Dent in metal and timber wholesaling – Stats NZ Media and Information Release: Wholesale trade survey: September 2019 quarter

Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

Dent in metal and timber wholesaling – Media release

6 December 2019

Timber and metal wholesaling fell in the September 2019 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

Seasonally adjusted, the basic materials industry sales value fell $182 million (2.8 percent), largely driven by falls in timber and metal. The basic materials industry also includes agricultural products, chemicals, and hardware.

“The fall in timber wholesaling coincided with an oversupply of logs in China and a drop in the sale price of New Zealand logs in that market,” business statistics manager Geraldine Duoba said.

Overseas merchandise trade: September 2019 showed exports of logs, wood, and wood articles fell 14 percent in the September quarter.

Overall, seasonally adjusted wholesale trade sales rose 0.3 percent, the fourth consecutive quarter with sales increases of less than one percent.

In contrast to the fall in basic materials, four of the six wholesale industry groups saw sales increases in the September 2019 quarter. The largest rise was for other goods wholesaling (which includes pharmaceuticals, toiletries, and furniture), up $141 million (3.4 percent).

The actual value of total wholesale trade sales was $28 billion in the September 2019 quarter, up $460 million (1.7 percent) from the September 2018 quarter.

Riverside Community Centre hosts SuperGrans volunteers

Source: Auckland Council

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a ‘Super Gran’ in their lives, and so it is heart-warming to know that there is such thing as SuperGrans and that they are as local as the Riverside (Taha Awa) Community Centre in Glen Innes.

Part of the Good Seed Trust, a national body of volunteers, SuperGrans are helping to build stronger communities in Auckland.

The concept arose after someone noticed that food parcels which required cooking were being left because people didn’t know what to do with them.

Volunteers stepped up to teach simple cooking skills, and now SuperGran programmes across the country provide a range of activities including budgeting, gardening, and home management.

There is currently a team of nine SuperGran volunteers based at Riverside Community Centre who help run cooking and nutrition workshops.

“As well as providing the skills workshops, we also strive to integrate ideas and invite discussion on how to help families flourish. For example, fun and free ideas for spending time as a family, budgeting sources, the whole family are included as much as possible,” explains Raewyn Paapu, local SuperGrans Programme Manager.

Most recently, Riverside hosted SuperGrans Christmas workshops which focused on how to enjoy Christmas without breaking the bank, including preparing Christmas food, making your own presents and activities that help make the season a special time together as a family.

During winter, the group ran four workshops educating locals on preparing winter meals using slow cookers and integrated ideas to make families ‘money wise’.

When asked what difference coming to the workshops had made to their household one of the participants replied, “I plan my meals for the week, I spend less, my children are eating new healthy meals and I am more confident in the kitchen.”

The Riverside Community Centre is proudly supported by Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board which enables groups like SuperGrans reach the local communities. Good Seeds SuperGrans work is supported by the Wright Family Foundation in Mangere and the Lottery Foundation.

Nineteen new Associate Professors for Health Sciences

Source: University of Otago

Friday 6 December 2019 10:08am
A swathe of the University of Otago Division of Health Science’s finest staff have been promoted to Associate Professor.
Nineteen people have received the promotion, and will begin their new roles on 1 February next year.
Division of Health Sciences Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Brunton says the promotions reflect the calibre of staff in the Division.
“I am delighted to see so many colleagues being promoted this year. It is a real celebration of the academic excellence and diversity in the Division of Health Sciences.”
Professor Brunton says not only is becoming an Associate Professor an important milestone in the career of an academic, it is also an indication of somebody who is on a projection to a professorship in due course.
“It is a recognition of their academic leadership in both research and teaching with a significant contribution to service as well.”
Congratulations to all new Associate Professors!
The new University of Otago Division of Health Science Associate Professors are:
Associate Professor Max BerryPaediatrics & Child Health (University of Otago Wellington)
Associate Professor Lara Friedlander Oral Rehabilitation (Faculty of Dentistry)
Associate Professor Paul Gardner Biochemistry (School of Biomedical Sciences)
Associate Professor Regis Lamberts Physiology (School of Biomedical Sciences)
Associate Professor Sunyoung Ma Oral Rehabilitation (Faculty of Dentistry)
Associate Professor Peter Mace Biochemistry (School of Biomedical Sciences)
Associate Professor Alex Macmillan Preventive and Social Medicine (Dunedin School of Medicine)
Associate Professor Rachael McLean Preventive and Social Medicine (Dunedin School of Medicine)
Associate Professor Hilda Mulligan School of Physiotherapy
Associate Professor Garry NixonGeneral Practice and Rural Health (Dunedin School of Medicine)
Associate Professor Louise Parr-BrownlieAnatomy (School of Biomedical Sciences)
Associate Professor Rose Richards Health Sciences Divisional Office
Associate Professor James Ussher Microbiology and Immunology (School of Biomedical Sciences)
Associate Professor Emma WyethPreventive and Social Medicine (Dunedin School of Medicine)
Clinical Associate Professor Sinead DonnellyMedicine (University of Otago Wellington)
Research Associate Professor Chris BaldiMedicine (Dunedin School of Medicine)
Research Associate Professor Debbie SnellOrthopaedic Surgery and Musculoskeletal Medicine (University of Otago Christchurch)
Research Associate Professor Jo-Ann Stanton Anatomy (School of Biomedical Sciences)
Research Associate Professor Michael TatleyNew Zealand Pharmacovigilance Centre, Preventive and Social Medicine (Dunedin School of Medicine)

Residential Housing Market – ASB Housing Confidence Survey – Good vibrations

Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: ASB

·        All three of our key housing confidence measures lifted in Q3, for the second straight quarter.

·        Buyer sentiment reached a seven-year high.

·        This sentiment matches the turn higher we are seeing in most key indicators of the housing market. House price inflation is picking up and we expect the upturn to continue through to at least the middle of 2020.

Kiwis are picking up on good vibrations in the housing market, with housing confidence continuing to improve according to the latest ASB Housing Confidence Survey.

House price expectations rose for the second quarter in a row with confidence back to average levels, although regional differences remain.  However, ASB chief economist Nick Tuffley warned there was still a way to go before the market could be thought of as “hot”.

“The continued lift in house price expectations is consistent with our own reading of the NZ housing market tea leaves. Housing turnover is finally showing some signs of life after a long period of stagnation.

“However, the survey result is bang on the long-run average, highlighting a point we’ve been making in our housing commentaries. While housing indicators have rebounded strongly over the past three months, this should only really be characterised as a return to normality. We’re still a long way from “boom” territory,” says Tuffley.

On a positive note, buyer sentiment hit a seven-year high this quarter, with net 13% saying it was a good time to buy a house.

“House prices have already lifted almost 4% from the April lows, and near-term indicators point to further gains ahead. We remain comfortable with our forecast for nation-wide house price inflation to rise to 5-6% by mid-2020,” said Tuffley.

The buyers have it

Buyer sentiment hit a seven-year high in the three months to October with net 13% saying it was a good time to buy a house, up from net 9% last quarter.

House buyers in Canterbury were the most optimistic across the country, with net 27% saying it was a good time to buy, compared with 20% last quarter. Auckland came in second with 17% thinking it was a good time to buy, continuing the turnaround trend from net 0% at the start of the year.

At the other end of the spectrum, South Islanders outside of Canterbury remain fairly flat with just 6% thinking it was a good time to buy.

“Perceptions of whether it’s a good time to buy are generally inversely related to rates of house price inflation. The fact that we’re seeing the two rise in tandem at present suggests there are other factors out there boosting housing affordability. We suspect accelerating wage growth and steep falls in mortgage rates are playing a big role in this regard.

“Buyers do appear to be walking the talk. Over the past three months, auction clearance rates have lifted, housing activity has picked up and houses are starting to sell faster. Nationwide median of days to sell a house has come down from 41 in June to 37, which is around the long-run average,” said Tuffley.

Rate expectations – we’re all in agreement

Interest rate expectations fell precipitously in the three months to October with most of the fall occurring in August. This was in line with the net 31% of respondents who had expected interest rates to decrease in Q3, a low point which was only topped during the 2008 Global Financial Crisis era.

The proportion of those surveyed who responded ‘don’t know’ to whether interest rates would rise or fall was at the lowest equal level since 2013, suggesting the RBNZ’s ‘lower for longer’ message was now well entrenched in the nation’s psyche, according to Tuffley.

“It will be interesting to see next quarter’s results. The RBNZ has retained an easing bias but has not acted on it since the big cut in August. And while mortgage and term deposit rates have continued to fall, a decent lift in wholesale interest rates recently means further falls in retail rates from here might be a stretch. So those expectations of even lower interest rates may be dashed,” said Tuffley.

“Historically, NZ house prices cycles have been relatively sensitive to interest rates, and we expect recent sharp falls in mortgage rates to deliver a mini up-cycle in prices over the next year or so. Still-strong population and labour income growth will add support.

“Still, even though mortgage rates are clearly the lowest they’ve ever been, there are some good reasons not to expect a return of the prices surges we used to see whenever mortgage rates dropped,” said Tuffley.

“First, housing policies targeting investor demand are acting as handbrakes on those parts of the market that previously featured a large investor component, like Auckland and Queenstown. We expect these regions to underperform the national average.

“Second, broader economic activity and population growth have slowed a little, and population growth is expected to slow further in coming years. Finally, there are signs housing supply is ramping up in some areas. From late 2020, we expect the housing upswing to top out as this additional supply gradually reduces the national housing shortage,” said Tuffley.

The full ASB Housing Confidence Survey for the three months to October 2019 will be available online at www.asb.co.nz  Other recent ASB reports that also include housing commentary can be accessed via a Search page https://reports.asb.co.nz by selecting the keyword ‘Housing’.

Notes: The ASB Housing Confidence Survey was prepared by ASB Senior Economist Mike Jones and is constructed from data received from 2,864 individual respondents.

Sustainability Awards – Sustainability takes flight at Air New Zealand, Top 200 awards

Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

Source: MinterEllisonRuddWatts
Congratulations to Air New Zealand on being presented the MinterEllisonRuddWatts Sustainable Business Leadership award at last night’s Deloitte Top 200 Awards.
The award recognises businesses that are working towards creating long-term environmental, social and economic value.
Air New Zealand’s on-going commitment to carbon reduction initiatives, including reducing waste and plastic, was highlighted in support of its long-term organisation-wide sustainability strategic pillar.
The firm’s sponsorship of the award was a natural fit with its future-focused strategy and commitment to sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint.
MinterEllisonRuddWatts Chief Executive Andrew Poole, who presented the award, says it’s a well-deserved win.
“A focus on sustainability is fundamental for all businesses seeking continued survival and growth moving towards the future. With climate change firmly on business leaders’ agenda around the world, sustainable practices must be prioritised to ensure New Zealand’s future prosperity,” says Andrew Poole.
“Well done to the team at Air New Zealand for their ongoing commitment and hard work.”
Congratulations to Z Energy and Mercury who were named as finalists in the category.
MinterEllisonRuddWatts is a top tier New Zealand law firm known for providing clients with technically excellent legal solutions and innovative advice. We are trusted advisors and work alongside our clients to ensure success. We are proud to be a New Zealand law firm offering a global outlook. Our offices in Auckland and Wellington are able to access an international network through the MinterEllison Legal Group, a leading firm in the Asia-Pacific. The firm supports numerous charitable endeavours and organisations through its pro bono and fundraising initiatives.

University Sector – Going the distance: e-learning expert says we still have a way to go

Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: University of Canterbury

Distinguished Professor of e-Learning Niki Davis’s stellar career in e-learning has taught her there is cause for both optimism and caution as education evolves further and faster into online spaces.

Her internationally focused work has earned her the notable title of Professor Emerita on the eve of her retirement from the University of Canterbury (UC), the latest in a long list of accolades.

There have been many changes since she started out as a ‘professor of educational telematics’ in 1995 at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom.

“That was my choice of words,” she says. “We didn’t have e-learning then, we didn’t have the web. That didn’t come in for quite a while. What we had was informatics – the teaching of computer science.”

‘Informatics’ and ‘telecommunications’ were mashed together, and ‘telematics’ was the result.

 “The word was just emerging in Europe at the time. And that was where I was focusing my international work at that stage. So, yes, I became the first female professor of educational telematics.”

Since then, Distinguished Professor Davis has led e-learning and teacher education research as Professor of ICT at the prestigious Institute of Education at the University of London, Director of the Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching at Iowa State University, and Professor of e-Learning at UC from 2008 – where she was named the first Distinguished Professor in the College of Education, Health and Human Development.

She was surprised to find the College at the forefront of e-learning globally, although its innovations were “largely unsung, and probably still are”, Distinguished Professor Davis says.

While it’s easy to get excited about e-learning – with virtual field trips, and workshops attended by students at a distance as well as on campus now commonplace in the College – there are challenges that concern her.

For some time she has been thinking about the cultural inclusiveness of online spaces: “What makes for successful, inclusive environments for Māori and for Pasifika? My Samoan colleague [PhD student] Saili Lemalu Aukuso would start a meeting with a prayer in Samoan. Māori also use a lot of prayer as well as song. So how do we replicate that in online spaces?”

Another challenge is helping teachers to choose from all the possibilities of online and blended learning. “I have felt this for years. So I’m in the middle of teaching something and I’m thinking: ‘that would be better on an online platform and this would be better right now. And how will I blend the two so that they work well together?’ But we’ve still only got 24 hours in the day.

“Preparing an old-fashioned lecture is relatively easy and it’s extremely economical, both in terms of time and effort, because there’s one person putting in most of the effort. The others are listening. So how do you use your time so that you get through the curriculum? You redesign the curriculum, so that it works.

“There are many more things that still need to be sorted out, and always will do, because education is always evolving.”

Another concern is about sustainability – of people and the planet.

“We’re probably not thinking carefully enough about using technology in a way that will be eco-friendly. That’s more expensive. Disposing of technologies is hard and yet, everybody wants us to buy the next new thing.”

And on the hot topic of teens on screens, Distinguished Professor Davis acknowledges the challenges of helping teens self-manage how long they spend online and what they watch.

“Our young people are vulnerable and we can’t always be there to check on them, so from an early age they have to learn how to use technology to facilitate their learning, as well as for entertainment and wellbeing.”

She remains optimistic, however. “I think we’re very, very fortunate in the times in which we live.”

At UC, Distinguished Professor Davis spearheaded the establishment of the E-learning Research Lab as a hub of joint inquiry, which has engaged staff and attracted doctoral students to create a globally recognised scholarly community at UC.

Over her career she has won research funding of over £3.9 million, US$2million and over NZ$2million.

If there is an award she is most proud of, she says: “I guess it was the Society of IT and Teacher Education Award for Outstanding Service to Digital Equity in Teacher Education; that really encapsulated what I’d been trying to do as I was leading the society. I moved to the United States for a decade in order to lead such an influential group and raise the profile of research from other parts of the world.”

Emeritus status is an acknowledgement of significant scholarly and academic contributions to a specific field and institution.

Transport Issues – Free bus fares in Auckland to continue until Christmas – First Union

Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

Source: First Union
Drivers for NZ Bus will continue to offer free passenger fares as a partial strike action until Christmas, joining their colleagues at Go Bus, FIRST Union said today.
“The drivers have been offering free fares over the past week and found it a really innovative and effective way of demonstrating their opposition to poor wages and conditions while keeping the public informed and on schedule as normal,” said Jared Abbott, FIRST Union Secretary for Transport, Logistics, Operations and Manufacturing.
“They’ve received massive public support during the strike action, and they know that their communities are behind them.”
“We’ve had constructive conversations with drivers and operators over the last week, as well as stakeholders like Auckland Transport, and we’re hopeful that a resolution isn’t too far away.”
Around 800 FIRST Union and NZ Tramways members at NZ Bus – Auckland’s largest bus company – began the free fares partial strike action on Monday this week, joining over 100 FIRST Union members at Go Bus, who are also offering free fares until Christmas. Now, NZ Bus drivers have delivered notice that they intend to continue this partial strike action for a month instead of a week, mirroring Go Bus drivers. Mediated bargaining between the unions and NZ Bus is due to begin on Monday.
In the case of both bus operators, poor wages and conditions linked to the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) and its competitive tendering process for urban bus routes have been highlighted by FIRST Union.
“We need a solution to the mess PTOM has created,” said Mr Abbott. “Money is being wasted on training endless drivers that are just up and leaving the industry within months of entering it.”  
“We need to make the jobs decent in the first place so that drivers want to stay in the industry and the public can get the service they were promised.”
“I think everyone – the drivers, the companies, the regulators and the public – would all like to see this come to an end.”
“We’re hoping that negotiations over the coming weeks will be focused on lifting the standards for all Auckland bus drivers and fixing the broken system that put them in this position.”

Political Parties – Banks Higher Capital Requirements A Breath of Fresh Air – Social Credit

Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Social Credit leader Chris Leitch

The Reserve Bank’s proposals for banks to hold higher capital ratios is a breath of fresh air and long overdue.

If the Global Financial Crisis, and the Australian Royal Commission demonstrated anything, it was that banks are happy to make questionable decisions to provide their shareholders (in NZ’s case mostly American banks) with maximum profits as long as taxpayers are there to bail them out if they get into trouble.

Party leader Chris Leitch says any extra costs involved in the higher capital ratios should not be passed on to consumers nor should they hurt the economy.

Those threats are simply scaremongering by the banks to protect their astronomical profits and it’s way past time their shareholders took a ‘haircut’.

It should be remembered that every single loan a bank grants to a borrower is created by the bank out of fairy dust.

Banks don’t lend money people have deposited with them, nor do they lend their capital. They create new money in the process of lending.

This was confirmed by the Bank of England in two reports it produced in 2014 as well as by the German Central Bank, and our own Reserve Bank.

The Bank of England report noted “Whenever a bank makes a loan it simultaneously creates a matching deposit in the borrower’s bank account thereby creating new money.”

This ‘licence to print money’ has seen substantial year on year profit increases by the four big overseas owned banks to the point where they now pull nearly $6 billion out of the New Zealand economy each year – four times more profit than the ten largest companies on the New Zealand stock exchange combined.

The banks are huge money making machines that can well withstand the higher capital ratios the Reserve Bank has put in place without the need to pass any additional costs on to bank customers.

Any moves by the big banks to do so should be met by the Reserve Bank directly creating funds to support government spending on infrastructure, and re-establish a State Advances Corporation and Rural Bank to lend to first home buyers and farmers at rates below those offered by the banks.

Banks already have the ability to skim money out of depositors’ accounts should a banking crisis eventuate. The Reserve Bank’s move to make them increase their capital reserves should make such action much less likely.

SH29A closures between Te Maunga and Baypark roundabouts this weekend and next

Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency advises State Highway 29A between the Baypark and Te Maunga roundabouts will be closed this weekend from 7pm Friday 6 December to 6am Monday 9 December to allow for stone column ground improvement work.

The area between the roundabouts will also be closed the following weekend from 7pm Friday 13 December to 6am Monday 16 December, as a result of last weekend’s closure that was postponed.

Detours will be in place along Truman Lane and Mangatawa Link Road.

Please use alternative routes where possible or plan your travel for outside these hours. This work is weather dependent, and if delayed will be carried out on the next suitable weekend(s).

The Transport Agency thanks road users for their patience and ongoing co-operation while construction of the Baypark to Bayfair Link project continues.

Detour suggestions

SH29A to Mount Maunganui: detour from Baypark roundabout along Truman Lane, Mangatawa Link Road, turn left at the traffic signals before crossing the bridge onto SH2 Tauranga Eastern Link (TEL) towards Mount.

SH29A to Papamoa/Te Puke: detour from Baypark roundabout along Truman Lane, Mangatawa Link Road, cross Mangatawa Bridge, turn right onto SH2 TEL.

Mount Maunganui to SH29A: take Sandhurst Drive exit from the TEL, turn right at the traffic signals, cross Mangatawa Bridge and follow detour along Mangatawa Link Road and Truman Lane to Baypark roundabout.

Papamoa/Te Puke to SH29A: take Sandhurst Drive exit from the TEL, turn left at the traffic signals and follow detour along Mangatawa Link Road and Truman Lane to Baypark roundabout.

For more information about the Bay Link project, go to www.nzta.govt.nz/baylink

Plan ahead for a safe, enjoyable journey this summer. Keep up to date with:

A better looking beach at Kohimarama

Source: Auckland Council

Improvements have been completed at Kohimarama Beach after members of the public raised concerns around a stormwater system that had broken free of its foundations and was moving at high tides and lifting a heavy manhole.

Not only was it a concern regarding the stormwater service provided by the setup, but the damage was deemed an ‘eyesore’.

“This was certainly not something we wanted on one of our favourite beaches coming into summer” explained Ōrākei Local Board Chair Scott Milne.

“We were pleased to hear that Healthy Waters were already onto the issue and were finalising the process to fix it.

“Within two weeks the work was done, and the area is now looking much tidier and we have been assured that the stormwater service is better than ever.”

Works included removing the broken manhole structure from the beach and the outlet structure was reshaped to sit flush with the seawall, looking different than before but still providing drainage from the road during rainfall as necessary.

There may be some normal road debris discharged but the board have been advised that this stormwater system is just that. Stormwater and not household waste.

“It is great to have this example of a speedy job, done well, with safety and aesthetic improvements for the community,” says Scott.