Wellington's famous trolley buses to be retired after 60 years

It's the end of an era in Wellington, with the capital's famous trolley buses to be retired.

The trolley buses will complete their final journey at the end of this month after servicing passengers for over 60 years.

In 2014, councillors voted to stop funding the trolleys as part of a plan to modernise the region's bus fleet.

New diesel and electric buses will begin service mid next year.

They will complete their final journeys at the end of the month after the GWRC ended to stop funding for them. Source: Breakfast

Auckland house prices fall as regions still out-performing main centres

Auckland house prices dropped by more than half a per cent over the past three months while they rose by over one per cent nationally.

The latest monthly QV House Price Index shows nationwide residential property values for September rose 4.3% over the past year. 

Values rose by 1.1% over the past three months and the nationwide average price is now $646,378 which is 56 per cent above the previous market peak of late 2007. 

When adjusted for inflation the nationwide annual increase drops to 2.5 per cent and values are now 30.2 per cent above the 2007 peak.

Residential property values across the Auckland Region increased 0.8% year on year but dropped by 0.6% over the past three months. 

The average price for the Auckland Region is now $1.039 million and prices are now on average 90.1 per cent higher than the 2007 peak.  

The reductions in quarterly value growth have extended from just the main centres last month to almost all the 15 major urban areas - QV National spokesperson David Nagel

When adjusted for inflation Auckland values dropped one per cent over the past year and are 58.7% above the 2007 peak. 

QV National spokesperson David Nagel says the reductions in quarterly value growth have extended from just the main centres last month to almost all the 15 major urban areas the government agency tracks with the exception of Rotorua, Palmerston North, Dunedin and Invercargill.

"The year on year growth is still showing double digit gains in many of New Zealand's provincial towns; however the quarterly change shows a gradual slowing of the property market in almost all city locations," he said.

"Values are reflecting small decreases in all but a few isolated pockets of Auckland while Tauranga and Christchurch have also shown a small decline over the past quarter."

Mr Nagel says the normal spring surge in property listings still hasn't eventuated throughout most of the country and this lack of supply has helped insulate the market from more significant falls in values.

"While the property markets appear to have run out of puff in the main urban areas, there's still plenty of activity in the smaller provincial towns which were slower getting started,” he said.

While there is uncertainty around who will govern the country, there are policies that if agreed on under a coalition government could influence the property market, Mr Nagel said. 

These include a gradual reduction on immigration numbers which has previously helped fuel the property market, particularly in Auckland, and the increase in housing supply, he said.

"What will be most interesting will be whether a new government supports the relaxing of the Reserve Banks LVR restrictions as well as what support policies get rolled out to help first home buyers get onto the property escalator," he said. 

Auckland demand 'halted' by buyers' borrowing problems

QV Auckland Senior Consultant James Steele says sales volumes are down to very low levels in Auckland as demand is halted by the ability for purchasers to finance property deals.

The number of listings has also eased as there is little pressure at the moment for home owners to sell, as rents remain high and interest rates low, and a number of vendors and purchasers are taking a 'wait and see' approach until after a new government is formed, he said.

Well-presented homes in desirable suburbs are still in strong demand by movers, however there are issues with deals falling over due to trouble obtaining finance under retail banks stricter lending criteria, Mr Steele said.

Auckland, New Zealand - January 11, 2014: New Homes on January 11, 2014. House prices are booming around New Zealand - with the average price of an Auckland city home rocketing to $735,692.
Auckland houses (file picture). Source: istock.com


'Get the minister to look at it' - Immigration lawyer's idea for young widow fighting for mum to be allowed into NZ

An immigration lawyer is suggesting a young Auckland widow raising a family without support take her case to the Immigration Minister for her mother to be allowed into the country.

Seven Sharp reports 27-year-old Aucklander Sonam Sharma would dearly love to have her mother Shakuntla Sharma at her side to help with the baby while she's at work.

Over the last seven years, Sonam Sharma has juggled multiple jobs, the care of her two younger brothers, the birth of her first child, Aryan, and the death of her husband in a motorcycle accident last year.

Sonam said her mother left New Zealand after being denied a visa seven years ago, having been given incorrect advice that she could stay on during the application process.

"We never thought that when we want her to come back again, Immigration was going to say 'oh, you overstayed for eight months'. And that was a shock to us because we were like 'the lawyers told us that we were allowed to stay here'," Sonam said.

She says she paid $22,000 in legal fees to lawyers, but to no avail, and her mother and the family have "suffered over one simple thing for seven years".

"My mum she's very broken. There's many times she'll talk to me and say 'I don't know what to do anymore. I just feel like going to kill myself. There's not point, there's just no point. I'm alive why am I alive?'" 

Ms Sharma said: "I want to ask Immigration to help me remove this label of my mum being an overstayer, because it was not her fault that she became overstayed. Why, why? She has three children that are here." 

Immigration lawyer Simon Laurent has provided a glimmer of hope for the young woman who's trying to do the right thing and support her family despite the hand she's been dealt.

"I think it may be worth considering making a direct approach to the Minister of Immigration. Get the minister to look at it and see if those compassionate issues can actually outweigh the apparent negatives," Mr Laurent said.

Ms Sharma said she hopes that by trying to share her story and trying to contact Immigration, "I hope that I can flip the circumstances around and be happy, so my mum can be happy and at least see her children".

Sonam Sharma lost her husband and is pleading for help with her mum's immigration case. Source: Seven Sharp