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Brown advocates for more infrastructure spending
Brown advocates for more infrastructure spending

14 July 2024, 7:43 PM

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown recently discussed the city's infrastructure and economic development in a YouTube conversation with economist Shamubeel Eaqub. The conversation covered key issues such as infrastructure spending, financing, and planning, with Brown emphasising the need for significant investments to support Auckland's growing population.During the conversation, Mayor Brown highlighted the necessity for Auckland to increase its infrastructure spending to accommodate the growing population. "We must invest more in public transport, including rail, and ensure we get better value from our existing assets," he stated.Brown was critical of the current financing system, which relies heavily on rates. He suggested adopting a value capture approach, where beneficiaries of infrastructure projects contribute to the costs. "Auckland Council should set up a wealth fund to support future infrastructure projects," he proposed.The Mayor also criticised the slow and bureaucratic planning process, advocating for more central government investment in Auckland and greater use of economic principles in decision-making. He expressed concern over Auckland's treatment by the central government in Wellington, arguing, "Auckland generates more tax revenue than it receives back."The discussion underscores the ongoing debate about how best to manage Auckland's growth and the need for strategic investment in its infrastructure.Watch the video below.

Council tightens building rules in hazard zones
Council tightens building rules in hazard zones

14 July 2024, 2:01 AM

Auckland Council is moving forward with changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan aimed at increasing resilience to natural hazards. This initiative will enhance the standards developers must meet when building in areas prone to flooding, land subsidence, coastal erosion, and inundation.Councillor Richard Hills, Chair of the Planning, Environment and Parks Committee, highlights Auckland’s unique geography. “Situated on a narrow isthmus, Aucklanders are fortunate to have over 3200km of coastline, sandy beaches and three major harbours on their doorstep. However, this distinctive topography, combined with a changing climate, also makes Auckland vulnerable to natural hazards, like floods, landslides and coastal erosion,” he says.Feedback from the Future Development Strategy indicated that Aucklanders want to avoid further urban growth in hazard-prone areas due to the risks. The proposed changes to the Unitary Plan aim to address these concerns and reduce future harm to people and property.Councillor Hills notes, “Residents have rightly questioned why new developments continue to be built in areas at high risk of flooding. While the work we’re doing can’t completely prevent building in floodplains, it will mean those applying to build here will need to show that the impacts of natural hazards are alleviated to an even higher standard than our current consenting processes.”Phill Reid, Manager of Aucklandwide Planning, acknowledges the challenges faced by councils.“Changing the Unitary Plan is one action we can take to help protect our region from the impacts of climate change in the future. It will strengthen controls over what can be built where and allow better assessments to be made of resource consent applications.”This plan change is part of a broader effort to enhance climate resilience in Auckland, including initiatives like Making Space for Water and the Shoreline Adaptation Programme. The council will continue to refine the proposed plan change, with opportunities for public input expected later this year.

How much do you need to earn to get a home loan?
How much do you need to earn to get a home loan?

13 July 2024, 11:53 PM

First-home buyers generally need to be earning at least $100,000 per year to get into the housing market.Data from CoreLogic shows that the median price paid by first-home buyers across April and May was $688,000.According to the mortgagerates.co.nz calculator, to borrow 80 percent of that amount, an individual would normally need to be earning about $100,000 if they had one car but few other expenses.A couple would need roughly $124,000 if they had two cars and no children.A couple with two cars and two children, but no childcare expenses, would need to earn closer to $140,000 a year.An individual wanting to borrow $800,000 might need income of nearly $150,000 and a couple with two children might need closer to $180,000.Squirrel chief executive David Cunningham said while individual circumstances would affect the final amount that could be borrowed, the figures were a good ballpark.Jeremy Andrews, of Key Mortgages, said there could sometimes be tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars' difference in the maximum that different lenders would approve, depending on the type of income someone earns, their outgoings and the type of property they were buying.He said if someone was buying a three-bedroom property, some banks would allow a borrower to include the income from two boarders to show they could afford the repayments.He said he had had a client who was single approved for a mortgage of more than $500,000 on an $85,000 income with boarders.A couple might need to be earning twice that to be approved for the same amount, he said, particularly if they had childcare expenses or other debt,Cunningham said applications would be tested against the bank's test rates, which were usually significantly higher than the rates being charged.Glen McLeod of Edge Mortgages said couples often had less borrowing power on the same annual income as an individual because they had more expenses to cover - twice the food and more power and transport bills, for example.He said things like consumer debt and credit cards could also limit how much people could borrow on any set income.New debt-to-income ratios had also put a cap on how large debts could be compared to household incomes. Owner-occupiers could not have debt of more than six times their household income, including other debts such as student loans.McLeod said that had not limited any deals he had tried to do yet, but it would increasingly be a consideration.Andrews said some of the most attractive options for first-home buyers were if they could qualify for a First Home Loan, which was available to single buyers earning up to $95,000 and couples or single parents earning up to $150,000.Cunningham said banks had a "fairly decent" appetite for lending at the moment.The market was weak and they had capacity for deals even for borrowers with smaller deposits."We're getting good deals away - first-home buyers are a strong part of the market."Interest rates are likely to start falling. It's a good time to be looking, if you can afford things now it probably gets better."

Desolation marks iconic Hibiscus Coast landmarks
Desolation marks iconic Hibiscus Coast landmarks

13 July 2024, 10:15 PM

On a crisp winter's day, I embarked on a drive to assess the current state of two once-thriving attractions: the Waiwera Thermal Hot Pools and the Gulf Harbour Country Club and Golf Course. The sight that greeted me was a poignant reminder of how quickly fortunes can change.These landmarks, formerly buzzing with activity, now stand eerily silent. The contrast between their vibrant past and desolate present is stark, raising questions about their uncertain future.Recently, there's been a glimmer of hope for Waiwera. Urban Partners, who own significant portions of land in the area including the Thermal Hot Pools, have reportedly visited to evaluate the property. However, concrete plans or timelines remain elusive.This lack of clear direction is frustrating for many locals and visitors alike. As a frequent patron of these establishments in their heyday, I can't help but echo the sentiment shared by numerous Kiwis: progress seems excruciatingly slow.The fate of these once-iconic locations remains uncertain.Where vibrant attractions once stood, only vacant lots and remnants remain. At Gulf Harbour, the Country Club's foundation is all that's left after a fire necessitated the building's demolition. The once world-class golf course now lies overgrown, with a collection of camper-vans occupying parts of the car park. In Waiwera, the transformation is even more stark – the land has been cleared entirely, leaving nothing but bare earth where the bustling thermal pools once drew crowds.What future, if any, awaits these ghostly sites? Will entirely new ventures arise from the blank slate left behind? Or will these once-treasured destinations be consigned to memory, serving as cautionary tales of changing fortunes in the leisure industry?As discussions continue behind closed doors, the community watches with a mix of anticipation and concern.These landmarks were more than just businesses; they're integral parts of the Hibiscus Coast's identity and history.While it's easy to succumb to pessimism, I remain cautiously optimistic.The potential for rejuvenation exists, but it requires vision, investment, and community support.As we wait for news, one thing is clear: the resolution of these landmarks' futures will significantly impact the region's character and economy.In the meantime, cleared resort and untended greens serve as a sobering reminder of the challenges facing our leisure industry and the importance of adaptability in an ever-changing market.

Housing market on the Hibiscus Coast stable
Housing market on the Hibiscus Coast stable

12 July 2024, 2:55 AM

The Hibiscus Coast housing market is experiencing a stable yet subdued period, with buyers exercising caution amidst consistent market conditions. Vanessa Jardim, Franchise Owner at Mike Pero Real Estate Millwater, notes that the market remains steady, with buyers often waiting or making cheeky offers, contributing to a widening gap between buyer and seller expectations.“Things have remained fairly consistent week to week, and for now, buyers are keen but cautious,” Jardim said. “With prices nearing their lowest and plenty of stock available, we are hopeful for a market revival, though this change is unpredictable and might take up to six months or more.”Recent regulatory changes, including adjustments to interest deductibility and loan-to-value ratios, have yet to significantly impact the market. However, stability in property prices offers a silver lining for both buyers and sellers.Data from the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows that prices and volumes are up year-on-year, although prices have gradually declined, with a further dip in May. The REINZ House Price Index fell 5.9% over the past seven months since October, with a 4% drop across Auckland. Median prices initially appeared to rebound in April, but adjusted figures reveal a continued decline in May, now down around 2% across Auckland since October. Despite this, median prices are up 3% year-on-year.In Silverdale, sales volumes have tightened as expected for winter, with 13 sales in June, down from 18 in June 2023. The average number of days properties remain on the market has increased to 81 days, up from 55 days last year. Stock levels remain steady despite a slow winter decline, and auction clearance rates continue to soften.Jardim anticipates more listings and a smaller buyer pool over spring, with many homeowners planning to list their properties in October. As the market navigates these changes, the outlook remains cautiously optimistic for both buyers and sellers on the Hibiscus Coast.

New Zealand's regulatory challenges highlighted in report
New Zealand's regulatory challenges highlighted in report

11 July 2024, 7:18 PM

Kiwis are urged to take notice following the release of the OECD Product Market Regulation Indicators (PMRI). The report reveals New Zealand's decline from 2nd place in 1998 to 20th this year, highlighting significant regulatory inefficiencies.Minister for Regulation David Seymour expressed concern, stating, "This shocker result should end any and all doubt that the Government must go to war on red tape and regulation." The report identifies barriers to foreign investment, licensing complexities, and excessive administrative burdens as key challenges, ranking New Zealand lowest among OECD nations in regulatory burden.Seymour emphasised the drain on productivity and investment compliance with Wellington's directives imposes. He outlined the Ministry for Regulation's initiatives, including sector reviews to streamline regulations and improve legislative scrutiny.The OECD Product Market Regulation (PMR) indicators assess regulatory alignment with international best practices, measuring barriers to entry and competition in both economy-wide and sector-specific contexts, making product market regulation crucial for fostering innovation, business dynamism, productivity, investment, and employment.Key findings underscore the need for regulatory improvements in New Zealand. These include simplifying administrative burdens, enhancing stakeholder engagement in consultations, and aligning public procurement practices with OECD standards to ensure fair competition. The report suggests reducing barriers to foreign direct investment despite already low trade barriers.Challenges in obtaining licenses and permits persist, suggesting reforms through regular inventory updates, adopting 'silence is consent' principles, and tailoring license complexities to risk levels. Opportunities for streamlining exist within New Zealand's licensing regime, which remains more burdensome than OECD averages.

All Blacks naming: Finlay Christie only change to starting lineup
All Blacks naming: Finlay Christie only change to starting lineup

11 July 2024, 6:43 PM

The All Blacks have stuck with the tried and tested for Saturday's clash with England at Eden Park. Scott Robertson has only made one change to his team that won 16-15 in the first test in Dunedin, replacing injured halfback TJ Perenara with Finlay Christie.That also means Cortez Ratima comes onto the bench for a possible test debut.It will Christie's third start in a 22-test career, with the last time being a 50-minute stint in last year's 23-20 Bledisloe Cup win over the Wallabies in Dunedin. Christie played the entire second half in last weekend's tense first test, after Perenara suffered a knee injury.Cortez Ratima fires a pass away. Photo: PhotosportDespite some chatter about Beauden Barrett coming into the starting line-up, Robertson has stuck with Stephen Perofeta after his assured performance at fullback.Jordie Barrett and Rieko Ioane will be looking for a bit more room in the midfield after being smothered by the English defence, however the appointment of the more familiar Australian Nik Berry may see a tighter application of the offside law.Damian McKenzie will clearly be mindful of how long he's taking to shoot at goal but is probably more interested in how much space he can get as well, while in front of him the pack predictably stays the same.Steve Borthwick names his England side later this afternoon. The English have not won at Eden Park for 51 years, the All Blacks have not lost there for 30.All Blacks v EnglandKick-off: 7:05pm Saturday 13 JulyEden Park, AucklandAll Blacks (*uncapped): 1. Ethan de Groot 2. Codie Taylor 3. Tyrel Lomax 4. Scott Barrett (captain) 5, Patrick Tuipulotu, 6. Samipeni Finau 7. Dalton Papali'i 8. Ardie Savea (vice-captain) 9. Finlay Christie 10. Damian McKenzie 11. Mark Tele'a 12. Jordie Barrett 13. Rieko Ioane 14. Sevu Reece 15. Stephen PerofetaBench: 16. Asafo Aumua 17. Ofa Tu'ungafasi 18. Fletcher Newell 19. Tupou Vaa'i 20. Luke Jacobson 21. Cortez Ratima* 22. Anton Lienert-Brown 23. Beauden Barrett

Coasties urged to join bowel screening effort
Coasties urged to join bowel screening effort

10 July 2024, 11:48 PM

Locals are encouraged to participate in the National Bowel Screening Programme as it reaches a significant milestone, with two million home screening kits distributed across New Zealand. Health Minister Dr Shane Reti announced the achievement, highlighting the programme's success since its inception in 2017.“This programme has detected 2,495 cancers as of June 2024, with a third at an early stage where there is a greater than 90 per cent chance of five-year survival,” said Dr Reti. “That’s almost two-and-a-half-thousand New Zealanders who can thank the programme, which has also detected thousands of pre-cancerous polyps.”Dr Reti emphasised the government's commitment to improving cancer outcomes, noting a recent $604 million boost to Pharmac’s budget to fund up to 26 cancer treatments. He added that early detection is crucial, as exemplified by a survivor whose cancer was found through the screening programme.The milestone follows the completion of the nationwide rollout in June 2022, ensuring that all eligible people aged 60 to 74 have been invited to participate in free bowel screening. Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in New Zealand, with around 3,300 diagnoses and over 1,200 deaths annually.“As a GP, I strongly encourage people to take part in bowel screening – it can help detect bowel cancer before you have any symptoms. Bowel screening is simple, quick and free, and could save your life,” Dr Reti said.The programme’s success underscores the importance of regular screening and early detection in combating bowel cancer.

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