Foreign buyer ban government's first step in making housing affordable and giving young Kiwis 'a crack at their first home'

Legislation will be introduced to Parliament today making it harder for foreigners to buy houses in New Zealand - which the government says is the first step in reigning in the speculative housing market for the future.

In the future, only New Zealand and Australian citizens - and possibly people from Singapore - will be able to buy residential housing without undergoing special screening tests.

Exceptions may be made for citizens of Singapore as the ban on foreign buyers may run afoul of New Zealand's free trade deal with the country.

The proposed law change does not ban foreigners from building new homes and some migrants with resident class visas, such as skilled migrants, can buy a home if they pass a new test by the Overseas Investment Office.

Migrants on temporary visas, such as student visas, will not be able to buy a house.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford, speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Breakfast, said this is the first step in preparing New Zealand for the next market boom and giving young Kiwis "a crack at their first home".

The new information comes in a briefing to the new Housing Minister, Phil Twyford. Source: 1 NEWS

"We're making an amendment to the Overseas Investment Act and applying the mechanisms in that Act to residential land," Mr Twyford said.

"It will change the settings so that when the market turns and it picks up again and when we see another surge of foreign direct investment in the housing market, we're much less likely to see the kind of un-checked demand driving house prices up that we've seen in the last five years.

"It's not about the state of the market now - it's about the state of the market when it inevitably picks up.

1 NEWS political editor Corin Dann delves into what the new changes really mean for people wanting to get into the housing market. Source: 1 NEWS

"The market is cool right now and I don't think overseas buyers are any kind of significant presence in the market now - in contrast to two or three years ago where there was huge demand."

Mr Twyford said the government does not want to discourage migration - it just wants to know that people buying a home here want to stay here.

"We don't want to discourage people who genuinely ... want to make this place their home, they want to contribute here - and so if they've got what's called a Residents Class visa and ... if you can pass a test that will be set under regulations under the bill about [having] a genuine intention to stay here, you will be to buy a single home and live in it," he said.

"But if anything changes and you leave the country or your visa expires then you'd have to sell the property.

Phil Twyford also says those who get the affordable houses will be decided through a ballot, not means testing. Source: 1 NEWS

"New Zealand relies on immigration - we want to encourage skilled people to come here and make their home here and we don't want to put an obstacle in the way of that."

The former National government had been less than forthcoming about foreign investment numbers, Mr Twyford said, adding that he disagreed with the Overseas Investment Office's estimate that just four per cent of home buyers are foreign, but declining to give his own estimate.

"The former government refused year after year to gather credible data on this," Mr Twyford said.

"They did release data over the last couple of years but it was almost as if it was designed to confuse the debate rather than clarify it."

The introduction of the legislation is the first step in the government's plan to make housing more affordable for first home buyers.

"This is one small but important part of our housing reform agenda," Mr Twyford said.

"We've got other taxation measures designed to reign in speculation, we're going to build 100,000 affordable homes, reform the rental market, build more state housing - there's a whole range of reforms designed to settle the housing market down and give young Kiwis a crack at their first home."

The government is looking to pass the changes into law by early next year.

Phil Twyford says the new legislation will not affect genuine migrants, and is designed to dampen speculation when the housing market picks up again. Source: Breakfast



The 140-year-old Christchurch suburb that may disappear from the map

Where we are born and raised is a big part of our identity, but imagine if your hometown was gradually disappearing?

The suburb of Sockburn in Christchurch has been around, in name at least, for the past 140 years.

Over 6000 people still live there, but the surrounding suburbs are quickly engulfing it from all sides and the Sockburnian culture threatens to disappear altogether.

TVNZ1 Seven Sharp's Julian Lee visited the proud little suburb. To find out more watch the video above.

Surrounding suburbs are quickly engulfing Sockburn from all sides. Source: Seven Sharp


Researcher talks 'positive knock-on effect' to animal welfare keeping us and our pets happy

Animal professional advocates and scientists are in Auckland for the 2018 Animal Welfare Conference.

Animal Welfare Conference organiser Professor Natalie Warren spoke to TVNZ’s Breakfast this morning about the links between human and animal welfare, and how treating animals well can help improve our lives and the lives of our beloved pets.

Professor Warren says her research in 'one welfare', which focuses on "exploring the links between human and animal welfare", particularly in "parts of the world where we’ve got enormous human welfare concerns and lots of competing human agendas".

She says the idea is about "really trying to emphasise the fact that you’re not just focusing on the animal end of the story, but you're also trying to make the reasons why we need to improve our animal welfare relevant to those people".

"The way that you make things relevant to humans is looking at it through a human lens and saying, 'If you improve things for animals, you will also have a knock-on effect – a positive knock-on effect – from improving the world for humans."

Professor Warren says one example is in developing countries, where you "can see that you have animals that are being kept in quite horrible conditions in many places of the world".

"You also find that you've got humans living alongside those who are dependent upon those animals, [and] dependent on those being productive. But actually, because of the way those animals are being kept, they're stressed, their immune systems are not great, they're more susceptible to disease, have higher welfare problems, and that then means that they don't produce as much food for those humans.

She says while it may appear like a 'chicken or the egg' situation, it also depends on a number of contributing factors which aren't always readily apparent.

"Although we're very familiar with what animal welfare is, in many parts of the world, there isn't even a word for animal welfare.

"There's not a real history or a culture of real care for animals, so you’re trying to make animal welfare relevant to people, and so, yes, you are going to end up with competing human agendas, but you also have to recognise that you provide the evidence, you provide the mechanisms through human behaviour change to show people how they can improve things for animals and why that matters for their welfare."

However, she acknowledges that the shift in thinking can be "very difficult, like boiling an ocean".

"It is a huge effort and lots and lots of different animal welfare charities around the world and in New Zealand - lots of government agencies - spend quite a lot of time trying to work out how to do this.

"I think just saying that people are cruel to animals is really not the story at all. What the truth is is that many people don't know how to improve animal welfare for animals, they don't know why it's important and it's up to us to look at ways that we can change the lens that they're looking through – change their behaviour so that they can see why it's important to improve conditions for animals."

Animal Welfare Conference speaker Natalie Warren spoke to Breakfast about changing our approach to animal welfare to improve the lives of our pets. Source: Breakfast

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Three people arrested after police conduct search warrants targeting organised crime, drugs in Bay of Plenty

Police have arrested three people so far today after executing a number of search warrants in the eastern Bay of Plenty as part of Operation Notus II.

Operation Notus II is the second phase of a long-running investgation, led by the National Organised Crime Group, into organised crime and the supply and supplying of methamphetamine and cannabis in the eastern Bay of Plenty region.

Search warrants were conducted this morning in properties in Kawerau, Whakatāne and Te Teko.

Two men and a woman were arrested. 

They are facing a number of charges, including possession for supply, and supplying, methamphetamine and cannabis, as well as firearms-related offending.

They will appear in Whakatāne District Court this afternoon.

Operation Notus, launched in October 2017, revealed the Kawerau Mongrel Mob's involvement in the commercial distribution of meth and cannabis to the community.

As a result of the investigation, 48 people were arrested and almost $3 million in assets were frozen in March 2018.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller, said, "This was a major disruption to organised crime and methamphetamine supply in EBOP".

Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty
Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Source: NZ Police


Messages released to 1 NEWS show Massey’s Vice Chancellor had problem with Don Brash speaking long before he was barred from campus talk

Newly released documents show Massey University's Vice Chancellor had a problem with Don Brash speaking long before he was publicly barred from speaking on campus.

A trail of transcripts of voicemail messages and emails to and from the Vice Chancellor's office have been released to 1 NEWS, showing Jan Thomas citing "trails of evidence".

Her decision to block the former National and Act leader from speaking drew widespread criticism.

That decision was made public on August 7, and spoke of a great security risk to students, staff and the public. These newly released documents show the lead-up to that decision.

Emails show Professor Thomas weeks beforehand on July 13 saying, "I am still fretting about the student club invitation to Don Brash… I really want to find a way to indicate that Brash is not welcome on campus unless he agrees to abide by our values and the laws against hate speech".

Professor Thomas continued: "My strong preference is that we stop it occurring."

The next day, Professor Thomas wrote in another email: "But we still have a couple of trails of evidence, then we need to speak to [the] politics club, and then refuse entry to campus if students don’t oblige – and be proactive at that point before Brash can get to the media."

Before both those emails, she wrote in another on July 10 that she "wanted to know what our options re not allowing politics club to hold event on campus… Will hit the fan in the media if we go this way".

Newly released documents show Massey University’s Vice Chancellor had a problem with Don Brash speaking long before he was publicly barred from speaking on campus. Source: 1 NEWS

When Jan Thomas pulled the plug on Dr Brash's appearance, she said it came after security concerns surrounding a threat involving a gun.

But Police told 1 NEWS at the time they were not contacted before the decision to cancel was made.

The new documents confirm this, with Massey University saying there were no written communications sent or received from the police. In an email to staff, Jan Thomas said she arranged a meeting with local police to discuss security but "before that meeting could take place... I made the decision to cancel the booking of the event on our campus".

Included in the documents is a Facebook user comment about Don Brash's event saying "take a gun".

Mr Brash was due to speak at the university, but had his speech cancelled by Jan Thomas. Source: 1 NEWS

BARRAGE OF CRITICISM

Massey University released several hundred pages of emails to 1 NEWS, showing an onslaught of criticism aimed at the Vice-Chancellor. Some called for her resignation.

Messages left on voicemail spoke of disappointment. "I'm absolutely horrified at the decision… I am very very concerned at the lack of free speech," one caller said.

"My son is due to graduate from college very soon, and we're looking at universities and Massey was one of them, but a little concerned about what I’ve heard about some free speech restrictions on campus," another voice message said.

Emails from former students were also critical.

"As an alumni of Massey University I wish to express my displeasure at your decision to ban former leader of the National Party Don Brash from speaking at Massey University," one wrote.

The University remains at odds with police over claims of security concerns and threats of violence. Source: 1 NEWS

A "proud Massey chemistry alumni" said they were very disappointed to learn that their friend Don Brash "had been deplatformed for his talk".

"I am ashamed to have to tell my friends, associates and colleagues that I am a Massey University graduate from this day forward,"another person wrote.

Another message said they had instructed their Trust not to fund any of their children or grandchildren to attend any programme or course at Massey University. "There are always consequences when you attack the freedoms our family spent so much of our lives to protect," they wrote.

"Please do the honorable thing and resign as Vice Chancellor” another former student wrote. “Massey has lost a great deal of credibility as a learning institution and I’m embarrassed to be associated with my former university."

The former National Party leader and free speech advocate has hit out at the university over its decision. Source: 1 NEWS

A short statement drafted for the university's contact centre to reply to people with said the decision wasn't taken lightly, and that Professor Thomas made the decision taking the gun threat into account.

It further added that "recent events… suggest the current situation is potentially volatile."

A trail of transcripts of voicemail messages and emails to and from the Vice Chancellor's office have been released to 1 NEWS, showing Jan Thomas citing "trails of evidence". Source: 1 NEWS