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NZ Super Fund wants to own and operate two of Auckland's light rail projects

9 May 2018

Work is about to start in Auckland on two light rail lines, not one - and the New Zealand Superannuation Fund wants to build, own and operate both of them.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Finance Minister Grant Robertson made the surprise announcement today. The ministers said Cabinet has agreed that work should start on both lines straight away, with an open tender process for the funding, construction and operation of the lines.

One light rail line will run from the central city to Mangere and the airport.

The City to Mangere light rail line will run from Wynyard Quarter, up Queen Street, across to Dominion Rd and down to Mt Roskill, then to Onehunga and across the Manukau harbour to Mangere, on through the industrial airport zone to a terminal at the airport.

It will be a commuter line connecting the 55,000 households already located on the route with the city's two-fastest growing employment centres - the city centre and the airport precinct. Tens of thousands more homes will be built along the route in the coming decades.

The line will also provide a frequent and reliable public transport link for airline passengers.

The second light rail line will be a northwest line, running from the central city in parallel with the Northwest Motorway to Westgate and eventually to Kumeu.

The northwestern line is also a commuter route, linking the central city to existing suburbs like Te Atatu and the fast-growing new suburbs of the outer northwest, including West Harbour and Hobsonville. In time the route will be extended to Kumeu and perhaps Waimauku.

This line is expected to follow the route of the Northwest Motorway, in a similar way to the Northern Busway on the Northern Motorway.

Both light rail lines should be in use well within the next 10 years.

Unemployment rate drops to lowest in nearly a decade

2 May 2018

The strong labour market has delivered another drop in the rate of unemployment from 4.5% - to 4.4%.

This takes those without jobs back to the same level as nearly a decade ago in the boom leading up to the global financial crisis in late 2008.

As unemployment figures dropped to near decade lows, employment growth in this March quarter rose 0.1%.

The unemployment rate for men fell to 3.9% whilst women fell to 4.9%.

New Zealand based Ohmio Automotion inks 150 unit autonomous shuttle deal

28 April 2018

New Zealand autonomous vehicle developer Ohmio Automotion may just have scored the largest deal for autonomous shuttle vehicles in the world.

Ohmio inked an agreement to supply 150 shuttles to Korean company Southwest Coast Enterprise City Development (SolaSeaDo) in Seoul, South Korea, today.

However, the agreement is dependent on SolaSeaDo securing a deal to build a large scale smart city in Korea. SolaSeaDo is in the advanced stages of securing that contract and will know later this year if it has been successful.

The shuttle agreement was signed by Mohammed Hikmet, the founder of Ohmio parent company HMI Group, and SolaSeaDo president Yoon Jin Bo.

“This is a significant development for Ohmio and a major vote of confidence in what we have developed," Hikmet said.

The Ohmio LIFT is a 20-person autonomous shuttle that can be extended to carry up to 40-passengers (the Ohmio LIFT XT1) and operates on pre-determined routes without a driver. The offering will provide services similar to a tram, but with "virtual rails" and guided by a range of electronic systems.

Dean Zabrieszach, CEO of HMI Technologies, said he was not aware of any other commitment to deploy as many vehicles.

"We think this is the largest single deployment of autonomous shuttles in the world,” he said, adding that SolaSeado was "very confident" about that outcome of the smart city negotiations.

Ohmio has been developed by HMI in Pakuranga, Auckland, launching the first demonstration in Christchurch last September, using prototype vehicles to showcase the automated shuttles and the robotic technologies underpinning them.

“These first vehicles were to show we had developed the know-how to build an autonomous vehicle," Hikmet said.

"Since then we have been developing the Ohmio LIFT, a vehicle that we expect will be used in a range of environments such as airports, business parks and central city areas."

Ohmio's first sale was to Christchurch International Airport in March.

Having recently met with potential investors and customers in Asia and North America, Hikmet said there was a lot of international interest in Ohmio.

And Australia's most loved brand is... Air New Zealand

19 April 2018

For the second consecutive year, Air New Zealand has maintained its coveted spot as the number one most reputable company - in Australia.

In the latest Corporate Reputation Index from Australia's Reputation Institute, the New Zealand airline beat Qantas and Virgin Australia, which came in third and fourth respectively.

Air New Zealand also trumped well-known major corporates such as Toyota, Apple and Nestle.

The national carrier's general manager for Australia, Kathryn Robertson, said Air New Zealand was determined to be Australia's airline of choice.

"From our artificial intelligence powered chatbot Oscar, who helps thousands of Australian customers get answers to their questions, through to our $100 million lounge investment programme ... Air New Zealand is focused on offering Australians a better way to fly across the Tasman and beyond," Robertson said.
"We're thrilled to continue to be held in such high regard."

Earlier this month Air New Zealand announced an increased Tasman schedule. From the end of October, Air New Zealand will offer 15 per cent more seats across the Tasman year on year, including two new routes from December.

New electric buses on Auckland's City Link service next week

13 April 2018

Two electric buses will run on the City Link service in Auckland from next week, only weeks after the city's first full battery-powered bus hit the road servicing AUT's Northcote and Manukau campuses.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter launched the City Link buses today in a joint project between the Government's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and Auckland Transport (AT).

EECA is also involved with AUT and bus company Tranzit Group in the 35-seater bus transporting hundreds of students a day.

Goff said compared to diesel buses, the new e-buses will be cleaner, quieter and provide passengers with a better experience.

"Auckland is serious about leading the response to climate change in New Zealand and internationally. Transport contributes over a third of greenhouse gas emissions in Auckland and this trial supports our efforts to lower emissions in our city.

"Last year I pledged with mayors from around the world to work towards making our streets fossil-fuel free. As part of the declaration I committed Auckland to procure only zero-emission buses by 2025. Today marks a positive step towards achieving that goal," Goff said.

Genter said electric buses are great news for people working, visiting, and living in the city. They're better for the climate, they're quieter, and keep the air we breathe clean, she said..

"It's great to see trials like this, which will help local and central government learn and plan for large scale deployment of zero emissions buses."

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff cut the ribbon on the city's first two electric commuter buses. Photo / Auckland Transport.
Auckland Transport Chief Executive Shane Ellison said the two buses will help AT develop a Zero Emission Bus Roadmap for Auckland.

"These buses will help us accurately estimate whether electric buses meet the needs of our customers, what routes they can operate on and, of course, whether they're commercially viable.

"In January, we replaced some of our fleet vehicles with electric cars. These 20 cars are performing well and are just the beginning of the change to EVs for Auckland Transport," Ellison said.

The supplier of the buses is Alexander Dennis/BYD.

ADL New Zealand general manager Tony Moore said the buses for the trial are based on the Transport for London e-buses.
"We are working with progressive transport authorities, cities and enlightened political leaders around the world to introduce, emission-free transport solutions.

"The mayor has made it clear that Auckland intends to lead the way in the drive towards a greener, cleaner environment and the introduction of these buses is important in that journey."

Auckland Transport was awarded $500,000 from the EECA Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund towards one of the buses and charging infrastructure. Auckland Transport's contribution towards the cost of the buses is $1.21m.
EECA is also funding the installation of 60 EV charging stations at Auckland Transport parking facilities.

Immigration restrictions fail to dampen numbers as NZ hits record net migration gains

29 March 2018

An unprecedented increase in arrivals of foreign nationals last year has given New Zealand its highest net gain ever recorded, despite the Government's efforts to restrict immigration numbers.

New Zealand had a net gain of 72,300 permanent and long-term migrants in 2016/17 or 4.7 per cent more than the previous year, according to the annual Migration Trends report released today.

It was also the seventh year-on-year increase for work visas - with 152,432 temporary workers in the country on 30 June last year or 16 per cent higher than the year before.

But the number of new international students had dropped 3 per cent, bringing the total number of student visa holders to 75,578, or 1 per cent lower than the same period last year.

There was a growth of 34 per cent in study to work visas, 17 per cent in essential skills visas, 12 per cent in family work visas and 8 per cent in working holiday scheme visas.

New work visa approvals were 8 per cent higher than the year before.

The high number of work visas reflected growing issues of labour supply and a reliance on immigrant labour in some industries. These temporary workers are important for two reasons, they fill key labour shortages and they provide a pool from which permanent residents come.

Migration Trends 2016/17:

  • Net inward migration gain 72,300 (up 4.7 per cent)
  • New student visa approval 75,578 (down 1 per cent)
  • Temporary work visa holders in NZ 152,432 (up 16 per cent)
  • Permanent residence approval 47,684 (down 8 per cent)

Tourism spend in Auckland up

21 March 2018

The latest Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) show that tourism spend for Auckland is estimated to be $8.3 billion for the year to January 2018, up eight per cent compared with the year to January 2017.

MBIE Manager of Sector Trends Mark Gordon says that of this tourism spend in the year to January 2018, international visitors spent $4.3 billion (up 10 per cent compared with the year to January 2017), and domestic tourists spent $3.9 billion (up six per cent) in that period.

"When it comes to the monthly expenditure, tourism spend in Auckland for the month of January 2018 is up 12 per cent compared with the month of January 2017," says Mr Gordon.

Guest nights hits record in January as visitors flock to hotels and holiday parks

12 March 2018

New Zealand guest nights hit a record in January, rising 1.4 percent on the year with hotels and holiday parks in high demand.

Total guest nights increased to 4.97 million in January from 4.9 million a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said. Of that, international guest nights rose 3.1 percent to 2.2 million, outpacing a 0.2 percent gain in domestic accommodation stays to 2.9 million.

Stats NZ said January is typically the height of the peak season for many accommodation operators and usually the time when records are set.

"International guest nights also reached their highest-ever level in January, even as international visitor arrivals dipped slightly in the month," accommodation statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said. "This may be because some people who arrived in 2017 stayed on in January."

New Zealand has been enjoying a booming tourism sector in recent years as low airfares made it easier for visitors to travel to the remote South Pacific destination and the weakening kiwi dollar has added to the nation's allure.

The occupancy rate across accommodation types lifted to 58.7 percent in January versus 57.2 percent a year earlier.
The figures show hotel guest nights rose 6 percent to 1.39 million in January from a year earlier, with international stays up 4.9 percent to 736,000 and domestic stays up 7.2 percent to 652,000.

Hotel occupancy was 74.4 percent in the month, compared to 72.2 percent a year earlier.

Biggest knuckle boom crane in southern hemisphere arrives in Christchurch

9 March 2018

The only crane of its type in the southern hemisphere has arrived in Christchurch to become part of the New Zealand construction scene.

The $1 million machine is the largest knuckle boom crane produced by Palfinger with a 50-metre reach and able to work in confined spaces.

The owner of Hire Frankton, Ross McFaul the $1million crane is the largest knuckle boom crane in New Zealand
He said the crane was highly versatile and easy to set up for its size and reach.

"We can set up on the side of the road or in narrow spaces between buildings with no disruption to traffic, or elaborate traffic management plans.

"I could park this crane on the goal line of a rugby field and it could pick up a 500 kilgramme weight on the half way line with the boom parallel to the ground. That how much reach it has," McFaul said.

The crane's extension boom and fly-jib have a reverse linkage system that can reach through low door openings and work inside a building.

The boom can even pass right through a building to operate on the other side.

The machine is officially called a PK200002L SH, but McFaul calls it "Jock", and is operated with a remote control system.

All the safety features can be monitored from the remote control, he said.

The crane was built in Austria at Palfinger where it was fitted and tested.

McFaul said getting Jock onto the roads because of concerns about its size, and he thanked staff at the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Initially the crane will be based in Christchurch for rebuild construction, maintenance and repairs, installation of new plant, and possibly wind farm blade repair work.

Some of the first work has been carried out at the University of Canterbury.

New York Times shines a light on 'laid-back' Auckland's sophistication

9 March 2018

Auckland's laid-back feel and sophistication are outlined for readers of the New York Times, one of the world's most influential news titles.

In the publication's 36 hours slot - "What to do when you've got 36 hours to get to know a city" - travel writer Elaine Glusac samples slices of the city's life and its treats.

She liked what she found.

"The New Zealand city is laid-back and outdoorsy, but its sophistication shines in its expanding art scene, thriving fashion industry and a new generation of chefs embracing native ingredients."

But in an article devoted mainly to Auckland's natural treasures, cultural and commercial attractions, and good coffee, Glusac finds space to join the city's inhabitants in moaning about the traffic.

She declares: "Close to one-third of New Zealand's estimated 4.5 million population lives in Auckland, a geographically blessed - and traffic cursed - city spread over at least 50 volcanic cones on a North Island neck of land between two large harbours."

Glusac's 36 hours took her on a swing through the Auckland Art Gallery and the Auckland Museum, along Karangahape Rd, the city's "counter cultural side", an America's Cup sailing experience, part of the Coast to Coast walkway, Britomart, Wynyard Quarter and Waiheke Island.

Impressed by the museum, she wondered at its full name.

"Devoted to the story of New Zealand from geology to politics, the Auckland War Memorial Museum holds treasures obscured by its title, namely the vast collection of indigenous Maori art works and crafts."

For sustenance, Glusac delighted in an "edible landscape" at one restaurant, Pasture, whose offerings included smoked quince and butter aged "so it tastes like Camembert", and in the "unusual dishes" such as spicy peanut butter and carrot kimchi on toast at Orphans Kitchen.

"Coffee-crazed New Zealand is a country where you can find a barista at a rural gas station. Espresso bars seem stationed on every corner in Auckland."

The co-owner of Pasture, Laura Verner, said it was a nice surprise to be featured in the Times and she hoped it would be good for business.

"I had no idea Elaine was from the New York Times. We found out months afterwards when she wrote to us to clarify details."

Verner said Pasture, which opened in August 2016, had hosted many foreign visitors. It had a strong international following, having featured in overseas publications and through social media.

What lies beneath: Auckland City Rail Link plans unveiled


3 March 2018

Three new stations will be built for Auckland's underground rail line, the City Rail Link.

You cross the threshold. You arrive at the entrance to the station, step inside and find yourself in a great public entrance to a hall of sound and light; the station itself will be the third and deepest on Auckland's new underground rail line.

In another of the stations, there are multiple entrances. In this other station the ceiling also provides a sculptural form that defines the space, this time, with hundreds of rods, some wooden, hollowed, cut to different lengths so that you're walking beneath a shimmering, undulating blanket.

The station in the heart of the central city, has the access point for two universities, the midtown workplaces and the arts and entertainment precinct of Aotea.

The light will change, by day appearing as if seen through the raupo in the stream; by night, a constellation of stars - sculptural possibilities in a constant state of renewal.

The rods represent the upward growth of crops, and also a great population and an abundance of wealth. Many will be notched, the light on the notches creating a pattern that simulates the flow of water to the sea. There's a lot going on in that ceiling.

For all the wonder of those two large stations, it's the third, the smallest of the three that is the most surprising.
Mt Eden is currently an anonymous nothing space, a kitset suburban station, blandly conceived for functionality and security.

The new design rethinks all that.

"The threshold begins," says the official blurb, "with an open civic space that radiates out from the station." It's a community space, a performance space, a forecourt that holds the people in it as if in the palm of a hand. As you enter the building itself you discover a space defined not by its ceiling but by a wall of carved basalt, curved in form, layered with taniwha, shimmering with water running down its face.

If the city is in transit itself, changing the way it works, railway stations can help. That's what Auckland is doing, or going to be doing: unclogging the roads, confronting climate change, embracing the multitude of meanings of community. Stepping over those CRL thresholds will be a part of it.

In the 19th century they built great railway stations all through Europe and America: glass and wrought-iron masterpieces that celebrated the marriage of technology, art and personal aspiration for all. It wasn't done by accident.

The creators of the undergrounds of London, Moscow, Paris and elsewhere art to create lovely public spaces specific to their location. The Paris Metro is lovely in the same way the London Tube is lovely, but they do not look like each other. What they share is a commitment to what designers call a sense of place. That's what the designers of the CRL stations have done.

Simon Bridges emerges as next National Party leader, Paula Bennett his deputy

27 February 2018

Simon Bridges has emerged victorious from a caucus vote to decide the next leader of the National Party.

Paula Bennett was elected deputy leader in a process that saw two rounds of voting for both. Bridges cited "caucus confidentiality" in refusing to reveal who ran against Bennett for deputy, but sources have confirmed it was Judith Collins.

Speaking at a press conference after the vote, Bridges said of his leadership "Yes, we'll hold the Government to account and in that regard we'll be firm but fair," he said.

National would support the policies it saw as taking the country forward, while opposing those it thought were regressive or "treading water".

"We'll also be an alternative Government in waiting", but he would not be laying out a full suite of new policies immediately, he said. "New Zealand deserves better than a Government that is just muddling along."

Bridges signalled a greater emphasis on the environment, and has previously pointed towards the potential for working with the Greens as a coalition partner after the 2020 election.

"Over time, we will continue to develop positive policies for our economy, as well as education, health and law and order."

National's newly elected leader says his party will be an alternative government in waiting.

Tractors cut a path to record trade

27 February 2018

For the year ended January 2018, the value of tractor imports was up 51 per cent compared with the previous year.

In a sign of growing confidence within the agricultural sector a big jump in tractor imports and other farming supplies has helped boost total trade activity to record levels in January.

Goods exports were a record $4.31 billion for a January month, up 9.5 per cent on last year, while imports surged 17 per cent to a new high of $4.88b for that month.

Imports of mechanical machinery and equipment jumped 23 per cent to $700m, elevating it to the largest import commodity group for the month.

Stats NZ noted a strong lift in agricultural imports with the value of imported tractors rising $27m - or 191 per cent - in January from the same month last year.

For the year ended January 2018, the value of tractor imports was up 51 per cent compared with the previous year.

The lift in imports of agricultural machinery did fit with a picture of improving confidence in the sector, said ASB rural economist Nathan Penny.

"The stars are aligning across the agriculture sector in general," he said. "We are seeing pretty good prices for most of the sectors within agriculture."

The rise in exports was led by milk powder, butter, and cheese, the country's largest commodity export, which increased 8 per cent to $1.37b.

The value of meat and edible offal exports jumped 17 per cent to $689m, while exports of logs, wood and wood articles surged 26 per cent to $292m. Fruit exports fell 12 per cent to $85m.

NZ ranked least corrupt country, again

22 February 2018

This is the third year in a row New Zealand has been named the least corrupt country by the index.

New Zealand has once again been rated the least corrupt country but Open Government Minister Clare Curran warns there's still more work to be done.

On Thursday, Transparency International released its latest Corruption Perceptions Index. New Zealand took out the top spot, ahead of 179 countries.

This is the third year in a row New Zealand has been named the least corrupt country by the index.

New Zealand was ranked in the top spot. Previous years was in 2016, and 9.

In 2016, Denmark tied with New Zealand for the top spot, it has now dropped slightly behind to the second least corrupt country in the world, with a rating of 88.

Australia ranked 13, with a score of 77 out of 100. Canada and the UK ranked eighth equal.

Auckland welcomes the Volvo Ocean race

21 February 2018

The Volvo Ocean Race sails into Auckland this week bringing with it all the glamour and frivolities one would expect of a competition of such prestige.

Right now, the six yachts – carrying nine Kiwi sailors, including America’s Cup heroes Blair Tuke and Peter Burling - are duelling down through the Pacific, from Hong Kong in a race for home town honours and the bragging rights of leading the fleet into Auckland for the 23 day stopover.

Burling and Tuke, who took New Zealand to America’s Cup victory in Bermuda in 2017, are pitted against one another on separate boats and due to arrive in Auckland around 27th February.

Peter Burling who is sailing with Team Brunel has watched previous Volvo Ocean Race fleets come into Auckland says the arrival into Auckland will be one of the highlights of the epic nine-month race.

“It’s going be pretty cool to be part of Team Brunel this time. I’m looking forward to seeing all the people on the docks when we sail in to Auckland and I hope they will cheer for us,” says Burling.

Tuke who is sailing with Mapfre says the Auckland leg is one he has been looking forward to.

“I have not been home since late September. To sail into New Zealand will be pretty special for myself and all the Kiwis on the different boats.”

Won by Sir Peter Blake in 1990, Grant Dalton in 1994, and Mike Sanderson in 2006, the Volvo Ocean Race (formerly known as the Whitbread Around the World Race) is inextricably linked to New Zealand sailing, with Kiwi sailors on every one of the six internationally sponsored boats.

In this edition, Burling and Tuke face off against the first Kiwi woman competitor in almost two decades, Bianca Cook, sailing on Turn the Tide on Plastic.

Tank farm to go for America's Cup bases at Auckland waterfront

A deal has been struck to free up land on Wynyard Point and pursue the possibility of a new option for the America's Cup bases.

The Government and Auckland Council are pursuing an option that provides for at least seven syndicate bases around two basins in the Wynyard area with provision for restaurants and bars, public viewing, and hospitality areas.

Dutch company Stolthaven Terminals has agreed to vacate its southern tank farm site on Wynyard Point early.

The deal also clears the way for more land-based locations for America's Cup bases and reduced the proposed extension to Halsey Wharf from 75m to 35m.

Economic Development Minister David Parker says the proposal is a win-win for all parties involved. "Our main aim alongside creating a top-class venue for Team New Zealand and the Cup defence in 2021 and, hopefully, beyond," Parker said.

Reducing costs and environmental impact while offering an excellent venue for the Cup defence is the main focus of talks.

Parker said that he was very pleased to have proven that there was an option that has less intrusion into the harbour, gets rid of the tank farm early and is cheaper.

The Government and Auckland Council will continue discussions with Emirates Team New Zealand.

City Rail Link above-ground opportunities identified

19 February 2018

Development opportunities for up to 20ha of new Auckland CBD and fringe city floor space have been identified around the $3.4 billion City Rail Link, as the time to award the tunnelling and station contracts draws near to be approved next month.

A City Rail Link spokesman said between 190,000sq m and 200,000sq m of gross floor area was possible, including offices and housing.

17,600sq m could be built, at the new Aotea station near Auckland Council 41,000sqm, at Karangahape 320sq m and at Mt Eden 5000sq m.

Big Street Bikers planning electric charging stations across Auckland

16 February 2018

Matt Weavers and his company Big Street Bikers are on a mission to convert Auckland commuters from four wheels to two.

The electric bike company has partnered with energy company Mercury to develop a public, solar-powered electric bike recharging station in the Viaduct, with plans to roll out smaller versions across the city this year.

The pilot scheme will run until the end of summer when Weavers hopes to set up the next recharging stations, which will support Auckland Transport's connected bike network plans.

Weavers says planning a point-to-point recharging system across the city may seem ambitious, but the company is already in talks with a number of major property owners and companies, looking to have re -charger in their apartment buildings or for their workers.

"We are seeing a lot more people using electric bikes and it's a great solution to Auckland's traffic problems," Weavers said.

"Our plan is to have these all around the city and there are a whole lot of investors who are keen to put up some cash which will help us roll it out."

Cycling has been growing in popularity with more than 1,000 new cyclists on the roads every month according to Auckland Transport.

Statistics from the government agency also showed 177,574 cycle trips were recorded in November 2017, up 19.4 per cent on the previous year.

The main issue with electric bikes however was their cost, Weavers said.

"You could easily spend $8,000 on an electric bike so part of what we're doing to alleviate that is selling them on subscription.

"You can put down $250 and then pay off the bike at $30 a week so it's a ride-to-own model and it works out cheaper than the bus," he said.

The company's electric bikes are $2,500 to buy outright but Weavers said electric bikes in general would become cheaper as they became more popular.

Mercury chief marketing officer Julia Jack said the company was excited to partner with Big Street Bikers to encourage Kiwis to use electric bikes.

Plans to transform Cordis, Auckland into NZ's biggest hotel in time for America's Cup, Apec

The Langham Hospitality Group plans to expand its Auckland Cordis hotel to be the biggest in New Zealand by room count.

A new 16-floor tower is scheduled to be opened late in 2020, in time for the America's Cup and Asia Pacific Economic Forum (Apec), two major events scheduled to be held in Auckland the following year.

The hotel is 10 levels at the moment and the expanded building would include a private VIP entrance for a lift to the upper floors.

The new tower will be connected to the existing hotel will house an additional 250 premium rooms and suites, taking the total to 650. The size of the new rooms will start from 32 square metres and the brand new Club Lounge will have panoramic views of the harbour and the central city.

Auckland is suffering a shortage of hotel accommodation, especially at the luxury end, and the Cordis expansion will be welcomed by the tourism sector.

Event space at Cordis, Auckland will also be expanded.

The hotel currently has more than 2000sq m of event space and there are plans to add about 400sq m that will offer natural light and multiple configurations, allowing for more flexibility in hosting events.

Franz Mascarenhas, managing director of Cordis, Auckland said the expansion would meet the increasing demand for business and leisure travellers visiting Auckland as a result of the successful tourism campaigns.

''We also see more families and couples doing stay over long weekends and special occasions.''

Work could begin as early as late this year. He would not disclose the cost of the new development.

Auckland Airport's second runway to be louder and longer

15 February 2018

Auckland Airport wants to extend the consent for its second runway to make it almost 1km longer. The second runway will be built north of the international terminal.

The airport expects the second runway to be operational by 2028, when the current runway will reach capacity.

The project has been on the horizon for years. Consent for a second runway was first approved in 2002, but the airport now intends to build the runway further north and 833 metres longer than what was consented.

Airport spokeswoman Lisa Mulitalo said the extension would further "future-proof" the runway and make it possible for wide-bodied aircraft like the Boeing 787s and Airbus A380.

Passenger numbers are forecast to reach 40 million a year by 2044, up from 19 million last year.

Auckland Airport has set aside $202m for the first five years of the project and wants to raise landing fees to fund it.
While the cost of the new runway has not been finalised, $202 million has been set aside for the first five years.

Aviation consultant Irene King said the new runway provided both economic and employment benefits to the region and would sustain the airport for the next 30 to 50 years after it was built.

Bill English resigns as leader of New Zealand's national opposition party

13 February 2018

English made the announcement at a press conference at Parliament with many MPs standing behind him. His wife Mary and sons were also there.

On September 23 last year, English had also claimed the result gave him a "moral authority" to have first go at forming a government.

That result of 46 per cent (58 seats) later shrank to 44 per cent (56 seats) but National was still ahead of Labour and the Greens' combined tally - albeit by just two seats.

The result followed a gruelling campaign as English, 55, tried to counter what he described as the "stardust" of Labour leader Jacinda Ardern by pushing his own record of strength and stability and hammering at the uncertainty around Labour's tax policy.

English rebuilt his famous financial reputation internationally as well as being New Zealand's Finance Minister and deputy to Key in the National Governments from 2008 to 2017.

English was handed the prime minister's job when PM John Key resigned telling National's caucus English had the greatest chance of returning National for a fourth term.

English's fame was enhanced by his skill and leadership through the global financial crash and three major national disasters handled with a quite calmness and assurance that became his inimitably trademark style.

While Key had lent National his brand of pragmatism and "compassionate conservatism" from 1999 to 2008, much of that was work engineered by English especially in the "social investment" model.

Labour administration has inherited a booming economy

13 February 2018

New Zealand snared $600m more tax than expected in the second half of 2017, according to statements released by Treasury today.

This includes a slightly larger than expected operating surplus of $1.1 billion for the last six months of 2017.

This was more than three times the $311 million surplus predicted and up from a wafer-thin $9 million surplus a year earlier, the latest government accounts show.

When combined with higher than expected Crown entity results, the surplus was $800 million more than forecast, Treasury said on Tuesday.

Core Crown tax revenue was $37.2 billion for the six-month period and was $597 million ahead of forecast, due largely to source deductions tracking $300 million ahead of expectations and GST $200 million ahead. Treasury officials said they expect some of those gains to remain through to the end of the financial year on June 30.

Overall core Crown tax was $600m higher than what was expected in the Government's half-year economic and fiscal update, released in mid-December.

Tax sent straight to IRD was $300m more than expected and the GST take was and $200m more than expected.
Core Crown expenses were $39.6b - slightly higher than the $39.5b forecast.

New Zealand's jobless rate falls to nine-year low

7 February 2018

The unemployment rate dropped to 4.5 per cent in the three months ended December 31.

New Zealand's jobless rate fell to a fresh nine-year low in the December quarter.

The unemployment rate dropped to 4.5 per cent in the three months ended December 31 down from 4.6 per cent in September, Statistics New Zealand said in its household labour force survey.

That's the lowest level since the December 2008 quarter and below the 4.7 per cent forecast in a Bloomberg poll of 12 economists.

Employment rose 0.5 per cent in the quarter to 2.61 million and was 3.7 per cent higher than a year earlier. Economists had expected a 0.4 per cent quarterly gain.

Regarding wage inflation, Stats NZ's said private sector wage inflation rose 0.4 per cent in the quarter for a 1.9 per cent annual increase.

Public sector wage inflation was up 0.5 per cent in the quarter for a 1.5 per cent annual gain, and across both sectors, wage inflation rose a quarterly 0.4 per cent and an annual 1.8 per cent. In September it lifted an annual 1.9 per cent.

Dairy prices jump 5.9% at Global Dairy Trade auction

7 February 2018

New Zealand economists gauge as a barometer the Global Trade Auction price index as a major indicator of the country's well being.

So a jump of 5.9% and its economically trickle down affect for the nation is greeted by economists from relief to back slapping enthusiasm.

Dry weather during much of summer was expected to make its presence felt at the auction, due to diminished milk supply.

Fonterra has said that it expects production to fall by 3 per cent over this season, compared with last, due to drought in parts of the country.

Lingering doubts about New Zealand supply conditions helped drive dairy prices sharply higher at this morning's GlobalDairyTrade auction, with the GDT price index gaining 5.9 per cent since the last sale in mid-January.

Fonterra has said that it expects production to fall by 3 per cent over this season, compared with last, due to drought in parts of the country.

ANZ rural economist Con Williams said the gains so far this year in GDT prices would bring year-to-date milk price indicators back in line with Fonterra's $6.40/kg milksolids forecast.

"The improvement was driven by lingering New Zealand supply concerns and more price sensitive buyers filling the Chinese post New Year void," he said in a commentary.

"Price sensitive buyers have also been aided by a lower US dollar at recent auctions," he said. Williams said supply developments in New Zealand would remain important.

ASB Bank rural economist Nathan Penny said today's strength reinforced the banks' more optimistic 2017/18 milk price forecast of $6.50/kg.

"On the production side, we expect the improved weather will lead to production growth of 1 per cent compared to last season," he said.

First shipment ever of NZ avocados arrives in China

7 February 2018

Horticulture has been on a steep growth trajectory in recent years, driven mostly by a strong performance from the kiwifruit and apple export sectors.

Now the first air freighted consignment of fresh New Zealand avocados has landed in China, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said.

The shipment follows agreement and signing of a protocol on phyto sanitary requirements between New Zealand and China last November, and a technical audit of New Zealand's regulatory system for exporting avocados by Chinese officials in January.

MPI director-general Martyn Dunne said securing export access for avocados into China had been a top priority for the horticulture industry.

"Granting of avocado access is the culmination of substantial work and negotiation over a number of years between New Zealand and China, and we're excited to reach this milestone," he said.

New Zealand's avocado exports have boomed in recent years.

In 2016/17, New Zealand exported $155.5 million of avocados into markets including Australia, Japan, Singapore, Korea and Thailand - an increase of about $64m from the previous season.

New Zealand will compete for shelf space in China with fruit from Mexico, Peru and Chile - the only other countries currently benefiting from market access.

Net migration to New Zealand to the end of 2017 still above 70,000

Annual net migration to New Zealand from all countries was at 70,600 in the 12 months to December, from 71,200 in 2016.

The figures, released by Statistics New Zealand yesterday, show a net 71,100 non-citizens arrived in the year, while a net 1000 New Zealanders left.

Stats NZ's figures, as the FT points out, show that 3614 people migrated from the United Kingdom in 2015 - the year before the country voted to leave the European Union.

In the 2016 calendar year migration from Britain jumped to 5588 and in 2017 it reached 6371.

USA migration to New Zealand is up from 1286 in 2016.

Newmarket mall shuts this week for $655m rebuild

Westfield Newmarket, in the area where shoppers spend nearly $9 billion annually, closes this week ready for a $655 million redevelopment.

Scentre Group said its last day of trading would be this Thursday, the mall would be shut from Friday and it promoted sales in stores.

Scentre acknowledged its presence in the suburb, saying it got 5 million annual customers visits to the 31,592sq m Westfield Newmarket which made $148.3m total annual retail sales.

"The centre is the largest retail complex in Newmarket and caters to a trade area population of almost 534,000 residents," Scentre says.

Its owns 309 Broadway - across Mortimer Pass from the mall - as well as the mall at 277 Broadway. That takes up an entire city block.

"Spread across two sites, a major redevelopment of the buildings and land holding at 309 property s commenced '' the centre says.

The total retail spend by the Westfield Newmarket total trade area was estimated at $8.9 billion.

Retailers in Newmarket outside the mall fear 277's loss, with its 1,244 car parks, Countdown supermarket and 112 specialist stores.

Residential building consents rise to 13-year high

2 February 2018

New Zealand residential building consents advanced 3.4 per cent last year to their highest level in 13 years as a jump in apartment and townhouse consents offset a decline in stand-alone houses.

A total of 31,087 new homes were consented in 2017, up from 30,066 consents in 2016 and marking the highest level since 2004 when 31,423 new residential buildings were consented, according to Statistics New Zealand.

In the latest year, consents for apartment units surged 35 per cent to a 13-year high of 3,239, while consents for townhouses, flats, units and other dwellings rose 11 per cent to a 23-year high of 4,875. In contrast, stand-alone house consents fell 1.4 per cent to 21,022 while retirement village units slipped 0.1 per cent to 1,951.

"While stand-alone house consents fell in 2017, they still account for the lion's share of all new homes consented," construction statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said.

"The fall in stand-alone houses consented was more than offset by a large rise in new apartment units consented during the year."

McKenzie said there was strong residential building consent growth in 2017, led by major gains in Auckland the post-2011.

In Auckland, where building supply has failed to keep up with population growth in the nation's largest city, residential consents lifted 8.4 per cent to a 13-year high of 10,867.

"Over a third of all new homes in New Zealand were consented in the Auckland region last year, which is in line with Auckland's share of the New Zealand population," McKenzie said.

"This is the first time since 2004 that the proportion of new homes consented in Auckland exceeded their share of the population."

Record numbers of retirement village units, townhouses, flats, and other units were consented in Auckland last year.

Auckland Harbour Bridge shines a light on city's cultures

27 January 2018

From this Anniversary Weekend, Vector, in conjunction with Auckland Council light up the Auckland Harbour Bridge with about 90,000 LED lights, using solar-generated energy.

And the iconic landmark turned into a brilliant "artwork" illuminating the vibrancy and power of the city's richly diverse cultures.

During this Auckland Anniversary weekend - the bridge was lit up in dazzling style by 90,000 LED lights and 200 floodlights.

As the solar-powered Vector Light unleashed its majestic beauty over the Auckland Harbour Bridge thousands of people who crammed viewing points around the city embraced the stunning spectacular.

Scores of boaties took to the harbour to get an even more special view of the show. People described the display as "pretty damn cool", "fantastic", 'brilliant".

The display was also a hit online, with thousands watching via Vector's live stream on Facebook.

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

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

Auckland mayor Phil Goff has seen a preview of Vector Lights. "I thought it was really great."

"The harbour bridge is an iconic part of Auckland anyway but to have it lit up in a special way - is going to make the whole city more vibrant and more interesting, both to those of us that live in the city and to visitors to the city.

"I think Auckland will like it. They'll like it because of the vibrancy and the excitement of it. They'll like it because the equivalent energy that's being used by the lights is being generated by solar energy, so it's a bit of a statement to the world that we're committed to sustainability."

Goff says it is great that the show acknowledges the diversity of culture in the city.

"Forty per cent of us that live in Auckland were born in a country other than New Zealand.

"I think we've got a hell of a lot to celebrate in Auckland. We've got diverse communities. with over 180 different ethnicities.

"That richness of diversity and what diverse cultures can bring and the talent and the interest that they bring, is part of being an Aucklander. So let's celebrate it, and [lighting up] the harbour bridge is one way of doing that."

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

The eight-lane, 58-year-old motorway bridge would be turned into "a public art piece" by Vector Lights, says Kofoed, a partner in Auckland production-animation company Assembly.

"The bridge is such a functional thing… it's just designed to keep cars out of the water. [But] when you give it a new form, with colour, movement, and you basically can almost redefine what the bridge looks like - as a designer, it's pretty exciting."

New Zealand's role in finalising the TPP (now called CPTPP) trade deal

25 January 2018

Eleven countries have agreed to the revised Trans Pacific Partnership (now a new agreement called the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership, CPTPP to be ceremonial approved in Chile in March.

Other nations acknowledged the NZ initiative that successive New Zealand Governments and officials had brought to the table in fashioning the ambitious goal.

This resulted in this country being installed as the "depository" for the TPP.

The onus has since been on New Zealand to keep negotiations moving.

That's why former National Party Trade Minister Todd McClay criss-crossed the Pacific for months in 2017 to work with Japan to reinvigorate TPP after Donald Trump pulled the pin on US participation.

The original TPP would have covered 40 per cent of the global economy.

Having greater access to the US would have assisted NZ exporters. But it is significant that Japan's protections against NZ agricultural exports will diminish once the new deal goes into effect.

A revamped version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact (the CPTPP) is now set to be signed in March. Here are some of the reactions from around New Zealand:

  • "The CPTPP progress reported today is brilliant news and opens up further opportunities for New Zealand exporters." - Agriculture and associate Trade Minister Damien O'Connor
     
  • "The agreement had been hard won, and was immensely worthwhile ... The CPTPP will reduce the tariff burden on our producers, allowing New Zealand and New Zealanders to earn more overseas, while growing jobs and businesses here at home." - BusinessNZ chief Kirk Hope
     
  • "The bipartisan approach by both governments to this important agreement has been a remarkable achievement." - ExportNZ executive director Catherine Beard

Unxpected operating surplus tax

25 January 2018

The New Zealand government posted an unexpected operating surplus in the first five months of the financial year as rising consumer spending bolstered GST and a robust labour market boosted income tax.

The operating balance before gains and losses (obegal) was a surplus of $125 million in the five months ended November 30, compared to a forecast deficit of $457m and turning around a shortfall of $768m a year earlier.

That was largely due to a 5.5 per cent increase in the tax take to $30.41 billion surprising on the upside with GST about $200m ahead of expectations and source deductions also tracking $200m more than forecast.

A delay in treaty settlements also saw expenses tracking $161m below expectations at $33.28b.

"Underlying GST is expected to remain above forecast as the GDP data released by Statistics New Zealand on 21 December showed that growth in the September quarter in both private consumption and residential investment was above forecast," the Treasury said in comments accompanying the accounts.

"Some of this variance is expected to be timing differences, which are expected to reverse out at the next GST filing due date in January."

The November Crown accounts are the first to capture the new administration, which took office in late October.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson outlined the numbers behind the government's 100-day plan at the December half-year fiscal and economic update, projecting smaller surpluses than his predecessor over the next two years before generating bigger ones at the end of the forecast horizon.

"While it's too early to fully establish whether all of this positive variance will remain through the year, some of it is expected to remain," Robertson said in a statement.

"The numbers are an initial sign of how businesses have been performing and how consumers have been spending in recent months."

The operating balance, which includes unrealised movements in the value of the Crown's investment portfolio, was a surplus of $2.39b, beating a forecast surplus of $1.65b, bolstered by $3.9b of investment gains recovered in the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and Accident Compensation Corp portfolios.

That was offset by a $1.4b actuarial loss registered on ACC's long-term liability, which was valued at $40.91b as at November 30.

The Crown's net worth was $113.02b as at November 30, up from $94.1b a year earlier.

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."

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