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Surprise taxi checks at Auckland airport following high-fare complaints

Auckland Airport to audit taxi journeys and calls for taxis to offer fixed fares.


Following passenger complaints of high fare, Auckland Airport will now regularly undertake mystery passenger audits of taxi pick-ups from the airport, says Richard Barker, Auckland Airport’s spokesman.

“Any drivers and companies found to be charging excessive amounts or taking longer than necessary routes will be immediately reported to their employer and, if required, to the New Zealand Transport Agency.”

Richard has however denied claims that taxis in Auckland are overcharging for the airport fare.

“We reject claims that Auckland Airport is responsible for the high taxi fares across Auckland. Almost all of the costs incurred by the taxis to operate at Auckland Airport are recovered directly from passengers through the $6 to $8 ‘airport pick-up charge’.”

“Taxi companies are therefore responsible for the rest of the taxi fare.”

“Travellers who get stuck in Auckland traffic congestion should be aware that ‘waiting fees’ will be added by the taxi company to their fare when the vehicle is stationary or stuck in slow moving traffic. This will significantly increase the total amount they have to pay.”

At the same time, Richard would like to see cabbies introduce new offers for customers, which could include fixed fares to the city and other key locations. “We would expect this action to reduce the cost of the longest taxi trips from the airport.”

Taking the clue, Green Cabs has announced fixed-fare rates to the city and North Shore.

Green Cabs will charge flat fares of $65 to the city, $97 to Takapuna and $110 to Albany for airport passengers.

Lifestyle News

Pets in Miami most pampered in US Unveils List of Most Pampered Pet Cities in the U.S. – Miami, Seattle, Atlanta, San Francisco and Portland ranked “top dogs” with the most pet-related items purchased per capita in 2013.



The honor of being the Top Dog goes to Miami as the most pet-loving city in the United States.

To mark May as the National Pet Month, revealed a list of the most-pampered-pet cities in the U.S. based on 2013 sales of pet-related items: from dog toys to cat grooming items and bird treats.

Miami Is Best In Show

Miami pet-owners bought the most toys overall for their pets, and spoiled their dogs and cats by buying the most apparel and accessories, grooming products and health supplies. The residents of Miami know how to pamper their pets: the city ranked highest for pampering their dogs, cats, birds, aquatic animals and reptiles.

Treat-Less In Seattle? Not Likely

While the city ranked second overall, Seattle locals love to give their animals treats. Seattle topped the list for buying the most treats for dogs, cats, birds and other small animals.

Horsing Around In San Jose

The residents of San Jose, California, followed by Colorado Springs, Colorado, Long Beach, California, Nashville, Tennessee, and Omaha, Neb., showed the most love for their horse friends by buying the largest number of horse-related products.

Most Popular Pet Products

The best-selling pet-related items based on the number of units sold in 2013 included:

The Cat Dancer 301 Cat Charmer Interactive Cat Toy

Kyjen Hide-A-Squirrel Puzzle Toy for Dogs

StarMark Clicker Dog Training System

“We love our four-legged friends at Amazon, ” says Kristiana Helmick, Category Leader of Amazon Pets.

“Hundreds of dogs walk the halls every day in our Seattle headquarters—and we’re excited to see who else around the country pampers their pets.”

“From Miami to Seattle, it’s clear that there are pet lovers coast-to-coast, and this list gives a bit of insight into where some of the most devoted pet owners (and most fortunate pets) call home.”

Those who shop the pet store through can choose their favorite pet-related charity and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible items.

The Top 10 Most-Pampered-Pet Cities in America

  1. Miami
  2. Seattle
  3. Atlanta
  4. San Francisco
  5. Portland, Ore.
  6. Washington, D.C.
  7. Las Vegas
  8. Austin, Texas
  9. Tucson, Ariz.
  10. San Diego

44 Punjabis detained in US jail want political asylum, complain of poor food and discrimination

Even as 44 Punjabi detainees in Elpaso Detention Centre, who were arrested by US authorities for illegally entering there through US-Mexico border last year, ended their hunger strike in the third week of April, a visit by North American Punjabi Association’s executive director Satnam Singh Chahal to the centre and interaction with the detainees has revealed that their issues were yet to be sorted out.


44 Punjabis detained in US jail want political asylum, complain of poor food and discrimination


Auckland appoints ethnic panel

Auckland’s community-based ethnic peoples panel has colours of different ethnicities as the new appointments by Auckland Council reveal.

The panel is designed to provide the council with “big picture” intelligence on issues important to diverse groups, and advise on effective engagement, says a statement by Auckland Council.

The council received many applications and the final selection was based on the criteria of having good knowledge of their communities, experience with governance and advisory roles, and an understanding of council’s future direction.

“It was a robust process,” says Grant Taylor, Auckland Council governance director. “We were greatly appreciative of the motivation and enthusiasm of all candidates.”

The ethnic panel will meet once a month and will work closely with the liaison councillor – Councillor Denise Krum (Ethnic Peoples), untill their term expires before the local government elections in 2016.

The Ethnic Peoples Panel for Auckland

  • Feroz Ali (interim chair), managing director, New Zealand Career College
  • Carlos Abdelrahman, community engagement coordinator, NZ Aids Foundation
  • Asoka Basnayake, senior advisor, Tertiary Education Commission, Manukau
  • Naoe Hashimoto, executive assistant, efu Investment Limited
  • Anita Keestra, lecturer/business trainer
  • Yee Yang ‘Square’ Lee, company director, WhySquare Limited
  • Angela Lim, medical student, deputy chair Manukau Counties DHB Community Panel
  • Kafeba Mundele, chair of the New Zealand National Refugee Network
  • Dave Tomu, sales consultant
  • Liu Shueng Wong, director, Intercultural Works Limited
  • Christian Dee Yao, research and teaching fellow, Massey University
Immigration News

Canada celebrates Asian Heritage Month


migrate to Canada

Baljit Sethi has made significant contributions to racial harmony in Canada.

When Baljit Sethi left India for a better life in Canada in 1972, the term ‘multiculturalism’ wasn’t mainstream.

Finding her feet in a foreign land wasn’t easy. Not only faced with a language barrier, but also cultural limitations, Baljit decided to help other immigrants, and find herself in the process.

Baljit understood that newcomers could not become part of their new communities without multicultural programs and the active promotion of racial harmony.

She founded the Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society of Prince George, which provides settlement services to communities in Northern British Columbia.  She worked to encourage interaction between immigrants and the population of Prince George, the benefit of which was felt across northern British Columbia.

Her tireless work over 40 years had given Canada the programs that continue to be used across the country to promote multiculturalism and equality.

A strong advocate for immigrant women, her contributions have been recognized with the Order of British Columbia award.

She is one the many Asians that have shaped the history of Asians in Canada. To commemorate Asians’ contribution, Canada is celebrating Asian Heritage Month throughout the country.

Canadians get an opportunity to understand and celebrate the contributions of Canadians of Asian heritage.

The concept is not new to North America. Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated in the United States since 1979.

In the last few years, Asians in Canada have started to celebrate their culture in May every year.

It was in 2001 that Canada officially adopted the motion proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy to designate May as Asian Heritage Month.


News Work Abroad

2 Indians charged in Canada for job fraud

Two Indians are among three people charged by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for the unauthorized employment of foreign nationals.

Following a three-month investigation, the CBSA’s Criminal Investigation Division charged Brampton-based 31-year old Kumar Gautam and 29-year old Nancy Gautam of unauthorized employment of foreign nationals.

It is alleged that the accused employed a number of foreign nationals who were not authorized to work in Canada.

The individuals and companies charged are: Kumar Gautam, Nancy Gautam, Shane Burrows, Logan Moving & Storage Inc., Shane’s Moving & Storage Inc. and EBS Transport.

“The CBSA is committed to supporting the employment of those authorized to work here in Canada and ensuring that employers abide by our laws.” says Goran Vragovic, Regional Director General of CBSA, Greater Toronto Area Region.


NZ holds rally for abducted Nigerian girls


Michelle Obama supporting the campaign for the rescue of abducted Nigerian girls.

Christchurch and Wellington will hold rallies next week in support of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign that is gaining momentum worldwide.

Since the news broke of kidnapping of 276 Nigerian girls on 14 April, social media and international news outlets have rigorously campaigned for the return of the girls, making the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls trend worldwide.

On Wednesday, 14 May 2014, New Zealand supporters of the young school girls, abducted in north eastern Nigeria, will be holding rallies in Wellington and Christchurch to ask Prime Minister John Key to add his voice to the call for the safe return of these girls to their parents.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown will address the walkers at Civic Square at 12.10pm and Minister David Shearer will address the walkers when they arrive at Parliament, says Jumoke Giwa, one of the organisers, who works with Change A Life Nigeria.

Change-A-Life volunteers in Wellington and Christchurch are organising this rally in solidarity with the abducted girls and their families in Nigeria. “Our primary aim is to raise awareness about the plight of the abducted innocent girls and potentially get the Nigerian government to secure the release of these girls within the shortest time possible,” says Jumoke.

Funmi Iyanda, the founder of Change-A-Life Nigeria, has cancelled her  participation at the ongoing World Economic Forum in Abuja, Nigeria, as part of her stance to call for the safe return of these innocent girls.

“My immediate concern is rallying support and generating interest to pressure the government into rescuing those girls, reassuring Nigerians, supporting the families and fighting Boko Haram,” says Funmi.


Wellington: Walk from Civic Square to Parliament , 12 noon

Christchurch: Cathedral Square, 4pm

Business Money News Work Abroad

NZ job market strong

highly skilled jobs in Auckland

highly skilled jobs in Auckland

Good news for job hunters and those seeking a change of job. The number of job listings on the Trade Me Jobs site has increased by 21% year-on-year.

The website had 50,000 roles listed in the first quarter of 2014. The growth in jobs is in all major locations in New Zealand.

Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury are seeing positive growth, says Peter Osborne, head of Trade Me Jobs.

“With more roles being advertised, Kiwis hunting that dream job are looking well-placed to consider their next career move.

Trade Me analysis  is in line with similar report from Westpac McDermott Miller (PDF file) which found that employment confidence is at an all-time high since the recession.

“The New Zealand job market is looking very rosy.”

Highest salary jobs are in Auckland

The Auckland region remains the powerhouse of the national job market, said Mr Osborne. “The City of Sails saw a 20% boost in job listings when compared to the same period last year, with central Auckland and Manukau experiencing significant jumps in year-on-year growth.”

For the first time, average salary in Auckland is higher than Wellington. In fact, those working in central Auckland could expect the highest average pay of the country, taking home an average annual salary of $72,302. This was ahead of previous leader central Wellington ($70,234), and New Plymouth (61,143).

Canterbury job listings were up 24% on the same time last year, with Christchurch city’s available roles also ticking up 24%. “It’s been a long process, but the rebuilding efforts in the area are still the primary motivators for activity in the employment market,” says Peter.

Jobs in Auckland Jobs in New Zealand

IT guys highest paid in New Zealand

“The need for skilled IT workers is reflected in the sector’s dominance of average pay packets,” Mr Osborne said. “Four of the top five are filled by IT architects, IT sales, IT project managers and IT managers, all taking home an average pay packet between $128,000 and $134,000 a year.”

Sectors seeing increased listings this quarter when compared to the same period last year included IT sales (up 166%), journalism (up 156%) and retail department manager roles (up 131%).

Peter says there was plenty of opportunity for employers too with recent research commissioned by Trade Me Jobs finding that 45% of employees were willing to relocate for a new job. “Employers should be confident there are plenty of potential candidates willing to consider the right role even if they’re not on the doorstep.”

More than half of employees (62%) cited better pay as their primary motivation for considering moving to a new location, but other factors included being made redundant, career development and a desire to relocate. “With the surge in job listings, now is a good time for anyone contemplating that next great role to put their thinking into action.”

Peter says Wellington was recently revealed as the most desirable New Zealand destination to head to for a new job. “We saw 18% of respondents choose the capital, while the Bay of Plenty was next with 14% of the vote,” he said. “The job market in Wellington is in good shape for new arrivals, with a 26% tick up in advertised roles on a year ago.”

NZ jobs by sector

Surprise down south

“We saw a huge lift in advertised roles in Southland, with a 41% increase,” he said. “We saw good growth in agriculture, trades, and healthcare. Jobs out on the pasture aren’t in short supply either, with advertised roles for farming up 113%.”

The number of roles advertised in the Taranaki region also lifted significantly, up 16% on a year ago.

Mortgage forcing employees to look for greener pastures

“As mortgage rates rise, so too does the desire for a better pay check at the end of the week. With perceptions of job opportunities markedly improving, and recent signs that firms are looking to step up their hiring efforts, it’s becoming a job hunter’s market.

“High salaries in IT are great for people working in those sectors, but research has also shown they are among the least likely of professions to move roles. Combined with a real skills shortage, this can only mean that IT professionals will continue to dominate the high salaried roles in the foreseeable future and in contrast to many other sectors the industry will find it increasingly difficult to land good, experienced IT staff.”

Immigration Lifestyle News

Auckland withdraws divisive survey

Following strong reaction from Auckland’s diverse communities, Auckland Council has withdrawn two research surveys perceived as encouraging racism.

A survey by Auckland Council has evoked strong reaction from the communities.  (Photo: Philip Capper)

A survey by Auckland Council has evoked strong reaction from diverse communities. (Photo: Philip Capper)

The council had sent the surveys to 20,000 households in Northcote and Balmoral – two of Auckland’s most culturally diverse communities.

People were asked how they felt, from “very cold” to “very warm”,  towards ethnic groups including Pakeha, Chinese, Indian, Korean, and “other Asian” people, says a report in The Aucklander newspaper.

The surveys, which cost $18,000, asked locals to say if their interactions with the ethnic groups were favourable or unfavourable; whether immigrants contributed to the economy; and if it was a good idea to have Asian businesses grouped together.

Auckland is home to 150 ethnicities as per the last Census. Some neighbourhoods have significantly higher Asian population. Balmoral and Northcote are two such neighbourhoods. As many as 40% people in Mount Roskill are Asians. This number is 21% in Northcote. At a national level, New Zealand is predominantly an European country (74%), with Asians accounting for only 12% of the total population.

Defending the survey, the council says the intention of the surveys,  was to enable an understanding of how interactions between people from different ethnic and cultural groups in a commercial context, influence wider social cohesion.

While the council has withdrawn the survey, it believes that the research was necessary. “Research on Auckland’s ethnic diversity and how it relates to precincts and local economic development is an important part of making Auckland the world’s most liveable city, says Harvey Brookes, Acting Chief Planning Officer, for the council.

“However, despite the council’s research ethics approval processes, we understand that at least one question in this survey may have caused offence to some people.

“Although this question was based on similar questions asked in national and international research in this area, we acknowledge that the question could be perceived as legitimising discrimination.

“We will write to the recipients of the survey, asking them not to complete it and advise them that the council will not process any surveys which have been returned.”

The council will review the survey design and consider issuing a re-designed survey at a later date.

Auckland Council wants to understand these demographic changes across Auckland’s communities and neighbourhoods, and explore the social and economic effects and implications of those changes.

The main objective of this type of research is to support Auckland Council’s work in local economic and community development by exploring the effects of change in the Dominion Road area and in Northcote.

Entertainment Lifestyle News

Women-only swim sessions irk some in NZ

Free swimming pools auckland new zealand

New Zealand’s Hamilton City may have a tough job on hand as it proposes to re-introduce women-only swimming sessions at the council-owned swimming facility.

Aimed at attracting more women to swimming, the proposal is being labeled as “man ban” by one of New Zealand’s largest news outlet – Stuff.

Stuff reporter Aaron Leaman says, “A man ban at one of Hamilton’s public pools is in the works to lure more women into the water, but critics have slammed the idea as “separatist thinking”.

Under a proposal being worked on by city council staff, men could be excluded from the Gallagher Aquatic Centre during twice-weekly women-only swimming sessions.”

It is ironic that a mainstream publication is labeling women-only sessions as “men-ban” plan, without clearly understanding the need for such sessions.

Similar line is towed by David Farrar on KiwiBlog. “That’s fair enough – so long as male ratepayers no longer have to fund the pool.” David overlooks the fact that many sporting facilities are funded by women-ratepayers and are predominantly used by male sportspeople.

The Stuff story has evoked strong reaction.

Disappointing headline to this article, says local community leader Anjum Rahman.  “To me, this issue is similar to women’s only gyms. It’s about providing access to people who otherwise wouldn’t be going to a swimming facility. I wouldn’t mind if the men had a similar session, if it meant more of them could access a pool.”

Agrees former race relations commissioner Joris de Bres. “If you frame stories like this, it’s no wonder you get a negative reaction. What’s wrong with “swimming sessions for women”. How tiresome. The separatist tag applied by the spokesperson for the residents and ratepayers is just silly.

“It’s perfectly permissible under the Human Rights Act; it’s done in a number of other centres. No one’s right to go for a swim is denied by this. I hope the Council goes ahead with the proposal.”

The article shows lack of cultural understanding of the media outlet. Hamilton is a diverse community, and it includes people from cultures where women traditionally wear loose garments and cover their heads, as well as women who have left countries which are not as peaceful as New Zealand is, says New Zealand-born Deborah Russell.

“Many of these women might like to swim, and would benefit from learning to swim, but do not want to wear the form fitting and really rather revealing clothing that New Zealanders usually wear when swimming.”

This is a classic example of people not understanding the difference between equality and equity and how treating people the same can marginalise people, says health professional Ruth DeSouza.

“I see this kind of thinking in health so often, where if a group has their unique needs met, there’s a zero sum game thinking mentality where if one group has something that responds to their unique needs, the fear is I will miss out, even though my needs are being catered to all the time.”

Many cities around New Zealand have already offered women-only sessions, including New Zealand’s biggest cities – Auckland and Wellington.

In fact, swimming lessons for Muslim women conducted at Auckland’s Cameron pool won the New Zealand Recreation Association Award for excellence, innovation and effectiveness.

The swimming programme was established in 2004 by the Auckland Somali Community Association, to help Muslim women improve their health, combat isolation and make connections within the community.

The successful programme attracts as many as 150 Muslim women from all over Auckland arrive at Cameron Pool every Sunday night just after it closes to the public at 6pm. For the next two hours, and for a nominal charge of $2, they get exclusive use of its facilities, overseen by specially trained pool staff.

Cameron Pool even provides ladies-only gym area and offers free sessions for women.

gym for women Cameron Pool Auckland


News Study Abroad

NZ schools to move tests online

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is marking the new era in the education sector of the country with the trial of its first online tests.

NZQA will trial NCEA level one maths test online at 20 schools in September with the help of an outsourced company – Education Perfect.

This is the common assessment administered at the end-of-year NCEA exam season.

However, there are concerns about the use of a contractor for conducting the test. The news of the online trial was first released on social media by the contractor, raising concerns over the loss of control in the crucial education sector.

President of the Post Primary Teachers Association Angela Roberts has already expressed her reservations about NZQA’s use of the private sector to deliver school exams, in a radio interview.


Immigration News Politics

MP Rajen Prasad retires

Indian MP New Zealand

New Zealand Labour Party’s Immigration spokesperson Rajen Prasad has declared his retirement from active politics as he says he is not seeking re-nomination for another term in Parliament at the next election scheduled for later this year.

“I have approached my professional and public life over the last 20 years, in the spirit of moving on to new challenges once I had made my parliamentary contribution.” says Dr Prasad – a former Associate Professor in Social Policy and Social Work from Massey University.

“My sixth year as a parliamentarian has also been a time to reflect on this role and consider other challenges I might accept.

“I have made this decision not to remain in Parliament, together with my family and friends and have informed the Party leader.

“I have been enormously privileged to have been given an opportunity to represent ethnic communities in general and the Indian community in particular in Parliament and in the Labour caucus. This has happened at a time of  enormous ethnic diversification in New Zealand.

Dr Prasad had earlier served as the Race Relations Conciliator, Human Rights Commissioner and a Member of the Residence Review Board.

“My experience from my life and my background in social policy and the front line social services has been  critical in framing our Immigration and Ethnic Affairs policies for the next election.

He has not revealed his future plans but has provided some clues. “I look forward to new challenges in the international environment as well as in business in the next stage of my life.”

New Zealand Parliament will miss him as a man of “integrity, intelligence and insight”, says fellow Labour list candidate Sunny Kaushal. “He is a man who just naturally radiated charm, warmth and honour.

It reminds of the words of the great poet Bertolt Brecht :
When the battle of the mountains is over
Then you will see
That the real battle of the plains will begin.

Of Fijian-Indian descent, Dr Prasad is 11th in a family of 14 children. He has two married children and lives with his wife in Auckland. He has lived and worked in West Auckland, Porirua and South Auckland.

Lifestyle News

Aucklanders shying away from cars

New Auckland trains

New Auckland trains

New Zealand’s largest city – Auckland – is sending signals that show that the tide in turning against use of cars for commute.

According to the latest figures released by Auckland Transport,  Aucklanders took 7.3 million trips in public transport in March – an increase of 4% in the number of people using public transport compared to March last year.

The year to March also saw strong growth with just over 71 million trips.

Rail continues to be the star performing with more than 11 million trips in the year to March, up 14% on an annual basis.

The jump in rail numbers reflects the improved on-time performance, integrated ticketing and the renewed interest in rail with the introduction of the electric trains, says Auckland Transport Group Manager, Public Transport Mark Lambert.

“March saw a record number of people using Auckland’s train services.”

The first electric trains started yesterday on the Onehunga line.

The Northern Express bus service also had a record month in March, up 6% for the year.

Other bus services carried 52 million passengers in the year to March, an annual increase of 3%.

Meanwhile, there was an increase of 9% in cycling in March compared to March 2013. The morning peak saw a rise of 20%.

Business Immigration News Opinion

Hugh Pavletich: NZ’s bubble economy is vulnerable

australia mining jobs

(In this opinion piece, Hugh Pavletich of Performance Urban Planning (Christchurch, New Zealand) agrees with Jesse Colombo who argued in Forbes that New Zealand’s economic bubble with end in a disaster.)

The recent Forbes e-edition article by Jesse Colombo assesses the New Zealand economy “12 Reasons Why New Zealand’s Economic Bubble Will End In Disaster”, seems to have created quite a stir, creatingextensive media coverage in New Zealand.

The major Fairfax article by Michael Field “NZ bubble ‘going to burst’ “ stimulated a remarkable 500+ comments.

It didn’t take too long for the politicians to react, with Acting Finance Minister Steven Joyce downplaying it, unhelpfully personally attacking Mr Colombo, with Labours David Cunliffe and David Parker largely agreeing with Mr Colombo’s assessment.

Mr Colombo’s initial assessment (a comprehensive report is to follow) was from a financial experts perspective.

Let’s consider whether Mr Colombo is correct from a structural perspective.

January every year the Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey is released, with the 10th Annual Edition released 20 January this year.Normal (and therefore affordable) housing markets do not exceed 3.0 times gross annual household income (Median Multiple), requiring mortgage loads of about 2.5 times.

A clear structural definition of an affordable housing market is …

“For metropolitan areas to rate as ‘affordable’ and ensure that housing bubbles are not triggered, housing prices should not exceed three times gross annual household earnings. To allow this to occur, new starter housing of an acceptable quality to the purchasers, with associated commercial and industrial development, must be allowed to be provided on the urban fringes at 2.5 times the gross annual median household income of that urban market (refer Demographia Survey Schedules for guidance).”

“The critically important Development Ratios for this new fringe starter housing, should be 17 – 23% serviced lot / section cost – the balance the actual housing construction.”

“Ideally through a normal building cycle, the Median Multiple should move from a Floor Multiple of 2.3, through a Swing Multiple of 2.5 to a Ceiling Multiple of 2.7 – to ensure maximum stability and optimal medium and long term performance of the residential construction sector.”

Since the creation of the housing production industry by Bill and Alfred Levitt following World War 11 , when new starter suburban housing was put in place for about $US100 per square metre all up (serviced section and house construction … 80 square metre units on 700 square metre lots for $US8,000), there has been no mystery (other than for politicians and bureaucrats who find truth “inconvenient”) about how to supply affordable housing.

Starter housing on the fringes of the affordable North American metros costs all up about $US700 per square metre … refer Andrew Atkin’s superb … THE REAL DEAL POSTER ..

What is required to restore housing affordability is outlined within Section 4 of Christchurch: The Way Forward. It is simply about ALLOWING affordable land to be supplied and financing infrastructure properly.

Recently Australian Federal Senator – elect Bob Day (major Australian production house-builder and former President of the Housing Industry Association of Australia) explained the issue most eloquently, within a video interview with Business Spectator … Bob Day on affordable housing and jobs for young people … Business Spectator .

As explained recently within “China: Big Bubble Trouble”, new starter semi-detached housing was being supplied pre World War 11 in London for slightly over 2.0 times annual household incomes. They were building way more new housing on a population basis through the Depression years in the United Kingdom than they are today.

Through these eras too, it was normal for households to have just one income earner, as the male was seen as a “loser” if he was unable to financially provide for his family. The social pressures were quite significant.

As eminent Hoover Institution economist Thomas Sowell said “We have spent the past few decades replacing what works with what feels good”. In a 2009 interview (video) Mr Sowell described the causes of the 2007 Global Financial Crisis … Thomas Sowell on the Housing Boom and Bust – YouTube .

During early 2009 this writer explained why economists have such a poor understanding of housing bubbles with … Housing Bubbles And Market Sense . Most wouldn’t know a house market from a horse market internationally … although thankfully … Australian and New Zealand economists are generally now well informed. Importantly, they are constructive contributors to politically progressing this serious issue.

So what did this year’s Demographia Survey (data 3rd Qtr 2013) find with respect to New Zealand’s major urban markets ?

Auckland housing at 8.0 times annual household incomes; Tauranga 6.6; Christchurch near 6.0; Wellington 5.5; Napier-Hastings 5.4; Dunedin 5.2; Hamilton 4.8 and Palmeston North 4.5.

Another useful measure of housing affordability is the relationship between Total Housing Stock Value and Gross Domestic / State / Metropolitan Product, which should not exceed at “tops” 1.5 times … ideally 1.2 times.

September last year James Gruber writing for Forbes “3 Warning Signs Of A Bloodbath Ahead” , incorporated a graph (requires updating) illustrating the ratios of Total Housing Stock Value to GDP for Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States …

Not surprisingly, it mirrors the Demographia Survey.

As a further check, Greater Houston with its population of about 6.1 million has a Gross Metropolitan Product of near $500 billion (in contrast to New Zealand with a population of 4.5 million and a GDP PPP of about a paltry $US140 billion … some $NZ210 billion ).

In relative terms, this is due to a history of poor quality public policy and a seriously degenerate public service culture at central and local level (a further recent example of gross incompetence … Error Prone Bureaucracy ). Little wonder then, that New Zealanders had the highest GDP per capita in the world in 1920 (refer Angus Maddison Historical GDP Per Capita Tables ), but today, ranks about 46 … between Italy and Slovenia .

Because of its degenerate public service, not surprisingly, New Zealand has the worst traffic congestion problems in the developed world too .. New Zealand Has Worst Traffic: International Data | Wendell Cox |

Rather amusingly, at current exchange rates in $US terms, New Zealand’s generally poor quality housing stock is “worth” more than the stock of Greater Houston !

New Zealand is a country that has been bureaucratically buggered. A textbook case of “institutional failure” at central and local level. The “rock-star” label is clearly nonsense.

New Zealand’s current economic activity is being “juiced up” due to a China Bubble Boom and the excessive costs of the Christchurch earthquake recovery. Bureaucratic incompetence has meant this painfully long recovery will be a $NZ40 billion exercise, when it should have been in the order of $NZ15 billion.

Sadly it would appear, The Broken Window Fallacy is not understood by economic commentators, in that the Christchurch earthquake recovery (with some flooding problems due to Council incompetence with poorly maintained drainage infrastructure … in the main) is simply the replacement of the capital stock.

The latest figures from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand indicate the New Zealand housing stock has a “value” of some $NZ716 billion … roughly 3.4 times its GDP. It should not exceed 1.5 times ($NZ315 billion … ideally 1.2 times ($NZ252 billion). This suggests there is something in the order of $NZ401 and $NZ461 billions of bubble value in New Zealand housing. It takes about 25% of mortgages incorporated within this bubble value to fuel it … some$NZ100 billion through $NZ115 billion of at risk bubble mortgage value.

The problem is the New Zealand Banks only have a capital base of about $NZ29 billion (RBNZ figures).

Currently, the major international concern is China … and its transitioning from a panicked and manic investment frenzy following the 2007 Global Financial Crisis (triggered by the North American urban planners … no doubt the Chinese Communists are not grateful). China is slowing, as explained within a recent Financial Times article Do Chinas Qtr1 GDP Numbers Gloss Reality? .

Information from the Chinese National Statistics Bureau (comment on article thread) illustrate the extent of the massive residential overbuilding and abrupt falloff in sales and new construction so far this year …

” “In the first three months, the floor space under construction by the real estate development enterprises accounted for 5,470.30 million square meters, up by 14.2 percent year-on-year, decreased 2.1 percentage points over the first two months. Of which, the floor space of residential building construction area was 3,932.06 million square meters, up by 11.4 percent. The floor space started this year was 290.90 millions square meters, down by 25.2 percent, and the pace of decline narrowed 2.2 percentage points. Specifically, the floor space of residential buildings started in the year amounted to 212.38 million square meters, down by 27.2 percent. The floor space of buildings completed stood at 185.20 million square meters, went down by 4.9 percent, and the pace of decline narrowed 3.3 percentage points, of which, the floor space completed of residential buildings stood at 139.10 million square meters, went down by 7.3 percent.”
>Does it say ‘it has bottomed out’? Is this a soft landing? -25%(prior -27,4%)”

At say 60 to 80 square metres each (plus common area), in number of unit terms, how many have been put in place in China over recent years ? What is the build rate per 1,000 population per annum for the Chinese metros ?

It would appear China could be described as Ireland by 300 … or even 500 times … with much greater “multiple stretch” in the former. And that’s without considering the commercial and infrastructure over-spend and mal-investment.

The Irish bubble collapsed at much lower Median Multiples than those currently prevailing in China, New Zealand and Australia.

Ireland is no doubt an excellent “case study” for Australian and New Zealand policy makers, as they are assessing the consequences of the bubbles collapsing in their own countries. They will be well aware that there has been no sustainable bubble in history.

Mr Colombo assessed the New Zealand economy from a financial perspective. This “structural check” indicates Mr Colombo is correct.

Business Lifestyle News

NZ’s rabbit pizza sold out

Hell New Zealand pizza
Hell New Zealand pizza

Hell Pizza’s billboard in New Zealand, made of real rabbit fur, created outrage in the country.

Once New Zealanders got over the shock of Hell Pizza’s billboard made of rabbit fur, they were so quick to grab a bite of the new rabbit pizza, that the outlet  sold out the product within three weeks of the launch.

On the back of the rabbit pizza, Hell recorded the highest ever week sales in the store’s 18-year history.

Wellington-based Hell tried to source more wild rabbit from its Southland suppliers; however, weather conditions defied the professional hunters.

Rabbits were first released in New Zealand by Captain Cook in 1777. They are considered a pest and can be hunted all year.

“We initially thought that 600kg would suffice, but soon realised that demand for the product was far greater than we forecast,” says Hell general manager Ben Cumming.

In the short time, Hell sold 6,562 pizzas which the restaurant equates to around 13,000 Kiwis trying the rabbit pizza.

Set up in 1996 by  Callum Davies, Hell has branches in the UK, Korea, Canada and India. In 2006 it was sold to the franchise Tasman Pacific Foods which owns Burger King.

Hell Pizza is known for its controversial marketing campaign – in 2006, the pizza outlet marketed their Lust Pizza with 170,000 free condoms.

Rabbit Food Facts

  • The USDA has stated that rabbit is the most nutritious meat known to man. It has about half the amount of cholesterol of chicken, turkey, beef, pork, or lamb and 33% less sodium than chicken.
  • Rabbits will produce 6 pounds of meat on the same feed and water as a cow will produce 1 pound of meat on the same feed and water.
  • Two rabbits can produce nine million kittens in three years
  • “Easter Bunny Syndrome” is a phrase used to describe people that happily eat other meats but have an aversion to rabbit due to the “cute” factor. (Source: Yahoo News)


Lifestyle News Study Abroad

NZ launches online tool for depression

Depression among youth

Depression among youth

New Zealand has launched SPARX – a clinically tested self-help tool developed especially for young New Zealanders.

The online game-style tool developed by Auckland University will help young people develop skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed.

An initiative of the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project, SPARX is a welcome tool in a country with 20% depressed youth.

“We know mental health is a big issue for teenagers with around one in five young people experiencing some form of problem during adolescence,” says Prime Minister John Key.

“It’s important that they can get help when they need it,” says John.

SPARX is designed to fill a treatment gap with young people who may not currently be seeking help. Users can access, register and start using SPARX independently and anonymously in their own time – making help available to more young people around New Zealand.

As an e-therapy SPARX has been widely tested with young people in New Zealand and has been found to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression.

A study in the British Medical Journal in 2012 found use of SPARX resulted in a ‘clinically significant’ reduction in depression, anxiety and an improvement in quality of life.

SPARX is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which teaches skills to cope with negative thoughts and feelings, including behaviours important in protecting against depression – problem solving, being active, positive cognition, social skills, and relaxation.

It is also designed to fit alongside other forms of mental health treatment including face to face therapy, medication, family therapy and working on other issues in the young person’s life, like dealing with bullying, and addressing alcohol or drug abuse.

Recording artist Stan Walker is supporting the launch by allowing his latest single ‘Bully’ to be used to get the SPARX message out to young people.

The Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project was launched in April 2012 and is investing $62 million over four years in a range of initiatives to improve youth mental health, delivered in schools, online, through communities and health services.

(Photo credit: Deviant Art)