SkyCity hits record $169.5 million full year profit

The casino operator, SkyCity Entertainment, has reported a record full year profit as its New Zealand business improved, and its high rollers business recovered.

The net profit for the year ended June was $169.5 million compared with last year's $44.9m, which included a large writedown in the value of its Darwin casino.

SkyCity's chief executive Graeme Stephens said the recovery in the international business and a return to earnings growth in Australia were particularly encouraging.

"Set alongside the continued growth of our flagship Auckland property on a record previous corresponding period and a solid result from our Hamilton site, the group's performance provides us with confidence that we can continue to deliver on our key strategic initiatives and major projects over the coming year," he said.

SkyCity's normalised net profit, which takes out one-off items and better reflects the underlying business, was up 10 per cent to $169.95m.

Group revenue was dominated by the flagship Auckland casino, where revenue rose 3 per cent, while earnings in the international high rollers business rose 39 per cent.

The company's Australian casinos in Adelaide and Darwin were mixed, with the former's earnings fractionally higher, while the latter fell by 1 percent.

SkyCity has had the Darwin establishment up for sale and said it had received indicative bids that were above book value.

The smaller New Zealand casinos in Hamilton and Queenstown had improved returns.

Mr Stephens said the $700m international convention centre and hotel complex being built by Fletcher Construction remained about six months behind schedule but should be completed by the middle of next year.

It has a number of major conventions already booked for 2020.

He said the extra costs by the delays to the project should be covered by liquidated damages provisions but the legal situation would be reviewed later in the year.

Mr Stephens said trading at the start of the year has continued on from the strong end of the past year and the outlook for the full year is one of modest growth.

He said longer term SkyCity would be looking at hotel projects here and in Australia and also explore developing an online casino operation to counter growing competition from that area.

The company's full-year dividend was maintained at 20 cents a share.

Pokie machines. Source: 1 NEWS

Heavy rain, severe winds, thunderstorms could hit central parts of New Zealand today

A severe weather watch has been issued by MetService this morning, with gales and heavy rain forecast for central and southern parts of New Zealand.

A front is moving slowly over the South Island up to the North Island today, with the risk that accumulated rainfall in central regions may approach warning amounts by this evening.

In particular, the following areas are expected to receive heavy rain throughout today: northern Westland, Buller, northwest Nelson, Marlborough from the Sounds to the Richmond Range, Mount Taranaki today, and in Fiordland.

MetService is also predicting northerly winds may approach severe gale strength this afternoon and early evening in exposed parts of Taranaki, Wellington and Marlborough.

All of the severe weather warnings above will have passed by 9pm tonight, when the northerly front moves east overnight. 

There is also a risk of thunderstorms behind the front moving across the upper South Island and onto the North Island from this afternoon.

A few lightning strikes have already been recorded out to the west of the South Island this morning.

To get specifics on when the heavy rain watch, and the strong wind watch, begin and end for each region in this list visit MetService.

Rain road
Rural New Zealand road on a wet day (file picture). Source:


Grey roofs and drab paint are sucking the soul out of NZ housing, renowned architect argues

Grey roofs and dreary paint jobs are sucking the joy out of New Zealand’s suburbs, says renowned Kiwi architect Roger Walker.

"I can’t understand why colour is gradually disappearing from our lives," the New Zealand Order of Merit recipient said this morning on TVNZ1’s Breakfast. "Maybe it’s symptomatic of some deeper malaise, and that’s what concerns me."

Mr Walker, who has earned a reputation for his against-the-grain architectural designs dating back to the 1960s, fondly remembered the colourful roofs in Hamilton when he was a child. They spoke to the individuality he has always associated with "the Kiwi way of life", he said.

"So this creeping uniformity to me is a worry because it speaks of a sort of rising conservatism," he explained.

"I don’t know if it is because our lives are so complicated with filling in forms and health and safety and all the other issues – we’re perhaps getting a little too gloomy."

He has put his money where his mouth is, painting his own home in the Wellington suburb of Thorndon pink and green – a mix so bright that it has caused some consternation among the local historical society and prompted his own son to ask: "Which particular asylum came up with this colour scheme?"

But Mr Walker has the résumé to back up his wild choices. In 2016, he earned the New Zealand Institute of Architects’ highest honour.

He has used the platform to urge fellow New Zealanders not to be afraid of a little more colour – advice that he admits contradicts real estate agents who say his method makes it more difficult to sell a house quickly.

"It’s just a thin layer of colour" that can always be changed before putting a house on the market, he countered.

Another underlying issue is the way homes in New Zealand have gone in recent decades from individually designed to mass produced, "depressing" neighbourhoods that home buyers have no input in constructing.

"There's too many of them that are clones of other houses, and I just think we need to express our individuality," he said. And paint is the easiest way to do so, he argued.

"Supermarkets always put their fresh fruit and veggies at the entrance…which gets people in a good mood, and that lifts their spending power when they go through the rest of the store,” he explained.

"Colour is a joyful thing. Colour actually works."

Wellington architect Roger Walker is concerned by the grey roofs dominating housing developments in the capital. Source: Breakfast