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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.

WATERVIEW CONNECTION

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.

WATERVIEW TUNNEL FACTS

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.

NOTE:

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.

BUT A SMALL PERCENTAGE ON A HOLIDAY VISA HAVE MET THE REQUIREMENTS AND SECURED A TWO YEAR TEMPORARY WORK VISA.

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."

Wynyard Quarter changes ramp up in 2017

6 January 2017

New apartments, construction of the five-star $200 million hotel, offices and transformed streetscapes: expect to see big changes with the urban renewal of Auckland's waterfront Wynyard Quarter in 2017.

The busiest two years in the 20-year regeneration are now in full swing.

The new ASB Waterfront Theatre has been opened, along with the heritage Mason Bros. building and work on other sites has proceeded at pace.

When the quarter is fully developed by around 2030, it will be home to about 3000 residents and 25,000 workers.

A spokesperson for the Auckland Council-controlled Panuku Development Auckland which is in charge of the work said a tremendous amount of activity would occur in the area in 2017.

The heritage warehouse, Mason Bros. building has been completed with the official building opening is planned for early 2017.

Construction of the $200 million seven-level Park Hyatt Hotel on Halsey St opposite the new ASB Waterfront Theatre began in the middle of 2016.

The hotel will be 29,000sq m with 195 rooms, food and beverage outlets, event spaces, spa, fitness centre and a 25m pool. The building was designed by local architecture firm, Bossley Architects working with Singapore-based AR+D with interior design by Conran + Partners.The hotel's design is based on the notion of a Maori cloak, "a double skin offering warmth, privacy and beauty", the project's web site says.

A new public walkway will be created between the hotel and the waterfront on the Viaduct Harbour edge, continuing the existing walkway in front of the Stratis apartment buildings and Sofitel Hotel.

The Park Hyatt Auckland will be the first Park Hyatt hotel in New Zealand and is due to open in 2018.

The innovation precinct is also to be completed in late 2017.

"Residential apartment developmenl be completed in early 2018.

Those are the 113-unit Wynyard Central and the 49-units overlooking the Viaduct Basin.

Tenants will also move into the new Datacom headquarters opposite Air New Zealand's world headquarters. This $86.2m headquarters is a 16,735sq m building.

Auckland celebrates 2017 with spectacular New Year's eve fireworks display

1 January 2017

New Zealand is among the first countries to have welcomed in 2017 with a spectacular firework display from Auckland's Sky Tower.

Thousands of cheering revellers rang in the New Year there at 11am as multi-coloured fireworks exploded across the city skyline at midnight.

The Sky City casino and event centre's impressive tower provided a dramatic backdrop to the annual fireworks just an hour after Samoa welcomed in 2017.

The pyrotechnic display included 500kg of fireworks and lasted over 5 minutes.

Giant cruise liner sails into Auckland

27 December 2016

The largest cruise ship to traverse New Zealand's waters, made its debu t in Auckland this morning.

The ship carries 6400 guests and crew and the economic benefit of its visits have been touted in the millions.

Its owners claim it is the most technologically advanced liner to have sailed in New Zealand waters.

It features such diversions as bumper cars, a circus school, rock-climbing on the ship's funnels, a surf machine and a viewing pod, 90m of which can be extended above the water.

It has 18 restaurants.

The 168,666- is owned by cruise line operator Royal Caribbean.

Auckland businesses can look forward to an economic boost, during a typically quiet spell, with the cruise expected to contribute more than $1.5 million to the city's economy this season.

Royal Carribean managing director Adam Armstrong said the arrival of the Ovation in New Zealand was a first for the cruise industry.

"This occasion marks the first time that a cruise line has ever based a brand new ship in this market. We're so proud to share this momentous occasion with the people of New Zealand."

Christmas message from Bill English - New Zealand's new Prime Minister

23 December 2016

As 2016 comes to an end and we head into next year, I'm looking forward to leading a Government that ensures the benefits of our strong economic growth are widely shared.

We'll be building on some of the good progress we've made this year:

  • New Zealand now has the fourth-fastest growing economy in the developed world and 144,000 jobs have been created over the past year.
  • Average annual wages are up $12,000, or 25 per cent, since 2008 - double the rate of inflation.
  • We achieved a government surplus of $1.8 billion this year, giving us choices in the future.
  • As well as getting the books in order, we increased benefits for families with children by $25 a week this year - the first government in 43 years to increase benefits beyond inflation.
  • Paid parental leave was increased to 18 weeks and we also extended its eligibility.

Next year our focus will remain on achieving the best results for all New Zealanders, including the most vulnerable. We'll also be building the roads, public transport, schools and homes needed to support a strong economy and growing population.

I wish you and your family all a very Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and all the best for 2017.

Kind regards,
Bill English

The economy basks in the sun looking towards 2017

22 December 2016

The sunny economy will be a comfort to Kiwis as they head into their holidays.

New Zealanders can go on holiday this week with the knowledge that next year should be one of steady growth.

A raft of data including monthly trade, migration, building permits, current account and online jobs, give a good snapshot of how the economy is behaving and all the signs are that it will be a prosperous New Year.

Migrants, tourists continue to flock to NZ

21 December 2016

New Zealand is proving more popular than ever with a record number of migrants and tourists visiting our shores.
There were 70,400 more migrants arriving than leaving the country in the year to November, beating the previous annual record of 70,300 set a month earlier.

Stats NZ said the increase was driven by a rise in migrant arrivals and a lower number of departures.

Hundreds of thousands of people flock to New Zealand ever year.

This included a record 126,700 migrant arrivals in the year to November and 56,300 migrant departures.

New Zealand and Australian citizens made up 30 per cent of all arrivals at 37,500, while a further 41,200 people came on work visas.

Student visa holders accounted for 24,600 arrivals and resident visa holders 16,500.

A November record of 333,600 visitors and tourists also arrived in the month, up 11 per cent on a year ago, while the number of visitors in the year to the end of November rose to 3.45 million, up 12 per cent on a year earlier.

Project Auckland: Public transport use on the rise

14 December 2016

Public transport is the critical centrepiece and our biggest opportunity to solve the transport problems in Auckland, says Dr Lester Levy. is Chairman of Auckland Transport.

We live in exciting and challenging times in Auckland as we deal with transport infrastructure as well as unprecedented growth in our population. This provides us with some extreme challenges and has really put transport in Auckland under the spotlight.

Fifty five per cent of New Zealand's recent population growth has been in Auckland where the population will reach 1.6 million this year.

Fundamentally this means that Auckland will have grown by over 125,000 people in the past three years, effectively absorbing a city the size of Tauranga.

Public transport is clearly important because it has the capacity to move many people, quickly and effectively. The new electric trains, AT Hop and key rail station developments are already revealing their worth through record public transport use on the city's rail network.

Bus generally does not get the same profile as trains but nonetheless is critical to transport in Auckland. In point of fact, bus is the backbone of public transport accounting for around 80 per cent of the total public transport use in Auckland.

The redesign of the bus service network is the biggest change for Auckland public transport in recent decades with the first stage implemented in South Auckland in October.

Along with simpler fares, the new bus network will offer for the first time a new value proposition for public transport in Auckland similar to successful overseas cities.

Within Auckland's public transport model, rapid transit stands out as the real opportunity. In Auckland people have already voted with their feet as shown by the annual compound growth of the northern network busway and the rail network.

An increasing share of our public transport network usage, and certainly our growth, is related to the rapid transit network.

We plan to extend and enhance this network with the City Rail Link, the augmented Northern busway, the Ameti busway, the Northwestern busway, and a mass rapid transit solution across the isthmus and out to the airport.

How new $850m Auckland tower could look

14 December 2016

This new image shows how Commercial Bay, Auckland's biggest new office tower and shopping centre, could look once it is finished.

NZX-listed landlord Precinct Properties released the new view of the 39-level $850 million tower, looking down Albert St towards the waterfront.

The tower, which will be 180m tall, appears at the centre with the heritage DFS Galleria on the right and the AMP tower on the left.

The block will be Auckland's first structural steel-framed high-rise office tower, with 39,000sq m or 3.9ha of floor space.

It will have a 1300sq m lobby opening onto a 1400sq m sky terrace.

Demolition of buildings on the site is complete. The PwC building will be finished around the middle of 2019 and Auckland Transport's city Rail Link tunnels will run beneath it.

Bill English becomes new Prime Minister of New Zealand

12 December 2016

Bill English has emerged from the National Party caucus confirmed as its leader and the new Prime Minister of New Zealand following John Key's surprise resignation last week.

He is set to be sworn in as Prime Minister on Monday afternoon.

Bill English quickly secured enough caucus votes to be named party leader.

"We will focus on roads, public transport, schools and houses needed to support a strong economy and growing population," he said. "I want to be a positive Prime Minister for New Zealand. We are a country that has matured in many ways."

English told reporters that there would be a cabinet reshuffle before Christmas, but would not be drawn on exactly when.

"It will be a cabinet that can make decisions that can work for New Zealand," he said.

He added politics and the country was in different shape compared to his failed election bid in 2002.

"That was a time when the Labour Party was at its peak. I have learned a lot since then."

WHAT BILL ENGLISH SAID:

On Catholicism - "I'm an active Catholic and proud of it. It's an influence on forming my judgement. It doesn't define me but it's an influence. "My views on abortion and euthanasia are well known and I would vote differently now on gay marriage."

On Pike River - "I won't have the time to meet with [the families] tomorrow (Tuesday). I am willing to give consideration to meeting with the families."

On Paula Bennett (deputy Prime Minister) - "She brings with her the political experience of winning and holding marginal seats and enacting world leading welfare reform."

On sharing economic growth - "I am of the view that the government can do a better job with supporting the most vulnerable."

On Australian-New Zealand relations - "It will progress positively. We need Australia to be doing well. That helps our economy."

The Prime Minister's position will officially become vacant after John Key's formal resignation in Government House on Monday afternoon.

There are expected to be more tweaks to come in terms of cabinet and policy.

"We'll use it as an opportunity for a stocktake and we'll see how that looks in January, February," he said.

Investor policy changes to encourage growth

7 December 2016

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says changes to the migrant investor policy will encourage investments that provide greater economic benefits for New Zealand.

"There's no doubt the Migrant Investor categories are performing well with $2.9 billion invested since they were launched in July 2009 and a further $2.1 billion in funds committed," Mr Woodhouse says.

"However, around two thirds of investment is currently placed in bonds and the government believes there is an opportunity to rebalance this towards growth-oriented investments.

"That is why we are making changes to increase the amount and performance of investment while better recognising the non-financial contribution of migrant investors."

The changes include:

  • Doubling the funds Investor 2 migrants must invest to $3 million.
  • Removing the need for Investor 2 migrants to hold $1 million in settlement funds.
  • Recognising higher levels of business experience and English language skills through changes in the points system.
  • Increasing the annual cap of approved Investor 2 migrants from 300 to 400.
  • Rewarding investment in growth-oriented investment with incentives such as bonus points, priority processing, and a financial discount.

"Many investors tend to move into growth focused investments as they become more familiar with the New Zealand environment. These changes will encourage them to do so earlier in the process while incentivising investments that deliver greater economic benefits for New Zealand," Mr Woodhouse says.

The changes will come into effect in May 2017.

Parker is New Zealand's first world heavy weight boxing champion

11 December 2016

Kiwi boxer Joseph Parker is the new heavyweight champion of the world after edging Andy Ruiz Jr by majority decision in Auckland.

The fight for the WBO belt went down to the most slender of margins on Saturday night, with Parker earning a 115-113 victory from two judges and a 114-114 draw from the third.

Parker, 24, started the fight slowly but grew into the contest, dominating the closing rounds as his stocky opponent began to tire.

And his superior fitness and punching power told in the end, making him the first Kiwi to be crowned heavyweight world champion.

He's likely to seek a unification fight overseas in 2017 or a bout with former champion Tyson Fury when he's recovered from substance abuse.

The fifth round proved more fortuitous for Parker, hitting Ruiz with a left-hand blow to the face and setting himself up for a dominant sixth-round performance.

But with half the fight gone, it remained difficult to pick the man with the upper hand.

But as Ruiz began to tire, Parker found new ways of getting under his defence via uppercuts and several right-hand blows to the face.

"What a dream come true," Parker said immediately after the fight.

The 25 richest, healthiest, happiest, and most advanced countries in the world

10 December 2016

The Legatum Institute, a London based research institute released on Thursday its 10th annual global Prosperity Index, a huge survey that ranks the most prosperous countries in the world.

The amount of money a country has is one factor of prosperity, but the Legatum Institute considers much more than that in its ranking.

The organisation compared 104 variables to come up with its list. These variables include traditional indicators like per-capita gross domestic product and the number of people in full-time work, but also more interesting figures such as the number of secure internet servers a country has, and how well-rested people feel on a day-to-day basis.

The variables are then split into nine subindexes: economic quality, business environment, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, social capital, and natural environment.

The index looked at the 149 countries in the world that have the most available data. For the last seven years of the index, Norway has taken the top spot, but in 2016 a new nation is the world's most prosperous.

Find out the result below.

1. New Zealand - Officially the most prosperous country on earth, according to the Legatum Institute, New Zealand ranked top of both the social capital and economic quality sub-indexes, and 2nd for business environment and governance.

Who is Haruhisa Handa? The billionaire backing NZ Football


Dr Haruhisa Handa at the 2016 BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open

8 December 2016

Who is Haruhisa Handa and why is the spectacularly successful Japanese billionaire funding New Zealand sport?

That's the question that has emerged from today's announcement that Handa is partnering with New Zealand Football and will sponsor one of the oldest trophies in our sporting history, the Chatham Cup which started in 1923.

Described by Forbes Magazine as "one of the most fascinating and beguiling figures in Japan, Handa is not only a wealthy businessman and philanthropist but is also a Shinto priest, an operatic baritone, an expert calligraphist, artist, specialist in poetry and an avid golfer.

He has performed on the opera stage many times, including with top performers such as Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Renee Fleming as well as pop star Michael Bolton.

His works of art even featured in a British museum exhibition.

Handa is also the founder of ISPS Handa.

The acronym stands for International Sports Promotion Society and the group, formed in 2006, has a growing history of supporting sport in New Zealand.

For four years they were the title sponsor for the New Zealand Women's Open where they played a role in the recovery of Christchurch following the damage caused by the earthquakes.

In a profile, Forbes Magazine, considered a business bible, lauded Handa's passion, describing him as a "global philanthropist" who is "refreshing and courageous" having overcome a conformist society in Japan that was often "curiously suspicious of his efforts".

"Dr Handa is someone to admire and to watch," wrote the magazine. "The breadth and scope of what he contributes not only with his financial support but also with his personal energy and commitment is unique.

"He practices each and every discipline he is involved with philanthropically."

"New Zealand is not the only country I have supported football," he said. ""It would be wonderful to see the impact in New Zealand".

Handa was made an honorary appointment to the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2016 for services to golf and philanthropy.

Revealed: Auckland suburbs are first-home buyer favourites


Mangere was this year's most popular area for Auckland's first home buyers

8 December 2016

Auckland first-home buyers are active in six suburbs where places can be bought for an average $641,000 to $708,000, new figures out today reveal.

Mangere was the most popular this year, with 39 per cent of all sales going to first home buyers at an average $641,000, up 13 per cent on last year, according to CoreLogic data.

The 60 places sold there were mostly standalone three-bedroom houses built in the 1960s and 1970s selling from mainly $392,000 to $847,000, according to CoreLogic senior researcher Nick Goodall.

Birkdale followed with 73 sales to first home buyers making up 38 per cent all sales for an average $708,000. First home buyer numbers rose 6 per cent on last year.

Glen Eden followed with 136 houses or 37 per cent bought by first home buyers, paying from $395,000 to $1.05m. Most of the houses were three-bedroom standalones built between the 1950s and 1980s and sold at any average $696,000.

In Ranui, first home buyers bought 83 places, making up 37 per cent of the market, up 8 per cent on last year, paying an average $643,000.

In Hobsonville, first home buyers bought 73 places, up 15 per cent this year, paying $400,000 to $949,000 and purchasing mostly two-bedroom places.

In Avondale, 92 places went to first home buyers, up 6 per cent on last year, paying an average of just under $738,000.

A new Mangere housing scheme, Market Cove, is selling off-the-plan residences starting from $425,000.

Guy Taylor, general manager of the planned Market Cove, said building work was due to start next year
First homebuyers know interest rates have been historically low and have set about getting themselves on the ladder." he said. Deposits are coming from the traditional ways of saving and family support.

New Zealand economy - into 2017

8 December 2016

Stronger for longer - extractys from a leading bank chief economist report

The New Zealand economy is humming along nicely.

Annual GDP growth hit 3.6%in June, and the economy appears to have maintained this commendable pace of growth through the second half of the year, with2017also shaping up well.

International events still have the capacity to surprise.

The creditable performance of the New Zealand economy is not new news. It's been a feature of our resent Economic Overviews.

However a new facet of the story has been the broadening nature of that growth including construction and tourism are continuing to chug along.

In recent months there has been a broader improvement across sectors in addition there has been a notable improvement in the dairy sector, which we had expected to remain a drag on the economy.

Also in contrast to expectations, migration has continued its record breaking run, rising to a new all-time high of almost 70,000 in September.

Policy play an important role when it comes to arrivals of migrants on the various categories, and the government has recently announced measures aimed at reducing these flows.

However much of the swing in net migration relates to trans-Tasman migration of both Australian and New Zealanders, for whom there are no significant restrictions on most people's ability to live and work in either country.

For these people, economic incentives dictate the flows. For most that boils down to labour market opportunities.
At a glance simply comparing unemployment rates suggest New Zealand. But in reality New Zealand's out performance is more marked.

Australia's unemployment rate has been declining against a backdrop of falling participation, and a shift toward part-time work. That's in stark contrast to the situation in New Zealand.

Consequently, the very weak out flows to Australia of New Zealanders is a trend we're likely to see continue for some time yet.

From a much larger pool of overseas New Zealanders than is acknowledged, considering many left as single and are now married with families, the open access to returning home Kiwis numbers is likely to be maintained and probably will increase given the uncertainty of overseas. economies.

Strong net migration inflows in prime working age cohorts have supported a big lift in participation in the labour force.

But employment growth has been even stronger. This has seen the unemployment rate fall to 4.9%-its lowest level since 2008.

We expect to see the unemployment rate decline further in 2017 as strength in economic activity leads to further hiring by firms.

New Zealand farewells its greatest leader

6 December 2016

John Key has announced his intension to resign as New Zealand's Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister leaves with the polls showing he is still as popular by as larger margin as he has been through the last 8 years.

It's a day that sees the finest leader our country has ever known deciding to resign in a style true to himself, on his own terms and in his own time. None of us would or should have expected anything less.

It has been a privilege and an honour for the vast majority of Kiwis particularly those of the Jewish faith, to of experienced the 8 years under his leadership.

We can all be exceptionally proud of such a courageous, effective, pragmatic and down to earth politician.

His strong, confident leadership has been exceptional. He leaves an amazing legacy of a country that is now the envy of many others in the world, with a strong economy that provides us with real choices in the near future.

It's now time to hand him back to his devoted family and thank them for sharing him with us and the nation for as long as they did.

While the gap John Key leaves is vast he leaves with a legacy that New Zealand is regarded economically and as a nation, one of the most progressive in the developed world.

New Zealanders under John Key's exceptional leadership ends on the 12th December and the new Prime Minister will be appointed to carry forward John Key's mandate as country head into the 2017 General Election.

For now let us celebrate the end of an amazing political career of New Zealand's greatest Prime Minister.

Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen clinches V8 Supercars title with incredible drive

3 December 2016

Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen clinched the Australian V8 Supercars title with an incredible drive.

A stunning come-from-behind drive in Sydney has delivered New Zealand's Shane van Gisbergen his first Supercars championship.

He becomes the first New Zealand-born driver to win an Australian touring car crown since Jim Richards in 1991.

Van Gisbergen had been considered a mercurial talent since he started racing in the category in 2007 as a gung-ho 18-year-old.

But after switching to the factory-backed Red Bull outfit this season from the family-run Tekno Autosports, the 27-year-old has been incredibly consistent and measured.

He finished on the podium in each of the past eight races leading up to the finale, including Sandown, Bathurst and Gold Coast.

Auckland Airport warning: The summer squeeze is coming

2 December 2016

Passengers should allow extra time during the summer peak when there will be up to 30,000 passengers a day using the international terminal, up 15 per cent on last year.

Passengers should get there 30 minutes earlier than usual, the airport says.

It has also publicly listed the busiest 10 days during summer.The airport will handle 150 flights a day as inbound tourism and travel by Kiwis booms.

Three new airlines are due to begin services during the next two months and current carriers are boosting capacity to meet surging demand.

There is a major upgrade of the international departure area with new passport control, security screening and processing area, and some new space for two duty-free stores.

During the past financial year total passenger numbers were up 9 per cent to 17.3 million. Eight new airlines announced services during the year and since June 30 two more had said they are coming here.

Judy Nicholl, Auckland Airport's general manager - aeronautical operations, said the company was taking steps to deal with the summer peak. It had installed 45 mobile international self-service check-in kiosks; re-configured its international check-in area to provide 13 more service counters and upgraded its international baggage handling system.

On the airfield it had built a new taxiway and a new fully-serviced airfield stand, and two improved remote airfield stands to accommodate larger international aircraft.

Connecting Auckland to Northland

1 December 2016

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has approved the Puhoi to Warkworth road consortium.

The NX2 Consortium will design, build and finance the road, a process that's expected to take five years.

The Overseas Investment Office said it was satisfied the criteria of substantial and identifiable benefit to New Zealand had been met. This includes jobs, new technology or business skills and greater efficiency or productivity.

The OIO was also satisfied that it met criteria under strategically important infrastructure, advance significant government policy or strategy and economic interests.

In September a board of inquiry approved the Transport Agency's proposal to build the 18.5km extension of the Northern Motorway from Puhoi to just north of Warkworth.

Photographer Marti Friedlander passed away in Auckland

16 November 2016

Martha "Marti" Friedlander (CNZM) was a New Zealand photographer who emigrated from England in 1958. She was known for photographing and documenting the country's people, places and events, and was considered one of the country's best photographers. She was aged 88.

Rabbi Friedler's Eulogy for Marti Friedlander

Dear Gerard, family, community, and the many friends of Marti,

Our Rabbis, in the Ethics of the Fathers, taught us the proper characteristics one should cling to in his life:
Rabbi Eliezer says: A good eye. Rabbi Yehoshua says: A good friend. Rabbi Yose says: A good neighbour. Rabbi Elazar says: A good heart.

Marti had it all. A good eye: What is a good eye? One can think that an eye is a very passive organ, it's only a reflection of the outside world. Marti taught us that the eye can be very good, not only in capturing a moment, through the lenses of a camera, but also by seeing the beauty in the world and in humanity. In her good eye and love of people she managed to turn a single moment to an everlasting moment of beauty and grace. It was a mixture of great talent with endless love to humanity.

From her early years in the Jewish orphanage in London she was grateful for what she had. When she came to NZ with her beloved husband it was this attitude of good eye which made her the most acclaimed photographer in this wonderful country.

Look around you: how many good friends and good neighbours can we see here today? Marti knew how to give from herself to each and one of her friends whether he was a neighbour who lived close by, or a friend from a far. Everyone could feel her friendship and love. Her laugh was so contagious.

Her last speech, given just a few weeks ago when she received the honorary doctorate from the Auckland University, reflected her good heart. Thanking everyone, thanking the nurses in the hospital who looked after her, thanking her best friends and of course her beloved husband Gerard. The love between the two of you, after 60 years of life together, is inspiring by all means. Marti could not have succeed in her amazing work without your love and support.

Marti was always busy until her last moment. She said to me many times, "Life is so busy, I have no time!". But she always found time in her busy lifestyle for her friends or to help others in need.
She was one of the most influential Jews in NZ, and she was always proud of this connection.

Dear Gerard, Marti will be missed by all, but we can't even imagine how hard it is for you right now.
I want you to remember you are not alone. You are surrounded by wonderful family and friends. Marti may physically not be here anymore, but she will always be with you wherever you go.

Marti left a big hole that we may find hard to fill, but we can all try to be a little bit like Marti so that her legacy will endure: Love to people and humanity, optimism even when times are difficult, and always be grateful.

Marti's thousands of photographs reminded me the lyrics of a famous song you might know:
We keep this love (to Marti) in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts are never broken
And time's forever frozen still

May her memory be a blessing to all of us.

Migration hits highest level in more than 25 years

16 November 2016

Permanent and long-term international migration to New Zealand is at its highest level in more than 25 years.

The country had a net gain of 69,954 people as a result of permanent and long-term migration in the year to September, according to Statistics New Zealand figures.

That was the highest net gain in more than 25 years and up on 61,234 last year and 45,414 the previous one.
Most migrants have settled in Auckland.

Dairy prices soar

2 November 2016

Dairy product prices climbed substantially at the Global with whole milk powder soared 19.8% to $US3317 a tonne.

The GDT price index jumped 11.4% to $US3327, up from $US2965 at the previous auction two weeks ago.

Whole milk powder soared 19.8% to $US3317 a tonne - breakeven territory for many farmers.

Last week Fonterra said it reduced its forecast milk volume for the 2016-17 season. Dairy markets reacted sharply to tightening milk supply in New Zealand.

Jobless rate falls below 5% for first time since 2008, wage inflation muted

2 November 2016

New Zealand's unemployment rate fell below 5% for the first time since December 2008 as employers took on more staff than expected, although that didn't spur wages to rise at a faster pace. The kiwi dollar rose on the figures.
The unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in the three months ended September 30 from a revised 5% rate in June, Statistics NZ said.

Employment grew 1.4% in the quarter, outpacing a 0.5% gain economists were picking, with rental, hiring and real estate services adding 5,000 jobs in the period. That was also faster than a 0.7% increase in the size of the working-age population, which helped drive up the participation rate to a record 70.1%, though a new methodology influenced that series.

"This strong growth in employment, coupled with fewer unemployed people, pushed the unemployment rate below 5% for the first time in nearly eight years," labour and income statistics manager Mark Gordon said in a statement.
The New Zealand dollar rose to 72.05USc from 71.81USc immediately before the report was released. The trade-weighted index climbed to 77.49 from 77.16.

New Zealand's swelling population, fuelled by record migration, has kept wage increases limited in recent years, stifling domestically generated inflation at a time when a strong kiwi dollar makes imported products cheaper. That low level of consumer price inflation has contrasted with rapid gains in asset prices such as housing and made life difficult for the Reserve Bank, which has refrained from slashing interest rates for fear of stoking an ebullient property market.

Today's data show wage inflation remained muted increasing 0.4% in the quarter, unchanged from the previous quarter, and in line with economists' expectations.

Public sector wages rose 0.7% in the quarter, due largely to new collective agreements for nurses, primary teachers and police.

Southland reported the highest rate of union membership at 23.6% while Auckland had the lowest at 16%.
Auckland accounted for more than half of the new jobs added in the quarter.

Auckland's Harbour Bridge Sky Path gets resource consent

2 November 2016

Above is a computer generated image of the proposed Sky Path cycleway and pedestrian footbridge to be built on the Auckland Harbour Bridge eastern side of the bridge.

Resource consent has been issued for Auckland's Sky Path harbour crossing.

Chief Environment Judge Newhook approved Sky Path's consent in the Environment Court today.

New Zealand's Steven Adams (USA Netball star) has what no other NZ sports person has ever achieved by a mile - a whopping NZ$142 million NBA deal

2 November 2016

Steven Adams' provides the Oklahoma City Thunder with something that not many other players can.

Not only did the deal prove that NBA centres still get paid big money, but it also showed how prominent Steven Adams is now becoming - regarded as as one of the brightest talents in the league.

And there's something he has, that almost all others struggle with, Oklahoma City Thunder writer Nick Gallo thinks.
"The number on quality that this Thunder organisation and the people of Oklahoma City love about Steven, is he is perhaps one of the most selfless players at this level of skill and talent in the NBA," Gallo told the Radio Sport Breakfast.

"I think people view Steven as a player who is not defined by the numbers he puts up. His intrinsic value on the court comes in so many different other ways."

Gallo said the value he places on teamwork, winning, and effort is what separates him from others in the league.
But he also believes the 23-year-old can muscle it in the stats column as well.

"The Thunder is getting a player who is not even scratching his prime yet but looks to be one of the best two-way centres in the NBA for years to come," he said.

"Numbers may look different from night to night for Steven just based on how the defence is playing against the Thunder, but I think they know they are going to get 100 per cent total effort."

Gallo had spoken to Adams after the deal and said he wanted to stay in Oklahoma because it reminded him of New Zealand - even taking a potential pay-cut to make it happen.

China tourism growth set to accelerate with increased flight October

31 October 2016

More than 50 flights operate between China and New Zealand each week but by the end of the year, more than 70 flights will operate between Auckland, Christchurch and the major cities of China, not necessarily those cities on the eastern part of China but also you can go west, go to the hinterland of China.

This certainly gives the consumers of both China and New Zealand more options, more choices and also more competitive prices.

New Zealand tourism arrivals rose 11 percent to a record 3.4 million in the year through September, with Chinese arrivals jumping 24 percent to 406,000, according to the latest data.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts told a Tourist conference new infrastructure was required to meet expected growth.

"There is investment happening - we just need a lot more of it," Mr Roberts said. "We are currently experiencing unprecedented growth and there are very good reasons to expect that strong growth to continue. New Zealand undoubtedly is an attractive place to visit and more and more of the world wants to come here.

"Our focus is not limited to just hotels, which was just a small part of the supply chain," he said. "We can broaden our view to a large area, to the whole supply chain of the tourism industry."

A big year for those investing in technology

New Zealand's technological sector has cracked $1 billion growth for the first time, with revenue up 12 per cent for the year. This is easily the best year in the tech sector ever, closing the gap on Dairy exports.

Earnings were in 3 major sectors - high-tech manufacturing, biotechnology, and information andcommunications. Auckland had 12.2 per cent growth.

Exports were up 13.5% at $6.87 billion, total revenue up 12% at $9.42 billion and the industry employed 40,000 employees up 7.9%.

Australia was the biggest market delivering 26.6% of all sales. The USA brought in revenue of 2.13 billion, up 25%.

The big ten:

1 Fisher & Paykel Appliances
2 Datacom Group
3 Fisher & Paykel Healthcare
4 Gallagher Group
5 Xero
6 Orion Health
7 Temperzone Group
8 Tait Communications
9 Douglas Pharmaceuticals
10 NDA Group

Shalom Court wins award

23 October 2016

It is with much pride and exhilaration that I share with you the news that Shalom Court is the inaugural winner of the New Zealand Aged Care Association’s Small Operator Industry Award for Outstanding Care.

NZACA is our parent organisation of over 570 members, representing 90% of New Zealand’s residential aged care sector. Approximately 170 of these are “under-50 bed” care homes - winning this award is a phenomenal achievement.

Each one of you contributes or has contributed in a unique way to an organisation that has earned national recognition for its quality of care and I want to personally thank you for your loyalty, energy and support that so positively impacts upon our residents’ care and the wellbeing of staff, families, friends and community.

Anthony Hart, Executive Officer

Immigration update

21 October 2016

New Zealand welcomed record migrants and tourists in the year through September, Statistics NZ says.

Annual net migration reached 70,000, surpassing the previous annual record of 69,1000 set in the year to August 2016. That was driven both by more arrivals and fewer departures.

Migrant arrivals reached a record 125,600 in the September year, up 6% on the year to Sept. 2015, with the biggest increases in arrivals from South Africa, China, Australia and India. Annual migrant departures fell 3% from 2015 to 55,700, with fewer departures to Australia and the UK. New Zealand citizens leaving to live overseas accounted for about 60% of all migrant departures.

At the same time, overseas short-term visitor arrivals reached 3.39 million in the year ended July 30, up 11% on the year earlier, with a 17% lift in holidaymakers to 1.74 million largely responsible.

A swelling population stoked more activity with record inflows of tourists. At the same time, a rising population has posed problems for policymakers by fuelling demand for an already-stretched housing market in Auckland
Today's data show there was a net gain of 2000 migrants from Australia in the September year, the 12th consecutive month to show an annual net gain from that country.

More migrants came in on work visas in the September year, up 10.7% to 40,200 on a year earlier, with 32% of migrants now arriving on work visas. Some 16,000 migrants, or 13%, arrived using residence visas in the September year, up 15% on 2015.

Peter Beck - New Zealand's rocket man with the one million-horsepower rocket

20 October 2016

The Rocket Lab launch will be the first of three test missions. If successful, it will lead to commercial flights next year, propelling New Zealand into a unique place in the space industry by launching the first commercial orbital missions from a private pad.

In the lead-up to liftoff, Rocket Lab base near Auckland airport is bulging at the seams and buzzing with activity. Scientists, engineers and technicians hover over the fuselages of three test rockets in varying stages of completion, lying horizontal in the large hangar-style workshop.

Some time before the end of the year, the result of a lifetime of dreaming, a decade's dedicated work and tens of millions of dollars of investment capital will be launched from a remote part of the East Coast of New Zealand
The most powerful machine to fly from this country will be headed for orbit.

On an as-yet undisclosed date, he says the one million-horsepower Electron rocket will be test fired from the Mahia Peninsula launch site, aimed for a low Earth orbit.

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla had invested in Rocket Lab. "The things that excited us the most was, number one, Peter, who was a consummate rocket scientist."

The New Zealand government has invested $25m over five years but there is massive Silicon Valley funding and backing from Lockheed Martin.

Rocket Lab's Auckland base is just off a road named in honour of New Zealand's (and arguably the world's) first powered aircraft inventor - Richard Pearse - and security is stringent; cameras or any digital devices must be left in safe storage at reception.

The real prize here is when it starts flying commercially. Peter is building up to commercial flights, not just up to this one launch - Peter says the thing that is exciting is when we enable customers to do something very cool," he says.
"You can test a lot of things on the ground but there are some things you can't test."

While the pressure to launch is growing, Beck says the Electron is not going anywhere until it's ready and conditions are right.

Rocket Lab aims to be small and nimble in the commercial launch business, which last year was estimated at being worth $9 billion. High frequency Electron launches for less than US$5m apiece compare to others valued at closer to $200m, which come with years-long waiting times.

"We don't think of ourselves as space on a budget, we're almost the opposite of that, we're a premium ride. We take a customer who would normally be ride sharing, or strapped onto the side of a big rocket, to a very dedicated orbit, dedicated time frame."

Although he clams up when things get personal, it's hard to stop the ebullient inventor on the subjects he loves: different types of orbit (the Electron goes into a low earth orbit, so it needs to travel at 25 times the speed of sound to avoid falling to earth) and the future of satellites.

"A satellite that was the size of a car is now the size of a refrigerator, next year it's probably going to be the size of a microwave. Now, why that's important to you, is that it enables satellite companies to put up infrastructure in space at an unprecedented cost, and an unprecedented frequency - provided they can get them launched of course."

"It's been a long journey - it's been a wild ride."

United States ship to visit NZ for first time in 33 years

19 October 2016

The visiting Vice President announced US will send ship to Royal NZ Navy 75th Anniversary celebrations.

It will be the first time the US has agreed to send a ship since New Zealand passed its non-nuclear legislation in 1987 which does not allow nuclear powered ships or those carrying nuclear weapons to enter New Zealand waters.

US Vice President Joe Biden said in making the announcement in July "It with great pleasure and an honour Mr Prime Minister that the United States gladly accepts the invitation to send a ship to the Royal New Zealand Navy's 75th celebration this November.

"It will be another expression of our close and co-operative relationship between our two countries that we have worked so hard together to strengthen."

"I would characterise it as a victory for the relationship between New Zealand and the United States".

Air New Zealand in top three best airlines in the world

19 October 2016

Air New Zealand has been named one of the best airlines in the world by readers of luxury travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler.

The airline was placed at number three on the magazine's list of the best airlines in the world for 2016, as part of its annual Readers' Choice Awards.

Comfortable seats on longhaul flights helped earn Air New Zealand its accolades, CN Traveler said.

"With some of the longest flights in the world, the Kiwi carrier pays close attention to seat comfort; legroom is ample on its widebody," it wrote.

Auckland's Jewish Shalom Court Aged Care rest home awarded New Zealand's Gold Medal

5 October 2016

The award recognises outstanding care for an under 50-bed care home.

The inaugural NZ Small Operators Industry award was made at the presentation on 5 October at the New Zealand Aged Care Association Conference.

Australia's biggest retailer unveiled new $640 plans for Auckland's Newmarket shopping centre

17 October 2016

The Scentre Group retail developer revealed details in an investor presentation saying it would start work next year on a new David Jones retail store in Auckland and complete by 2019.

David Jones opened in Wellington in July.

The proposal will make David Jones an anchor tenant in a new centre of 78,000sq ft with 160 new speciality retail stores with the Scenter Group's expansion of its Newmarket mall.

World's largest fashion retailer Zara opens its doors in NZ


A queue of eager shoppers is forming outside the Zara store in Sylvia Park

6 October 2016

The world's largest fashion retailer Zara openeded the doors to its first New Zealand store at 9.30am today.

Around 50 people have gathered at Auckland's Sylvia Park shopping centre ahead of the official opening. Excitement has been building since the brand announced last year it would be bringing a store to the country.

Media have been shown inside the store, which is white-washed with bright, elegant lighting and designed in an open-plan style.

The New Zealand launch marks Zara's 93rd market with the one-storey Sylvia Park store based set to offer all of the brand's clothing collections including women's, men's and children's clothing.

First Retail Group managing director Chris Wilkinson tipped the store would likely next open another in Wellington.
The company has assigned staff to create its Southern Hemisphere collection with a team focused specifically on understanding the New Zealand market.

Zara's chief communications officer Jesus Echevarria said he was excited to be launching in the country and hoped to meet customer expectations.

"We see a lot of opportunity in New Zealand, customers here love fashion."

Zara, which is part of Inditex Group, has 2,021 stores worldwide and is renowned for its reproduction of designer clothes. It opened its first store in Spain in 1975 and is worth US$10.7 billion (NZ$14.9b).

Unearthing Auckland's theatrical history

5 October 2016

The $65 million restoration of Auckland's St James Theatre is continuing to unearth secrets of the city's past.

The St James has been a major focus of social life in Auckland for the best part of a century. It has been the venue for many important cinematic and theatrical events held for many royal and important occasions.

An array of artefacts has already been found beneath the historic theatre's floorboards and now a long-forgotten tower has also been discovered.

The St James Theatre project has taught the developers not to be in so much of a hurry. The building has secrets - and will reveal these only when she wants to."

"Heritage buildings are often complicated to work with," says Steve Bielby from the Auckland Notable Properties Trust.

"The St James is a private-public project - a partnership between the Auckland Notable Properties Trust and developer Relianz Holdings which is building an apartment building around the theatre. Auckland's rising property prices made the proposed apartment development viable," he says.

NZ dollar hits highest level against British pound in decades

4 October 2016

The New Zealand dollar rose to its highest level against the British pound in decades as the governing UK Conservative party said it would focus on controlling immigration, rather than securing tariff-free access to European markets in its negotiations to leave the trading bloc.

The Kiwi traded at 56.82 pence at 5pm in Wellington, from 56.52 pence at 8am and 56.10 pence yesterday.

The Kiwi's previous post-brexit high against the British pound was 56.37 pence on July 8.

UK's Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday said negotiations to secure Britain's exit from the European Union would begin at the end of March.

New Zealand to welcome a record number of cruise ships this summer

28 September 2016

New Zealand is gearing up for a bumper cruise season, with a record number of cruise ships headed for our shores.
Cruise Lines International Association Australasia commercial director Brett Jardine said 33 ships will be cruising local waters between October 1 and April 30, with nine making their inaugural calls.

The ships will make more than 600 calls to ports around the country, including close to a dozen maiden calls for cruise lines at destinations including Stewart Island, Wellington and Kaikoura.

Among the visitors will be the largest ship to sail to New Zealand, Royal Caribbean's 167,000-tonne Ovation of the Seas, as well as the youngest and most luxurious ship to cruise local waters, the Seabourn Encore, which will arrive in New Zealand just one month after she is officially named in Singapore.

Jardine said the record season reflected New Zealand's growing popularity as a cruise destination, as well as continuing growth in Kiwi passenger numbers.

Figures showed close to 70,000 New Zealanders took a cruise in 2015, a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.
"New Zealand's popularity as one of the world's hottest cruise destinations will be clearly evident this summer," Jardine said.

"Not only will there be more ships visiting than ever before, there will be scores of inaugural calls around the country as cruise lines extend their itineraries to take in a wider range of beautiful ports around the North and South Islands."

Tennis: Serena Williams confirmed for ASB Classic

28 September 2016

Serena Williams is coming to Auckland, in what has been labelled the biggest ever signing for the ASB Classic.

The American star, who is rated as one of the greatest tennis players in the history of the sport, was confirmed for the 2017 tournament at a press conference in Auckland on Wednesday morning.

ASB Classic organisers were adamant the news will take the event to another level. "We are obviously over the moon with this news," said tournament director Karl Budge.

"Serena is one of the biggest sporting stars on the planet. She has had the most Grand Slam victories, most consecutive weeks at Number One and has twice held all four Grand Slam trophies at once. I think she is the greatest player, man or woman, to play the game.To have an athlete of Serena's calibre come to Auckland is going to be huge for New Zealand and cements the ASB Classic as our biggest annual sporting event."

Williams herself is happy to be following in the footsteps of sister Venus, who has played the ASB Classic on three occasions.

"I am really excited to be coming to Auckland for the first time. I have heard so many great things about the city and the tournament itself and I have always wanted to play there," said Williams.

"The ASB Classic is the first event of the year and it can really set you up for a great run in Melbourne," added Williams. I will be looking to start my year strongly in Auckland."

Williams has captured 71 WTA titles across her career and has dominated Grand Slams for the past two decades winning 22 Grand Slam singles titles - an all-time record she shares with Steffi Graf.

Along with her singles successes, the American has also won 14 doubles and two mixed doubles titles for a total of 38 Grand Slam successes - the most of any active player male or female.

Belgian developers plan Auckland apartments

28 September 2016

An artist's impression of how the finished project (centre) could look once finished.

A European-headquartered developer is marketing a proposed Auckland apartment project off the plans to potential buyers.

Eaglestone of Belgium plans to build the 17-level 49-unit Library 27, given this name because the site planned for the project is behind Auckland's Central City Library in the central business district.

Eaglestone has rented space for a showroom near the project at 2 Kitchener St and employed kiwi Kim McGregor to head the project planned for 27 Rutland St.

McGregor said units were being marketed from $545,000 to $880,000 "which is very reasonable in today's market, given the location, design outcomes and quality finishes."

Asked why Belgium developers were interested in New Zealand, McGregor said it was a coincidence: "Someone from Eaglestone came to New Zealand for a family holiday in 2003."

Construction is planned to be completed in 2019, she said. "We're getting resource consent. We've got building consent," she said last week.

"What's unique about Library 27 is there's no compromise. Each apartment type we have available provides a quality of life that will appeal to those who like the finer things in life," she said.

Consultants CBRE, marketing Library 27, said nearly 2000 Auckland CBD apartment had been sold off the plans this year.

Eaglestone information describes the business as "a Belgium-owned development company specialising in large-scale urban projects around the world.

Library 27 represents the first New Zealand development for Eaglestone, which has a proven reputation for developing high-quality and elegant buildings that fit naturally into their urban surroundings."

Kiwis are happy with their quality of life a survey has found

22 September 2016

Health and wellbeing was the main reason for people rating their quality of life so high, with relationships coming a close second in most areas in New Zealand.

The survey was first conducted in 2003, was repeated in 2004, and has been undertaken every two years since.
Overall, 81 per cent of the respondents rated their overall quality of life positively.

For those surveyed in Auckland rating life 'extremely good'.

For a happy life most surveyed said health and wellbeing was driver for the satisfaction result in all areas surveyed.

New Auckland waterfront theatre's official opening

22 September 2016

The curtain has risen on the stage of Auckland's new $36 million ASB Waterfront Theatre, with Mayor Len Brown declaring it open this morning.

Cast of the theatre's first show and a band - formed by a group of brass instrumenet-playing welders - were first on the stage in the main auditorium.

People gathered just after 8am in that 668-seat 'cedar crucible' in the Wynyard Quarter for speeches and a performance from the Billy Elliot the Musical cast, casting lights from their helmuts across the theatre in a dramatic first performance.

Then came a fanfare from Southern Steel workers whose talents came to light when they had brought out their instruments during building construction. They had so impressed people that they became part of the opening event.
The cast of Billy Elliot The Musical with the cast of Southern Steel workers.

The council had backed the theatre because there was a strong business case behind creating such a venue and a home for the Auckland Theatre Company.

A free public open day is being held on Saturday from 10am, with back-stage tours, storey telling and performances.

 

Another record month for net migration

21 September 2016

New Zealand's net migration rose in the year through August, returning to the record set in the June year on immigration.

Annual net migration reached 69,100 in the year to August, equaling the previous annual record set in June this year and driven primarily by more arrivals.

Arrivals rose 6 percent in the August year, one quarter of whom were returning New Zealand citizens. Departures fell 3 percent.A swelling population stoking economic activity with record inflows of tourists.

Of those new migrants who arrived in the latest year, a net 47 percent settled in Auckland.

At the same time, overseas short-term visitor arrivals reached 3.36 million in the year ended August, up 11 percent on the year earlier and a new record.

A 17 percent increase in holidaymakers drove visitor arrivals in the year, with the biggest increases from China, Australia and the US. In August, visitors arriving from the US most commonly came from California, Texas, and New York state, with the increase related to the introduction of new airline routes.

All Blacks eye winning streak world record

18 September 2016

New Zealand's sporting religion is Rugby and at international level the face of Rugby is the All Blacks.

They are the world champions and now having another crack at the elusive world record test match winning streak is on the All Blacks' radar.

Assistant coach Ian Foster revealed the milestone has loomed in their sights as motivation after thumping South Africa 41-13 in Christchurch on Saturday.

It was successive win number 15, leaving them two short of equalling the world mark, which they have hit twice before. The teams of 1965-69 and 2013-14 share the record with the 1997-98 South African Springboks.

Success on the road against Argentina and South Africa would set them up for a shot at the outright record against Australia in Auckland on October 22.

The All Blacks have their eyes on the looming prize.

Despite their dominance of the last decade, the record has proved burdensome for the All Blacks.

They have reached 15 straight wins four previous times since. The All Blacks have taken to setting statistical targets in recent times. Becoming the first nation to defend the World Cup was a stated driver last year.

Foster smiled when the winning streak target was put to him. "Sounds a little bit more interesting, yeah."

The All Blacks extended their world record winning streak on home soil to 44 with Saturday's win.

Return of the rock star economy

11 September 2016

This Thursday GDP (Gross domestic product) figures are expected to show the New Zealand economy grew by at least 3.5 per cent in the year to June 30.

ASB Bank's economists are picking it to be as high as 3.7 per cent.

"We expect GDP lifted a whopping 1.2 per cent over the June quarter, led by construction, manufacturing and retail activity," ASB senior economist Jane Turner writes in her preview.

That will be a stunning result for an agricultural economy that has just been through one of the most dramatic dairy price slumps in living memory.

It's hard not to draw the conclusion that the rock star economy is on the comeback trail - at least in the terms that the catch-phrase was originally coined by HSBC economist Paul Bloxham.

That is to say, relatively speaking.

New Zealand currently has one of the highest growth economies compared to peers in the Western developed world.

The country hasn't had a recession in eight years now.

The bounce in dairy prices of the past few weeks - moving things out of financial disaster territory at least for most farmers - will only add to the confidence to New Zealand's outlook.

We saw in on the currency market last week as the kiwi surged to US74.5c - a 16 month high - and also lifted above A97c.

"The surge in Q2 growth will be led by the construction sector, manufacturing and retail activity. Unusually strong exports will also contribute to a temporary boost to Q2 growth, led by large lifts in meat, dairy, kiwifruit and oil exports," ASB's Turner notes.

There's no doubt the strong economic growth is also being underpinned by record net migration gains.

But as NZIER senior economist Christina Leung points out this still generates positive momentum for the wider economy and is certainly preferable if you consider the opposite - economic contraction due to population decline.

The hope would be that the momentum created is sustained as net migration growth flattens out.

At that point we will start to see an increase in GDP per capita.

Is it sustainable?

Though ASB expects we could see some weaker growth as some of the drivers come off peaks it sees the trend as sustainable.

ANZ economists have noted their business confidence survey suggests may push on towards four per cent next year.
This will help the Reserve Bank find some of the long lost inflation pressure it needs to get back on target.

But at this stage no one sees any reason why they won't cut rates at least once more this year - probably in November.

The low inflation, low interest rate environment continues to underpin an asset boom.

The mighty New Zealand passport

7 September 2016

According to citizenship and planning firm Henley & Partners, New Zealand passports are the seventh most powerful in the world, based on how many countries can be visited without applying for a visa.

Kiwis are able to visit 171 countries and territories without any problems.

The Department of Internal Affairs says "the strong reputation and travel accessibility offered by the New Zealand passport is one of the reasons we put a lot of effort and expertise into the strength of its issuance, integrity and controls."

The beautiful design of the New Zealand passport artwork depicts themes of navigation and travel, representing the long journeys Kiwis have made throughout history to explore the world.

The other features is how the Southern Cross travels from right to left, representing the movement of the constellation through the sky. The colour also changes from purple to orange to green to blue, which represents dawn to twilight.

Jewish Community Celebrates its Historic First: A "Made in New Zealand" Torah

6 September 2016

At a Torah Dedication at the Auckland Hebrew Congregation, a unique Torah was gifted to the Jewish Community of New Zealand.

Generously funded and donated by the late Lewis Keegan in memory of his great-grandfather Lewis Emanuel Lazarus, the Torah is a historic first for New Zealand.

Solomon Lazarus attended the initial meeting in 1862 in Dunedin charged with the responsibility to form the first formal Jewish congregation.

Since the Auckland Hebrew Community's establishment in 1864, certain Torah scrolls have been written in New Zealand. But this Torah is the first to be made entirely of New Zealand materials by a group of New Zealand artisans led by internationally acclaimed mixed media artist Helen Schamroth.

About the Torah:

The Torah contains the five books of Moses. The text has remained completely without change for thousands of years, passed on from generation to generation.

Many non Jewish dignitaries were invited and attended the celebrations including Dame Sylvia Cartwright - former Governor General of New Zealand.

Simon O'Conner representing the Government attended and later sent the following message:-

"It was an absolute honour to join Auckland's Jewish community this afternoon to celebrate their new Torah.

"Thank you to the congregation for the invitation to speak as they completed the first completely kiwi made Torah - every part from parchment to scribing, dressing to crown was New Zealand made.

"This is a real moment in our proud Auckland and New Zealand's Jewish history."

The Scroll:

The parchment for the scroll, made from New Zealand sheepskin, was handwritten in the original Hebrew by qualified New Zealand-based sofer (scribe) Rabbi Azriel Glick.

Using a feather and ink that includes a rare type of charcoal, Rabbi Glick reproduced all 600,000 letters perfectly. Had he made even a single error the scroll would have been rendered pasul (invalid).

Once the Torah scroll was written, the parchment was rolled up around two ornate wooden shafts, carved from Pohutukawa wood by local wood turner and attached to either end of the scroll.

The Pohutukawa, renowned for its strength and beauty and regarded making it a fitting choice for the Torah as the turned wood shafts are said to symbolize the tree of life.

All decorative elements-from the ornately gold-embroidered inky-blue velvet mantle (cover) to the sterling silver keter (crown) were produced by New Zealand artisans led by Schamroth.

With a view to creating a contemporary design that was steeped in tradition but also reflected New Zealand, Schamroth, who previously designed other elements for the synagogue, worked with graphic designer Lilach Cohen to realize the design.

This included scattered stamens of a Pohutukawa flower on the cover (the number 18 symbolises 'life' in Jewish numerology).

Collaborating with silversmith Joanna Campbell, Schamroth used the leaves of the Pohutukawa as the main design element of the silver crown. Viewed from above, the six Pohutukawa leaves folding over evoke the Magen David (Star of David).

New Zealand universities confirmed as world-class


QS World University Rankings are in, and New Zealand's eight universities remain in the top 3% globally.

6 September 2016

Despite competition internationally, six of New Zealand's eight universities improved their rankings while the other two largely held their places.

This year the University of Auckland defended its position as New Zealand's top ranked university.

Otago University rose four places to 169, closely followed by Canterbury and Victoria at 214 and 228 place.

Three universities had also made significant improvements in their placings over the past two years.

Waikato moved up 77 places to rank in at 324, and Lincoln up 68 places to 343.

The Auckland University of Technology also made significant gains - up 60 places.

The QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) rankings assess universities across four areas: research, resourcing, graduate employability and internationalisation.

Chris Whelan, the executive director of Universities New Zealand, said the rankings are an extraordinary result and "something that New Zealanders should be proud of".

"We are the only country in the world to have all our universities ranked within the top 500.

If you are a young New Zealander thinking about where to do a degree, you can be confident of getting a world-class education at any of our universities."

Whelan said an increased focus on funding high quality research contributed to the success of New Zealand rankings.

"University Vice-Chancellors acknowledge that the government's increased investment in research funding in recent years has made a difference."

AUT Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack said it was pleasing to see AUT recognised for their international outlook.

"Our students gain cross-cultural experience dealing with the complexity of many people coming together from different backgrounds."

Tertiary Education Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce congratulated all eight of New Zealand's universities.

Joyce said international education was now New Zealand's fifth largest export earner, earning $3.5 billion for the nation annually.

"One reason for that is our universities are amongst the best in the world and as a result we can offer students an outstanding education experience ."

The QS Rankings considers 3800 institutions worldwide and ranks the top 916.

Residential building work surges in second quarter, beating estimates

2 September 2016

Total building activity increased to its highest level since records began 26 years ago.

The value of residential building work put in place rose in the second quarter of 2016, led by Auckland.

The seasonally adjusted value of residential building work rose 7.3 percent to $3.1 billion in the June quarter from three months earlier, Statistics New Zealand said. Building work volumes grew a seasonally adjusted 5.5 percent in the quarter, with the trend reaching its highest level since the series began in 1989.

Total building work put in place beat market estimates of a 2 percent gain. In Auckland, the actual value of residential work in current prices surged 39 percent from the same quarter of 2015 to $1.8 billion, while in
"Total building work put in place was much stronger than we and the market expected," said Jane Turner, senior economist at ASB. "While Auckland continues to lead the charge, the lift in construction is now fairly broad-based across NZ.

Turner said second-quarter construction activity growth was surprising given there had been a "soft patch" in consents earlier in the year.

"This suggests that capacity constraints and growing back-logs could be contributing to a strong pipeline of activity in the absence of new consent issuance," Turner said. "If this is the case, it reinforces the outlook for further increases in construction-related inflation.

However, inflation pressures outside of construction remain very subdued."

Update: Economy gets boost from bubbling building sector

15 September 2016

New Zealand's booming construction sector remains one of the main pillars for the country's economic growth, benefiting from an expanding population in need of housing and spurring activity in other industries.

Government data today showed the construction sector grew 5 percent in the three months ended June 30, making the biggest contribution to a 0.9 percent expansion in gross domestic product. That was the second quarter where it grew at a 5 percent pace, and the level of activity in the building sector was 11 percent higher than the same period a year earlier.

ASB's Turner today said the construction sector strength was broad-based across the country, though she expects it will slow in regional areas over the next year, whereas Auckland's need will persist for much longer.

"That is generating support to other sectors of the economy - manufacturing, wholesale, transport, all these industries benefit and housing demand has flowed through to real estate services," she said.

Turner said. "We do expect that construction impetus to continue for some time, particularly in Auckland where the outstanding backlog for housing demand is still very large and a long way from being met."

Today's GDP data showed an 11 percent jump in non-metallic mineral product manufacturing, which covers building products, its biggest recorded quarterly increase, while the increased housing demand stoked a 1.3 percent gain in rental, hiring and real estate services activity.

Crone promises early start to second Auckland harbour crossing


Auckland mayoral candidate Vic Crone launches her campaign

31 August 2016

Auckland mayoral candidate Vic Crone is promising to fast-track a second harbour crossing with provision for rapid transit.

The local council elections for mayor and councillors will occur in October.

Work on a second Waitemata Harbour crossing would begin about 2020 if Crone can persuade the Government. She is also promising to bring forward six other major transport projects costing $1.1 billion.

As well as a second harbour crossing, she would bring forward six other key transportation projects.

Crone said Auckland's population north of the bridge was forecast to grow by 130,000 by 2033 and a second harbour crossing was an "absolute key priority for me as mayor".

She said if the Government agreed to the timeframe, the council would invest a further $600 million through to 2027/2028 to integrate a public rapid transport corridor into the crossing.

"Whether the public transport component is rapid bus transit, rail and/or newer technologies, the decision will ultimately be subject to a strong business case," Crone said.

Crone is "100 per cent" behind the $2.5 billion city rail link, which, she said, would come before the second harbour crossing.

The Auckland Plan currently identifies the additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing will be required around 2030 and take five to seven years to build.

Agribusiness: The world's hungry for our produce


Primary Minister Nathan Guy (left) is a happy man celebrating the booming Agribusiness

31 August 2016

The nature of work in the primary sector is changing. It's not just milking cows or shearing sheep - it is things like environmental planning, IT and robotics, veterinary science.

Nathan Guy says a big challenge for the wider primary sector is making use of technology and science to keep adding value to what is produced.

There are a lot of positives on the horizon for New Zealand farmers and growers. Most sectors have had a great year, with horticulture in particular being a star performer. Horticultural exports are up 20 per cent compared with the previous year, wine has risen by 10 per cent, seafood is up 15 per cent and arable up 14 per cent.

Overall, New Zealand's primary sector exports have increased 3 per cent over the last year to $36 billion which is a great result, given the tough time the dairy sector has had in recent seasons. It shows New Zealand have a strong, broad and diversified primary sector.

There are positive signs for the dairy industry too, with Fonterra lifting their forecast payout to $4.75 plus dividend, taking it to around the average break-even mark. It was great morale boost for hardworking farmers following some positive Global Dairy Trade results.

Success often brings challenges and a major one ahead is finding enough skilled and capable workers.

Auckland Airport major projects with construction, tourism boom requirements being ramped up


Auckland International Airport chief executive Adrian Littlewood

29 August 2016

The airport celebrates its 50th year this year, with passenger movements up from 700,000 in 1966 to 17.3 million in 2016, a rise of 9.1% on the previous year.

The tourism uplift led to eight new international airlines adding capacity during 2016 and 15 new routes established with flight frequencies increased on existing routes.

Some 11 countries had passenger growth of over 10% and five countries over 20%.

Mr Littlewood said they were also expecting double-digit passenger growth again in the coming year.

Domestically, Jetstar's entry on regional routes to compete against Air New Zealand has also increased flight capacity and grown the market.

Key infrastructure projects this financial year include work continuing on the upgrade of the international terminal departure area.

This will significantly expand the airport's core processing and retail footprint including dutyfree areas.

Work has started on the extension of the international terminal Pier B to add an additional 10,000 sqm of footprint, gates, and air bridges.

Construction will begin this financial year on its third hotel, with planning already under way on a fourth hotel.

Auckland's new Unitary Plan provides for the development of a second runway and improved land designations to allow for flexible airport development within the airport precinct.

Investment in its property business continues where a number of new projects are planned including a 17,000sq integrated office, warehouse and dog handling facility for the Ministry of Primary Industries and an 11,000sq m distribution centre for Fonterra.

Retail income grew twice as fast as the airport's passenger growth in the 2016 financial year, up 19.3%.

Air New Zealand rides the tourism boom with record full year earnings

26 August 2016

Air New Zealand has ridden the tourism boom and staved off increased competition to deliver the best full-year earnings in its 76-year history.

Earnings before other significant items and tax was up 70 percent.

Shareholders are being rewarded with a one-off special dividend of 25 cents per share on the top of a final dividend of 10 cents per share, taking total ordinary dividends to 20 cents for the year.

Chairman Tony Carter said the airline's staff is critical to its success.

Chief executive Christopher Luxon said the airline ended the year with customer satisfaction at record highs, staff culture continuing to improve, and the best financial results in its history.

"Alongside connecting New Zealanders and Kiwi businesses with each other and the world, we employ 11,300 staff."

Aircraft capital expenditure is expected to be $2.1 billion over the next five years.

Passsenger revenue was $4.5 billion, up 8.9 percent, while cargo improved to $349 million compared to $317 million the prior year.

The big gains were in the America/Europe markets with revenue at $330 million compared to $286 million the previous year following the start of direct flights to Houston, Texas in April last year and passenger numbers in that market rising to 1.14 million from just over 1 million the prior year.

Vacancy - Crystallographer

24 August 2016

Situation vacant - chemical engineer specialising in crystal growth in relation to precious stones.

The position is based in Auckland.

For further details please contact Stan Rose, email .

Building boom will last until 2021

26 July 2016

The building boom will last through to 2021 when the sector will be employing more than half a million people, new reports are forecasting.

Government ministers released the National Construction Occupations Projections report and the National Construction Pipeline report on Tuesday.

Employment Minister Steven Joyce says the first shows construction-related occupation numbers hitting 539,500 in the next five years, up 10 per cent on 2015.

Occupations expected to experience the largest growth during that time are electricians, up 14 per cent, plumbers up 13 per cent and civil engineering professionals up 11 per cent.

Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith says the second report shows building activity is at record levels nationwide. "This report shows annual construction activity across New Zealand has topped $31 billion, an all-time high, and is projected to reach $37 billion in 2017," he said.

"Residential construction is particularly strong... Auckland is expected to reach an all-time high of 13,332 homes in 2017 and stay at record levels until 2022."

Both reports were independently produced by research companies.

A little bit up - a little bit out

26 July 2016

Auckland needs to find room for an extra 1 million people in the next 25 years.

The blueprint for making that happen - has just been announced with the announced Unitary Plan.

The Unitary Plan proposes to allow 400,000 houses to be built to accommodate up to 1 million extra people by 2041.
Of these about 266,000 houses will be in the current urban areas and up to 140,000 houses outside the city limits.

The earliest date when the Unitary Plan will come into force is September 16th.

At its heart, the plan aims to achieve a higher quality, compact city with more townhouses and terraced houses and apartments.

Very recent Auckland demographics are well ahead of population forecasts with Auckland's population to reach 2 million people (currently 1,700,000) in four years.

A tidal wave of technology firms are basing themselves in Auckland and across the country, says CBRE New Zealand.


Artist's impression of the new Datacom building in Auckland's Wynyard Quarter

19 July 2016

Global mobile working, wellness and lifestyle trends are driving office demand and opening opportunities for companies to restructure how and where they work within Auckland.

They include Auckland-based Vend, Harmoney, Rocket Lab, Unleashed Software, Booktrack, Vigil Monitoring, Power by Proxi, Equitise and 90 Seconds. New Zealand's biggest tech company Xero, based in Wellington, and Martin Jetpack of Christchurch also made the list.

Ross Bolton, CBRE's Occupier Advisory and Transaction Services Director, says "The report is just the tip of the iceberg. You only need to spend a minute on rabble.co.nz to see hundreds of Auckland-based tech firms such as Cityinsidr, AlphaCrowd, Snowball Effect, YQ, Pushpay, fulQrum and many more taking up office space in the city. The likes of Datacom's future move to Wynyard Quarter and the rapid expansion of 9 Spokes are great examples of companies that are seeking larger premises in Auckland's CBD."

CBRE's Bolton says that one of the main reasons is that workforces are becoming more mobile, enabled by technology.

"Auckland has become an effective gateway location for future South Pacific growth and finance. Recent IPOs of 9
Auckland is a step ahead for up-and-coming sectors such as technology, he says.

"As the global trend towards staff wellness and wellbeing rises in importance all the time, companies looking to create a great environment for their people know that it is now time to consider how their office locations support their aspirations to be people-centric organisations.

"This is leading to a re-examination of their property requirements, increasing Auckland's popularity within and having a knock-on effect of spreading interest across New Zealand cities at the same time."

CBRE is working with a number of companies to examine their needs for an Auckland base as well as satellite locations outside the CBD and elsewhere in the country.

"Using the latest analytical software, we examine a combination of factors to determine the most effective locations for individual companies," says Bolton.

"They include future population projections, mapping commute times and proximity to lifestyle options and amenities.
We are suggesting that companies should re-evaluate how they operate. Auckland is now a global city."

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