Experts point to downward correction of New Zealand's growing economy

Domestic and international pressures mean our currently high growth rate – around three per cent - can't continue forever, economists have warned.

Local business owner Michael Vickers, who owns North Shore Demolition, noticed a slowdown six months ago.

Mr Vickers says while the demand to demolish buildings have gone down, the sale of recycled items has kept his company in business.

"We’re just back on the yard. The yard sales will get us through - they got us through last time," Mr Vickers said.

"There's a fuel tax coming up and that's going to affect business, especially trucking companies and we run a lot of trucks."

John Ballingall, the deputy chief executive for the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, says business confidence has fallen sharply after the change in government six months ago.

"On the domestic front, business confidence has fallen sharply since the change in government and firms are telling us that they plan to invest and hire less than they have before," Mr Ballingall said.

"We've spoken very vocally around high levels of household debt and particularly concentrated levels of household debt around property investors," Adrian Orr, the Reserve Bank governor, said.

There's been concern about a possible trade war between the United States and China.

"There’s a lot of uncertainty out there about what the global trading environment looks like and that's bad news for a trading economy such as New Zealand," Mr Ballingall said.

The economy moves in cycles, but a financial crisis at the level of 2008 is being downplayed.

Cameron Bagrie, former ANZ chief economist and owner of Bagrie Economics, says, "If you believe in statistics, years ending in eight tend to be a bad year."

"There's some warning signs around the globe but there's also some pretty good signs - the world's largest economy has got an unemployment rate of 3.9 per cent. That's a sign of economic strength - that kind of stuff is to be embraced," Mr Bagrie said.

Michael Vickers believes future-proofing the economy starts at the grass roots.

"Apprenticeships - I’d hit apprenticeships hard. Training - we've got plenty of it and lawyers - let's get some truck drivers," he said.

This week will reveal whether the government is listening.

All eyes are on the economy ahead of the budget release this week. Source: 1 NEWS

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Exclusive: Nearly half a million Kiwis owe social development ministry $1.5 billion for loans

The Government agency in charge of taking care of New Zealand's most vulnerable is putting hundreds of thousands of people into debt.

The Ministry of Social Development has handed out $1.5 billion in loans, interest free, to 509,571 people for things like dentistry, school supplies and housing.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said a large amount of that money is over payments, "and then it's also hardship and then it's also fraud".

This comes as the Government cracks down on loan sharks.

Social agencies argue Work and Income is no better, given benefits remain too low to cover the basics.

"They end up having to repay money every week which means they can't afford to eat or meet their weekly costs, pushing them into shark loans," said Ricardo Menendez March of Auckland Action Against Poverty.

1 NEWS spoke to an Auckland mother of three who is struggling to make ends meet. She gets $589 on the benefit.

"I'm lucky enough if I can live week to week on what I receive, especially being in emergency housing," she said.

So when her car broke down she asked Work and Income for a loan, and again when she needed to go to the dentist.

She's also been able to borrow money from the state to secure housing and furniture.

"I owe over $23,000," she said.

The woman was expected to pay back $80 a week on her loan.

National says it would consider changing the law to wipe the debt.

"That's a policy that we'll be having a look at and exploring over the next period of time," Louise Upston, National's Social Development spokesperson said. 

Ms Sepuloni says her advisory group charged with looking at the welfare system will investigate debt.

But she stands by the decision to hand out loans.

"Access to a washing machine or a fridge are things that people may need to pay back," she said.

"And I think they're really important measures to have in place through MSD because you can actually get that type of advance for those things in a way where you're not paying huge amounts of interest on top of that."

The Auckland mother of three would like a pay rise. 

"Poverty is real in New Zealand, government just doesn't see it, " she said.

She's hoping to have her debt cleared too. 

But the minister says unless there's been a mistake, like an overpayment, she and others will be expected to pay the money back.

The Ministry of Social Development has handed out $1.5 billion in loans to half a million people to pay for the likes of the dentist and a house to live. Source: 1 NEWS

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Hawke's Bay growing giant emphasising flexible schedules to increase Kiwi staff numbers

The Government is urging growers to look for labour in their own backyards and one growing giant in Hawke's Bay believes with the right approach, it's easily done.

Solo mother of three Dani Gibson was on the benefit for six years before she found a job that suited her.

She told 1 NEWS it was impossible to find work which fit in with her kids' lives before working at growing giant Turners and Growers.

Ms Gibson is one of 204 workers that have been working at Turners and Growers in the last year after coming from the Ministry of Social Development.

It comes as part of a Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme - a policy allowing horticulture and viticulture industries to recruit workers from overseas for seasonal work when there aren't enough local workers.

Turners and Growers labour market manager Maurice Wilson told 1 NEWS, "In the past, we wouldn't have, but now we really cater to the needs of the individuals because we realise without people, we can't grow our business."

The company now emphasises flexible work hours and employee benefits like healthcare, which Ms Gibson says provides much-needed reassurance for her and her family.

"It feels good knowing that your kids are fine and that you've got a good job behind you as well that understand that," she said.

At peak season, 70 per cent of Turners and Growers' seasonal workforce is from MSD and locals - an example that the Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni wants others to set as well.

Ms Sepuloni told 1 NEWS during her visit to Hawke's Bay that the programme was about "making sure we are looking at our domestic labour market first and how we can ensure that we are giving New Zealanders jobs and that those jobs work for them in terms of the terms and conditions".

However, there are concerns that there will still be a working shortfall even with more locals added to the workforce.

Around 11,000 seasonal workers are brought into New Zealand through the RSE scheme annually, but the industry says with dropping unemployment and one million apple trees being planted every year, that number will have to increase to keep up.

Apples and Pears NZ's Alan Pollard believes the increase is inevitable.

"We only have a defined harvest window so the fruit has to come off at that time so more fruit means more people needed to pick the fruit," Mr Pollard said.

The sector is aiming to be worth $10 billion by 2020, but Ms Sepuloni hopes the growth can benefit unemployed New Zealanders.

"There are still people that are seeking work and we need to work with them to make sure they are able to take up these jobs," Ms Sepuloni said.

In the last year, Turners and Growers in Hawke’s Bay have employed 204 workers from the Ministry of Social Development’s books. Source: 1 NEWS

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1 NEWS political team discuss what happens for Simon Bridges, once leak investigation is finally released

The 1 NEWS team discuss the potential aftermath for leader Simon Bridges once the investigation into the National Party leaker is released.

It comes after the Opposition leader launched an investigation to look into who leaked Mr Bridges' expenses. 

Mr Bridges' MP expenses were released earlier than scheduled last week, with $113,973 spent on travel and accommodation between April and June.

Yesterday, an independent review found no evidence that staff in the office of Parliament's speaker, Speaker Trevor Mallard, or Parliamentary Service finance and corporate staff released details. 

Read: Jessica Mutch McKay's analysis on the Simon Bridges leak. 

A weekly catch up with 1 NEWS’ political reporters about the stories they’ve been covering. Source: 1 NEWS

The 1 NEWS team discuss the potential aftermath for leader Simon Bridges once the investigation into the National Party leaker is released. Source: 1 NEWS


Search continues overnight for crew member missing from Sealord vessel off Wairarapa coast


The search for a crew member missing from a Sealord vessel  off the Wairarapa coast is continuing through the night. 

The company says mid-morning this morning crew onboard the Otakou became aware a crew member did not report for duty.

A full muster was conducted to confirm this, and a search was immediately commenced and authorities notified, Sealord said.

The four vessels involved in the search will search overnight, and will review the situation after sunrise tomorrow.

The two helicopters searching were stood down at nightfall.

Weather conditions in the area are fair but are predicted to deteriorate tomorrow.

Source: NZ Topo Map

Sealord said it is making all effort to notify next of kin. 

It said the crew member was not on active duty at the time of disappearance and the reason for the disappearance is not known at this stage.

All other crew are accounted for, however, they are very concerned for the safety of their team member, the company said. 

Sealord is taking this situation very seriously and is providing support to all staff, it said.

The company is also cooperating with all search and rescue instructions, it said.

Earlier tonight Vince Cholewa of the Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre said the centre was advised of the crew member overboard around 11.30am. 

At that time the person had been in the water for 50 minutes or less, he told 1 NEWS. 

Mr Cholewa said there were four vessels and two helicopters involved in the search - Otakou, two other fishing vessels, the police launch Lady Elizabeth IV, a LifeFlight helicopter and an Air Force NH90. 

The estimated location is 11km east of Glendhu Rocks.

Sealord's Otakou
Sealord's Otakou Source: Sealord


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