Gisborne going bananas over new taxpayer-funded horticulture venture - 'Grow like topsy'

Poke around Gisborne backyards and you’ll see bunch after bunch of bananas growing like weeds.

Local enthusiast Trevor Mills says if you go out to Wainui Beach, "every second house has a banana plant growing in their backyard".

"With the climate change we've had in the last few years, middle of July, 2am in the morning and it's 16 degrees, well, bananas love that sort of treatment," Mr Mills said.

Gisborne locals have been growing bananas for decades, but now local company Tai Pukenga wants to see the business grow beyond the region.

Bananas are already grown successfully in Northland but they don't make it out of the region due to their popularity on the local market.

The plan in Gisborne would be to grow enough to be commercially viable and sell them nationwide.

Nearly $100,000 of taxpayers' funding has been granted by the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation to Tai Pukenga and AgResearch to make it happen.

AgResearch scientist Dr Jane Mullaney says they’ll need to grow a lot more trees for it to be a success.

Dr Mullaney and her team have been touring the region, picking the brains of locals and collecting samples for testing.

"From there, [you] make a tissue culture that is basically amplifying these plants and give them the opportunity to grow much more and a lot faster."

Mr Mills says the plants, once in the ground, "grow like topsy".

"If you plant 50 plants, you will get 150 to 200 plants from that initial 50," he said.

Statistics NZ data shows New Zealand imports more than 87 million kilos of bananas annually, with the average Kiwi household spending $88 dollars on the fruit per year - over $20 more than its closest competitor, apples, at $61 a year.

Dr Mullaney says with modern day standards and greater awareness of where food comes from, there should be a market for bananas from Gisborne.

"It's not enough to go to a supermarket and say 'there is an apple, there is a banana', so I think we are learning to tell that story about where that food has come from and it is just as important as the food that we are eating," Dr Mullaney said.

If Tai Pukenga's plan comes to fruition, bananas from Gisborne could hit supermarket shelves in two years' time.

All going to plan, bananas from the region could hit shelves in two years’ time. Source: 1 NEWS

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House sales drop nationwide, September figures lowest since 2011

The number of new houses listed on market in July meant the number of sales nationwide in September dropped by three per cent, year on year, REINZ says.

That is the lowest number of properties sold in a month since January this year, and the lowest for the month of September since 2011.

REINZ Chief Executive Bindi Norwell said July's listings were down 5.4 per cent year on year and there was an all-time low level of listings in seven regions.

"There simply weren't as many properties for sale resulting in a very quiet start to spring," Ms Norwell said.

While volumes were down, prices were up in many parts of the country, apart from Auckland, which was steady.

Source: 1 NEWS

In total, 14 of 16 regions saw an increase or no change in the median sale price, with Taranaki and the West Coast seeing a slight drop.

Prices in Northland, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu/Wanganui and Nelson are now at or equal to their record high median price.

"With our population growth and demand for properties continuing to exceed the supply of housing stock, prices are likely to continue increasing in the short to medium term," Ms Norwell said.

"In fact, new research issued by AUT earlier this week suggested that at our current rate of supply we won't reach demand until the mid-to-late 2020s.

"This means that price pressure could well be an issue for some time – particularly in our more densely populated cities."

Infographics provided by REINZ as part of their September 2018 Residential Statistics Report
Infographics provided by REINZ as part of their September 2018 Residential Statistics Report. Source: Real Estate Institute of New Zealand

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US stocks suffer worst loss in eight months as tech companies plunge

US stocks plunged to their worst loss in eight months today as technology companies continued to drop. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 831 points.

The losses were widespread, and stocks that have been the biggest winners on the market the last few years, including technology companies and retailers, suffered steep declines. Apple and Amazon both had their worst day in two and a half years.

The Nasdaq composite, which has a high concentration of technology companies, had its biggest loss in more than two years.

Alec Young, managing director of global markets research at FTSE Russell, said investors fear that rising interest rates and growing expenses are going to erode company profits next year.

"The tax cuts juiced earnings this year and that's not sustainable," he said. "The market's starting to say that the glass may be half empty."

The S&P 500 index sank 94.66 points, or 3.3 percent, to 2,785.68. The benchmark index fell for the fifth straight day, which hadn't happened since just before the 2016 presidential election.

The Nasdaq composite tumbled 315.97 points, or 4.1 percent, to 7,422.05. It's fallen 7.5 percent in just five days.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 831.83 points, or 3.1 percent, to 25,598.74. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks shed 46.45 points, or 2.9 percent, to 1,575.41.

After a long stretch of relative calm, the stock market has suffered sharp losses over the last week as bond yields surged. Stocks had come close to big drops in the last few days, but each time they recovered some of their losses. That didn't happen Wednesday as stocks fell further late in the day.

Apple gave up 4.6 percent to $US216.36 and Microsoft dropped 5.4 percent to $US106.16. Amazon skidded 6.2 percent to $US1,755.25.

Industrial and internet companies also fell hard. Boeing lost 4.7 percent to $US367.57 and Alphabet, Google's parent company, gave up 4.6 percent to $US1,092.16.

Insurance companies dropped as Hurricane Michael continued to gather strength and came ashore in Florida bringing winds of up to 155 miles an hour. Berkshire Hathaway dipped 4.7 percent to $213.10 and reinsurer Everest Re slid 5.1 percent to $US217.73.

Luxury retailers tumbled after LVMH, the parent of Louis Vuitton, said its sales growth in China slowed. Tiffany plunged 10.2 percent to $US110.38 and Ralph Lauren fell 8.4 percent to $US116.96.

The biggest driver for the market over the last week has been interest rates, which began spurting higher following several encouraging reports on the economy. Higher rates can slow economic growth, erode corporate profits and make investors less willing to pay high prices for stocks.

The 10-year Treasury yield remained at 3.20 percent, about where it was late Tuesday, after earlier touching 3.24 percent. It was at just 3.05 percent early last week and 2.82 percent in late August.

Technology and internet-based companies are known for their high profit margins, and many have reported explosive growth in recent years, with corresponding gains in their stock prices.

Gina Martin Adams, chief equity strategist for Bloomberg Intelligence, said the stocks have become more volatile in the last few months because investors have concerns about their future profitability.

"Amazon recently announced they were increasing wages, Facebook is spending a ton on security," she said. "Semiconductors have the most exposure to China out of segments in the S&P 500."

Sears Holdings nosedived after the Wall Street Journal reported that the struggling retailer hired an advisory firm to prepare a bankruptcy filing that could come within days. The stock fell 16.8 percent to 49 cents. It was more than $US40 five years ago.

Sears has closed hundreds of stores and sold several famous brands or put them on the block as it sees more customers abandon its stores.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 2.4 percent to $US73.17 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 2.2 percent to $US83.09 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline shed 2.7 percent to $US2.02 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1.2 percent to $US2.39 a gallon. Natural gas rose 0.6 percent to $US3.28 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose 0.2 percent to $US1,193.40 an ounce. Silver dipped 0.5 percent to $US14.33 an ounce. Copper fell 0.9 percent to $US2.78 a pound.

Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.2 percent, South Korea's Kospi dropped 1.1 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.1 percent.
The CAC 40 in France dropped 2.1 percent, Germany's DAX lost 2.2 percent and the FTSE 100 in London fell 1.3 percent.

Stocks from emerging markets were also hard hit. Investors see many of these countries as being vulnerable to higher U.S. interest rates, which can pull away investment dollars. Brazil's Bovespa lost 2.5 percent and the Merval in Argentina sank 2.2 percent.

The dollar fell to 112.59 Japanese yen from 113.05 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose to $US1.1525 from $US1.1496. The British pound rose to $US1.3197 from $US1.3146.

FILE- This Jan. 4, 2018, file photo shows the interior of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 10. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
The interior of the New York Stock Exchange. Source: Associated Press

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Bug in IT system used to count euthanasia bill submission costs taxpayers $75,000

A bug in an IT system used to count submissions to the controversial euthanasia bill ended up costing $75,000 to find 700 missing forms.

There were an un-precedented 37,000 submissions to the End of Life Bill and more than half were hard copies and had to be manually scanned in.

During that process 700 went missing and a consultant was brought in to find them and make sure no more got lost.

William Devos from the Office of the Clerk said it was a massive task involving multiple searches on different databases.

The $75,000 cost included a $10,000 audit, $45,000 for the consultant and $20,000 for two temporary staff.

Mr Devos said the bug itself took only $3500 to fix.

The IT system was developed by Parliamentary Service and has only been in use since late last year.

rnz.co.nz

Mr Seymour, author of the End of Life Choice Bill, debated the pros and cons with Dr Peter Thirkell of the Care Alliance, which opposes euthanasia.
Source: 1 NEWS


Snow in the deep south, rain and gales forecast for central New Zealand

The wintry blast that brought snow to high country areas of the South Island overnight is set to sweep up the country with gales and heavy rain.

Snow fell in high country areas of Otago and Southland overnight, closing roads.

MetService says snow fell down to 200m in Southland.

State Highway 94 between Te Anau and Milford is closed from Hollyford Road because of snow and a rising avalance risk, and is likely to remain closed until midday.

MetService forecaster Heath Gullery said the cold weather system wasn't over yet.

Heavy rain warnings and watches are in place for north west Nelson, the ranges of Buller and the Richmond Range.

Mr Gullery said Up to 100mm of rain could fall in north-west Nelson.

Gales of more than 90 km/h are also expected for the Kaikoura coast and in Wellington.

Yesterday, temperatures dropped rapidly as the front moved up the South Island.

rnz.co.nz

This was a delight for locals as a cold snap hit the lower South Island today. Source: 1 NEWS