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Auckland and New Zealand news:

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English meets the Jewish Congregation


13 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 July 2017

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

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

Nevertheless, the New Zealander has big responsibilities:.

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

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

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

Auckland's Waterview tunnel opens

2 July 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NZ could reap $1bn from hosting Cup

27 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

23 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27 June 2017

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

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

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

The finals went as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Zealand world's second most peaceful country

22 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Jones tipped to be coming to Newmarket

21 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

19 June 2017

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

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

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

NZ consumer confidence ticks up in June quarter on optimistic outlook

19 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Waterview tunnel to open to cars in early July

18 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

The fit-out programme included:

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

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

18 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NZ regrets fallout with Israel: Brownlee

14 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NZ terms of trade rises to 44 year high

1 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Airport trust launched to upskill and find jobs for thousands

Construction workers at Auckland Airport

1 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28 May 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24 May 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks

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

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

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

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

24 May 2017

A brief background ahead of tomorrow's Budget.

Five points you should know:

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

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

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

NZ annual net migration still running at record levels

19 May 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Zealand wine taking the USA by storm

22 April 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working Holiday Visas to New Zealand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Countries eligible for a working holiday visa in New Zealand:

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

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

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

Links for more info:

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

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


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

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


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

Skilled Migrant Category

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

Upcoming visa changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common mistakes to avoid

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

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

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

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

More information

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

Booming in the Technology Sector

12 May 2017

Tech sector attracts foreign cash

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

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

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

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

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

Investment in NZ tech sector triples

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Increased taxes, lower spend helps swell NZ government coffers

10 May 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Auckland's population is growing faster than anticipated

Inner city report

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

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

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

City Centre population growth exceeds 2032 targets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further five year progress updates are:

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

Boom times for small tourism businesses come with a warning

4 May 2017

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

But they are facing problems recruiting and retaining staff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NZ dollar gains as data shows jobs growth

3 May 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28 April 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28 April 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27 April 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Migration hits another record

26 April 2017

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

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

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

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

Brownlee understands the Trump talk

Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee

25 April 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 April 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Air New Zealand among top airlines in TripAdvisor survey

11 April 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Zealand's broadband speeding up

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

Faster connections

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

The Gig

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

Developing technology

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

New Zealand's top broadband towns

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

Is better broadband at your place?

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

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