House prices up 6.6 per cent across NZ last year, sales volumes plunge

The national average house price rose 6.6 per cent, or 41,600, during 2017, to stand at just under $670,000 in December.

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

The average national value increased 3.6 per cent over the final three months of last year, according to the latest QV House Price Index statistics. 

According to QV the average national value increased 3.6 per cent over the final three months of 2017. 

Sales volumes were down on 2016 for every month during the year, and between February and October they were more than 20 per cent below 2016 levels.

We saw a return to more normal levels of activity in housing markets around the country - Andrea Rush, QV national spokesperson

Sales picked up in November when a post-election late spring surge saw them jump to just 10 per cent lower than November 2016 levels.

"A slow-down in the rate of value growth in the housing market that began in the latter part of 2016 with the introduction of LVR speed limits requiring a 40 per cent deposit by investors continued throughout 2017," said QV national spokesperson, Andrea Rush.

"The frenzy in the market of the previous three years induced by high numbers of investors in the market subsided and we saw a return to more normal levels of activity in housing markets around the country," she said.

By October nationwide annual value growth had slowed to 3.9%, the lowest rate of growth seen in five years and for the Auckland Region it slowed to -0.6%, the slowest annual rate of growth seen there since March 2011, Ms Rush said.

Auckland prices up 0.4 per cent in year

The average value across the wider Auckland region increased 0.4 per cent, or $4,583, from $1.047 million at December 2016 to $1.051 million last month. 

Auckland values rose 1.2 per cent over the past three months. Annual growth picked up again across the region in the final quarter of 2017 with most areas seeing values rising again. 

Prices across the wider Wellington region rose 9.4 per cent, or $ 54,040, over the past year from an average value of $574,410 in December 2016 to $628,450 at the end of 2017. Values across the region rose 3.6 per cent over the last quarter of 2017.

South Island prices

Christchurch city values have remained stable, dropping slightly by 0.1 per cent over the past year from an average value of $494,247 in December 2016 to $493,706 last month. Christchurch prices have increased slightly by 0.4% over the past quarter.

Meanwhile, prices across most South Island regional centres are either flat or steadily increasing. 

The MacKenzie District continues to rise, up 5.2 per cent over the past three months and 24.7 per cent year on year, the highest annual rise in the country, while Southland and Invercargill are also continuing on an upward trend. 

Market growth remains strong in the Queenstown Lakes, as values increase 3 per cent over the past three months with an average current value now much higher than the Auckland Region of $1.111 million.  

Many are still swapping out the big cities for the quiet life in the regions. Source: 1 NEWS



Man charged with murder over fatal Tauranga stabbing

A man has been charged with murder following the death of a 48-year-old man in Papamoa, Tauranga yesterday.

Police say the 22-year-old man charged was known to the victim and will be appearing in Tauranga District Court tomorrow.

The police investigation is ongoing but no-one else is being sought in relation to the death.

Police still want to hear from anyone who was walking in the Harding Street area between 7.30am and 9am yesterday.

Neighbour Todd Madden, who was walking to their car on the front lawn with his six-year-old at the time of the incident, told the NZ Herald they saw a "young guy covered in blood" in a driveway.

"[He] yelled at me to call the police.

"Police arrived and he laid down on the ground and I grabbed the two kids."

The children told him there was a victim inside "laying in a pool of blood".

"They had been crying loudly for about 30 minutes but I just thought they were being naughty - I wished I had've gone over earlier."

Anyone with information should call Tauranga Police on (07) 577 4300 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

Police car generic.
Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS

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New Zealand resident involved in people-smuggling to be deported

A Pakistani man involved in a people-smuggling operation in America, who gained residence in New Zealand, is the subject of a fraud investigation and is going to be deported.

But he has been told he can make a fresh application for residence.

In 2005, the stepfather-of-two was caught by a United States border patrol crossing from Canada, driving a van carrying eight Indian nationals, none with visas.

He changed his name and arrived in 2013 to enter into an arranged marriage.

When he applied for residence, the 39-year-old failed to disclose he had been convicted, deported and had used another name.

He had also previously unsuccessfully claimed refugee status in Canada.

When his visa deception was revealed, the former immigration minister, Michael Woodhouse decided he should be deported.

He appealed to the immigration and protection tribunal, which heard about his part in the people-smuggling.

He met an "agent" who offered to get him a legitimate visa for the United States for $US5000 ($NZ7479) and offered to reduce the cost if he agreed to drive a vehicle to the border for him, he told the tribunal.

He was arrested and jailed, meeting his New Zealand resident-wife online once he had been deported back to Pakistan.

His lawyer said he would face severe risks to his safety if he was again deported there, because he is a Shia Muslim.

He suffered threats to his life on his last visit there, she said, and deportation would result in the permanent separation from his family to whom he was a "pillar of support".

The tribunal heard he was the subject of an open fraud investigation by the police in relation to his directorship of a car company. The sum under investigation is said to be substantial.

It ruled he did have exceptional humanitarian circumstances because of his wife and stepson's health issues but it would not be unduly harsh to deport him.

"[His] concealment of his deportation from the United States (bolstered by his concealment of ever having lived there, or in Canada) went to the heart of his residence application," it said, in its written decision.

"The concealment undermined the integrity of New Zealand's immigration system in a serious way.

"He was not the architect of the scheme but more of a 'mule'. It does not, however, alter the fact that he sustained a conviction for a serious, immigration-related offence."

But it lifted a ban on him re-applying for visas.

"While deportation is not unjust or unduly harsh in all the circumstances, the tribunal considers that any adverse effect on [her and her children] ought to be mitigated as far as is possible, given the genuineness of the marriage and the fact that she and her children are innocent parties."

By Gill Bonnett

rnz.co.nz

Generic passport Source: Breakfast

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New Zealand airports 'woefully underprepared' for tourist influx - aviation expert

New Zealand's airports are woefully under prepared for the numbers of tourists coming through their gates, an aviation commentator says.

In an email sent to customers, Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said he was frustrated with the under investment by local airport companies that has created backlogs for travellers.

Mr Luxon also announced that Air New Zealand will stop flying to Vietnam from next year due to engine maintenance issues involving Rolls Royce powered planes.

Aviation commentator Peter Clark said Air New Zealand's problems have been ongoing for years.

"Auckland Airport is a classic example, it's been trying to play catch up for years and it's too late, it should have been done," Mr Clark said.

"The government needs to look into this, where have we gone so badly wrong in New Zealand?"

Mr Clark said he was also concerned New Zealand businesses have not learnt enough lessons from last year's Marsden Point pipeline shut down.

The 10-day shut down last September was caused when a digger burst the pipeline near Ruakaka, spilling up to 80,000 litres of fuel on nearby farmland and causing severe disruption to flights.

Mr Clark said if another burst were to occur, it would be catastrophic.

"If we have a problem and a plane is stuck on a runway for even more than half a day it causes absolute chaos in New Zealand by diverting aircraft, putting people up, accommodation, getting crews to fly aircraft's. Where is the total back up?"

Auckland Airport has been contacted for comment.

rnz.co.nz 

New Zealand airports are under prepared for the amount of tourists coming through the gates. Source: rnz.co.nz


What's up with Southland's 'cat killer'? SPCA refuses to be drawn on investigation

The SPCA won't say if its investigation into a man who claims to have buried 170 cats in his vegetable garden is complete.

Ian Gamble, from Invercargill, posted the claim on Environment Southland's social media page in September.

The Facebook comment was a response to a Council proposal to microchip and register cats in some areas.

"I have lived here for over 30 years and have 170 cats in my veggie garden, which is the best place for a cat in a bush suburb," Mr Gamble wrote.

The comment upset other posters, with one saying they were going to contact the SPCA.

Mr Gamble's remarks since been removed from the Council's page.

At the time, the SPCA confirmed that it was investigating this claim, but when Stuff contacted a spokesperson on Tuesday they said the organisation was "unable to give any further comment on the investigation at this time".

Last month, Mr Gamble told Stuff he made the comments to "rark up the cat ladies of Otatara".

"I’m legally allowed to use a humane kill trap on my property and almost all of those cats were feral," he said.

Mr Gamble added he had not killed any of his neighbours cats and had not used firearms to kill them.

A kitten, aged six to eight weeks, looks upward.
A kitten, aged six to eight weeks, looks upward. Source: istock.com