlewood told a conference call of investors that he remains confident in New Zealand's tourism prospects, with recent numbers indicating 120 million people in the world are actively considering a visit here. The airport, which is New Zealand's busiest gateway, recently embarked on a $1.9 billion infrastructure investment programme that includes a new runway by 2028 in order to cope with visitor growth.

Government figures show a record 1.9 million people arrived in New Zealand for holidays in the 12 months ended July 31. The number has almost doubled since 2002 when the number of holidaymakers reached 1 million for the first time.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment forecast total international visitor arrivals will hit 4.9 million in 2023, led by Australian and Chinese visitors. Total international visitor expenditure is tipped to increase to $15.3 billion in 2023 from $10.3 billion in the year ended June 2017.

Against that backdrop, there have been some concerns about capacity constraints, in particular during peak season times.

Luxon said about 96 percent of surveyed visitors say they are satisfied or extremely satisfied with their time here. Air New Zealand is focusing on trying to smooth out the inflows so visitors are spread more evenly through the whole year and is also working hard with local authorities to build new regional tourist attractions.

"We want to make sure they get to all regions of New Zealand," he said. The MBIE stats show lion's share of the regional tourism spend was in Auckland in the year ended June 30, accounting for 29 percent of total spending (both domestic and international) while Christchurch, Queenstown, and Wellington each made up 8 percent.
Air New Zealand also wants to attract higher-value visitors.

"We want to have higher spending, wealthier tourists, consuming richer, more premium experiences, and making sure this is a high-value industry," he said. There's room to add another $9 billion in the sector. Tourism generated $34.7 billion in the year ended March, according to the latest data from MBIE.

Auckland Airport's Littlewood said the move into higher value is already starting to happen with a "shift in Chinese passengers with increasing numbers coming from the free and independent travel category rather than coming here on group tours."

"We are working hard on tier 3 and 4 Chinese cities," Littlewood said. "That market is seeing New Zealand as a destination, there has been a shift away from attractions and shopping based experiences to cultural or natural beauty which is a positive."

Luxon said the 1,600 new hotel rooms coming on stream in the near future and the government's $100 million tourism infrastructure fund - much of which will be used to build toilets and car parks and to bolster programs crowded visitor hotspots - along with the $76 million investment in the Department of Conservation, will help strengthen the sector.

"The upshot and potential for New Zealand are really quite exciting still," he said. "I am very optimistic about tourism and New Zealand has a lot of what the world wants."

Record population growth of 100,000

22 August 2017

New Zealand's population has grown by more than 100,000 over the past year.

The record growth in the year to July brings the population to 4.79 million, Stats NZ said on Monday.

The bulk of the increase was people who were migrating (72,300), while births made up 28,100 new Kiwis.

While most migrants were arriving on short-term work and student visas, many of them extended their stay, adding to the population figures, population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said.

Half of the total increase was made up of people aged between 15 and 39.

This age group now made up 34 per cent of New Zealand's population, down from 41 per cent in the mid-1980s.

Meanwhile, the number of people aged over 65 had increased by more than 25,000 in the last year, with more than 30,000 people now aged 90 or older, Stats NZ said.

It's estimated the number of over-90s will reach 50,000 by the early 2030s.

NZ migration hits record in July despite more Kiwis leaving

21 August 2017

New Zealand annual net migration rose to a record in July, driven by foreign immigrants, with the biggest groups coming from Australia, the UK and China.

Annual net migration reached 72,400 in the year to July, up 3400 on the same period a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said. Three-quarters of the record 132,100 migrant arrivals were non-New Zealand citizens, with 1100 more New Zealanders leaving the country than returning in the latest year.

There has been a net migration gain of 72,400 non-New Zealand citizens in the past year to July.

New Zealand has been experiencing record levels of net migration in recent years,with rising immigration a key election issue as it strains the country's infrastructure and has been blamed for inflating property markets.

Migration from the UK had the biggest increases on a net basis, up 53 per cent to 6750, with net South African migration also up 50 per cent to 4862.

There was a 15.3 per cent increase in work visas granted in the year, to 45,397, while student visas dropped 9.9 per cent to 24,132 and NZ and Australian citizen arrivals rose 6.3 per cent to 38,740.

$700m convention centre project and hotel emerges from ground

10 August 2017

After almost two years of site and foundation works, building structures at the $700 million NZ International Convention Centre are rising and subterranean car parking levels and the basement of a new 300-room hotel are being completed.

Graeme Stephens, SkyCity chief executive, yesterday expressed satisfaction with Fletcher Construction's progress., despite announcing last month that it was behind the original schedule.

"It gets exciting from now," Stephens said yesterday of the site between Hobson St, Nelson St, Victoria St West and Wellesley St.

"I find construction sites painfully slow but when you get out of the ground... now, we see the structures emerging and it will go quickly. You will be able to see change every couple of weeks."

Five Fletcher Construction tower cranes are on the job, including one able to lift the heaviest load in New Zealand.

SkyCity provided a new image of the site in its annual report, also out yesterday with its result for the June 30, 2017 year.

Work started on the site before Christmas 2015, preparing for the convention centre, five-star hotel and dining/shopping lane linking Nelson St to Hobson St.

Office drought set to be a flood

Auckland is a great city to live and work and now there is a realization of how fast it is likely to grow.

Auckland is in the grip of a drought, a dearth of office space in the central city - though experts see an abundance of prime office space on the horizon.

Things may be tight at present but, over the next 18 months, several major new developments will come on stream
The completion of Commercial Bay tower - the 39-level building being built on the site on the former site of Downtown Shopping Centre, expected to be finished in early 2019.

In the CBD there has been a flight toward quality office space, a pull to move toward the waterfront and increasing reluctance to stay in older, inefficient space that does not attract and retain staff.

But, as building projects come on stream, a spike in supply is predicted. The Commercial Bay development alone will add 39,000 sq m of prime office space to the market.

Precinct Properties is building the $850 million Commercial Bay tower and shopping centre at 11-19 Customs St West. It will rise from an 18,000sq m three-level retail precinct - unlike anything Auckland has seen, plus a station on the Auckland City Rail Link.

Commercial Bay will become the place to be: This and the other new buildings coming on stream have superior amenities, green technology and prime locations closer to public transport."

Over the years, the most desired CBD office space has migrated from north and south, or up-and-down Queen St, to east and west - along the waterfront.

Britomart brought the CBD down to the waterfront and the ASB pioneered the move to the Wynyard Quarter, attracting such companies as Bayleys, IBM and Datacom.

The coming surfeit of office space is primarily due to the fact Auckland remains a desired city standing amongst cities like Vancouver, Seattle and Sydney.

The Americas Cup and APEC leaders' summit (hosted by Auckland in 2021) will also see the city to the fore.

NZ rating will remain steady, says ratings agency Standard & Poor

New Zealand's economy has been growing "robustly" for quite some time and S&P expects that to continue, although "there are a few reasons it might start to slow down", said Craig Michaels, director sovereign ratings.

Mr Michaels said S&P does not expect to change its rating on New Zealand as the nation's solid growth is offset by its external vulnerabilities.

"We don't see the rating going anywhere anytime soon," he said. S&P's foreign currency rating for New Zealand stands at AA.

Mr Michaels noted that a key driver of economic growth has been migration into New Zealand, with a significant number of people returning or relocating from Australia.

Another key driver of growth has been strong household consumption, which is partly due to the migration story but also because households are feeling more confident to spend than they have for a long time, he said.

While growth is "sound and robust" it might be "a little bit slower than what you been enjoying for the last couple of years".

Mr Michaels noted the government still has significant room to move on fiscal policy if it needs to support the economy and the Reserve Bank "still has ammunition in its tank" should there be any more external shocks.

The central bank is expected to keep rates on hold at a record low 1.75 per cent at this Thursday's rate review.

Regarding the upcoming election, Mr Michaels said the outcome won't impact the rating as "we don't see major differences in terms of the broad fundamental economic policies" the parties have.

New Zealand's Crusaders hailed as one of 'most successful' sporting franchises

6 August 2017

The Christchurch Canterbury Crusaders were feted Sunday as "one of the most successful sporting franchises" as New Zealanders put aside provincial loyalties to praise the eight-time Super Rugby champions.

The Crusaders' 25-17 victory final over the Golden Lions in Johannesburg was the first time a team had crossed the Indian Ocean to win a final in South Africa.

It was also only the second time a team had won the championship on foreign soil after the Crusaders beat the ACT Brumbies in Canberra in the 2000 final.

New Zealand Herald writer Liam Napier pointed out the Crusaders had everything stacked against them in terms of travel, altitude and crowd.

"Harnessing the character of a city that has endured so much pain, the Crusaders defied it all," Napier said, recalling the devastating 2011 earthquakes in the Crusaders' homebase of Christchurch.

"For that reason alone the hat must be tipped to one of the most successful sporting franchises."

The game was watched in New Zealand in the early hours of Sunday and locals took to talkback radio and online discussions to express their delight.

Nearly 61,000 people packed out the Johannesburg stadium to cheer on the Lions.

The team has consistently been in the Super Rugby play-offs and ex-Crusader turned coach Scott Robertson said this title, the first in nine years, would put an end to the annual pre-season question fired at the Canterbury franchise.

"Every time people ask us about not having won the trophy for a while -- well now we won't hear that question for a while," he said.

Government details construction boom

3 August 2017

The construction industry in New Zealand is forecast to boom for at least another three years, creating tens of thousands of new jobs.

That's according to two reports released by two government ministers on Sunday.

Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says the National Construction Pipeline Report confirms New Zealand is experiencing its strongest ever building boom.

Construction work is forecast to be worth a total $244 billion over the next six years.

It grew eight per cent to $34 billion in 2016 and is now forecast to grow another 23 per cent to an overall peak of $42 billion in 2020. This peak is $5 billion higher than the 2016 forecast.

While Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith says the Future Demand for Construction Workers Report shows job are being created.

The number of people expected to be employed in construction is projected to increase by 10 per cent by 2022, adding about 56,000 employees, increasing the total construction workforce to 571,300.

"Demand for skills across the board is at fever pitch, but nowhere more so than in construction, which in the year to June employed over 18,200 more people across New Zealand, the second largest contributor to annual employment growth," Mr Goldsmith says.

Dr Smith says 196,500 homes will be built during the next six years, the largest in New Zealand's history, with 100,000 during the next three years.

"This report is welcome news for the issues of housing shortages, affordability and ownership because increased supply is the main solution," he said.

On Sunday government partner ACT said almost 630,000 new Auckland homes could be built by changing zoning distinctions between rural and urban land.

Unemployment falls to lowest level since 2008

2 August 2017

Unemployment is at the lowest level since 2008, new figures reveal.

The unemployment rate fell to 4.8 per cent in the June 2017 quarter (down from 4.9 per cent in the March 2017 quarter) Stats NZ says - the lowest unemployment rate since December 2008.

That was the start of the global financial crisis, when it was 4.4 per cent, and National had just been elected to office.

"In the June 2017 quarter, 3,000 fewer people were unemployed," labour market and households senior manager Diane Ramsay said.

Unemployed people are those who are available to work, and who had either actively sought work or had a new job to start within the next four weeks.

The unemployment rate for women fell to 4.9 per cent, with 10,000 fewer women unemployed - the lowest it's been since March 2009," Ramsay said.

In the year to the June 2017 quarter the labour cost index increased 1.7 percent, up from 1.6 percent in the year to March 2017.

Home consents near 2004 numbers

31 July 2017

More than 30,000 new home builds were consented to across the country in the 12 months to July, up 4.7 per cent on the previous year, according to official figures.

Annual new home numbers are nearing those last seen in 2004. Consent figures for houses, apartments, townhouses, and flats reached 30,453, for the year, with more than 10,000 of those in Auckland, the department said on Monday.

While fewer stand-alone homes were being built in Auckland, smaller dwellings were on the up. Auckland accounted for three-quarters of national new apartment units and nearly half of all townhouses, flats, and units.

Meanwhile, consents were booming in smaller centres as well.

Consent numbers were up 28 per cent in Otago and 20 per cent in Wellington.

ASB economist Jane Turner called the growth trend "particularly encouraging" in Auckland and Wellington.

"Looking beyond the volatility, we are seeing encouraging signs that residential building demand is lifting in Auckland and Wellington," she said in a note.

Auckland getting new electric trains

27 July 2017

Auckland Council has tagged on to buy $207 million worth of electric and battery-powered trains.

The council's finance and performance on Wednesday agreed in principle to buy the 17 trains but it will have to find $25m for an initial payment by September.

The council will also now have to find $50m from its capital budget and get a commitment from the New Zealand Transport Agency for 50 per cent of the capital and operational expenditure.

The decision came with a rebuke from committee deputy chairwoman Desley Simpson, who said it was disappointing the funding was not incorporated into the annual budgeting process.

"I appreciate the apology and commitment from Auckland Transport that we will be fully appraised of similar scenarios in the future ahead of time," she said.

It means electric trains will be running between the city and Pukekohe five years earlier than planned, says Mayor Phil Goff.

Mr Goff has said the new units will have major benefits for commuters living south of Papakura in the high growth areas of Drury, Paerata, Pukekohe and potentially Pokeno.

They can operate on lines not yet electrified and would allow the council to eliminate ageing and less reliable diesel trains.

Demand has increased by 17 per cent over the past year and Auckland is on course to achieve a record 20 million passenger trips a year within months.

Kiwi soars above 75 USc, highest in more than 2 years, as Fed flags balance sheet trim

27 July 2017

The New Zealand dollar rose above 75 US cents, to the highest level in more than two years, after the US Federal Reserve said it would begin reducing its bloated balance sheet "relatively soon".

The greenback fell against a basket of major currencies after the Fed's announcement.

The kiwi dollar reached 75.28 US cents, the highest since May 2015, and was trading at 75.12 cents as at 8am in Wellington from 74.38 cents late yesterday.

The trade-weighted index climbed to 79.10, well above the 75.8 average level the Reserve Bank forecast for the third quarter, from 78.53 yesterday.

The Federal Open Market Committee kept its target interest rate unchanged as expected at the end of its two-day meeting, saying "near-term risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced" though it "is monitoring inflation developments closely.

David Croy said along with US dollar "disenfranchisement" the kiwi dollar has benefited from "fairly respectable domestic credentials in their own right".

The kiwi traded at 93.94 Australian cents from 93.95 cents yesterday. The kiwi gained to 64.06 euro cents from 63.74 euro cents and rose to 83.54 yen from 83.03 yen. It rose to 57.31 British pence from 57.01 pence and gained to 5.0722 yuan from 5.0124 yuan.

New wellness hotel for Auckland

26 July 2017

InterContinental Hotels Group's (IHG) wellness lifestyle brand Even is to be launched in Auckland in 2020, with a 200-room, 37-level hotel on part of the old site in the CBD.

This follows the signing of a partnership with financial specialist Pro-Invest Group that will mean the brand's debut for the first time outside the US.

The Auckland project will also include a Holiday Inn.

The partnership is aiming at a 10-15 hotel portfolio of Even Hotels, providing a holistic wellness experience, across New Zealand and is actively looking for sites.

IHG says health and wellness is one of the fastest-growing industries in New Zealand, making it the perfect place to grow the brand. The hotels are designed to help travelers "eat well, rest easy, keep active and accomplish more, making it ideal to better serve wellness-minded travelers."

IHG has 32 hotels in New Zealand and Australia under the InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Resorts brands.

The launch of the Even Hotels brand in New Zealand comes at a great time and is a strong fit to local consumer tastes and trends, IHG says.

The group is continuing its expansion in bringing new brands to this market and has established a strong hotel franchising model to provide owners and investors in New Zealand.

The Pro-invest Group's chief executive, Ronald Barrott says there is considerable growth in lifestyle services in both health and wellness and exercise. He says the growth reflects the importance New Zealand's place on personal health and wellbeing, making it the best time to launch Even Hotels.

June trade surplus $242 million, boosted by dairy exports

26 July 2017

New Zealand reported a higher-than-expected monthly trade surplus of $242 million in June as exports were boosted by dairy sales, especially to China.

The annual deficit in the year to June was $3.7 billion versus $3.8 billion in the 12 months to May. Economists had expected a monthly surplus of $100 million and an annual deficit of $3.7 billion, according to the median in a Bloomberg poll. The June surplus was the fourth monthly surplus in a row.

Overall exports to China were up 25.6 percent for the month of June against June last year to $1.0 billion while exports to Australia rose 0.9 percent to $672 million.

Imports from all sources rose 7.7 percent to $4.5 billion in June versus the same month a year ago. Car imports led the rise, jumping 31 percent to $505 million. New motor cars led this increase, up $86 million in value. This was 2,566 more new cars than in June 2016, Stats NZ said.

NZ near front of trade deal queue: Britain's Johnson

25 July 2017

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said that New Zealand could expect to be one of the first nations to ink a trade deal with London once Brexit was finalised.

Johnson, making his first visit to New Zealand, met Prime Minister Bill English for talks that covered trade, international security and Britain's ties with its former colony.

"These are two countries that really do think on the same lines on so many of the issues that matter to our people and to our electorates," Johnson told reporters after the meeting.

Johnson said Britain was keen to pursue free trade deals with New Zealand and other nations once its withdrawal from the EU -- scheduled for March 2019 -- was complete.

He said New Zealand would be "at or near the front of the queue" when Britain was negotiating the post-Brexit pacts.

"If I can make one thing absolutely clear, I'll say this until I'm blue in the face, Brexit is not, was not, will not be about Britain turning away from the world," he said.

"On the contrary, it is about wanting to keep great relations with our European friends and partners... (while) rediscovering and intensifying friendships and partnerships around the world."

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English meets the Jewish Congregation


13 July 2017

We had an amazing event last week hosting the Prime Minister Bill English at Auckland's Shule.

The good news as we heard as the Prime Minister talked of a 're-set' in the relations between New Zealand and Israel.

200 congregants listened to a very supportive Israel address by the Prime Minster and then answered some very searching questions primarily about NZ / Israel relations.

It was clear that the historical good relations had returned to normal with no mention of NZ's ex past Foreign Minister but much praise for new replacing Foreign Minister Mr Brownlee.

Photo at top - Prime Minister Bill English on the left.

Kiwis win off the field as Lions rugby tour brings in the bucks

10 July 2017

There may not have been a winner on the field, but Kiwi councils and hospitality providers are toasting to success at the end of the British and Irish Lions tour.

The Lions visited seven cities during their 36-day trip, taking their merry band of 20,000 vocal supporters with them.
Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) chief executive Brett O'Riley said the Lions tour has been a "huge success".

"The region has been awash with a sea of red and the 20,000 plus visiting fans have been the best guests making the most of the tourism experiences and food and beverage options throughout Auckland."

Auckland hosted two of the three tests between the Lions and the All Blacks, as well as the Blues' upset win against the visitors.

O'Riley said the series brought in 14,000 domestic visitors.

"While we don't have the full economic impact data in yet, the series is estimated to generate $26.7 million for the Auckland economy, and 165,000 visitor nights."

Hospitality NZ Auckland president Russell Gray said the series' deciding test being held days after the victory parade for Team New Zealand was a "windfall" for the city.

"I think Auckland experienced a bit of a one-off last week with the amazing America's Cup parade on the Thursday leading straight into a test weekend, and so that was probably bigger than anyone had anticipated.

"Everyone was in party mode and that flowed into the weekend."

Fans turn out to welcome America's Cup trophy to Team NZ

6 July 2017

Tens of thousands of joyful New Zealanders have braved a thunderstorm in Auckland to welcome home the America's Cup winners, who held the Auld Mug aloft on these shores for the first time in 17 years.

The Emirates Team New Zealand members waved at the crowd from the backs of vans for a slow, noisy procession down Queen Street to Waitemata Harbour, where they boarded a boat for a victory tour on the sea - dozens of yachts, sea kayaks and dingies floating by to catch a glimpse.

Many people skipped work and school on Thursday to watch the parade live, not wanting to miss out on the historic moment.

The parade started in sunshine and ended amid claps of thunder and torrential rain. Office workers pressed themselves against windows to watch and builders paused on their scaffolding high above the city to whoop and yell.

Seagulls swooped above the cheering crowd dancing to a brass band version of James Brown's I Feel Good. Some people had travelled from around the North Island to shout "Kiwi, Kiwi" and "Peter, Peter!" for helmsman Peter Burling, who, at 26, is the youngest person to ever win the America's Cup, and an instant hero for locals with his uncanny resemblance to Sir Edmund Hillary.

"I wanted to support the team, I felt so happy and excited when they won," said 14-year-old Ace Mead who missed school with her three sisters to attend the parade.

"I think the team won because they had courage and faith, and they had the whole country behind them. I got up to watch every game with my Dad."

Many of the team - dressed in black and blue tracksuits - looked worn out from their feat in Bermuda, but their faces cracked into huge grins as the crowd embraced them, throwing colourful streamers over their heads and waving handmade signs.

This week the government announced NZ $5m in funding for the team to try and keep their sailing talent in New Zealand, but today Australian skipper Glenn Ashby told TVNZ he had already received phone calls from rival teams trying to poach him.

"I think all the guys are highly sought after because we have been able to pull of something absolutely fantastic" he said.

A number of the sailors bowed their heads at the start of the parade to hide puffy eyes, blinking back tears they were unable to control. Having only arrived back in the country yesterday, they have yet to see some friends and family, and many said they were keen for a few quiet days to recoup and process before journeying south for parades in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

"Thank you for your display of what is best in our country," said the prime minister, Bill English, from a podium by Waitemata harbour, his grey suit drooping in the rain.

"You are a group of ordinary Kiwis who have done something extraordinary," he said, before giving cause for laughter with one of his characteristic stumbles: "You'll also be helping Kiwis get off the shelf ah, off the couch."


Ex-Team NZ boat builders joining Rocket Lab in Hawke's Bay

4 July 2017

Former America's Cup boat builders are to join rocket scientists in their work on launching more rockets soon from Northern Hawke's Bay.

In May Rocket Lab completed its first test launch from its site on Mahia Peninsula - becoming the first orbital-class rocket to lift off from a private launch site in the world.

Now the rocket maker - on track for a second test launch in the coming months - is employing workers involved in the Team New Zealand campaign for its advanced composites work.

"We're employing so many people at the moment it's hard to keep up," said Rocket Lab founder and chief executive Peter Beck.

"I know last week in the Monday meeting I welcomed five new starters."

Rocket Lab's 17m-tall Electron Rocket is made of carbon fibre similar to that used in Team New Zealand's boat. Last week it was revealed that 40 workers involved in building the America's Cup-winning catamaran last year had lost their jobs at Southern Spars.

The composites team at the Auckland-based rocket maker is led by Ben Malcolm, who worked with Team New Zealand on the last boat for their Cup campaign, in San Francisco in 2013.

Including contractors and part-timers, there are about 25 in Rocket Lab's composites team, a third of whom had worked with Team NZ.

Mr Beck said top boat builders could transfer their skills to the space industry.

"It's really about craftsmanship. The America's Cup is very high end and has beautiful craftsmanship [but] not all boat builders would assimilate perfectly into building into space components," he said.

White House releases staff salaries - including Kiwi Chris Liddell's

3 July 2017

The Trump administration has disclosed the salaries of 377 White House staff, including Kiwi expatriate Chris Liddell.
The filing confirms the former Carter Holt Harvey, GM and Microsoft CFO is not in it for the money: Mr Liddell's salary is $US30,000 a year.

An earlier White House disclosure revealed his net worth was around the $NZ100 million mark.

Nevertheless, the New Zealander has big responsibilities:.

Mr Liddell is listed as assistant to President Donald Trump for strategic initiatives.

And in May, he was put in charge of the Council for American Technology, a group given the mission to drag the technology used by US government departments into the 21st century and make it secure.

The council, chaired by Mr Liddell, includes President Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence and the secretaries of defence, commerce and homeland security among its members, along with the directors of national intelligence and the Office of Budget Management.

Auckland's Waterview tunnel opens

2 July 2017

The first cars are rolling through the country's newest and longest road tunnel in Auckland.

The $1.4 billion Waterview Connection, where twin 2.4km-long three-lane tunnels connect State Highways 20 and 16 opened to traffic early on Sunday morning after five years of construction.

It is hoped the tunnel will help improve traffic flows in the city blighted by congestion.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the tunnel is the biggest transport transformation in Auckland since the Harbour Bridge was opened in 1959.

"Wider economic benefits are estimated to be worth $430 million, through improved productivity and reduced travel time, and also include the creation of more than 18,000 jobs during the construction of the tunnel," he said.

The tunnel largely completes the Western Ring Route, a new 48km route linking the west of Auckland, Manukau, the city and the North Shore.

It aims to ease pressure on State Highway 1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Mr Bridges said.

In mid-July, a shared cycling and walking network will also open alongside the motorway.

Prime Minister Bill English earlier said the tunnel project was 60 years in the making with a gigantic boring machine dubbed Alice used to dig it out.

The 1.97km Lyttelton Tunnel, near Christchurch, was previously the longest tunnel in the country.

House consents at 13-year record in May, trend improving, Statistics NZ says

30 June 2017

Local councils across New Zealand approved 7 percent more residential building consents in May, with house consents at a 13-year high as the trend for new dwellings continues to increase.

The seasonally-adjusted gain in May followed falls in March and April, Statistics New Zealand said.

A total 2,794 new dwellings were consented, including 2,039 houses, the highest monthly number since June 2004. On an annual basis, dwelling consents rose 8 percent, with 30,645 residential buildings consented in the year.

"The trend for new homes is recovering after dipping in late 2016," prices, accommodation, and construction senior manager Jason Attewell said.

"It's more than double the level of the 2011 low point, and nearly back to the mid-2016 peak." The trend for new stand-alone houses is also rising, Stats NZ said.

In Auckland, the country's largest city, the lack of housing supply has been most acute as record migration drives demand.

Today's figures show 10,379 homes were consented in the year through May, up 10 percent from the previous year.

On an annual basis, the value of consents rose 12 percent to $19.3 billion. Residential consents increased 12 percent to $12.8 billion while non-residential consents advanced 11 percent to $6.5 billion.

NZ could reap $1bn from hosting Cup

27 June 2017

Boat-building, tourism, accommodation, hospitality and major events for New Zealand are just some of the windfalls the country could capitalise on in the wake of the stunning America's Cup win.

The head of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), Brett O'Riley, says the gains could be massive.

"You have an enormous opportunity for the New Zealand marine industry and in the same way The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit showcased the best scenery, so can the America's Cup," he told the NZ Herald.

"The only people who can really answer the question of where the bases will be are Team New Zealand, because it all depends on the type of boats raced.

"And are we talking a single regatta or preliminary events?"

The economic benefits could in the billion-dollar territory, he said, a sentiment echoed by businessman Sir Ralph Norris.

Sir Ralph told Newstalk ZB the economic benefit would be significant.

"It might even be a little higher than [$1b]."

Sir Ralph said he understood planning for a defence was already under way.

"I get the impression from what I've heard over the last couple of hours that a lot of forethought has already gone into where the race will be held in Auckland, what sort of arrangements will be needed to be put in place.

"I don't think they're going into that cold."

NZ construction sector upbeat on infrastructure work, buoyed by Government injection

23 June 2017

New Zealand's construction sector is increasingly upbeat about the growing infrastructure market, which will get a boost from the government's planned $32.5 billion investment over the next four years.

An annual survey of sentiment in the infrastructure and buildings construction sector shows a split between the two sub-sectors, with those on the infrastructure side expecting increased spending over the coming three years, with 68 percent of respondents seeing a positive investment outlook and nearly 70 percent expecting more work.

Finance Minister Steven Joyce, who launched the report in Auckland this morning, said the sector is "positive" but is figuring out "how to handle that growth.

Joyce said lending curbs by the Reserve Bank and trading banks' tighter credit criteria were "having a bit of an impact" on the buildings side, but were "probably assuring that the boom we're experiencing is going to be a bit more sustainable than in the past," when the building cycle was propped up by more of a boom/bust thing".

Construction has been a major plank to the country's economic growth in recent years as the Canterbury rebuild and Auckland house-building stir activity, accounting for 6.25 percent of the economy from 5 percent five years ago and employing 250,000 people compared to 180,000 in 2012.

Joyce said the pipeline of work and government investment means the sector will continue to be a core part of economic growth in coming years and that a lot of effort was going in to make sure the industry can build capacity to meet that demand.

It's ours! Team New Zealand claims America's Cup after 14 years

27 June 2017

Team New Zealand claimed the America's Cup for a third time on Tuesday after securing a 7-1 series victory over holders Oracle Team USA.

It was a remarkable turnaround for the Auckland-based syndicate after suffering a defeat at the last regatta in 2013, giving up an 8-1 lead over Oracle in the process.

With a young crew led by Olympic gold medallist Peter Burling, Team New Zealand sailed, and cycled, their way through the qualifying series to reach the America's Cup final.

The finals went as follows:

Team New Zealand had a dominating day one with a 30-second in race one before thrashing Oracle by 1 minute and 27 seconds in race two.

Two more big race wins on day two put the challengers in a commanding position - a 3-0 lead heading into the five day break.

Spithill promised Oracle would be working every hour to get faster but that didn't seem to make a difference with Team NZ moving to a 4-0 lead with a two-minute victory in race five and finally finished 4-1.

Spithill finally had something to crow about as the much-faster Oracle boat claimed victory in race six to make it 4-1 at the end of day three of racing. Was another comeback on?

Not so fast. Burling yet again dominated the Australian in both starts in races seven and eight and held off a fighting Spithill to move Team New Zealand to match point at 6-1.

Team New Zealand then crushed Oracle in race nine to complete the victory.

New Zealand world's second most peaceful country

22 June 2017

With terror attacks and political uncertainty rocking the world, New Zealand appears to be emerging as a beacon of peace.

The nation has moved up two places in the Global Peace Index, now sitting in second place behind Iceland.

As a whole, the global level of world peace has improved - 93 countries improved with 68 deteriorating.

New Zealand was given a rating of 1.241 which is based on societal safety and security, ongoing domestic and international conflict and degree of militarisation.

Former prime minister and United Nations Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark shared the good news about New Zealand but added a warning.

"[Important] not to be complacent. NZ has its problems too."

First placed Iceland was given a rating of 1.111 by the review committee while Australia rose three places to 12th with a rating of 1.425.

The UK also rose six places and is now equal 41st most peaceful country.

But the United States suffered a big fall, down 11 places to 114th out of 193 countries.

The bottom of the list remains largely unchanged. Syria was named least peaceful country again this year, preceded by Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen.

Chinese, UK and Australian immigrants drive NZ net migration to new record in May

22 June 2017

New Zealand annual net migration hit another record in May driven by foreign immigrants, with most coming from China, the UK and Australia.

Annual net migration reached 72,000 in the year to May 31 versus 68,400 in the same period a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said. Three-quarters of the 130,400 migrant arrivals were non-New Zealand citizens, with New Zealanders leaving and returning to the country almost balancing each other out in the last year. There has been a net migration gain of 73,000 non-New Zealand citizens in the past year.

New Zealand has been experiencing record levels of net migration in recent years as economic growth outpaced Australia's, meaning fewer locals moved across the Tasman. Rising immigration is shaping up to be a key election issue as it strains the country's infrastructure and has been blamed for inflating property markets.

Chinese citizens accounted for 12 percent of migrant arrivals in the year, while 10 percent each came from the UK and Australia.

Annual migrant arrivals from India dropped 31 percent to 9,200 in the year, with a 40 percent drop in annual student visas granted to Indian citizens, which was offset by gains from the UK and South Africa.

Short-term visitor arrivals, which include tourists, people visiting family and friends and people travelling for work, reached 3.6 million in the year ended May 31, up 10 percent from a year earlier and a new annual record, Stats NZ said. Most came on holiday or to visit family and friends, and 40 percent were from Australia while 11 percent were from China.

David Jones tipped to be coming to Newmarket

21 June 2017

Staff at giant upmarket Australian department store chain David Jones have told a New Zealand retailer of plans to open in Auckland, according to a local source.

David Jones has made no official announcement about Auckland and today only trades from Wellington.

But the insider told the Herald that the well-established Australian chain was planning to open its second New Zealand store on the former Levene Extreme site on Newmarket's Broadway, after last year's Lambton Quay unveiling.

"David Jones has signed for Auckland. They are going into the new 277 development in Newmarket. This will be where Farmers are at the moment. The interesting point will be filling the retail spaces around David Jones with other tenants. It's signed and sealed but not been released to the media yet," the local retailer said, asking his name not be used because he has a close working relationship with the chain.

Kiwi Property plans $161m capital raising as Auckland expansion continues

19 June 2017

Kiwi Property Group, the largest property company listed on the NZX, plans to raise $161 million to fund expansion in Auckland as it sees strong growth continuing.

Kiwi Property is considering expansion and improvement projects at its Sylvia Park shopping mall in Auckland.

It is currently undergoing a $126 million development at Sylvia Park, adding parking and expanding the food court, and is looking at a further $200 million expansion involving new international retailers and a department store "as we move to realize our world-class town centre vision for that site."

NZ consumer confidence ticks up in June quarter on optimistic outlook

19 June 2017

Westpac chief economist Michael Gordon said "households have become increasingly confident about the economic outlook.

New Zealand consumer confidence gained in the June quarter and reached its highest level since early 2015 as consumers were more upbeat about the economic outlook although they were slightly more jittery about the current economic situation.

The Westpac McDermott Miller consumer confidence index rose 1.5 points to 113.4 in the June quarter, above the long-run average of 111.4. A reading above 100 indicates optimists outnumber pessimists, and the survey has been above that level since March 2011.

A net 18.2 percent of the 1,555 people surveyed between June 1 and June 11 expected the economy to improve over the coming year, up from 11.8 percent in the March period.

"Households have become increasingly confident about the economic outlook," said Westpac Banking Corp acting chief economist Michael Gordon.

Waterview tunnel to open to cars in early July

18 June 2017

The $1.4 billion Waterview tunnel will open to cars around the first weekend of July - but an exact date is not being given for safety reasons and to avoid queues of motorists.

The "soft" opening was announced at today's formal opening by Prime Minister Bill English and Transport Minister Simon Bridges, who cut a ribbon to mark the completion of the longest road tunnel in New Zealand.

It completes the 48km western motorway ring route - a second motorway route through Auckland - and includes a giant motorway interchange at Great North Road to connect the Southwestern and Northwestern motorways.
This latest connection in Auckland's state highway network will provide a more resilient and reliable motorway network by reducing the current dependence on State Highway 1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Each of Waterview's tunnels was bored by a giant tunnelling machine, named Alice. At 2.4km long, Waterview takes the record off the 1.97km Lyttelton tunnel as the longest road tunnel in New Zealand.

"The Waterview Tunnel is one of the most important infrastructure developments to take place in New Zealand and will help unlock Auckland's potential as a world class city and secure its future economic prosperity," Bridges said.

The western ring route - linking the west of Auckland, Manukau, the city and the North Shore - is one of the Government's Roads of National Significance and was prioritised because of the contribution it will make to our fastest growing city, the transport minister said.

"It will provide more options to Aucklanders travelling around the city, more efficient links to and from Auckland Airport, Ports of Auckland and inland freight hubs, reducing costs for people and businesses, not only in Auckland, but throughout the country," he said.

Wider economic benefits are estimated to be worth $430 million, through improved productivity and reduced travel time, and also include the creation of more than 18,000 jobs.

"This latest connection in Auckland's state highway network will provide a more resilient and reliable motorway network by reducing the current dependence on State Highway 1 and the Auckland Harbour Bridge," Bridges said.


The $1.4bn Waterview Connection is New Zealand's largest ever roading project. It includes construction of twin 3-lane tunnels - they are the longest road tunnels in the country - and a giant motorway-to-motorway interchange at Great North Road to connect the Northwestern and Southwestern Motorways, improve network resilience and travel time reliability.

The Waterview Connection will provide a second route through Auckland, bypassing the city centre, creating greater reliability and resilience. While it's not designed to remove congestion altogether, the western ring route will provide a better balance of traffic flows across the entire road network, including helping to remove cars from local roads.

As well as helping to cater for future traffic demands, it will also provide more transport options including bus lanes and walking and cycling connections.


Each of Waterview's two tunnels is 2.4km long - twice the length of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
They will each carry 3 lanes of traffic.

The tunnels are the longest road tunnels in New Zealand - the Lyttelton road tunnel at 1.97m previously held the record.

Tunnelling first began at Waterview in 2013. The first tunnel was completed in 2014. Alice the Tunnel Boring Machine broke through on the second tunnel on 19 October 2015.
The Tunnel Boring Machine was specifically designed for the Waterview geology by the German company, Herrenkencht, and manufactured in China.
The Tunnel Boring Machine was 87m long.
At construction peak up to 1000 people worked on the project.

The fit-out programme included:

  • Compacting 74,500m3 of aggregate for backfill
  • Laying almost 5kms of drainage pipes
  • Installing 104 flame traps.
  • 140,000m2 of paint is being applied - black for the roof, white for the walls
  • 4,000 lights
  • 62 ventilation fans
  • 50kms of cable trays to support wiring and other equipment
  • 400kms of cabling and wiring
  • CCTV cameras and signage is also being installed
  • 5 deluge storage tanks each containing 250m3 of water for fire control. Each deluge set will supply 10mm of water per minute inside each of the 173 zones of the tunnel. Each zone is located every 30m in the tunnels.

Free Trade Agreement with United States 'when time is right': Trade Minister Todd McClay

18 June 2017

The United States has indicated it's open to a free trade agreement with New Zealand "when the time is right", Trade Minister Todd McClay says.

McClay has been in the US to meet the new US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and Congressman David Reichert.

Ross had indicated he is open to a trade deal and didn't see any major issues in the way, McClay said.

"It's clear the US will take time considering its trade strategy. They're likely to have a considerable workload over next couple of years with NAFTA renegotiations and some big bilateral deals to do. However, I've welcomed their interest in an FTA as a demonstration of the good shape our trading relationship is in."

US President Donald Trump has withdrawn the US from the TPP, a 12-country pact that had been the top trade priority of the Obama Administration. Trump has promised an "America first" approach to foreign policy and trade.

During his visit, McClay briefed US officials on the progress of the TPP minus the US. Japan has assumed leadership to get the other 11 countries to keep the deal going, with a final decision on its future likely to be made at the Apec leaders' summit in Vietnam in November.

McClay said Lighthizer told him he wanted to work with New Zealand on international trade policy issues.
Last year New Zealand exports to the US were valued at $5.6 billion and imports from the US were valued at $5.7 billion.

NZ regrets fallout with Israel: Brownlee

14 June 2017

Israel's ambassador to New Zealand is returning to his post.

This ends a six-month rift in relations over a United Nations resolution against Israeli settlements in occupied territory.

Israel recalled its ambassador Itzhak Gerberg in December after New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal sponsored a UN Security Council resolution which said Israel's continuing establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory constituted a violation under international law.

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the two leaders spoke on the phone earlier this week, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Michal Maayan says.

"I regret the damage done to Israel-New Zealand relations as a result of New Zealand proposing Resolution 2344 at the Security Council," English wrote, according to the Foreign Ministry statement.

The Israeli ambassador will return to Wellington in the next few days.

Foreign Affairs Minster Gerry Brownlee says Mr English's letter is a "clarification" and wouldn't go into the original decision on the UN resolution.

"The letter indicated that New Zealand wanted to resume diplomatic with Israel, and regretted the fallout.

"It was a clarification of the fact that we remain good friends of Israel... All I'm going to say is that we regret the fallout."

The UN resolution passed in the 15-member Security Council because the United States, under the administration of former President Barack Obama, did not wield its veto power and instead abstained, breaking with its long-standing tradition of diplomatically shielding Israel at the international body.

Mr Brownlee maintained the US had not used New Zealand as a pawn in proposing the resolution.

NZ terms of trade rises to 44 year high

1 June 2017

New Zealand's terms of trade rose to the highest level in about 44 years in the first quarter as export prices rose more than three times faster than imports, led by dairy and forest products.

The terms of trade rose 5.1 per cent in the first quarter, Statistics New Zealand said, beating the 3.9 per cent increase forecast by economists in a Reuters survey. Export prices rose 9 per cent in the first three months of the year and import prices gained 2.7 per cent. Terms of trade is a measure of the purchasing power of New Zealand's exports abroad. The latest rise means 5.1 per cent more goods imports could be funded by a fixed quantity of goods exports than in the December 2016 quarter.

"The terms of trade sit just 0.3 per cent below the record high set back in June 1973. And with export prices still very healthy over recent months, we expect it is only a matter time before a new record is set," economists at ASB Bank said in a note.

Dairy led the gain in export prices, jumping 18 per cent in the first quarter as milk powder rose 20 per cent, butter gained 23 per cent, and cheese rose 8.8 per cent. Dairy prices are 34 per cent higher than the recent low of September 2016, but are still 21 per cent lower than the March 2014 high, Stats NZ said. Dairy values rose 1.2 per cent in the March 2017 quarter to $3b, while the seasonally adjusted dairy export volumes fell 11 per cent, to the lowest level since the September 2013 quarter.

Forest product export prices rose 11 per cent in the March quarter, led by a 15 per cent gain from wood, to reach their highest level since the series began, and topping the previous record set in September 2000 by 1.5 per cent, Stats NZ said. Seasonally adjusted forestry product volumes fell 6.1 per cent, to their lowest level since the March 2012 quarter. Seasonally adjusted forestry product values fell 0.4 per cent to $1.3b.

Petroleum and petroleum product prices, which aren't seasonally adjusted, led the gain in overall import prices. They rose 11 per cent in the March 2017 quarter, and 46 per cent for the year to March 2017. Import volumes fell 1.2 per cent in the March 2017 quarter, and values rose by 9.7 per cent. Stats NZ said a three-week shutdown at the Marsden Point refinery influenced the data.

The terms of trade with China rose 5.3 per cent, and for Australia it rose 0.6 per cent, and for the US recorded a 0.5 per cent gain.

Airport trust launched to upskill and find jobs for thousands

Construction workers at Auckland Airport

1 June 2017

The major upgrade of Auckland Airport's international departure area is now well under way, as is the expansion of Pier B of the international terminal which will add two more contact gates that can each accommodate an A380 or two smaller aircraft.

The airport plans to accommodate an estimated 40 million passengers a year by 2044 - more than double the number that pass through the airport now.

Auckland Airport is investing more than $1 million every week and expects this level of investment will likely continue into the "near future".

Insight Economics has calculated that the benefits of the airport's 30-year investment in infrastructure include creating around 27,000 more jobs.

Government agencies (the ministries of Social Development, Business Innovation and Employment, and Education and the Tertiary Education Commission) were involved in the scheme which Littlewood said enabled a "wrap around" or account management approach to getting people in work.

"It's not just about recruitment and job placement but thinking about the barriers to ongoing job placement. There could be other things in their lives that are stopping them from getting a job," he said.

Auckland Airport will tomorrow formally launch a jobs and skills trust that has already put hundreds of people into work.

Since it began as a trial in November 2015, Ara has placed 227 people in jobs, including 103 who were previously on benefits.

There have been 10 low-risk prisoners through the programme, some were on remand and didn't serve a sentence while others were rehabilitated through a Corrections Department programme. Some have moved from labouring jobs to supervisor roles.

Ara, or pathway, is a partnership between the airport, the South Auckland community, Fletchers, Hawkins and other local employers, government agencies, Auckland Council, local schools and tertiary institutes, industry training organisations and training providers.

Most of the workers come from South Auckland and 26 placed through Ara have gone on to apprenticeships.

Auckland Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood said the organisation started with construction jobs but already other businesses in the area were interested in the workers.

"We're starting to get inquiry from other businesses at the airport - whether it's retail, food and beverage or logistics. They're all in the same boat in the tourism boom."

Ara is currently working with seven training providers. Examples of training arranged through Ara include SiteSafe, Working at Heights and drivers licensing.

Sixty-eight students from five South Auckland schools have been or are currently involved in Ara's school work experience programme.

Auckland's economic growth 'spectacular', says council chief economist

28 May 2017

Auckland's economic growth is "spectacular" and an extra 60,000 jobs were added to the country's financial powerhouse in the last year, according to a new report.

David Norman, Auckland Council's chief economist, revealed Auckland's growing strength in his latest Auckland Economic Quarterly publication and he included some good news for wage earners.

"Auckland's GDP grew at 4.4 per cent for the year ended December 2016," Norman said quoting Infometrics data.

Latest Statistics NZ and Reserve Bank data showed New Zealand's GDP growing at 2.2 per cent in the first quarter of this year. GDP represents the income earned from production.

Norman cautioned against a comparison because two different periods were being measured.

"But yes, Auckland's growth is spectacular, certainly very strong, driven by population, tourist and the construction boom which is creating a lot of jobs," he said.

Auckland annual employment growth is running at 7.3 per cent, compared to 4.9 per cent for the rest of New Zealand.

Norman highlighted population growth, construction sector activity, demand for goods and services, tourism and the retail sector as the big economic growth drivers.

"Auckland ... added 60,000 jobs for the year to March, 2017," he wrote, citing Statistics NZ data from the household labour force.

Those jobs were created in professional services (including law, accounting, finance, consultancy, architecture), construction (one in every eight jobs), hospitality (one in every eight jobs) and health care and social services (one in every 10), Norman told the Herald.

The latest Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion said it was harder to find skilled and unskilled workers in Auckland in the March quarter, compared to the December quarter.

And the good news for Auckland wage earners is Norman said the rate of wage growth was finally beginning to rise.
"As the unemployment rate falls or remains low, pressure tends to be placed on wage rates," he wrote.

NZ goods exports hit an April record as dairy prices continue to rise

24 May 2017

New Zealand's merchandise exports rose to their highest ever for an April month as increased dairy prices boosted the value of the country's largest commodity for a seventh consecutive month.

Exports rose 9.8 percent to $4.75 billion in April, setting a new record for the month and marking the third-highest month ever recorded behind the $5 billion of exports in March 2014 and $4.9 billion in March 2015, according to Statistics New Zealand.

Dairy exports in April jumped 35 percent to $1.11 billion, driven by higher prices. Milk powder values increased 27 percent, or by $117 million, while the quantity fell 11 percent, and the value of milk fat products rose 55 percent, or by $86 million, with the quantity lifting 4.6 percent, Stats NZ said.

The country's top five export commodities all rose from the year earlier month. In order of their ranking, meat exports lifted 1 percent to $630 million, wood exports gained 18 percent to a new record of $406 million, fruit exports advanced 3.4 percent to $444 million and wine exports jumped 20 percent to $136 million.

Meanwhile, goods imports also advanced in April, lifting 4.9 percent to $4.17 billion, setting a new record for an April month. The main movements were in intermediate goods, led by petroleum, and capital goods, led by mobile phones, portable computers and tractors, the statistics agency said.

The export gains led to a goods trade surplus of $578 million in April, the largest monthly trade surplus since March 2015 and the largest April surplus since 2011, Stats NZ said.

Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks

According to Rabbinic tradition the Ten Commandments were given on this day. In the era of the Temple.

There are a number of widespread customs observed on Shavuot. During this holiday the Torah portion containing the Ten Commandments is read in the synagogue, and the biblical Book of Ruth is read as well.

It is traditional to eat dairy meals during Shavuot. In observant circles, all night Torah study is common on the first night of Shavuot, while in Reform Judaism, Shavuot is the customary date for Confirmation ceremonies.

Tomorrow, Finance Minister Steven Joyce will be delivering his first Budget - the ninth of the National-led Government

24 May 2017

A brief background ahead of tomorrow's Budget.

Five points you should know:

  1. The economy is growing, and well over 200,000 new jobs have been created over the past three years - more than 180 new jobs every day.
  2. Wages are rising - with the average annual wage now $58,900, up more than $12,000 since we came into office.
  3. The books - with a $1.8 billion surplus delivered last year, and we are starting to reduce debt.
  4. Budget Forecast -$4 billion investment in infrastructure.

New Zealand has a strong economy with financial options that give the choices many other countries don't have.
A stable government and a strong, growing economy has been able to create more jobs and lift wages.

The focus of the Budget is certain to be growing the economy.

NZ annual net migration still running at record levels

19 May 2017

New Zealand annual net migration remained at a record high in April and short-term visitor arrivals also hit a new record, lifted in part by the Easter holiday.

Annual net migration reached 71,885 in the year to April 30 versus 68,110 in the same period a year earlier and on a par with the 71,932 in March, Statistics New Zealand said.

People arriving as permanent and long-term migrants outnumbered those departing by 129,779 to 57,894 in the latest 12 months. Of those arriving, 57,885 were bound for Auckland while 10,146 were headed to the capital city of Wellington. In the South Island, 12,702 were bound for Canterbury. In terms of departures, 22,021 left Auckland while 5,929 left Canterbury.

Total residence visas lifted 11 percent to 16,678. Work-visa migrants from the UK rose 14 percent to 7,347 while those from France were up 15 percent to 4,000.

New Zealand has been experiencing record levels of net migration in recent years as economic growth outpaced Australia's, meaning fewer locals moved across the Tasman. Rising immigration is shaping up to be a key election issue as it strains the country's infrastructure and has been blamed for inflaming property markets.

Short-term visitor arrivals, which include tourists, people visiting family and friends and people travelling for work, reached 3.599 million in the year ended April, up 10 percent from a year earlier and a new annual record, Stats NZ said. Visitor arrivals numbered 311,900 in the April 2017 month, up 21 percent from April 2016. However, Easter holidays, which fell in April this year but in March in 2016, likely contributed to the increase.

"Almost 35,000 more holiday-makers arrived in New Zealand in April 2017 than in April 2016, which was the main contributor to the strong overall increase in visitor arrivals in April," population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said.

New Zealand residents took a record 2.7 million overseas trips in the April 2017 year, up 11 percent from the April 2016 year.

New Zealand wine taking the USA by storm

22 April 2017

Trendy young Americans with money to spare have developed a taste for the crisp, fruity flavours of New Zealand wine - and exports are soaring.

The United States is now New Zealand's biggest overseas wine market and last year shipments jumped 11 per cent to $571 million. That was the biggest gain among the top eight countries exporting wine to the US, according to figures from Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates.

In contrast, Australia fell behind New Zealand for the first time, with its shipments to the US dropping 9 per cent to $502m. Imports from some South American nations also fell sharply.

New Zealand wine writer and critic John Saker says demand for New Zealand wines in the US can be summed up in three words: Marlborough sauvignon blanc.

"Just through dumb luck really, they put sauvignon blanc vines in Marlborough and it came out with this remarkable result; this aromatic intensity, a real pungency.

And now it's become the standard-bearer for that variety."

According to the latest New Zealand Wine Industry report, sauvignon blanc accounted for 86 per cent of all New Zealand wine exports in February.

Saker says the light fruitiness of New Zealand wines perfectly complements prevailing culinary trends.

"We're eating lighter foods than we were, say, 10 years ago, less meat and heavy, stodgy foods. New Zealand's wines have a fresh acidity to them and they're great lighter-style wines which go well with the food people are eating these days."

The very ripe, Australian-style wines, meanwhile, have been losing favour in world markets for a while, Saker says.
"Wine is tied up with fashion and I think New Zealand wine is just right for the time and the Australian styles have lost favour."

Looking forward, Saker says "we haven't scratched the surface" of where the industry could go.

"We've achieved this level of success without very much knowledge or experience and as that grows, and as the vines grow older, we'll be well placed to keep expanding and reaching more markets."

Saker predicts that New Zealand chardonnay will one day follow in the footsteps of sauvignon blanc, with Kiwi winemakers creating increasingly delicious and unique varieties.

Working Holiday Visas to New Zealand

The Working Holiday Visa is your best chance to improve your English, discover an amazing culture, a wonderful country, gain some valuable work experience ...

A Working Holiday Visa is a 12 months (in most cases) visa that allows you to work in New Zealand.

Your visa is valid from the date that you arrive in New Zealand. This visa is multi-entry which means that it will allow you to leave and return to New Zealand as many times as you want during those 12 months.

More than 50,000 travellers come each year to New Zealand with a Working Holiday visa.

In most cases, you can submit an electronic application for a work visa under the working holiday scheme by using the Immigration New Zealand website. It takes 15 to 30 minutes (you can save and stop at any time) only and the process is much faster than a paper application. You just need your details including those in your passport, and answer questions on your health, character and travel plans. The fee for an online or paper application is the same. You will have a response in a few days. Click here to see how to apply online.

Working holiday visa restrictions:You cannot apply for a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand :
If you are not from the list of selected countries

  • If you do not meet the health requirement
  • If you are under 18 years old
  • If you are over 30 years old (35 years old for selected countries)
  • Take our Free Visa Check to see if you qualify and to a personalised email with more information.

Your Working Holiday visa is an Electronic Visa, it's exactly the same as a normal visa, and you must print the Visa once you receive it by email and keep it with your passport. It's valid as soon as you enter New Zealand.

You must have a Visa or MasterCard credit card to pay the fee online to immigration NZ. It's not an obligation to use your own card. You can use a friend or parents, if you have their authorisation of course...

Countries eligible for a working holiday visa in New Zealand:

You can apply for a Working Holiday visa for New Zealand from 41 countries:

Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, Vietnam.

If you country is on the list, don't miss this one in a life time opportunity to immerse yourself in the kiwi culture. Adventure guaranteed!

Links for more info:

For more info about the working holiday visa in New Zealand, visit us at WorkingHolidayStarter.com.

Information for this article have also been sourced on BackpackerGuide.nz - in our opinion, the simplest and most comprehensive resource for a working holiday or a gap year in New Zealand.


The Working Holiday visa requires you to return home after one year.

It is very difficult to change your status from Holiday to change status to be able to secure a temporary work visa.
This only possibility can come about if your occupation is highly skilled (included your occupation listed in the shortage of skills lists) and that you are qualified and have the work experience meeting the requirements of the job offer.
Even then there is no certainty that the visa will be granted.


The real question is are you qualified and have the work experience meeting the requirements of the job offer and will your employer support you with your application in order for you to change your status.

Skilled Migrant Category

If you have skills, qualifications or experience that New Zealand needs you may be able to apply for a resident visa under the Skilled Migrant Category.

Upcoming visa changes

Changes were recently announced that will affect the Skilled Migrant Category from mid-August 2017.

The Skilled Migrant Category is a points system based on factors such as age, work experience, your qualifications, and an offer of skilled employment. You must also be aged 55 or under, and meet English language, health, and character requirements.

How it works
1. Self assessment - Check you meet the requirements and calculate your points

2. Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) - Note the fees and offices information. Submit an EOI online.

3. Receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) - If you have 160 points or more you'll be selected from the EOI pool and be sent an ITA.

4. Submit a resident application - Note the fees and offices information. Submit your resident application within six months on the form we provide you with.

5. Receive your visa - If successful, you'll be issued either a resident visa or job search visa.

Common mistakes to avoid

Skilled Migrant Category applicants often make these mistakes that result in fewer points being recognised:

Qualifications not recognised - If you're claiming points for your qualifications they need to either be on the List of Qualifications Exempt from Assessment or have been assessed by NZQA.

Work experience not comparable - If you're claiming points for work experience it must be in the same field as your qualification and job/job offer. If you don't have a job or job offer then this experience also needs to be in a comparable labour market, in an occupation on the Long Term Skill Shortage List or for a multinational company.

Bonus point requirements not met - To claim qualification and work experience bonus points you need to meet the strict requirements outlined on the Long Term Skill Shortage List.

More information

The content on this page is a summary of what can be found on the Immigration New Zealand website. For comprehensive process and requirements guide visit their website section.
Skilled Migrant Category | Immigration New Zealand

Booming in the Technology Sector

12 May 2017

Tech sector attracts foreign cash

Overseas funding for early-stage New Zealand technology companies has hit a record high, with foreign investment tripling in the past year.

Data from the second annual Investor's Guide to the New Zealand Technology Sector showed overseas funding for these companies had jumped from $51 million in the 2015 financial year to $173m last year - up 239 per cent.

Early-stage companies were defined as those typically in research and development, pre-commercialisation or commercialisation phase.

Greg Shanahan, managing director of the Technology Investment Network (TIN) which produced the report with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), said venture capital and publicly funded investment was a major growth driver for more than half of the fastest growing tech companies.

"This year's guide shows that funding is a critical part of the acceleration in sector revenue growth," Shanahan said.
"Record amounts of money are being raised locally by firms to invest in this space and record amounts of investment are coming from offshore into select companies," he said.

Investment in NZ tech sector triples

Early stage investments from offshore investors are typically larger than are commonly seen in New Zealand. As the source of this money broadens, particularly with growing Asian investment, we can expect the trend to continue."

The number of high profile investors has also expanded rapidly with the likes of movie star Ashton Kutcher, Samsung, Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures, Viacom chair Shari Redstone and Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel all investing in Kiwi tech companies.

Simon Feiglin, managing partner of global private equity firm Riverside Company, said the focus of New Zealand companies.

"The thing we really like is that as a small and remote country, New Zealand companies almost from conception think globally, and are structured to achieve that objective," he said.

An increasing number of Kiwi companies were also pursuing overseas funding early on, and choosing to sell a stake of their business rather than the whole company.

Over the past decade more than 50 local tech businesses have been taken over by foreign buyers - including Navman Wireless, Intergen and Fisher & Paykel AppliancesThe report showed the number of tech companies being bought outright was declining with two acquired last year compared with nine in 2013. According to Shanahan this was a reflection of the growing confidence of New Zealand companies in the industry.

The 2016 TIN100 annual report on the tech industry, produced by TIN, showed the 28,749 firms in New Zealand's tech sector contributed $16.2b to national GDP and employed just under 100,000 workers.

Technology was the country's third largest export in 2016, generating $6.9b in overseas revenue.

American business columnist Ashlee Vance said New Zealand's tech sector was well-respected.

"This country of 4.5 million people has started to churn out some awfully polished, extraordinary products," Vance said.

"They're world-class technological achievements - the work of a well-educated, creative people bent on competing on the world stage."

Increased taxes, lower spend helps swell NZ government coffers

10 May 2017

The Crown will update the surplus forecast in the May 25 budget.

The operating balance a surplus of $1.5 billion in the nine months ended March 31, well above the $147 million surplus it forecast in December and up from $167m in the prior year, the latest Crown accounts show.

The Treasury expects the Crown will post an operating surplus of $473m in the year ending June 30 and will update that forecast in the May 25 budget, which will be Finance Minister Steven Joyce's budget.

In a pre-budget speech last month Joyce announced a $2b boost to additional infrastructure spending over the next four years to $11b, and wants to almost halve net debt as a proportion of the economy by 2025 and still has plans for potential tax relief and improving public services up his sleeve.

The Crown's net worth of $100.4b was $7.1b ahead of forecast because of the surpluses.

Auckland's population is growing faster than anticipated

Inner city report

We are facing one of the most exciting periods of change in Auckland's history and we are creating unprecedented levels of growth activity.

In the City Centre alone the Auckland Council investments equates to $4 billion in capital projects. What is more exciting is that the private developer investment is $10 billion.

This investment is a clear indication as to what others see in our great city too and their commitment to build our Auckland together. We are demonstrating to the world that Auckland is alive, vibrant and a very exciting place to invest in, visit and live right now.

City Centre population growth exceeds 2032 targets

The population of Auckland's City Centre has exploded compared to the 2012 Auckland City Centre Masterplan's predictions.

In 2012, Auckland's City Centre Masterplan laid out a bold twenty year vision for the transformation of the inner City Centre and predicted that the City Centre's 2012 population of 27,000 would reach 45,000 by 2032.

That figure is now expected to be reached this year - a full fifteen years ahead of prediction and is forecast to grow by a further 30,000 residents over the next ten years, which is the equivalent of half of the population of Rotorua relocating to the area within Auckland's inner motorway.

Councillor Chris Darby, Chair of Auckland Council's Planning Committee says we're witnessing the rapid renaissance of inner-urban living in the City Centre.

"In the five years since we adopted the Masterplan, we've seen some incredible changes happening in central city, both in our city's physical environment and the way people are experiencing it. As a result people are getting out and about and are walking in higher numbers than ever before. Pedestrians on Queen Street have doubled since 2015 and there's been a 34% percent increase in pedestrians across the City Centre. Significantly, despite the growth, the City Centre has seen no increase in private car travel. More people now live in the City Centre than travel in by car, with public transport, walking and cycling now making up the majority of the peak hour trips into the City Centre."

"The vision set out in the Masterplan is the blueprint for the changes planned over the next twenty years and it's exceptionally exciting at this five year milestone to see how New Zealand's highest-density urban environment is thriving and how people's perceptions of how they get to and use their city are changing. It's become one of the most desirable parts of Auckland to live in."

Further five year progress updates are:

  • There are 10,000 more jobs in the City Centre since 2012 and more than 100,000 people now work there.
  • Office vacancy rates are at a record low 2.4 percent.
  • New cycling infrastructure such as the Lightpath, inner-city cycling lanes along with future planned developments such as the Skypath will further support the growth of cycling.
  • City Rail Link construction underway. Upon completion, the CRL will increase the two hour morning peak period capacity into the city by 150% and will mean that the entire City Centre will be no more than a ten minute walk from a railway station.

Boom times for small tourism businesses come with a warning

4 May 2017

A survey of small and medium size tourism businesses shows 43 per cent of them reporting revenue growth over the past 12 months.

But they are facing problems recruiting and retaining staff.

For this calendar year tourism operators are expecting to do even better, with 46 per cent expecting revenue to rise - compared to the average of 38 per cent.

The current quarter is looking particularly positive, with almost half (49 per cent) of all SME tourism operators saying they have more sales or bookings in the pipeline.

The survey of 1000 SME operators included 12 per cent in the tourism sector. The survey covers business owners and operators from sole traders to mid-sized businesses of 20 to 199 staff.

Highlighted in the media this week is the financial spinoff from the tourism boom but also found the pressure to find workers and this is reflected in the survey.

The survey finds this is particularly the case in Queenstown and Auckland.

Rising house prices have made it harder for 28 per cent of tourism operators to recruit and retain staff, nearly twice the SME average.

The market that is doing very well, but needs to keep a close watch on the fundamentals in order to prevent costs and pressures from blowing out and affecting the bottom line.

Some fundamentals New Zealand needed to address as a country such as affordable accommodation for staff, labour shortages during seasonal peaks and the cost of compliance especially around health and safety and resource management.

New Zealand has a fantastic industry in tourism, but we need to take a very careful look at how we are managing its growth and planning for the future.

NZ dollar gains as data shows jobs growth

3 May 2017

The New Zealand dollar rose on Wednesday as stronger-than-expected employment figures and an unexpectedly big increase in dairy prices stoked demand for the local currency.

This lifted it from the 10-month lows it hit last week.

The kiwi climbed as high as US69.68c and was trading at 69.48c as at 5pm in Wellington from 69.18c Tuesday. The trade-weighted index rose to 75.37 from 74.99.

Government figures on Wednesday showed New Zealand's unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 4.9 per cent in the March quarter as jobs growth rose 1.2 per cent, a faster pace than the growth in population.

While that showed signs of a tightening labour market, wage growth remained subdued meaning it won't drive up inflation and will likely keep the pressure off the Reserve Bank to hike interest rates.

A bigger increase than anticipated in dairy prices at the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction added to the upbeat tone for the kiwi.

"The headline levels in the labour market figures are strong and the market is tightening up with employment running along very nicely, but the wage inflation story is really non-existent and that's the more important message for the RBNZ here," ANZ senior economist Phil Borkin said.

"The kiwi got close to that 70 (US cents) level, but we've peeled off a little bit" as investors got past the headline numbers and looked more closely at the detail, he said.

Prime Minister Bill English said the kiwi was at a "pretty positive" level for exporters and near US70c or a little lower wasn't a bad balance for the country.

The kiwi rose to A92.51c from 91.66c late Tuesday after Australia's central bank kept its cash rate unchanged as expected.

It gained to 4.7872 yuan from 4.7672 yuan and rose to 77.84 yen from 77.37 yen. It gained to 63.55 euro cents from 63.37 cents and advanced to 53.81 British pence from 53.63 pence.

NZ business confidence still upbeat as firms anticipate more activity, bigger profits

28 April 2017

New Zealand business confidence stayed upbeat in April as firms expect to see more activity on their own books and generate bigger profits.

A net 11 percent of companies surveyed in the ANZ Business Outlook expect general business conditions to improve over the coming year, unchanged from March.

Firms are optimistic about their own businesses. and still want to hire and invest," ANZ Bank New Zealand chief economist Cameron Bagrie said in his report.

New Zealand's economy has been underpinned by an expanding population, record tourism, a recovery in dairy prices, and robust consumer spending over the past year.

This has given the government confidence to boost infrastructure spending and target a more aggressive debt reduction target in an election year where tweaking tax settings has been dangled as a potential vote winner.

ANZ's survey of 374 firms shows companies lifted their investment intentions 3 points to a net 24 percent expecting to boost capital spending, while a net 22 percent want to take on more staff in the coming year, unchanged from March.

The survey showed residential building intentions rose to a net 33 percent from a net 25 percent in March and commercial construction intentions were up 12 points to a net 35 percent.

NZ exports rise 11pc to 2 year high in March as dairy values increase

28 April 2017

New Zealand's merchandise exports rose to their highest monthly level in two years in March as the value of dairy exports to China jumped by two thirds.

Exports rose 11 per cent to $4.65 billion in March compared with the same month a year earlier, and marking the highest monthly level since March 2015, according to Statistics New Zealand. Dairy exports led the rise, with the value lifting 29 per cent, or $250 million, and the volume up 6.4 per cent. The gain in dairy products accounted for over half the total increase for exports in the month, and also marked the sixth consecutive month-on-month increase.

Global dairy prices have started to pick up this season as demand and supply come back into balance after record high prices in the 2013/14 season spurred farmers to ramp up production, causing an oversupply which led to two years of weak prices. Exports to China, New Zealand's largest market, jumped 43 per cent in March to $1.08b, as the value of dairy products rose 66 percent, or $114m, while the quantity rose 39 per cent.

China continues to be our top destination for goods exports, and accounts for a quarter of the total dairy exports value," Stats NZ international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. "This March, exports to China exceeded $1b for the first March month since 2014."

Lamb exports to China also improved, increasing by 86 per cent, or $57m in March. Wool exports to China showed the biggest decline, down by 40 per cent, or $16m.

Meanwhile, imports into New Zealand rose 7.6 per cent to $4.32b in March, led by a 35 per cent rise in passenger motor cars.
New Zealand had a monthly trade surplus of $332m, or 7.1 per cent of exports. This compares with an average surplus of 11 per cent of exports for the previous five March months.

The annual trade deficit for the year ended March was $3.67b, narrower than the $3.77b shortfall in the year ended February.

A rise in work visa has been the driving force behind record immigration numbers arriving but surprisingly the main source countries are not from Asia.

27 April 2017

The top five source countries for work visas last year are the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, South Africa and the United States of America.

Immigration data found work visa arrivals increased from 16,787 in 2004 to 41,576 last year.

The United Kingdom, which made up 16.6 per cent of work visas issued, has twice as many as those of Germany on 8.8 per cent.

Figures to be released today by Statistics New Zealand is expected to again show strong population gains, and possibly a sixth straight month of net migration gains exceeding 6000.

The gain in the year to February 28 hit a new record high of 71,333.

Excluding New Zealand and Australian citizens, most arrivals in the year to February (43,025) were on work visas.
Of the total 128,816 arrivals, 16,833 had residence visas, 23,846 student visas, 6338 visitors and 694 others.

One source which has seen a huge increase in work visas is South Africa, rising from 2.5 per cent in 2004 to 5.5 per cent last year.

Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley said migrant from Asian countries were less likely to get direct access to New Zealand on skilled work visa.

"They are more likely to transition to permanent residence through temporary work and study visa routes using options such as the transition to work provisions," said Professor Spoonley, an expert on immigration.

"Given the penetration, and now ownership, by Australians of industries and companies, a significant component of Australian migration to New Zealand will involve middle and senior managers, as well as certain experts, for these companies."

"The South African arrivals remain cyclical and the numbers arriving will reflect certain push factors as well as the fact that there is now a well-settled local community," said Spoonley.

On the rise, however, are the number of arrivals from the UK and the USA.

Also, as a proportion, work visas for Germans have increased from 3.1 per cent of the total in 2004.

"My guess is that we are starting to see the effects of Brexit and the Trump presidency as push factors," he said.
"There was an early hint of a new interest from these two countries in the expressions of interest figures post the Brexit vote and the confirmation of Trump as president ... they might displace arrivals from Asia if this upward trend continues."

Spoonley said high value immigrants from the UK and US will remain and important source of skilled migrants, and expected the numbers to trend upwards through the mid and later part of 2017.

The increase in work visas pushed net migration to a record 70,600 last year.

Migrant arrivals numbered 127,300, compared with 56,7000 people leaving the country. During the period, work visas were up 3800 to 41,600, but this was matched by a similar drop in those arriving on student visas.

The United Kingdom comprised the largest group of visitors planning to work here on nearly 7000, followed by France, Germany and Australia.

In March ASB had forecast net migration would hit 72,000 in the year to March 31, and the annual gain would continue to top 70,000 until the second half of next year. Drivers of net migration include 9000 more Kiwis returning home and 28,000 fewer leaving.

There's also been an increase in the number of Australians moving here, international student arrivals and 21,000 additional working holiday visa holders.

New Zealand's population is estimated to be around 4.77 million, according to Statistics New Zealand, and growth rates at this level would increase it to 5 million in 2019.

Recent moves by the government to tighten immigration policy include increasing the number of required points, toughening of English language rules and the suspension of the parent category.

Last week, the government announced migrants will need to earn more than $49,000 to qualify for the skilled migrant visa.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said the changes were aimed at increasing the quality of migrants, and not reducing numbers.

Migration hits another record

26 April 2017

Net migration hit another record in the year to March of 71,900.

That's up from 71,333 in the year to February and up from 70,600 in the 12 months to December.

Migrant arrivals numbered 129,500 in the March 2017 year, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Migrant departures were 57,600 in the 12 months to March 2017.

Brownlee understands the Trump talk

Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee

25 April 2017

New Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee has one important attribute that most foreign affairs mandarins lack. He gets the Donald Trump phenomenon.

This is an important attribute for NZ's chief diplomat, who takes on the foreign affairs portfolio at a time when the Trump-led United States has switched its approach by bombing Syria and Afghanistan and is ramping up the rhetoric on North Korea.

Prime Minister Bill English kept things simple with the first reshuffle of his premiership.

With an election five months away, English needs a settled Cabinet to project a sense of stability and continuity when voters head to the ballot boxes.

Gerry Brownlee is a sound appointment as Foreign Minister to replace Murray McCully. Brownlee is an influential figure in the Government.

Over a long political career, he has never shied from the battlefield. English maintains that his new Foreign Minister could, when required, be diplomatic.

H can be combative (English referred to him as "blunt when he needs to be and diplomatic when he needs to be"). He's not afraid to call out incompetents. But he is also witty.

This aspect of Brownlee's character is not immediately visible but as Leader of the House for eight years he would seem to have been an honest broker.

That is a fundamental quality in his new role, which is certain to be busy given the rise of threats from North Korea, and political uncertainties in Britain and France.

But Brownlee is a pragmatist. During an informal discussion during a BusinessNZ function earlier this year - when the Trump phenomenon was a major talking point for those who justifiably worry that it heralds a new age of protectionism - the then Defence Minister ran against the current by suggesting that the US President had a point when he questioned the loss of American jobs that followed the off shore of US manufacturing.

This particular attribute may not have been top of mind when Bill English awarded him the coveted foreign affairs portfolio on Monday.

But at a time when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Mfat) has been directed to take a 24/7 approach to monitoring the Trump Administration, having a minister who is interested in what the President stands for and is prepared to forge a personal connection with key players in Washington, will be a plus.

The other pluses are Brownlee's background as Defence Minister during which he has forged strong personal links with key Chinese military figures, and, in a personal sense, the quality of reliability which he has in spades.

His predecessor Murray McCully has already gone to Washington and met Rex Tillerson at the counter-Isis (Islamic State) talks hosted by the Secretary of State earlier this year.

Trade Minister Todd McClay is understood to be lined up to be one of the first bi -laterals negotiating a USA/ New Zealand range of trade deals. This positioning for New Zealand is the result of good staff work by NZ officials and the Washington embassy.

Trump's own tenure as President hits the 100-day mark this week.

There are currently uncertainties with Europe (particularly France where the election runoff for the presidency is still to take place) and in Britain where Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a snap election.

NZ manufacturing activity at 14-month high as production steps up a gear

13 April 2017

New Zealand's manufacturing activity rose to its highest level in 14 months in March as a jump in new orders underpinned production, while a robust building sector continues to drive the country's economy.

The Bank of New Zealand-BusinessNZ performance of manufacturing index rose to a seasonally adjusted 57.8 in March at 55.7 from 53.4 a year earlier.

That's the highest level of expansion since January 2016.

A 6.1 point jump in the new orders to 64.3 was the highest reading since 2004. This was accompanied by a 2.6 point increase in production to 60.4, a six-month high.

While the recent rebound has been in all the right places, it's new orders that have stood out head and shoulders. Construction with building booms providing demand for materials.

New Zealand has one of its biggest building pipelines in history with a major push to bridge the supply gap in Auckland's housing.

Air New Zealand among top airlines in TripAdvisor survey

11 April 2017

Air New Zealand has been recognised in TripAdvisor's inaugural Travellers' Choice Awards for airlines, coming in fifth overall and named runner up in the Asia-Pacific region behind commercial partner Singapore Airlines.Air New Zealand has also been awarded best premium economy class.

The awards are determined by the quantity and quality of TripAdvisor traveller reviews and ratings submitted over a 12-month period.

Air New Zealand's general manager of customer experience Anita Hawthorne said the accolades reflected the airline's commitment to delivering an outstanding experience on the 15 million customer journeys on the airline every year.

"Listening to customer feedback has helped us make strides to improving our customer experience - including significant investment in new technologies, innovative inflight products and aircraft interiors, and our new and refreshed lounge spaces,'' she said.

"It's incredibly satisfying to see customers acknowledge the efforts of our people to deliver a seamless travel experience, right across our network," said Hawthorne.

Senior vice-president and general manager for TripAdvisor Flights Bryan Saltzburg said the airline industry was investing billions of dollars in new aircraft and service enhancements to differentiate the flying experience and the awards recognised the carriers offering the very best experiences and value.

TripAdvisor collects traveller ratings for each airline, including customer service, inflight entertainment and seat comfort, among others.

United Airways - which operated a flight from which a passenger was dragged from an overbooked flight overnight - is not mentioned in any of the categories or regional areas in the survey.

World Top 10:
1. Emirates, UAE
2. Singapore Airlines
3. Azul, Brazil
4. JetBlue, US
5. Air New Zealand
6. Korean Air, South Korea
7. Japan Airlines, Japan
8. Thai Smile, Thailand
9. Alaska Airlines, US
10. Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia

New Zealand's broadband speeding up

As a country we are downloading, streaming TV and gaming at nearly double the speeds we were last year. The average download speed for households and small businesses on the Chorus network in February 2017 was 41Mbps compared with 25Mbps the same time last year. So what's driving our acceleration in download speeds?

Faster connections

As Chorus crosses the country laying ultra-fast fibre and upgrading the technology in our copper network, more Kiwis can, and are, taking advantage of our faster, more reliable broadband connections. The number of households on the Chorus network enjoying ultra-fast fibre has nearly doubled in the last 12 months to 21%, compared with 11% in February last year. VDSL connections have also increased to 17%, up from 12% in February 2016.

The Gig

The launch of The Gig nationwide in October last year has opened a whole new world of broadband for the over 10,000 Kiwis who made the move to our fastest residential broadband service by the end of February. Find out more about the Gig here.

Developing technology

Our use of new technology is also driving our increase in speed. Content is flying into our homes faster due to newer technology such as high definition online television and more interactive and complex online games.

New Zealand's top broadband towns

So who is leading the charge in driving our faster broadband speeds? Dunedin is way out in front really making the most of winning our Gigatown competition to be the first place in New Zealand to receive our Gig broadband connection in 2014. It has an average connection speed of 196Mbps. Auckland's North Shore City is second at 54Mbps. Third placed Rotorua at 51Mbps is also New Zealand's fastest growing, meaning those in the Bay of Plenty are really embracing the faster broadband connections available to them.

Is better broadband at your place?

It is quite possible that better broadband is available at your place too.
One of the six in ten New Zealand households can now upgrade the country's broadband connection right away to place into the fast lane.

Number of cranes goes sky-high

7 April 2017

The construction boom is seeing an unprecedented number of cranes rise across New Zealand's cities, according to research released today.

The Q2 2017 RLB Crane Index revealed a record 132 cranes towering over New Zealand's cities, with Auckland alone accounting for 72.

"In Auckland, in particular, strong economic growth driven by high inward migration and increasing tourist numbers, along with solid housing activity, manufacturing and consumer spending, has seen the rock star economy continuing to drive the construction industry, where demand is stretching the current supply," said Chris Haines, Rider Levett Bucknall's Auckland Director.

"Auckland continues to dominate New Zealand skies with 72 long-term cranes, 55 per cent of all cranes observed across the seven key centres," Haines said.

"The current index highlights a 13 per cent increase in the number of cranes within the Auckland region since the last count in Q4 2016.

Twenty-three new cranes have been erected and 15 have been removed from projects that are nearing completion."
Construction work put in place increased by 20 per cent in the 2016 calendar year, making it the fifth consecutive year of growth.

The Sky City Convention Centre, a Fletcher Building project, sports 4 cranes alone.

However, experts have warned that continued growth in the construction sector comes with heightened risks.
Chris Hunter, the chief at Auckland-headquartered builder NZStrong, and Tony Maginness, a director of accountant and insolvency specialist Staples Rodway, warned of many risks.

"This is the most dangerous time in our construction cycle. Our supply chain pricing is going up so fast. There's rapid cost escalation in the construction sector and it's putting us at risk if we're not careful with our bidding," he said.
Maginness was also concerned.

"We are experiencing arguably the biggest construction boom in New Zealand history, with the number of projects putting growing pressure on construction firms and its supply chain to deliver," he said.

"There are simply not enough resources to meet this demand, with subcontractors, labour and materials shortages having a significant impact on the ability of construction firms to meet deadlines. Some companies are over trading and are becoming victims of their own success."

Now I know why everyone loves awesome New Zealand

3 April 2017

The Daily Mail's English Journalist Mark Palmer kicked off his eight-day tour of New Zealand in Queenstown.

Daily Mail Travel Editor Mark Palmer recently visited New Zealand for an eight-day tour, which left him raving about friendly Kiwis and exhilarating adventure sports. Here's what he had to say:

The very thought of zip-wiring, bungee jumping or throwing oneself out of planes would turn some of us into cowardly prunes.

But this is New Zealand, where adventure in the great outdoors, however contrived, has become one of the defining themes of a boom in visitor numbers that seems to be taking even Kiwis by surprise.

Queenstown is a case in point.

Once a sleepy spot beside the extraordinarily beautiful Lake Wakatipu (48 miles long and three miles across at its widest point), it's now the country's adventure capital.

The can-do spirit that at first can be disarming, but it soon grabs you and makes you ponder: "Why can't we be as nice as these people?"

Or as proud of their country. And why is there no litter in the street (recycling bins every 100 yards or so in many areas must help)? And why does one feel nothing other than 100 per cent safe?

During my eight-day visit, I never once encounter any unpleasantness, any rudeness of any kind, and for all its fresh air and adrenaline-fuelled action, this must be why it is constantly named one of the most desirable countries in the world to visit. People even hitch-hike in New Zealand, for heaven's sake.

In Queenstown, he took the Skyline gondola up to the 450m-high viewing station, past bungee jumpers, mountain bikers and hearty trekkers.

The question is: how to do it? Auckland, obviously with a population of more than one and a half million and one that seems to blend Maori and Kiwi culture to good effect.

But stay in Auckland at the end of your trip, rather than at the beginning. It might seem crazy to take an internal flight after the long, long one from the UK, but that's what we do, arriving in Queenstown just in time to take the Skyline gondola up to the 450m-high viewing station, past bungee jumpers, mountain bikers and hearty trekkers.

Queenstown feels like a ski resort without snow, a student town where every night is party night, but without the beer brawls and ritual vomiting.

Smaller and more sedate is Wanaka, about an hour's drive north. On the way, stop for a pint - as Prince Harry did (or was it two?) - at the old Cardrona hotel, which, with its Fifties petrol pump and quaint, creaking bar is a joy to behold.

Transtasman telco cable completed, boosting NZ's international bandwidth

30 March 2017

A new $100 million trans-Tasman underwater cable has been completed, the latest in a drive to boost New Zealand's connectivity with the rest of the world.

Spark New Zealand, Vodafone New Zealand and Telstra pooled their efforts to build the cable in late 2014 and today announced the 2,288-kilometre link between South of Auckland and Sydney Australia was officially open for business.
The Tasman Global Access cable uses two fibre pairs with a capacity of 20 terabits per second and is expected to help meet the explosion in demand that's projected to keep growing.

"The TGA cable represents a big investment in trans-Tasman telecommunications and a huge amount of work has gone into getting it across the line and in service."

Spark general manager of wholesale and international Jilyut Wong said in a statement. "The added resilience and diversity is extremely important to keeping New Zealand connected, now and into the future."

Telecommunications Minister Simon Bridges welcomed the investment by Spark, Vodafone and Telstra, saying the government's investment in building a fibre network spurred demand for broadband services and meant increased trans-national links were important infrastructure.

"This cable is another step towards ensuring we've got affordable and robust connections with the rest of the world," Bridges said. "It also ensures that domestic demands for data are supported by international capacity, setting us up for the future."

Key to leave Parliament in April

15 March 2017

Former Jewish born PM John Key prime minister MP John Key will be leaving Parliament for the last time next month.

Mr Key will give his valedictory speech on March 22 and his resignation from Parliament will take effect from April 14.
His departure will be less than six months before the general election in September, so a by-election in his Helensville seat will be avoided.

When Mr Key resigned in December, he said he would only stay in Parliament long enough to not trigger a by-election, which cost roughly $1 million.

"It has been an absolute honour to serve in Parliament since 2002, as MP for Helensville, National Party leader and prime minister," Mr Key says.

He says he has enormous faith in the leadership team of Bill English and Paula Bennett to provide the stability and continuity New Zealand needs to build on that strength, while continuing to support those in need.
It is not clear what Mr Key will do next but he has talked about taking on directorships.

Auckland expected to deliver most jobs

15 March 2017

Auckland is expected to deliver the biggest number of new jobs over the next four years as the country's biggest city continues to generate above-average economic growth, says economic consultancy Infometrics.

In a report on the economic outlook for the country's regions and industries, Wellington-based Infometrics predicts Auckland will add 83,550 jobs between now and March 2021, as the service sector and finance in particular boost white-collar professions, an ageing population stokes demand for healthcare and social assistance work, and an expanding population drives education and training jobs.

Auckland's gross domestic product has expanded at an average annual pace of 3.3 per cent between March 2010 and March 2016, outpacing the national average of 2.3 per cent, which Infometrics says reflects "the recovery of service sector activity, around which much of Auckland's economic activity is centred" and as a surge in inbound net migration fuels population growth and aggregate demand in the city.

"With New Zealand's labour market expected to remain relatively tight throughout the next four years, we anticipate that net migration will hold at above-average levels, sustaining strong population growth in Auckland," the report said. "The expanding population will provide a solid basis for continued GDP growth in the region, which will be magnified by the continued expansion of key service industries that are important to the Auckland economy."

The Infometrics report notes New Zealand's period of strong economic growth while acknowledging medium-term risks to the outlook posed by the threat of a Chinese slowdown and the possibility of trade sanctions between the US and China. The economic consultancy expects New Zealand's GDP to rise an average 2.6 per cent a year over until March 2021, with annual jobs growth of 1.7 per cent.

New Zealand universities sit high in international rankings

8 March 2017

The University of Auckland was rated the best in New Zealand in each of the faculty rankings, including 25th in the world in Arts and Humanities.

The University of Auckland featured in the top 50 in the world in 16 subjects, including two subjects in the top 20: ranked 16th in archaeology, 20th in education, 29th in English language and literature, 33rd in psychology, 34th in geography and in anatomy and physiology, 36th in law, 37th in accounting and finance, 38rd in civil and structural engineering, 42nd in modern languages, 44th in anthropology, 45th in social policy and administration, 49th in statistics and operational research, and 50th in linguistics, nursing, and sociology.

New Zealand universities have again scored high rankings in the annual QS World University Subject Rankings, with the University of Auckland leading the pack.

Universities New Zealand executive director Chris Whelan said there was still a lot to be proud of. "These are outstanding results for a country with eight universities being evaluated against 4430 other universities from around the world," Whelan said.

"They reflect the high regard in which our universities' teaching and research is held across a wide range of disciplines."

Now in its sixth year, the annual QS World University Rankings by Subject compares academic reputation, employer reputation, research citations, and impact.

Rankings played a big part in who students, researchers, countries and research institutes chose to work and study with, Whelan said.

"It's not about institutional vanity, it's about their international reputation."

Its business school was once again ranked the best university in New Zealand to study accounting and finance, commercial law, business and management, property, economics and information systems.

Green buildings more than just a buzzword

27 February 2017

Companies are seeking a new rating which saves money as well as boosting sustainability.

Harnessing the power of young talent is helping office building owners and tenants drive energy efficiency efforts.

University graduates are working as interns, providing free office building assessments to businesses keen to gain benchmark office energy performance, NABERSNZ.

NABERSNZ is a system for rating the energy efficiency of office buildings. It is an independent tool, backed by the New Zealand government.

The assessment interns are supervised by the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC), which delivers NABERSNZ for the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority.

Food producer Ceres Organics is one of the first to use NABERSNZ interns to boost its sustainability efforts.

Its Auckland headquarters is already recognised as being built to the highest of environmental standards, achieving a 5-star Green Building rating when it was completed three years ago.

The Green Star rating recognises the great design and construction of a building while a NABERSNZ rating rewards ongoing energy efficiency achieved in an occupied workplace.

More than 95 per cent of material from the derelict 70s building, which had previously stood on the site, was diverted from landfill and reused in the new structure - from Kauri floorboards in the boardroom to concrete base course under the driveway.

The building is designed to make the most of natural light and airflows, with a building management system operating the windows opening and closing to maintain a comfortable working environment.

Ceres have been ringing up power savings of $40,000 a year - equivalent to cutting 40 per cent off its power bill - but are always looking to lift its sustainability game.

Facilities manager Dominic Leverton says the NABERSNZ rating gives it an independent, external measurement that can regularly evaluate the energy efficiency of its day-to-day operations.

NZGBC chief executive Andrew Eagles says the energy efficiency measures implemented as part of a NABERSNZ rating have already helped many owners and tenants achieve great results at their buildings, starting with getting the easy wins that instantly result in savings.

NZ - where everyone knows your name

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett

28 February 2017

Two American tourists thought they'd found the friendliest country in the world when they got talking to a woman at Wellington Airport earlier this month.

Passersby kept greeting the woman by name, prompting the Americans to enthuse about the little country where everyone knew everyone else.

They told her they had a new president called Trump.

"You don't say?" she responded.

They said they'd heard New Zealand had also changed its leader last year.

Yes, his name is Bill and he is a very nice man, she said.

"Do know him?" they asked.

To their amazement, she did.

They didn't spot the amused looks from people sitting nearby when she said: "We also changed our deputy prime minister."

"Wow! You don't know him too do you?" they asked.

"Well, yes," said Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett. "He's me."

Bennett told the tale during a visit to Westport last week. She said she had planned to wade through paperwork while waiting for a delayed flight, but gave up after the Americans asked to share her table.

They left with photos of themselves with the Deputy PM. She left with unfinished paperwork.

Auckland Airport, on front line of tourism boom, lifts first-half profit by 19pc

17 February 2017

Auckland International Airport broadly met analyst expectations with a 19 per cent gain in first-half profit although analysts and investors see some speed wobbles as New Zealand's busiest gateway responds to surging passenger growth.

Short-term visitor arrivals to New Zealand rose 12 per cent to a record 3.5 million in 2016, government figures show.
In Auckland Airport's first half, international passenger numbers (arrivals and departures) climbed about 13 per cent to 5.1 million, while domestic passengers rose 12 per cent to 4.3 million.

The airport welcomed four new airlines and five new services in its first half and now has a stable of 27 airlines, 44 international and 19 domestic destinations.

New additions Hong Kong Airlines, Tianjin Airlines and Hainan Airlines will contribute to growth in the second half of the year.

To cope with the growth, the company currently has 42 capital expenditure projects underway, including security processing, new check-in counters, upgraded baggage handling, upgraded retail, new duty-free shops, new gates and lounges.

It has committed to a new five-star hotel, has completed airfield stands including those that can accommodate the new generation of jumbos such as the A380, is making progress on plans for a second runway and has installed infrastructure required for its new builds including water, waste water, electricity and fuel.

Shane Solly, a director at Harbour Asset Management, said having watched several growth cycles at Auckland Airport, they tend to be followed by some flattening off.

"It is a tiger by the tail in terms of managing the growth," he said. "Management is doing a very good job managing that process. It is a near-term tactical issue, while long term they are making the right decisions."

Tourists are discovering NZ's best-kept accommodation secret: motels

16 February 2017

A new breed of more independent tourists is helping drive an explosion in the number of international visitors staying in New Zealand motels.

Traditionally, motels have attracted far less of the international tourist trade than other accommodation options, with about two-thirds of motel guests being Kiwis, in part because the concept of holiday accommodation with its own full kitchen is almost unknown outside Australia and New Zealand.

However, Statistics NZ's November accommodation survey results, published today, showed the sixth month in a row of 20%-plus growth in international guest nights in motels versus the same month a year earlier.

In November, some 378,000 of the total 1.6 million nights spent in New Zealand by international visitors were spent in motels, an increase of 29% on November 2015. The total international visitor number for the month was also another record, and up 5.1 percent on the previous November, reflecting New Zealand's international tourism boom.
Tourism bodies put the trend to motel use down to two main factors: international tourists "discovering" the category and efforts to encourage travel to a wider range of regional destinations.

"If you're successful in getting international travelers exploring every part of the country, then you would expect to see that motels doing well," said Chris Roberts, head of Tourism Industry Aotearoa, an industry umbrella body. "Outside the main centers, there are plenty of sizeable New Zealand towns that don't have hotels," the traditional pied-a-Terre for the visiting international tourist.

Roberts said there was also a notable increase in the use of holiday parks by international tourists, with many such parks now investing in more motel-style accommodation as well as the traditional campground cabins, campervan and tent sites.

"It seems to suggest that the international traveler is discovering the motel product, which is reasonably unique to New Zealand," said Roberts.

Rachael Shadbolt, the general manager for communications at Hospitality New Zealand said the wider trend to more international travelers staying in motels was a phenomenon that motel owners were starting to notice.

Not only was it a "different holiday experience" but it often seemed to suit families seeing the country while visiting international students studying in New Zealand.

New Auckland mayor welcomes future residents

7 February 2017

Wherever you are from, you can feel at home here in Auckland.

Auckland is New Zealand's largest and most international city, with more than 180 ethnicities, including the largest Maori population in the world. Over 40 per cent of our almost 1.5 million residents were born outside New Zealand.

This diversity gives Auckland a unique cultural identity, with a constant cycle of events and festivals that celebrate the histories and cultures of the many races who call our city home, and which all take place in stunning locations throughout our city.

We are blessed with a pristine natural environment and work hard to preserve our native flora and fauna. Bordered as we are by three harbours, and with more than 1,600 kms of shoreline, we have enough beaches and parks for everyone. In lust a few hours you can go from the solitude of a seaside cove accessible Only by kayak or on foot, to world-renowned surf spots and unspoiled coastal forest.

Auckland is seen by many around the world as a welcoming and friendly city. There is a strong spirit of cooperation across our communities and the diversity of our population brings richness and vibrancy to our daily lives.

I want to take this opportunity to investigate Auckland as your new home. Bring us your talent, skills, experience and international perspective, build a better life for yourself and your family. In return, our city will offer you a quality
of life unparalleled elsewhere in the world.

Prime Minister Bill English speaks with US President Donald Trump

6 February 2017

New Zealand's Prime Minister Bill English got "friendly, warm, thoughtful" Trump and even an invite to the White House "if you're passing by."

English has given more detail on his phone call with the US President Donald Trump, describing Trump as "warm, civil and very thoughtful" during a call which ranged from immigration bans to the Super Bowl.

He said the call, which he took from the roadside on Auckland's waterfront in between Waitangi Day fixtures, was "a warm and friendly conversation."

English said Trump had even extended an invitation to the White House - although it was not in the usual diplomatic fashion.

"He has a more casual attitude to diplomatic relationships than is usual, but he conveyed his enthusiasm for meeting at some stage in the White House ... 'well, if you're passing by'."

Despite the warm offer, English said he was unlikely to get there before the September election. "I'd imagine it will take some time for the new administration to bed in, and then we've got the election campaign. I wouldn't anticipate getting there this side of the election."

He said Trump appeared to be positive about the relationship with New Zealand. "He thinks it's a fantastic place.

They talked about Trump's attempt to ban citizens from seven countries entering the US - an Executive Order which has been suspended by the US courts.

English told Trump he disagreed with the action and it was not something New Zealand had done. "He just noted our views. I don't think that he was surprised by people having a different view."

The pair also discussed the different ways they dealt with border security.

"The discussion focussed on what steps we take and the US takes to as a way of protecting our citizens from high-risk people coming in, which is clearly at the top of his agenda."

They also discussed trade - Trump has withdrawn the US from the TPP and is instead planning to try to negotiate bilateral agreements with other countries as part of his "America First" policy.

English said the topic of a New Zealand-US agreement did not come up.

"He's clearly focused on bigger agreements such as NAFTA. And in any case we want to sort through our own process to be sure that kind of a deal would be better than, say, a TPP proceeding without the US."

No request was made for New Zealand to do more to combat Isis.

"[There was] I think a good understanding that we discussed our role as a small country, a long way away, pulling our weight in the defence of our own people around the world and working alongside the US to contribute."

English and Trump also discussed New Zealand golfer Sir Bob Charles and the Superbowl - English said he had thanked Trump for taking time out to call on the day of the Superbowl.

"He knew a reasonable bit about New Zealand. He asked about the economy and is a great admirer of Bob Charles through his golfing contacts."

English had also passed on his thanks to Trump for the visit of the USS Sampson to Kaikoura in the days after the earthquake.

English said "at the top" of Trump's agenda appeared to be security and the safety of US citizens.

Trump used positive language and said he thought New Zealand was a fantastic place.

He said they spoke for about 15 minutes.

English expected the call to be "civil" despite the reports of a fractious phone call between Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Trump.That was over the deal struck between the Australian Government and the Obama administration for the US to take about 1200 refugees from Manus Island and Nauru.

The White House is expected to put up a 'readout' summarising the call later. In its summary of Trump's 'second week of action' it says the aim of the calls are to "promote an America First foreign policy."

English is about the 15th leader Trump has spoken to since his inauguration.

Former Prime Minister John Key had a brief conversation with him after the US elections. He has spoken to leaders from Israel, Russia, Germany, Mexico, India, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Korea, Jordan, China, Britain and Australia.

Tourism, Immigration hit fresh records in calendar 2016

31 January 2017

In 2016, more migrants came to New Zealand on work visas and more holidaymakers arrived than ever before.

New Zealand saw record numbers of tourists and immigrants in 2016 with more migrants coming in on work visas and more holidaymakers than ever before, and economists expect migrant inflows to keep rising.

Short-term visitor arrivals, which includes tourists, people visiting family and friends and people travelling for work, reached 3.5 million in the year ended December 31, up 12 percent from the year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said.
The government has extolled the benefits of immigration, with a swelling population stoking more activity and record inflows of tourists underpinning an economy growing at a rapid pace.

The past year has seen a marked lift in arrivals from the UK (up nearly 2000 people on last year's levels). The increase in arrivals is mainly due to more people coming on work or residency visa. These trends are expected to continue to some time, with NZ's positive economic story, including its labour market, making it a very attractive destination. Net migration inflows is expected to remain strong for some time.

Of the new migrants who arrived in the year, a net 33,900, or 48 per cent, settled in Auckland, followed by a net 9.6 per cent who moved to Canterbury, net 5.2 per cent going to Wellington and net 3.9 per cent settling in Waikato.
There was a 10 per cent lift in work visas given out in 2016 to 41,600, with that category of visa accounting for the most migrant arrivals in the year, ahead of New Zealand and Australian citizens at 37,700.

Today's data show a 16.2 per cent uplift in the number of visitors holidaying in New Zealand in 2016 with 1.8 million holidaymakers from Australia, China or the US. On an annual basis, Australians made up 562,000 of the 1.8 million holidaymakers, while China was the second-biggest pool at 311,000.

Business visitors rose 1.4 per cent in December from the same month a year earlier to 17,800, and increased 5.2 per cent on an annual basis to 289,000, about two-thirds of whom came from across the Tasman.

Glitzy hotel boom for Auckland as city struggles with record visitor numbers

An artist impression of SkyCity's New Zealand International Convention Centre hotel. The build is part of a boom in new hotels to help Auckland cope with visitor numbers.

28 January 2017

Auckland is gearing up for the arrival of five new 5-star hotels, including glamour chain The Ritz-Carlton.

The new developments are set to add 2500 new hotel beds over the next 10 years, a move which will ease pressure on the city's tourism but not eliminate the shortfall.

By 2030, at least 19 new hotels will be completed and open for business in the City of Sails.

With Auckland experiencing record visitor growth - worth $7 billion a year according to Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (Ateed) - peak seasons and major events are triggering shortages of places to stay.

Hotels are already in short supply across Auckland months out from June's British and Irish Lions rugby tour, and even UK pop star Adele's first visit to New Zealand has caused a rush on hotel rooms for her three shows in March.
According to 'Project Palace', a 2016 report released by the Government, the independent forecast of regional hotel activity estimated around 2500 new hotel rooms will be built in Auckland over the next 10 years.

However, that report also notes the expected shortfall by 2025 in Auckland is actually up to 4,300 new hotel rooms.
Ateed confirmed 19 new builds or hotel refurbishments are slated for completion by 2030 to "help ease some of this [tourism] pressure".

Some of the new players also promise to bring a next-level of luxury to the Auckland market, with world renowned glamour chain The Ritz-Carlton one of at least five 5-star hotels headed for New Zealand's biggest city.

Others included the Park Hyatt Auckland and Sofitel So hotels in the CBD and a new hotel planned for Auckland Airport.

Also, SkyCity's latest addition to the Auckland skyline will include a 300-room, five-star hotel as part of the $700 million New Zealand International Convention Centre.

SkyCity said it needed to build more rooms to avoid turning tourists away.

"SkyCity Grand Hotel is one of New Zealand's premium hotels and frequently runs at capacity," said Brad Burnett, general manager of Sky Tower and SkyCity's hotels.

"The new Hobson Street hotel will help absorb future demand for hotel rooms in Auckland, particularly with the development of the New Zealand International Convention Centre, with the city expecting to welcome an estimated additional 33,000 international convention delegates annually."

Ultra Fast Broadband soon to be nation wide

22 January 2017

New Zealand is rolling out faster internet to more than 150 additional towns all across the country as part of the second phase of our Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) programme.

This means around 423,000 additional New Zealanders in both rural and urban areas throughout New Zealand will have access to world-class broadband.

The first phase of the UFB build will provide access to 85 per cent of New Zealanders by 2019.

The Government is investing $2 billion in rolling out faster, better internet and making New Zealand one of the leading OECD countries for access to fibre.

The opportunities for Auckland that this opens up are endless and people and businesses are benefitting all around the country. Average internet speeds have more than tripled since 2008 and set to double that again.

Employees most upbeat since 2008

20 January 2017

New Zealand employment confidence rose to its highest level in eight years as Kiwis grew more upbeat about the prospect of wage increases and less pessimistic about job opportunities in what's seen as a robust labour market.

New Zealand's economy is expected to continue expanding at a decent clip in 2017 as the recovery in global dairy prices adds a third leg to the nation's growth, which was propelled by a major construction pipeline and unprecedented tourism levels.

An expanding population has been soaked up by that economic growth with new jobs created to absorb more people, though that's kept wages relatively stagnant over the past two years. However, with rising oil prices and a disrupted supply chain set to inject inflationary pressures and the building sector still struggling to find labour, wages are also expected to start rising.

Of the 1,554 respondents surveyed, a net 29.8 percent experienced earnings growth in the December quarter, up from 26 percent in September, and 28.8 percent anticipate a pay rise, up from 24.9 percent.

Employees grew less pessimistic about the jobs market, which employers have been saying it becoming increasingly competitive. A net 5.1 percent said it was hard to get a job in the quarter, compared to a net 12.4 percent in September, while a net 4.9 percent expect it to be harder to get a job in a year's time, down from 6.8 percent.

New Zealand's past Xero chairman Chris Liddell appointed Trump's strategic director

18 January 2017

Xero chairman Christopher Liddell has been given a strategic position in Donald Trump's administration.

The 58-year-old New Zealand businessman will lead the new White House Strategic Development Group.

As strategic initiative director he will help bring any change Mr Trump plans into fruition, and will interact with private sector.

"Chris Liddell and Reed Cordish have led large, complex companies in the private sector, and have played instrumental roles throughout the transition," President-elect Trump says.

"Their skill sets are exactly what is needed to effect substantial change, including system wide improvement to the performance of the government. I am delighted that they will be part of my executive team."

Mr Liddell served as executive director of transition planning for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, and after that election co-authored a book on presidential transition planning.

His previous business roles include chief financial officer for General Motors, Microsoft and International Paper.

In March he told TVNZ's Q&A programme: "Donald Trump's a very atypical president. He's not a traditional Republican. He's not a traditional Democrat. He's a mixture of both of them.

"And if you want to take an optimistic view, and I'm optimistic, I think he will actually come up with some policies that both sides will be willing to look at."

He predicted people would see a more moderate Donald Trump than one seen on the polarizing campaign trail, and said "It's a lot about who he surrounds himself."

He joins other assistants to the president including Mr Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and National Security adviser Michael Flynn.

Bill English attracts attention for all the right reasons in United Kingdom

14 January 2017

Four days into his European tour, Prime Minister Bill English has started to attract attention from international media with CNN's Richard Quest saying the United Kingdom could learn a thing or two from New Zealand.

English will also travel to Germany on Monday for his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The headlines in the United Kingdom following a meeting between English and British PM Theresa May focused on the "Brexit boost" English gave to May by praising her "clarity" on the issue, as well as the promise of an early post-Brexit free trade agreement between New Zealand and the UK.

Asked what his interest in English was, Quest said it was because of the position New Zealand had found itself in following the collapse of the Trans Pacific Partnership courtesy of the election of Donald Trump and Brexit.

He said the United Kingdom was looking for "quick, easy wins" once Brexit happened - and that was behind British Prime Minister's eagerness to sign up early for trade talks with New Zealand.

It could learn a lot from New Zealand about trade negotiations - which the UK has not had to do for itself while part of the European Union.

"How does New Zealand do it? Remember, the UK has not negotiated its own trade deal for the best part of four decades. They don't know how to do it."

"New Zealand is not only an example of a small country that is surviving internationally on its own, but also is going to be one of those touchstones that the UK is going to try to get a very quick trade deal with.

"I think what [New Zealand] is is an example par excellence of how a country, which is resource rich, has great ingenuity,and manages to not only survive but thrive in challenging circumstances."

Kiwi restaurants named among world's best on list of 1000 best eateries

Sid Sahrawat of Sidart Restaurant

15 January 2017

Eight New Zealand restaurants have been named in a prestigious list of the world's 1000 best eateries.

La Liste is a restaurant guide compiled from hundreds of guidebooks and online review sites to list the world's 1000 top restaurants.

Seven of the Kiwi restaurants to crack the list are in Auckland - The French Cafe, The Grove, Sidart, Kazuya, Cocoro, Merediths and Baduzzi - with Christchurch's Roots also making it.

Sidart owner and chef Sid Sahrawat is stoked that his restaurant has made the list for the second year in a row.
"It's a very important list to be a part of. For all the restaurants included it's an amazing achievement," he told the Herald.

He noticed the benefits of being included in the list almost immediately. "Last year there was a dramatic increase in terms of the reservations straight away, the emails were a lot busier and there were a lot more overseas reservations."

Last year there were four Kiwi restaurants on the list, and Sahrawat said doubling that number showed the high quality of the fine dining scene in New Zealand.

"I think it just goes to show how good New Zealand restaurants are becoming, and it's just going to keep getting better."

Sahrawat has just returned from a trip to Melbourne, and said Kiwi cuisine now compares to the best from across the Tasman.

"The quality of the restaurants now I think are as good as any other overseas. I really think that we're on par with what's happening around the world now."

My Kitchen Rules NZ judge Ben Bayly is executive chef of two restaurants on the list, The Grove and Baduzzi. He told the Weekend Herald he was "so proud" to be associated with two establishments which were included.

"It's a tough gig running a restaurant, everyone's a food critic, there's not too many other jobs in this world where you get judged so much."

Baduzzi is a newcomer to La Liste while The Grove makes a repeat appearance. Bayly was quick to credit the staff at Baduzzi for getting the restaurant into the world's top 1000.

He echoed Sahrawat's call that New Zealand restaurants are of a similar standard to the very best internationally.
"People appreciate what good food is, and restaurateurs can see an opportunity.

Auckland's Karekare beach named among the best in the world

21 January 2017

An Auckland beach has been named one of the best in the world, beating famous sandy spots in Australia, Brazil and beyond.

Karekare Beach on Auckland's west coast took second place in a list of the 25 best beaches in the world chosen by Passport Magazine, a gay travel publication.

The picturesque black sand beach was famously featured in Jane Campion's The Piano and was the only Kiwi beach named on the list.

"Karekare might be a movie star, but it wears its fame and beauty effortlessly," judges wrote.

"Adding to the drama is the jaggedness of the coast, the fine dark sand, the rough-hewn peaks, the alluring Karekare Falls just moments away, and, most of all, the overpowering elements, the impression of being out at the edge of the world."

The top spot was taken by L'Espiguette Beach, Aigues-Mortes in the French Riviera, while Panama's Bocas Del Toro came in third.

Let the good times roll in 2017: ASB Bank

10 January 2017

ASB Bank senior economist Jane Turner said much would depend on the international outlook.

The New Zealand economy is set to move into high gear in 2017, according to ASB Bank.

The bank said this year was shaping up to be "full of promise" after a slow start in 2016.

"Now the groundwork has been laid for the New Zealand economy to shift back into high gear," said ASB senior economist Jane Turner.

Strong population growth and low interest rates have fuelled construction demand and a tourism boom has the retail sector humming, she said in a commentary. The labour market has tightened and households now feel more confident.

Combined with a sharp shift in the US growth/inflation outlook, New Zealand and international interest rates have lifted quite sharply in a short space of time.

Nonetheless, New Zealand interest rates do remain relatively low for the time being, but borrowers must brace for higher interest rates in coming years, she said. Meanwhile, savers can finally breathe a sigh of relief, as nominal yields continue to improve over the coming year, Turner said.

"All going well, 2017 should be a prosperous year for New Zealand. But, as always, being a small open economy which is subjected to the whim of global sentiment, we need to also prepare for the unexpected," she said.

"As we start a new year, household confidence is now well above average levels and points to stronger consumer spending growth."

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