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News archive

Finding and applying for jobs

If you're thinking of coming to New Zealand to work for a few years, or maybe even to settle, you'll need a work or resident visa. To get that - you're likely to need a job. It's perfectly acceptable and legal to apply for jobs before you get a visa. Employers generally understand the situation, and when you get a job, will help you with your visa application. Just remember however you won't be able to start working, and earning, until your visa is approved.

This section has practical information to help you find a job in New Zealand. As you'll see, even if you're not yet in the country, there's lots you can do to get started.

Other skills and avenues

If your skills aren't on the shortage lists or you'd really like to go for residency, it may still be possible to get a visa.

For instance, you may be able to apply for residency as a Skilled Migrant. You may also be able to apply for a work visa if you're offered a job by an employer who can't find a local worker for the vacancy.

Job market overview

The unemployment rate now 5.5%.

The economic influences that have underpinned recent strong growth still apply - migration generating more demand. The government expects employment to remain strong over the next three years but to grow but at a slowing rate.

The job sectors driving employment growth are changing. Recent employment growth has been in manufacturing, particularly in Auckland, mostly in food production, machinery and equipment manufacturing, and textile manufacturing.

Nearly half (44%) of annual employment growth to June 2015 was in Auckland.

Skilled job vacancies advertised on three major internet job boards - SEEK, TradeMe jobs, and the Education Gazette increased by nearly 4% over the year to June 2015.

For the latest overview, visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Market Update.

Job market & key industries

While employment conditions are expected remain strong, the Government forecasts target the growth rate for 2018 in identifying the shortage of skill occupations

More detail is in the Job Market Overview below.

There are many job openings for specialists in industries such as medicine, engineering and IT. But there are also opportunities to contribute more generalist skills.

Skills in demand

Some skills are in chronically short supply, and Immigration New Zealand has lists of skill shortages.

If you are offered a job in New Zealand which appears on a skill shortage list and you have the qualifications and experience to match, getting a work and residence visa will be easier.

This is because the Government has identified that employers need to recruit people from overseas to help meet demand for your skills.

A full list of current skill shortages in New Zealand can be found through site below:-

http://skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz

Other skills and avenues

If your skills aren't on the shortage lists or you'd really like to go for residency, it may still be possible to get a visa.

For instance, you may be able to apply for residency as a Skilled Migrant. You may also be able to apply for a work visa if you're offered a job by an employer who can't find a local worker for the vacancy.

Job sites to explore

Specialist sites - sites designed to connect offshore workers with NZ employers:

Other job sites - lots of jobs, but employers will not always be open to hiring from overseas:

'Today is a huge win': The world responds to Rocket Lab launch

22 January 2018

Rocket Lab have successfully launched their 'Still Testing' rocket into orbit.

Space company Rocket Lab has been inundated with messages from around the world after successfully launching its Electron rocket into orbit.

At approximately 2.45pm yesterday its second rocket 'Still Testing' was launched from Mahia peninsula, successfully reaching orbit before deploying eight and a half minutes later.

Chief executive Peter Beck said the day marked a new era in commercial access to space.

"We're thrilled to reach this milestone so quickly after our first test launch," Beck said.

"Our incredibly dedicated and talented team have worked tirelessly to develop, build and launch Electron. I'm immensely proud of what they have achieved today."

Beck said reaching orbit on a second test flight was significant on its own but successfully deploying customer payloads so early in a new rocket programme was almost unprecedented.

"Rocket Lab was founded on the principle of opening access to space to better understand our planet and improve life on it. Today we took a significant step towards that," he said yesterday.

Auckland University astrophysicist and senior lecturer Nick Rattenbury said the company's ability to get something into space on the second attempt spoke volumes about its capability and capacity.

"I did not expect to see this in my lifetime. I honestly did not expect to see New Zealand launching a spaceship," he said.

"This is a fantastic time to be alive, working in science and engineering in New Zealand and I'm looking forward to the next three years because it's going to be very, very exciting."

International scientists and organisations were quick to congratulate the company on its success.

George Sowers, former chief scientist and vice-president of United Launch Alliance - a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing - welcomed New Zealand to what he said was a short list of countries with a successful launch system.

"Very nice launch. My heartiest congratulations to the Rocket Lab team."

"After 30 years in the launch industry with hundreds of launches, each one is still a thrill.

"And I must say, the geographic setting of the launchpad is the most scenic in the world. The obvious excitement of the team is evidence of the huge amount of work and perseverance required to get into space."

San Francisco-based satellite company Spire Global, which partners with Rocket Lab said, "Speechless. Just like that, Rocket Lab reaches orbit and sets a new bar for launch by reaching orbit on just their second test. Today is a huge win."

Kris Walsh, former project manager at United Launch Alliance and former director of all NASA launch programmes for Boeing said it was wonderful to see a smooth launch.

"This success should instil confidence in Rocket Lab's customers, starting a busy 2018 launch schedule.

In the coming weeks, Rocket Lab engineers would analyse data from the launch.

Rocket Lab currently has five Electron vehicles in production, with the next launch expected to take place in early 2018.

At full production, Rocket Lab expects to launch more than 50 times a year and is regulated to launch up to 120 times a year, more than any other commercial or government launch provider in history.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: Pregnancy 'unexpected but exciting'

19 January 2018

Like everything the new Prime Minister does, she's taken the surprising news she's going to be a mother in her stride.

Jacinda Ardern found out she and her partner Clarke Gayford were expecting a baby on October 13, in the middle of coalition negotiations.

She shared the news with the country on Friday morning, saying she and Gayford were really happy.

"We wanted a family but weren't sure it would happen for us, which has made this news unexpected but exciting," she said in a statement.

The prime minister would take six weeks off following the birth, when Winston Peters would take on the role of acting prime minister, then Gayford would stay at home and be the baby's primary caregiver. He and the baby would travel with Ardern as much as possible.

Ardern is one of two female prime ministers to have a baby while in office - the other was former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

"We are privileged and lucky that Clarke will be able to do that job full-time," Ardern said.

There had been no shortage of offers of help from friends and family, and she had told her cabinet they would be drawing up a roster for baby duties. "New Zealand is going to help us raise our first child."

Ardern and Gayford said they already knew the baby's gender but planned to keep it a secret.

"There is very little about our life we get to keep secret," she said.

However, the pair had a wager on who would let the news slip first.

Ardern said the news the pair was expecting at all was a big surprise. "We had been told that we'd need some help ... we had seen some people about this issue but as soon as I became leader it all went on the backburner."

Ardern said Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters had been "wonderful" and supportive since hearing the news, and agreed to take on the role of acting prime minister during her absence.

"He's played that role before. When I go overseas he plays that role. It's not unusual."

They were yet to settle on a name for the baby. But Ardern said she expected, like most couples, they would argue over that for the next six months.

Sky Tower architect drawing up America's Cup bases in Auckland

19 January 2018

The architect of Auckland's Sky Tower is behind plans for a permanent building and base for Team New Zealand's defence of the 36th America's Cup in 2021.

The first details for the America's Cup bases in Auckland, which are contained in a resource consent application lodged with Auckland Council on Monday and publicly notified on January 30.

The consent, a huge document with more than 50 supporting reports, will be fast-tracked directly to the Environment Court under a tight timetable for construction to start in September this year and completed for the first teams arrival at the back end of 2019.

The consent is for Auckland Council's favoured Wynyard Basin option for a cluster of bases on a 75m extension to Halsey Wharf, a 75m extension to Hobson wharf, and on the existing Wynyard Wharf.

The application has been prepared while Economic Development Minister David Parker continues to investigate an alternative land-based option on Wynyard Point, the old Tank Farm site to the west of Wynyard Basin.

The Wynyard Basin decision carries a price tag of $124 million plus $18m to relocate tenants and landowners. The Wynyard Point option has been priced at $112m plus relocation costs of about $118m - a figure Parker disputes.

The consent application is for eight syndicate bases, five of which will be double bases and three single bases. The single bases will be located on the lower eastern side of Wynyard Point.

The consent application is for eight syndicate bases, five of which will be double bases for two boats and three single bases for one boat. The single bases will be located on the lower eastern side of Wynyard Point.

Government helps seed 20 Electric Vehicle related projects with $3.7 million

17 January 2018

The government and its commercial and not-for-profit partners are stumping up $8 million across 20 projects aimed at getting 64,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2021.

Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods unveiled the projects today and said the government will contribute $3.7 million towards the initiatives, with the balance coming from its partners, who have to match or beat the grants.

The money comes from the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, which was introduced by the previous administration in 2016 as a wider plan to lift the uptake of electric vehicles. As of December, there were 6,162 EVs on local roads.

"The projects we are funding show there's an EV for almost every job or use in New Zealand, be it delivering fruit and veg or taking a holiday", Woods said in a statement.

The current funding is the third round for the fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, and $1.7 million will be used to fill gaps in the country's charging infrastructure, Woods said.

The New Zealand Transport Agency this month issued a pre-tender notice to gather market intelligence for nationwide EV charging infrastructure as it seeks to add more of the vehicles to its own fleet.

Other projects announced today include $500,000 for freight logistics company Coda Zero to design and manufacture an electric truck to shuttle dairy products.

Woods said the electric truck will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 71 tonnes per year and has significant demonstration potential for the heavy logistics and transport industry.

"Projects like this are vital to show others in the heavy logistics and transport industry that electric trucks are not only viable but have very low running costs," she said.

Tourism Holdings will receive $402,000 to convert an electric van into a campervan, invest in charging equipment working with holiday parks, and develop dedicated travel itineraries with charging stations at 100km intervals. Beyond this project, they aim to have 20 electric campervans on the road within one year.

Among others, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare will receive $72,500 of the funding to install 74 EV slow chargers and two medium speed DC chargers to encourage staff to purchase EVs.

The Motor Industry Training Organisation will receive $95,000 to develop a qualifications framework for technicians working on electric vehicles. Currently, there is no NZQA-registered qualification or national standard for this work.

NZ annual net migration was unchanged in November

NZ annual net migration was unchanged in November from a year earlier as fewer New Zealanders left while net foreign migration decreased.

Annual net migration was at 70,400 in the year to November, the same as November 2016, Statistics NZ said.

The figures show a net 1300 New Zealanders left, from 1900 a years earlier.

New migration peaked at 72,000in July year, and the latest figures continue the recent trend of reducing annual net migration levels, Stats NZ said.

There were 27,800 in then Novembher2017 year, compared with 22,900in the Nnovemnber2016 year".

More non-citizen migrants arrived in the latest year, at 99,500 from 95,100 a year earlier.

US net migration jumped 50 per cent to 2000 in the year, while UK net migration rose 20 per cent to 6500.

Short -term visitor arrivals, which included tourists, people visiting family and friends and people travelling for work, reached 3.7 million in the November year.

That was up 8 per cent from ma year earlier and a new annual record on an annual basis to 1.9 million.

NZ residents took 2.8 million trips in the year, up 10 per cent from the previous year, up- m10 per cent from the previous years, up 10 per cent from the previous year, with the biggest increases from people going to French Polynesia, Japan and Spain.

Getting Auckland back on track with light rail

15 December 2017

The new Government couldn't be clearer in showing how determined it is to do what it takes to get on top of Auckland's deep-seated transport problems - it will use enabling legislation to fast-track the mass public transit projects it has flagged it wants built with speed and urgency.

A revised Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) package is close to being signed off between the key sponsors, Transport Minister Phil Twyford, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Mayor Phil Goff and deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore.

Light rail, or what some cities call a fast tram and others rapid rail, will be at the heart of the transport transformation facing Auckland over the next decade.

Auckland Transport has been assessing routes and undertaking design work, including patronage modelling and traffic-congestion impacts over the past two-three years, which means the project can "hit the ground running".

The network as broadly envisaged is now well known:

  • A light rail line from Wynyard Quarter to Mt Roskill completed by 2021 and the America's Cup and APEC events, then, long-term an extension to Auckland Airport.
     
  • Light rail to airport and Mangere
     
  • A line to the North Shore taking advantage of the long-proposed third Harbour crossing that transport planners agree will be needed from the mid-2020s.

Other ramped up improvements to support an Auckland-wide mass transit network include upscaled feeder bus services to the main trunk rail and bus services, and much improved park and ride facilities.

A key outcome that Auckland Council in particular is wanting is to ensure the new rapid transit network hooks up with the three urban intensification areas set out in the Unitary Plan - Drury, West Auckland and Silverdale and long term Warkworth - where housing developments are already under way to provide 110,000 new homes and 50,000 new jobs over the next 30 years.

The existing transport infrastructure serving these areas is already heavily congested.

Light rail or its mass transit equivalent into these areas will be Auckland's 21st Century transformational circuit breaker!

$2billion-plus town centre, 2500 residences planned for Drury

17 December 2017

A new $2 billion-plus 2500-residence community with an entirely new town centre is being planned near Drury.

Charles Ma is heading the development of Auranga to be created on a 160ha site in South Auckland, 36km south of Auckland City.

"This will be $2b-plus project and 2500 residences will be built, from apartments to stand-alone homes, ranging in price from $585,000 to $1.5m," the Shortland St-based Ma said.

Initially 1350 residences were planned but other land purchases had been made and the scheme had grown to a proposed 2500 residences, Ma said.

Some of the land is already zoned for the project but other parts are not and a planning application is with Auckland Council, Ma said.

The site lies on the inner reaches of Manukau Harbour's Pahurehure Inlet, west of Drury village and Ma said 29.3ha of earthworks are now underway. Part of the land - an 84.6ha slice - has been zoned a Special Housing Area.

Resource consents have also been approved for about 400 residences and the civil construction contract has been awarded for the first stage, he said. The first titles are due to be issued later next year or in 2019, Ma said.

The civil engineer in his 20s has a degree from Auckland University and is chief executive of Made - Ma Development Enterprises - and chief executive of Auranga.

A major upgrade, with over $2 billion of infrastructure and developments planned. The more than $2b of public and private investment will be committed over the next 10 years.

Ma said that there would be wide footpaths and design features to minimise cars in residential locations.

Residential, commercial and retail uses were envisaged including a new village centre, school, retirement village and many hectares of public land, he said.

Although the site is far from the city's CBD, many new residents of Auranga will work in the area, he predicted. The scheme would take about a decade to complete.

New Sylvia Park restaurants opening in expanded dining lane

14 December 2017

Auckland foodies get an expanded multimillion-dollar dining precinct from today when four out of six new restaurants open in a suburban shopping mall.

And the two that aren't quite ready are expected to be open by Christmas.

NZX-listed landlord Kiwi Property will this morning officially open The Grove, its new $8.9 million dining lane at Sylvia Park, Mt Wellington, Auckland.

The new food offerings, a new town square, landscaping, dining pavilion and automatic canopy are part of that project on the ground floor of an $80 million, 10-level office block Kiwi is developing at the mall, where it has $200m expansion plans, including a new Farmers department store.

The new restaurants join the existing line-up of eateries, which have been operating for some years.

Grove diners will be sheltered by a 50m-long Teflon-coated canopy that automatically unfolds at the first spots of rain.

Auckland plans for Holocaust tribute

Auckland is getting its first ever Holocaust tribute in the form of a garden made using cobblestones from a Jewish ghetto.

The Auckland Holocaust Memorial Trust (AHMT) will begin designing a living landscape called the Garden of Humanity in the Auckland Domain after gaining the Auckland Domain's Committee's approval last week.

An overgrown pond outside the Winter Garden has been indicated as the likely spot and will have about 200 cobblestones built around the water.

The cobblestones were originally part of a street in a ghetto in Warsaw, Poland and were donated to the Auckland War Memorial Museum by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum five years ago.

The Ghetto was an important symbol of human triumph in the face of adversity, after its Jewish residents refused to be deported to the death camps and fought against German soldiers for nearly five weeks in 1943.

AHMT founder and Auckland resident Bob Narev spent two years in Theresienstadt concentration camp in the Czech Republic before being sent to Switzerland and the immigrating to New Zealand in 1947.

Narev said there was a growing interest in the lessons that could be taken from the Holocaust.

His wife and he were among the youngest Holocaust survivors, so other avenues to teach younger generations had to be explored Narev said.

"There's not many of us left to tell the story. We are excited about it happening here."

The garden would have the potential to show people what discrimination and racism and persecution could lead to, he said.

AHMT spokeswoman Nadine Rubin Nathan said it was surprising Auckland didn't have a public memorial for the Holocaust.

'We realise the Holocaust took place outside of New Zealand, but of course there was a massive impact on the home front," she said.

More than 11,000 Maori and Pakeha soldiers were killed in World War 11 and 26 New Zealanders were in concentration camps, she said.

It would be a reminder of the consequences of silence, apathy and bullying, she said.

The site has been approved, pending on the design presented.

NZ forecast for warmer than usual summer

Opposite to that of the northern hemisphere, New Zealand's balmy summer season runs from December to February.

Summer's on the way and this year, the heat is ramping up.

A preliminary forecast shows above-average temperatures for most of the country over summer.

The reason we have high confidence it's going to be warmer than average temperatures, is the ocean temperatures are higher than average around New Zealand, and north-easterly winds.

Rainfall is a bit more mixed. The northern and eastern part of the North Island we think that rainfall will likely be near normal or above normal.

For the west of the South Island we think that rain will be near normal or below normal.

For the North Island, this summer could bring more humid days than usual.

America's Cup: Team New Zealand's Peter Burling wins World Sailor of the Year award

5 December 2017

Team New Zealand's Peter Burling has been named as the world's best foiling sailor after winning the World Sailor of the Year award for the second time.

Burling picked up the award following his impressive performance within Team New Zealand's crew that sailed the mighty 50-foot catamaran to victory at the America's Cup in June.

The 26-year-old won the prestigious gong from Foiling Week, an organisation that holds foiling forums for innovation in the sport's development areas and regattas around the world.

The award ceremony was held in Garda, Mexico, but the sailing star couldn't attend as he was racing with Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race set to conclude in the Netherlands.

"It has been a really cool year up in Bermuda. It's awesome to get the accolade," said Burling at the awards ceremony via a video message from Cape Town where he has arrived following the second leg of the race.

"Thanks to the foiling community, it is obviously an immense honour to be given this award," he said, "It has been an incredible year pushing the boundaries with the America's Cup with the whole team over there, pushing the boats super hard."

"Definitely the improvements we made throughout that cycle were pretty amazing and then to be able to jump on a Moth and have a good bit of fun with so many other people doing the same thing and enjoying foiling around in Lake Garda, was pretty cool as well."

Nominees for the award included Team New Zealand skipper Glenn Ashby, along with two French ocean sailors, Thomas Coville and Armel Le Cleac'h.

Burling has joined Sir Russell Coutts, who won the title in 1995 and 2003, as the only two Kiwis to have won the award twice.

Burling said he's excited to see the foiling game challenged once more by Team New Zealand's new 75-foot foiling monohull boat design, which was revealed in November, ahead of the 2021 America's Cup scheduled for Auckland.

"I am sure it will be pretty fast and we keep pushing the edge of technology and the edge of the sport ... something that is going to be really cool," he said.

"The future looks pretty exciting for foiling, a pretty cool concept for the next Cup boat, hopefully other teams will get behind it."

Monster ships could be heading for Auckland


Ovation of the Seas in Auckland last summer

3 December 2017

Auckland Council plans to install ''mooring dolphins'' off the end of Queens Wharf which would allow cruise ships more than 300m to berth rather than anchor in the harbour and their passengers and crew forced to take tenders to shore.

But a lobby group has pledged to fight the plans, saying they could become beach head for further reclamation and it questions the economic spinoff figures cited by the cruise industry.

Royal Caribbean's Oasis class ships, which are up to 227,000 gross tonnes, could now be attracted to New Zealand.
The ships are bigger than the 169,000 tonne Quantum class ships such as Ovation of the Seas which called at New Zealand ports last summer and will return later this month.

Oasis class ships are 361m long while Quantum class vessels are 347m long.

The mooring dolphin structures would be between 80m and 85m linked to the end of the wharf by a gangway and are scheduled to be in place by the 2019-2020 cruise season.

Royal Caribbean's managing director Australia and New Zealand, Adam Armstrong, has criticised slow progress on the new facilities in the past but said he was happy the council had now committed to build them.

''It's three years later than we would have liked but there is light at the end of the tunnel,'' he said.

His company would look at New Zealand as a possible destination for its Oasis class ships as being able to berth at Auckland was critical for changeover stops where thousands of passengers get on and off the vessel. These passengers fly into a city and often stay on land before and after their cruise and are especially lucrative for local economies.

''I think at some point in the future would we put one of them into the region and look at which ports could take ships that size. I think it's absolutely possible.''

Cruise New Zealand chief executive Kevin O'Sullivan said becoming a major cruise hub would offer huge benefits to Auckland's economy.

The council says dolphins will allow larger ships to berth to the east of Queens Wharf and will also enable cruise ships to berth on the west of the wharf with the planned modifications to the ferry terminal as part of its waterfront plan.

They were one part of a ''phased solution'' for cruise infrastructure that could eventually result in Captain Cook wharf used as a cruise ship terminal.

The council says the cost of the dolphins would be recovered ''over time'' through cruise ship passenger levies imposed and collected by Ports of Auckland.

Cruise New Zealand says more than 236,000 passengers travelled to this country last season, and that figure is set to grow to 344,000 by 2018-19. Last year it said the cruise industry injected $484m into the New Zealand economy.

Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (Ateed) uses Cruise New Zealand forecasts, which show Auckland is expecting 123 ship visits during the 2017/18 season, bringing with them an estimated 300,000-plus passengers, and contributing $245 million to the regional economy.

Estimates of cruise tourism's contribution are reported in terms of expenditure (direct spend), GDP (value added), and employment. Expenditure includes everything spent by passengers, crew and vessels.

Flood of apartments not enough to meet demand

25 November 2017

Auckland City's skyline is undergoing a rapid transformation as a record number of apartments rise from dusty holes in the ground and cranes work overtime - a building boom which has also been blamed for a drop in central Auckland median house prices.

More than 3500 city apartments are due for completion in the next two years - and there are more still rising in the suburbs.

Despite the current apartment boom, Evans and other property experts say thousands more are needed to help fill the rapidly-growing housing shortage in Auckland.

More than 80 per cent of apartments due for completion in 2018 and 2019 are pre-sold so will not enter the pool of housing stock.

New data from Colliers Real Estate estimate 2406 apartments will be completed in Auckland city and the city fringe in 2018 and close to 3000 will be completed in 2019.

There are also 4018 apartments due for completion in the greater Auckland area - outside the CBD - in the next three years.

The apartments range in price from $575,000 for a one-bedroom inner city apartment to more than $2m for high-end city fringe apartments.

Evans said despite the record number of apartments due for completion most had sold off the plans years ago.

"These numbers, even though they are record numbers, are in no way close enough to meet the current demand," Evans said.

"The apartment undersupply plus the shortage of new terrace and standalone houses means as at the end of 2017 there is a shortage of 40,000 new dwellings in New Zealand."

Evans said if the current population growth of 40,000 each year was maintained there would be a need for 15,000 to 18,000 new houses and individual dwellings per year.

Well known developer Ockham Residential has five large developments under construction and said demand continued to grow.

The company's developments sold-out before construction started, spokeswoman Maria Salmon said.
"People are really enjoying living in well-built developments but at an affordable price point.

Auckland Harbour Bridge to be lit up on anniversary weekend - Vector

24 November 2017

Pleasure boats will swarm the gulf, lightly-clad bodies will throng the beaches and parks and, on one of Auckland's most recognisable structures, the lights will go on for the first time.

The traditionally warm and settled Saturday of Auckland Anniversary long weekend, January 27, has been chosen as the launch date for a bold plan to illuminate Auckland Harbour Bridge with lights powered by solar energy.

The transformation of the 58-year-old coathanger-style structure will begin with the launch of Vector Lights - a six-minute specially-composed opening show sequence featuring original music and spectacular lighting effects.

The show, which can be synched via smartphone or radio, will start at 9pm and repeat every half hour until midnight, with an ambient light display in-between.

The opening show, which will reference Tama-Nui te Ra (the sun), Hikohiko (electrical energy), and Hei te Ao Marama (the future world of light), will also be streamed online at vector.co.nz/lights

Just as the Sky Tower shows its colours in support of various events throughout the year, the bridge will also be programmed to celebrate special occasions.

In between, the lights - 90,000 LED lights, which can be individually programmed, and 200 floodlights - will subtly frame its architecture.

The project - which will cost about $10 million - is part of a 10-year energy efficiency partnership between power company Vector and Auckland Council. Vector is paying most of the costs spread over several years and the council will fund digital programming of the lights for special events.

It is believed to be the first major bridge in the world to have all its lighting powered entirely by solar power from 630 panels installed on top of North Wharf in Wynyard Quarter.

Mayor Phil Goff said lighting the bridge would add vibrancy and interest to both those who call the city home and those passing through.

Generating the energy required by using solar power also highlighted Auckland's commitment to sustainable energy and tackling climate change.

"With the generosity of Vector in meeting most of the cost, we are gaining an asset for Auckland to make our city a more interesting and vibrant place."

Vector chief executive Simon Mackenzie said the light show would be an evolving showcase of new energy solutions.
These would illustrate what a more sustainable energy future could look like, he said.

Having a permanent lighting display on the bridge would also be a first for the NZ Transport Agency, which manages the bridge infrastructure.

International Travel and Migration:

Annual net migration was 71,000 in the September 2017 year, Statistics New Zealand said today. Migrant arrivals were 131,600 and migrant departures were 60,600.

"The annual net migration in September 2017 was lower than the record annual net migration of 72,400 reached in the July 2017 year," population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said. "Compared to this peak, we had fewer arrivals and more departures in the September 2017 year."

In the year ended September 2017, net migration was mostly driven by non-New Zealand citizens, who provided New Zealand with a net gain of 72,600 migrants.

Migration of New Zealand citizens saw a net loss of 1,600 migrants.

Auckland's future population under new migration scenario

Stats NZ's latest projections for Auckland indicate a population growing from 1.6 million in 2016 to 1.9-2.1 million in 2028 and to 2.0-2.6 million in 2043. These projections are based on assumptions about the three basic components of population change - births (fertility), deaths (mortality), and migration.

For Auckland to reach a population of 3 million or more by then, it would need sustained fertility and/or net migration levels that are significantly higher than those experienced in recent decades.

Auckland is New Zealand's economic powerhouse, contributing 38% of the nation's GDP - ranked first in the world for ease of doing business.

In June 2017, New Zealand has an estimated population of 4,793,700, up from the 4,027,947 recorded in the 2006 census.

The median child birthing age was 30 and the total fertility rate is 2.1 births per woman in 2010.

America's Cup: What Auckland can learn from San Francisco and Bermuda

23 November 2017

Traditionalists still talk about the 2000 and 2003 editions of the America's Cup in Auckland as the high-water mark for regattas.

In Cup circles, a New Zealand accent is taken as an invitation to revisit the glory days in Auckland in the early 2000s when the city's freshly developed waterfront was given the ultimate christening.

You hear stories of BBQs at bases, of the shenanigans that went on in Syndicate Row, the crush of people that piled into the Viaduct each day, and the magical sight of the Hauraki Gulf crowded with spectator craft.

They'll try to recall the name of their favourite restaurants, that vineyard they visited on Waiheke Island, and inquire if the rowdy pub they frequented still stands.

But it is mostly the intangibles they reminisce about. The atmosphere. The vibe. The buzz.

"The atmosphere was outstanding," enthuses US America's Cup writer Diane Swintal.

"Auckland had it all: with the team bases right in the Viaduct area so fans could watch the boats go out (and some fan access areas at the bases themselves), all the restaurants, nightlife and hotels, and the ease of getting spectator boats, it really was the perfect America's Cup venue."

Bruno Trouble, the French yachtsman whose name became synonymous with Louis Vuitton Challenger Series, told the Herald after Team NZ's 7-1 win in Bermuda he had been hoping for a return of the America's Cup to the city of sails.

Even Jimmy Spithill, the vanquished skipper of Oracle Team USA, has sung the praises of Auckland as a venue.
"I started my America's Cup career in New Zealand, I've spent a lot of time in Auckland ... and let's face it, it's just such a fantastic venue for it, because people are just so into it and so passionate about it," Spithill told Newstalk ZB.

The America's Cup proved the catalyst for rejuvenating the Auckland waterfront. What was once a grubby fishing village - an assault on the eye and the nose - was transformed into a vibrant entertainment precinct, albeit one with far more Irish pubs than is representative of our population.

It energised the city, giving the waterfront back to Aucklanders. It should never have taken the America's Cup to achieve this, but it is a powerful reminder of the legacy hosting major events can create for a city.

In the years since the Auld Mug slipped from Team New Zealand's clutches after their disastrous defence of 2003, other host cities have been unable to replicate that heady atmosphere, particularly over the last two cycles.

Valencia, Spain, completely redeveloped their waterfront with great success, and managed to capture some of the fun and colour of a large multi-challenger event, but left a legacy of debt.

San Francisco had its photogenic bridge and moody Bay. It also only had three challengers, whose team bases were, in some cases, separated by an entire body of water - except for Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa, who shared a pier, because they discovered long ago that sharing is caring. Or, probably more to the point, sharing is sparing (cash). Step outside the village on pier 30 and there was little awareness, or interest, in the event.

Bermuda had its gleaming turquoise waters and that whole exclusive resort vibe going on. But it was too exclusive. Its remote location and limited infrastructure made it difficult for anyone without significant means to get there.
The day Team NZ secured the magic eighth win to claim the America's Cup - a Monday, local time - the event village was relatively sparse with only diehard Kiwi supporters who made the trek over, event staff, and friends and family of rival syndicates in the crowd.

Most of the local Bermudians were back at work, or tending to their estates.

There was also a disconnect between Hamilton, the main hub of the island, and the event village, which was situated on its western tip. Once the sailing had wrapped up for the day, there was no entertainment area in the immediate vicinity for the crowds to shuffle off to. It left visitors with an overwhelming impression that it was all a bit flat.

Thanks to Team NZ's heroics in Bermuda, Auckland now has an opportunity to recreate the (black) magic of events past, but it will take clever planning and bold thinking.

No city can do the America's Cup quite like Auckland does. But no city can get in the way of itself quite like Auckland does.

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

21 November 2017

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

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

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

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

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

The cost-benefit analysis ranged from 1.2 to 1.8.

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

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

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

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

New Zealand net migration rises

22 November 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Auckland settlement to rise on northern outskirts

13 November 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Frogley said that would also serve the new Milldale community.

Air New Zealand takes top spot in ratings site awards

3 November 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

New city near Auckland mooted

29 October 2017

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

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

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

Prefabricated housing could be used, he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

That was going to clog the city up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Zealanders continue to return home in strong numbers from Australia

18 October 2017

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

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

REFORMING ECONOMY AND OPTIMISM ABOUND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BECOMING COMPLACENT?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 October 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19 October 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New vehicle rise 4.5% in September

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

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

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

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

3 October 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job growth is running strong throughout the city.

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

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

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

Tourists spent 7.4 million guest nights in Auckland

Residential consents hit 13 year high in August driven by Auckland

30 September 2017

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

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

Retirement village unit consents more than tripled in the month.

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

Kaikoura rail rebuild largest since WWII

16 September 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biggest hotel development boom in NZ history

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transport hubs the new frontier for developers

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

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

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

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

Integrated transport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The New Zealand economy in 2016

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

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

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

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

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

How fast has Auckland's economy grown?

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

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

Auckland's train network hit 20 million trips last year

8 September 2017

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

Passenger numbers have steadily increased 20 per cent each year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

NZ wine pops export cork

7 September 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building work on the rise

5 September 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29 August 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tourism boom keeping Air NZ, Auckland Airport in clover

24 August 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Record population growth of 100,000

22 August 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NZ migration hits record in July despite more Kiwis leaving

21 August 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

$700m convention centre project and hotel emerges from ground

10 August 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Office drought set to be a flood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 August 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Government details construction boom

3 August 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unemployment falls to lowest level since 2008

2 August 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home consents near 2004 numbers

31 July 2017

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

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

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

Meanwhile, consents were booming in smaller centres as well.

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

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

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

Auckland getting new electric trains

27 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New wellness hotel for Auckland

26 July 2017

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

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

The Auckland project will also include a Holiday Inn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

June trade surplus $242 million, boosted by dairy exports

26 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

25 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English meets the Jewish Congregation

 

13 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

4 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 July 2017

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

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

Nevertheless, the New Zealander has big responsibilities:.

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

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

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

Auckland's Waterview tunnel opens

2 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

NZ could reap $1bn from hosting Cup

27 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

23 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27 June 2017

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

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

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

The finals went as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Zealand world's second most peaceful country

22 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Jones tipped to be coming to Newmarket

21 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

19 June 2017

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

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

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

NZ consumer confidence ticks up in June quarter on optimistic outlook

19 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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


Waterview tunnel to open to cars in early July

18 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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."

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