'The signs are positive' for New Zealand's economy despite slowdown - Reserve Bank Governor

Despite the slow down of New Zealand's economy, "the signs are positive" says Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr. 

TVNZ1's Q+A host Corin Dann last night asked Mr Orr if the New Zealand economy is at risk of stalling, after Treasury and the Reserve Bank both issued warnings to the Government that growth is now starting to slow.

Mr Orr said the slowdown was "very low risk", and their core forecast was that economic activity would pick up. 

"The signs are very positive. You've got a lower exchange rate, meaning we're earning more for our offshore efforts; the world growth is still very strong; the government is out spending and investing; households are still consuming, and business investment should be increasing."

Read more: Simon Bridges says unchanged OCR shows Reserve Bank Governor's shaken faith in the economy

He said the Reserve Bank do not "take any notice" of business confidence indices.

Dann asked if the Government's argument that business uncertainty developed from the shifted focus from house prices to supposedly an export-driven economy, held up. 

"I do buy that," Mr Orr said.

"That was all about more people, more consumption and thus wealth. Looking forward, it’s about driving growth."

"Looking forward, it’s about driving growth," Adrian Orr said. Source: Q+A

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'Every woman has a story' of barriers to sport - Jacinda Ardern

Women's participation in sport needs to be considered down to a schooling level. says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

It comes after the Government announced a $10 million investment over three years to increase efforts to grow female leadership, coaching and governance among women in sport. 

The initiative, launched on the United Nations' Day of the Girl, will see an increase in support for female athletes, hoping to improve participation rates among women and girls.

Today, Ms Ardern said they "need to worry" about participation barriers for women down to schooling level.

"I hope that we have full buy in at every single level because it's often at school that that participation starts or stops, and determines whether it carries on later in life."

Ms Ardern spoke about her own sporting experience growing up. 

"Sport has never been something that I particularly excelled at, but it was something that was social, something that we were always encouraged to do. 

"But I saw lots of reasons along the way why other young weren't participating or didn't feel comfortable participating. I think every woman has a story, that at some point felt like they were discouraged from participating."

The Prime Minister also responded to concerns of a lack of accessibility to Black Ferns jerseys, after a story was published on the Spinoff describing it as the "rarest piece of NZ sporting merchandise". 

"We should be able to have the most basic things like merchandise for our sport teams that are female and male, equally available," Ms Ardern said.

"We're talking about a world champion team and ones which have a huge following. Things are turning around and we need to keep up."

The Prime Minister made the comments as her Government announced $10 million to support women staying in sport. Source: 1 NEWS

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Māori cultural centre for Whangārei hopes for $5 million council grant

The long-held dream of a Māori cultural centre for Whangārei is hanging on hopes of a $5 million council grant.

Work has just begun on the first stage of the project - a big carving workshop and waka shelter, east of the Town Basin in the Hihiaua Peninsula.

But stage two, a theatre, will be competing for council funding with hotel developers across the river.

Master Carver Te Warihi Hetaraka can visualise exactly what the Hihiaua Cultural Centre will look like.

The trust he's a part of has been planning it for ten years, but it's been the dream of his elders for much longer.

"The vision of it started back in the 1980s when the kaumātua realised that kids were losing their culture fast - real fast. They saw a cultural centre as a place where they could retain a lot of the knowledge that used to be handed down and is no longer with us."

Some of those arts and skills - carving, weaving and waka building - would finally have a home in Whangārei by next April.

A former boat-building shed on the Waiarohia Stream is being converted into an art workshop space, with a waka shelter and launching gantry.

Half the $2 million cost has been covered with a grant from the Provincial Growth Fund, and the rest from the Whangarei District Council, Foundation North and Te Puni Kokiri.

But it's the next stage that will be the big one: A 700 seat theatre for the performing arts, a facility Whangārei has needed for years.

It will cost between $10m and $15m according to Hihiaua Trust secretary Janet Hetaraka.

The theatre would be versatile enough to handle many community events, Mrs Hetaraka said.

But the priority for the Trust was kapa haka.

"We have many kapa haka events throughout the year and there is no adequate venue.

"They have to use stadiums or gyms and there's never enough space for the audience. What we've designed is an indoor/outdoor stage, so we can have thousands of people seated outside on the grass with the stage open to the outdoors."

The Hihiaua Trust will apply for resource consent for the theatre in the next fortnight. It hopes to persuade the council to back the project with a $5m grant.

If it succeeds, it would be able to apply to other charities for the rest of the funds, Mrs Hetaraka said.

The Whangārei District Council has long had $10 million budgeted in its long term plan for a theatre but developers planning to build a hotel across the river are also pitching for council funding for a conference centre.

Another Hihiaua Trust member, lawyer Ryan Welsh, said the Hihiaua theatre was more in line with what the city needed.

"Not to say that a hotel wouldn't provide jobs but we are looking to showcase Māori culture and also be inclusive of the whole community in terms of its use."

Both developments are intended to work in with the Hundertwasser Art Centre now under construction at the other end of town.

The Hihiaua Trust said the cultural centre would complement the Hundertwasser, which included a Māori fine arts' gallery.

Hihiaua trustees held off applying for council and charitable funding for several years, to let the $28m Hundertwasser take precedent.

But the trust and the hotel developers could yet be in for a wait.

Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai said the council was in the process of developing a new events and venues strategy and would not be handing out any money until it was decided where the venue gaps were in the city.

- By Radio New Zealand's Lois Williams

Boats moored at Whangarei Marina in the town basin. Northland, New Zealand, NZ.
Whangārei's Town Basin. (file picture). Source: istock.com


Investigation underway after truckie films himself abusing cyclist on Dunedin road

A Dunedin company is investigating the actions of one of its employees after he filmed himself abusing a cyclist and posted it online.

The man shot a video of himself riding in the passenger seat of a truck, and can be heard urging the driver to hit the cyclist.

"Run him over Greg mate ... do it," the man says.

"Out of the way you f****** cabbage!"

The man then posted the video onto a local social media page, the Otago Daily Times reports, and another member of the page provided it to the newspaper.

A spokesperson for the trucking company, Clearwater Civil, said he is appalled.

"The video is extremely embarrassing," he told the Times.

"The allegation is viewed very seriously and there is an employment investigation under way.''

The spokesperson said he was happy to see that the driver appeared to have actually ignored his the man's words and given the cyclist plenty of room.