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Auckland and New Zealand news:
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
"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
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,"
"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
Transport hubs the new frontier for developers
Transport authorities, retailers and property developers
are set to unlock the commercial power of previously dormant
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
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
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.
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
Auckland's $3.4 billion City Rail (CRL) tunnel link work
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
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
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
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
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
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
Another record-breaking year for domestic and international
visitor spending saw GDP for accommodation and food services
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
- 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
Passenger numbers have steadily increased 20 per cent each
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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'
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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
200 congregants listened to a very supportive Israel
address by the Prime Minster and then answered some
very searching questions primarily about NZ / Israel
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
Photo at top - Prime Minister Bill English on the
Kiwis win off the field as Lions rugby tour brings in the
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
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
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.
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
"I think all the guys are highly sought after because
we have been able to pull of something absolutely fantastic"
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
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
"I know last week in the Monday meeting I welcomed five
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"It might even be a little higher than [$1b]."
Sir Ralph said he understood planning for a defence was already
"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
It's ours! Team New Zealand claims America's Cup after 14
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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