30 June, 2008

Coastal property values slipping

Every second year intermediate school students in Birkdale do a problem based learning exercise called Let the buyer beware
Almost without fail the year 7 and 8 students choose the property that is on volcanic rock but back from the coastline to 'purchase' rather than one on the sandstone/mudstone/clay cliff top or one right on the seafront.

A lesson the owners of these properties should have thought about more fully.

Residents of one of Auckland's most exclusive streets - including All Black coach Graham Henry - have been warned to prepare an emergency kit as unstable ground threatens their multi-million-dollar clifftop homes.

The Auckland City Council has sealed off a large part of Cliff Rd in St Heliers to repair huge cracks and reduce the risk to properties.

The street boasts panoramic views of the Hauraki Gulf, but an earth movement of less than 30cm could cut utilities and significant movement would increase risk to properties.

I guess that also proves that All Black coaches really do have feet of clay

26 June, 2008

Another finance company gone belly up

I haven't commented on the continued fall of finance companies in recent months. Partly because I didn't have anything new to say on the subject but mostly because I had lost count.

Here is a list:
#24. June 25 2008. Dorchester Pacific Finance, details here
#23. June 24 2008. St Laurence
#22. June 18 2008. Dominion Finance Holdings (DFH, DFG, NSFL)
#21. June 2008 IMP Diversified Fund
#20. May 28 2008: Belgrave Finance
#19. May 18 2008: MFS Pacific Finance, re-named OPI Pacific Finance (in moratorium)
#18. May 13 2008: Cymbis New Zealand (re-named Fairview)
#17. April 15 2008 Kiwi Finance
#16. April 3 2008: Lombard Finance and Investments
#15. March 14 2008: MFS Boston (in moratorium)

#14. December 17 2007: Numeria Finance
#13. November 29 2007: Capital + Merchant Investments
#12. October 16 2007: Geneva Finance (in moratorium)
#11. October 2007: Beneficial Finance (in moratorium)
#10. October 4 2007: Clegg and Co Finance
#9. September 5 2007: Finance and Investments
#8. September 4 2007: LDC Finance Ltd
#7. August 30 2007: Five Star Consumer Finance
#6 August 29 2007: Property Finance
#5. August 21 2007: Nathans Finance
#4. July 2 2007: Bridgecorp

#3. August 2006: Western Bay
#2. June 2006: Provincial Finance.
#1. May 2006: National Finance 2000.
detailed list here

Not everybody has lost all their money, in fact most will get some and a few will get all their money back... eventually.
What is worrying is there are some well known names there.

No doubt there will still be more to come too.

25 June, 2008

Greater Auckland plan # ...what are we up to now?

Auckland 'needs mini-government'

Yesterday Mr Swney echoed the views of many in saying the current regime was fragmented, duplicated, obstructive and costly.
His vision was for a two-tier system, starting with 15 to 25 local community councils with boosted powers that would elect one member each to represent them on an all-powerful greater Auckland council led by a prime minister-style mayor they, and not the public, would elect.


Hang on a minute. Isn't that very close to what we had in before November 1989?

OK the ARA (Auckland Regional Authority) didn't have enough teeth to act as greater Auckland council but as those with long memories remember there was a lot of opposition to the pulling of several of the teeth is had to form the ARC. Of course there were more than 20 different cities, counties and boroughs back then. One source recons there were 38, I haven't been able to verify that.

I do know that North Shore City was 3 cities and 2 boroughs and has continually suffered from internal problems not only caused by the differences between needs of the Harbour ward and the Central ward but the differences between the communities who make up these wards. Devonport (formally a borough) has little in common with neighbouring Takapuna (former city) and although the suburbs of Birkenhead (another former city) do see eye to eye with Northcote (the other former borough) some it not much of the time, their concerns differ greatly from those of Glenfield (formally a ward of Takapuna). All of these places have next to nothing in common with the still rapidly growing East Coast Bays (yet another former city).

The much touted bus way is a great asset to the commuters of Albany, Sunnynook, Forrest Hill and even Takapuna but of no benefit at all to the still ferry less residents of Beach Haven or commuters stuck on the one road out of Devonport.
The relative lack of community buildings north of Sunnynook is of little interest to Birkenhead who have been putting up with a basket ball court at the local leisure centre being used as a temporary library. The old library that was both too small (and had been for 20 years) and a very leaky roof, was bulldozed. The irony of the basket ball court being only half the size of the old library hasn't been lost the bibliophiles of Birkenhead either. Nor has the difference in the amount of rates collected in the area and the amount being spent or rather, not being spent on keeping local amenities functional. Birkenhead City Library was the second only to Takapuna library on the North Shore now it shares last place with Albany.

This sort of scenario is played out time and time again over the Auckland region.

Auckland isn't a City.

It isn't even a compilation of 4 cities and 3 districts.

It is a collection of towns and villages joined only by urban sprawl and a few clogged arteries without the hot air generator that has kept Wellington functional.

23 June, 2008

Generation Y vote

It seems that generation Y bother/Y give a damn/Y not, has yet another name.

Y vote.

Politicians are not only not reaching 18-35 year olds but this generation just aren't interested anyway.

How have we managed to raise an entire generation where so many are almost completely oblivious to the fact that who is in Parliament affects not only their financial bottom line but also how they live and can raise their families?

How have we managed to convince them that their vote will change nothing and is therefore unimportant?

Is this another symptom of CWK (cotton wool kids) or even worse, PPPS (piss poor parenting syndrome)?

No doubt Labour is worried, they tend to appeal to younger voters.

This sort of ignorance doesn't stop there either. The household teenager (year 9) recently came home with the news that in a multi choice test, half of her class decided that the Minister of Finance was Helen Clark.

When told that the last Prime Minister to be Minister of Finance as well was Muldoon the general reply was:

One thing is for sure. We can't let this level of political detachment continue.

19 June, 2008

Why do we need street lights?

There weren't any street lights on around here last night.

Was it a problem? No.

Cars, or rather, car drivers could still see where they were going. Walkers didn't seem to be suffering any difficulty either, due to the full moon. Only one had a torch and they were actually talking and smiling at each other as they passed.

Maybe in the days when car head lights were pathetic street lighting was needed but those days are gone.

What about security? Surely having areas lit up deters low lifes hanging around and creating trouble.
Or does it?
Don't the local low lifes hang around the shops and bus stops because they are lit up? There weren't many around last night.

No doubt the lights out was only a temporary glitch rather than a new power/cost saving policy from the local council still...

It was a nice night last night.

18 June, 2008

Fuel tax cuts

There have been yet more calls for the government to cut GST on fuel.

The standard answer to that idea has been a simple no.

I agree.

Why? Not just for the reason that it won't make much difference in the medium or long term. Or because people spending more on fuel are spending less on other things therefore the total tax take is pretty much the same.

My rational is this: GST in New Zealand is a very simple tax to administer and comply with basically because it is applied to pretty much everything (with the exception of some secondhand goods) that isn't exported at the same flat percentage.
Compliance costs are low.
Remove it from some items and the compliance costs will sky rocket.

Take a guess who will ultimately end up paying for that.

Leave it alone and take the promised income tax cut or increased government funding on health care, law enforcement, education etc instead.

Food for the newly budget conscious

I was perusing the pages of The Aucklander the other day and I came across the food column. The first thing I noticed was that like many papers and magazines recently contained a recipe for a "budget" meal, in this case a deluxe packed lunch to serve two.

What followed certainly wasn't my definition of inexpensive.
The ingredients for this pasta and chicken dish included 2 chicken thighs and 2 courgettes and half a capsicum.

As many a housewife will be able to tell you chicken isn't cheap meat any more (pork is) and any dietitian or diabetic could also tell you that a chicken thigh is enough meat for a main meal, not a light lunch.

Then there are the courgettes.

These are not only out of season but just about as out of season as you can get given that they are a summer vegetable (early summer at that in a dry year like we just had) and it is now definitely winter. Yes you can still buy them, at $6.99/kg but the only thing green about them is the skin colour.
The capsicums at least are in abundant supply and can even be found at less than 99c each.

Vic Williams needs to be a little more realistic than optimistic when it comes to was is reasonable to spend on an everyday lunch.

Here is some more constructive food advice for the budget conscious:

  1. If a fresh fruit or vegetable costs more per kilo than budget beef mince don't buy it.
  2. The only exceptions to rule #1 are things you can buy and use is very small amounts e.g. garlic, ginger, a couple of mushrooms etc.
  3. Do a little research and buy your fruit and veg when in season and therefore less expensive.
  4. Buy only what you are going to eat before it rots. If your fridge doubles as a compost bin you are buying too much.
  5. Compare prices, shopping at your the local fruit shop or even the diary can be cheaper than the supermarket when it comes to fruit and veg, Asian ingredients and sometimes even bread. The same applies for meat at the local butchers.

13 June, 2008

Blow up dolls and Auckland traffic

What do North Shore residents do with inflatable dolls?
Reuters is sending a story around the world, claiming New Zealand drivers are using blow-up dolls to beat traffic rules.It comes, believe it or not, from a North Shore city media release.
Apparently, to get into the express lanes on the North Shore, people are packing their cars with imaginary friends, all different kinds of them. And some of them are inflatable.


I can confirm that this unlikely story is in fact true.

The Onewa Rd transit lane can be used by motorcycles, buses and any vehicle with three or more occupants. Travelling down it can shorten you journey by as much as half an hour.

My secretary favours insisting that the kids come along for the ride if we have to go down this road between 6:30am and 9am on a weekday morning. He who earns money favours leaving home early enough to avoid the start of the restrictions or by having co-workers in the car.

Carpooling isn't just about subsidising the cost of the petrol in this neck of the woods.

Methods others have tried without success include the use of the blow up dolls as mentioned above, Pink Panthers, shop mannequins and even dressed up large dogs.

I have see some of these with my own eyes from the safety of my cat carrier. (We will not mention the VET word or the incident that caused that journey).

The most successful method was a pair of teenaged boys who hired themselves out as passengers from the bus stop outside Zion Hill church and got out of the car at Lake Rd last year during the holidays. They could manage 3 or 4 trips at $5 each every morning depending on the number of drivers with money and how fast they could run back up the hill.

Of course blow up dolls etc are not the only strange things to been seen travelling down this frequently grid locked road. It is a favoured spot for aspiring mayoral candidate during local elections to wave placards while wearing wedding dresses..........here

Sometimes I really have to wonder about the wisdom of living on the 'Shore.

10 June, 2008

Fueling Stagflation

No, you are not seeing things. The fuel prices on that sign have been updated through the creative use of yellow electrical tape.
The ANZ/National Bank and the AA have been making noises along the lines that the government should be looking at removing the tax from petrol to give the local economy some respite from the continual rises in oil prices. watch video here
That was this morning.
I sent my secretary down to take the above photo - too late. The price had already jumped by 6 cents by the time she got down there.
Which illustrates why the government doesn't seem to be seriously considering reducing the petrol tax. Removing the petrol tax would give drivers a respite but for how long? 2 or 3 months? By then we will not only be no better off but have no funding for roads or to top up the consolidated fund (which is where the petrol tax money goes by the way).
That would mean no tax cuts. An election loser if ever I saw one.
Stagflation - an economic term meaning a state of inflation without corresponding increase in demand and employment.
Welcome back to the 70s.

04 June, 2008

Food and Fuel Crisis

Now I know that food is becoming more expensive.
That tinned stuff in my cat dish has gone back to being Rival Beef and Gravy rather than the much nicer Chef Oceanfish Platter.
My taste buds are protesting!
Still there is always dog tucker over at the neighbours if I ask very nicely.

There has been an alarming drop in the amount of meat scraps landing in my dish.
One of the kids is grumping about the number of stews suddenly on the menu, short on meat big on gravy. I wouldn't mind if the leftovers were landing in my dish but alas they are not.
Somebody else is using them for sandwich filling.
At this rate I am going to have to take up mousing.

Then there is the car. Warming my cold feet and bottom on the bonnet was one of my evening pleasures after it rolled down the drive late afternoon but suddenly it isn't doing that. It sits on the parking bay without moving once 4 or 5 days a week, bonnet as cold as fog (we haven't had a frost yet).

Still the fire is going most nights and there is enough room under the clothes horse for my basket with sheepskin so it can't be that bad.

There has been a sudden increase in gardening round here. Nobody has seen fit to plant a catfood tree but I figure with the number of inept gardeners and the number of people about to discover that they don't like all that silver beet and cabbage the birds are going to have plenty to eat. Which means more of them to discuss lunch with.

My lunch of course.