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Lifestyle News

Jihad threat: Auckland mosque shut down

Mosques in Auckland

In a fallout between two Muslim factions, a mosque in Auckland is closed for prayers until further notice.

Mosques in Auckland

Avondale mosque in Auckland has been shut down indefinitely. (Photo credit: Mohummid Jaesyn Abu Whiore)

In an unusual sight for a religious place in New Zealand, the Avondale mosque is surrounded by temporary fence, private security guards and police staff.

The mosque in Blockhouse Bay has been part of a reported battle between two Muslim groups for control over the mosque.

Things turned ugly when Haider Lone, immediate past president of the NZ Muslim Association and administrator of the Avondale Islamic Centre, was attacked earlier this month and is in hospital in serious condition.

Haider says he fears for his life as he believes the attack was an assassination attempt, the New Zealand Herald reported.

The Association, which owns the mosque, has shut it down because of safety concerns.

Avondale Mosque

Notice of shut down. (Photo credit: Rakai Pirika via Facebook)

One of the New Zealand reporters who was covering the mosque story has also received derogatory comments on social media.

Caught amid the cross fire, there’s been a declaration of jihad, or holy war, against private security staff hired to guard the premises, according to a media report.

Bill Frost, who manages the private security of the mosque, was assaulted twice on Sunday and said he feared for his life and the safety of his family after one person threatened him with jihad.

The dispute began soon after Sheikh Abu Abdulla, 50, the mosque’s imam, was banned from entering the centre for two years for allegedly teaching extreme Islam, says another media report.

His two sons, Abdulla Hamam, 22, and Abdelrahman Hamam, 16, were also banned for the next two years. The ban applies to all mosques in Auckland run by the Association. When the father and sons tried to enter the mosque, they were issued trespass notices.

Abdulla Hamam says his father was “just a normal person” but was being targeted by some leaders from the association who were “bullies”.

“I did nothing so it’s just totally unfair to ban us,” he says.

Javed Khan, the Acting President of the Federation of Islamic Association, told a television channel the community is shocked.

“It is very concerning, we don’t want these kind of things happening in our own religious institutions. We live in a country, in New Zealand, which has got law and order.”

 

Immigration News Work Abroad

Moving to Australia? See how your living exp will be affected

Expenses in Australia can catch new migrants completely off guard. This guide provides useful tips to consider before moving to Australia.

AustraliaAsylumSidney

Many career professionals jump on the bandwagon of moving to Australia without putting pen to paper and consider living expenses in the new land.

Those considering moving to Australia should keep in mind the salary levels and their relation to monthly household expenses. This is even more crucial for those moving with young kids, as medical expenses can take away a big chunk of take home salary.

With taxes going up in Australia, the disposable income of many Australians is adversely impacted.

The main factors to consider before moving to Australia – average salary, household expenses, transportation expenses, education, and most importantly, medical expenses.

Average salaries in Australia (in AUD)

  • Operations manager $80,000
  • Accountant $55,000
  • Graphic designer $48,000
  • General manager $97,000
  • Office manager $55,000
  • Retail store manager $46,000

(source: Payscale.com)

Average house rent in Australia

The rental prices vary dramatically across Australia, as the following figures show. These figures are as of January 2012, and with changing economic scenario, it may work out cheaper to have a mortgage than to rent in 2014, in some parts of Australia like Canberra. (Source: Workin In Australia)

  • Darwin $550
  • Sydney $500
  • Canberra $500
  • Perth $400
  • Brisbane $380
  • Melbourne $360
  • Adelaide $340
  • Hobart $320

Average house prices in Australia

Again, these are June 2012 figures, but provide a good indication on house prices throughout the country. In some cities in Australia, you may find owning a home cheaper than renting one.

  • Sydney $555,000
  • Canberra $495,000
  • Melbourne $490,000
  • Darwin$472,000
  • Perth $460,000
  • Brisbane $415,000
  • Adelaide $370,000
  • Hobart $350,000

Medical expenses in Australia

This one expense is often under-estimated by new migrants. After all, who would imagine falling sick? However, cost of healthcare is very high in Australia, and if you are not a citizen, permanent resident, or hold a certain visa, you will not be eligible for Medicare, and will have to pay medical bills.

  • Visit to GP – $70 of which roughly half is paid by Medicare
  • Visit to a specialist – $155, of which Medicare will pay $69
  • Visit to dentist for one filling – $175 of which Health fund reimburses $98

Health fund is private insurance, independent of Medicare.

 

Loans Property

Will LVR home loan restrictions go by Christmas?

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s indication that the loan restrictions (LVR) imposed last year will be eased toward s the end of 201 has come as a relief for many first-home buyers as well as home sellers.Buy House auckland new zealand

This is welcome news for provincial New Zealand, where the restrictions
have had a significant impact on an already weak market, says Hayden Duncan
Chief Executive Officer of Harcourts New Zealand, one of the leading real estate agents.

“In the Central, Wellington and South Island Provincial regions average sale prices remain in the $300,000s and have done so for a number of years. LVR restrictions were not needed here and have prevented first home buyers achieving the dream of home ownership.”

“In Auckland and Christchurch the overheated markets are the result of
simple low supply and high demand.”  Hayden suggests fast tracked
and quality construction in these two cities as the best way to sensibly
moderate rising costs.

The restrictions will go at the right time as New Zealand expects net migration to grow in the next 12 to 18 months.

“The divergence in the annual budgets with spending slashed in Australia and tax rates rising, versus scope for tax cuts here in New Zealand down the track will reinforce the massive switch in Trans-Tasman migration flows underway,” says Tony Alexander, chief economist of Bank of New Zealand.

“Before the end of this year it is likely that for the first time since 1991 there will be a net gain to our population from Trans-Tasman flows.”

However, the reserve bank governor’s comments come with caveat. “Before removing them (LVR), we want to be confident that the housing market is responding to interest rate increases; and that immigration pressures are not causing a resurgence of house price pressures. It will take some time to gain this assurance. At this stage we consider the earliest date for beginning to remove LVRs is likely to be late in the year.”

That’s a tall order, and the removal of LVR remains a speculation at this stage, and Tony Alexander believes that it is unlikely that the LVR restrictions will be relaxed by the end of the year.

“The rules are doing the job of about 0.25% – 0.5% worth of official cash rate rises. Were the rules to be removed then the OCR would need to be that amount higher than would otherwise be the case.

“Given that rising interest rates lift the Kiwi dollar and that this is something the RB would like to avoid, one condition which would have to be met is a falling NZD. Is that likely?”

The Reserve Bank had introduced the loan-to-value ratio (LVR) restrictions in October 2013 to help lower house prices, and avoid the risk of a housing bubble building up.

New Zealand banks were given a six-month window to comply with the new speed limits restricting new high-LVR lending at no more than 10 per cent of their total lending.

A high-LVR loan is where the loan is more than 80 per cent of the value of the property.

However, banks over-estimated their LVR lending and applied stronger breaks resulting in high-LVR loans falling to 6%, much below the apex bank’s 10% target.

The high-LVR loans were as high as 25% in September 2013, just before the restrictions were applied.

Immigration News

2 Pakistani women murdered in Auckland

In what could possibly be a case of domestic violence, two women of Pakistan origin were found dead in a house in West Auckland, New Zealand.

Police arrested a 52-year old man from the same house who is believed to have phoned the police and informed them about the double murder of the pair – possibly mother and daughter. The police have not yet confirmed whether the man is a suspect in the incident.

Detective Inspector Greg Cramer told the Stuff website the Police weren’t looking for anybody else in relation to the murder of Pakistani women, one aged in her 40s and the other in her 20s.

Police believed the three to be related, “but until formal identification has taken place we can’t say”. A autopsy would take place tomorrow morning.

Some of the neighbors told media the family was very peaceful and they rarely heard any fights.

 

Business Lifestyle News

Property market bullish after Modi win

Property investment India

Property prices are likely to surge following Modi-led BJP’s re-sounding victory in India’s general elections.

 

The prospects of a stable government at the centre have given rise to improved outlook for the real estate sector in India.

Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party swept away the 2014 general elections with a thumping majority.  Markets reacted almost immediately, with Sensex jumping by 2000 points during the early morning trading on 17 May – the day election results were declared.

The real estate sector of the country has welcomed the results of a majority-led government which comes into power almost after two decades of various coalition governments.

The global economic recession, and uncertainty of unstable government, had crippled India’s real estate sector for rental as well as sale of property.

Property prices reduced by as much as 8% in the country’s capital region – Delhi-NCR – during 2013, compared 2012, reported property website 99acres.com.

Even average rentals for 3BHK flats reduced by 6% cent during the fourth quarter of 2013 against the previous quarter. Rentals have fallen by 7% during 2013.

However, the real estate industry has high hopes from the new prime minister, and expects  better legislation to improve the sector.

Buy house India

Kamal Batra, chairman, Buniyaad Real Estate

“There were a few bills that were standing on the verge of a decision which now will definitely form and parallel we will see new laws been formed that will allow a smoother flow of work in the sector at all levels,” says Kamal Batra, chairman of Buniyaad, one of the leading property brokers in India.

“The election period had paused the market for a bit for the investors; which now will change significantly. The end user market on the other hand will keep on flourishing as the demand increases and interest rates drop.”

The property market would also like to see regulations being streamlined for the construction industry.

Pankaj Kumar Jain, director, K World Group

“In particular, NCR’s real estate market will benefit from fast-tracked approvals for new projects, which will increase supply and in turn keep the city’s property rates rational,” says Pankaj Kumar Jain, Director, K World Group.

Housing affordability and social housing will be the focus for the new government. “The BJP is in now in a position to boost affordable and mid-income housing projects, which would have positive ramifications for a city like Ghaziabad and NCR,” says Pankaj.

However, Kushagr Ansal of Ansal Housing doesn’t expect any change in the market for property buyers. “The market for end user was neither affected earlier nor will it get affected now. It is just that the demand will increase at a macro level.”

Many builders continue to be extremely bullish about the real estate market in India, and buying property in India is likely to get more expensive. “Real estate sector has grown despite the gloomy economy situation and projected to grow exponentially,” says  Suninder Sandha, Director, Horizon Concepts.

“Indian residential real estate price is poised to grow at a 10-12% over next year. There is a paradigm shift towards commercial sector too and with more bank loans available at a good rate coupled with leasing options the demand among investors has gone sky high.”

However, no government has a magic wand which can solve all problems at once, says Anuj Puri of JLL India.

“Reforming the economy is a gradual process, and we need to be patient. A stable government at the centre has potential to boost the sentiments and in return, attract foreign money.

“However, we cannot expect property prices to display the kind of sharp upward movement that were achieved before the Global Financial Crisis. Any such movement – or reduction in cap rate – is, as we believe, at least 12-18 months away.”

News

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.

News

NZ holds rally for abducted Nigerian girls

BringBackOurGirls
BringBackOurGirls

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.

ABOUT THE WALKS

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.

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 | Newgeography.com

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)

Bollywood Entertainment News

IIFA photos: John Travolta shakes leg with Hrithik

HrithikTravolta

For those generations raised on Hollywood as well as Bollywood movies, this would probably be the most unforgettable moment – watching John Travolta share the dance floor with Hrithik Roshan.

When the two of the biggest dancing stars in the world took to the stage at the 15th IIFA Awards (India’s Oscars), fireworks were in the offing.

And pictures tell a story of thousand words. So when Hrithik tweeted his picture on the floor with Travolta, the tweet went viral.

Here’s our selection of some of the exciting pictures from IIFA 2014, which was hosted in the United States for the first time.

 

Bollywood Entertainment

Hollywood, Bollywood join hands for India’s Oscars

IIFA 2014 winners

Tampa Bay in Florida has become the first city in the United States to host IIFA – India’s Oscars.

India’s film industry, Bollywood, worked closely with Hollywood teams to put together the biggest event in India’s entertainment calendar.

In its 15th year, IIFA – the International Indian Film Academy Awards – are expected to attract 800 million viewers, when it will be telecast on Indian television channels around the world later this month.

The four-day long event, for which many Bollywood celebrities missed voting in India’s general elections on 24 April in Mumbai,  concluded with the most coveted awards on Saturday night – 26 April.

Hollywood’s big star John Travolta was honoured at the event, and is reportedly considering a role in a forthcoming Bollywood movie.

On Wednesday, the first day of the event, an outdoor concert and dance festival at Curtis Hixon Park attracted 7000 people.

Thursday night featured the IIFA Rocks fashion show, which was an invite-only event with green carpet. Unlike Oscars which uses red carpet, IIFA is known to use green carpet.

Veteran actor Shatrughan Sinha received lifetime achievement award from his daughter Sonakshi Sinha.

Aashiqui 2 won best lyrics award, while Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was given nine awards in technical categories.

The List of Winners of 2014 IIFA awards

  • Best Entertainer of the Year: Deepika Padukone
  • Best Debutant Award: Dhanush for Raanjhanaa
  • Best Picture: Bhaag Milka Bhaag
  • Best Performance in a leading role (male): Farhan Akhtar for Bhaag Milka Bhaag
  • Best performance in a leading role (female): Deepika Padukone for Chennai Express
  • Best Performance in a comic role: Arshad Warsi for Jolly LLB
  • Best Performance in a negative role: Rishi Kapoor for D Day
  • Best Story: Prashoon Joshi for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
  • Best Lyrics writer: Mithoon for Tum Hi Ho from Aashiqui 2
  • Best playback singer male: Arijit Singh for ‘Tum Hi Ho’ from Aashiqui 2
  • Best female playback singer Award: Shreya Goshal bags it for ‘ Sun Raha Hai Na Tu’ from Aashiqui 2
  • Best Director: Rakeysh Om Mehra for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

 

Lifestyle News

Auckland enters electrifying future

Auckland Trasnports, trains in Auckland

Auckland Trasnports, trains in Auckland

Auckland has finally caught up with the rest of the world with an upgraded rail network.

A new era in New Zealand’s public transport is being ushered in today with the launch of Auckland’s NZ$500 million electric train fleet.

The trains have been launched at Britomart by Mayor Len Brown along with Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee and Auckland Transport Chairman Dr Lester Levy.

While eventually 57 electric trains will run across Auckland by mid-2015, only seven trains are being commissioned this month. The new trains are faster, quieter and can run in both directions of a track. (For features of the new train, watch the video at the end of this article.)

The City Rail Link with its three new stations will see journey times reduced – the trip from New Lynn to Aotea will take just 23 minutes and from Panmure to Newton 27 minutes.

New Auckland trains

Len Brown says the new trains are world class. “Now is the time for Aucklanders to get on board and I know they absolutely will. Recently we hit the 11 million mark for annual trips, and given these trains and agreement on the City Rail Link, our aim of 20 million trips is now a very realistic target in the coming years.

“The new trains are setting up public transport in Auckland for the future. Combined with the City Rail Link, the new trains mean that in time we will see trains operating every seven to ten minutes on all lines”.

To mark the launch of the trains, 5000 Aucklanders are enjoyed free ride between Britomart and Newmarket and return on Sunday. Comments from members of the public include: “They’re so quiet”, “The ride is so smooth” and “These trains are really good”.

Dr Levy says Aucklanders have good reason to be excited, “The new trains are a huge step up from what our customers have been used to. They are enviromentally friendly, energy efficient and produce no air pollution. The trains are modern, comfortable, safe and a pleasure to ride”.

The trains travel faster than the current fleet and will allow services to run more often and get passengers to their destination quicker.

Each train has seating for 232 passengers and standing room for more. The trains have wider doors making it easier for passengers.

The central carriage is at platform level for wheelchairs, prams or bikes and automatic ramps mean a seamless transition between the platform and the train.

Open gangways between cars mean passengers can move from one end of the train to the other.

Tomorrow morning the first paying services start with the electric trains running on the line between Britomart and Onehunga.

Highlights

  • There are now 12 electric train units in Auckland. Seven have been commissioned – that is, they  have their registration and warrants with five more about to be tested.
  • The supplier, CAF has used equipment from Japan, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Spain – taking the best from the world to create trains specifically for Auckland.
  • It takes more than 15,000 hours to fabricate and assemble one electric train unit, there are 110km of wiring in each unit.
  • Each train is tested for 1000 hours on the tracks.
  • To create the weight of passengers while we were testing the trains, we used 1800 20kgs sandbags on each train.
  • To date we have trained 47 drivers, 86 train managers and 13 supervisors.
  • We have spent 3008 hours on driver training and 1504 hours on theory.
  • Drivers have spent 752 hours on the electric train simulator.
  • To date we have driven more than 25,000kms with the electric trains during testing and commissioning.

Cricket News Sport

Cricketers’ wives at IPL 7 post selfies

The wives of cricketers participating in the Indian Premier League (IPL 7) tournament currently being played in Sharjah have been busy posting selfies on Twitter. The photos have gone viral and have been widely circulated in various media.

Seen here are the wives of star cricketers Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Balaji, Ashwin, Dinesh Kartik, DuPlessis and many others.

IPL, Indian cricketers wives

R. Ashwin’s wife Prithi Ashwin with a friend

 

 

Entertainment Lifestyle

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Australia with Prince George

Duchess Catherine Middleton in Australia 2014

Duchess Catherine Middleton in Australia 2014

 

Following their successful visit to New Zealand, the British royalty – Duke William and Duchess of Cambridge Catherine Middleton visited Australia and attended the annual Anzac Day dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also met three of Australia’s surviving Victoria Cross recipients at a reception hosted by the Governor-General.

Twitter was abuzz with the photos of the royal visit to New Zealand. Here’s a selection of photos, courtesy ABC News Australia.