The relatively flat housing market in Christchurch is fuelling interest from first home buyers keen to capitalise on the largely stagnant prices.
But buying your first home is far from easy, although KiwiSaver and HomeStart grants are fantastic tools to help get onto the property ladder. A young couple recently came to us to arrange finance to purchase their first home. Having been in KiwiSaver since its inception, they had almost $100,000 which they could use as a deposit. That’s a huge start.
KiwiSaver enables first home buyers to withdraw the balance of their accounts to buy a property as long as they have been a member for at least three years and provided they leave an account balance of $1000.
The HomeStart grant varies depending on how long contributions have been made and whether the property is existing or new. Additionally, there are caps on the purchase price that vary by region. For Christchurch, this is $500,000 for existing dwellings or $550,000 for new builds.
In terms of structuring, I’m a fan of annual fixed-rate rollovers. There are some great one-year rates on offer and, even if rates increase by 0.5 percent each year, you would still be paying less on average than fixing for a three-year period right now.
Whether it’s your first home, or fifth, the overriding message for Christchurch buyers is ‘be prepared’. Obtain your pre-approval certificate and ensure you engage with specialists who understand the insurance aspects of buying property in Christchurch following the earthquakes.
Ōtākaro recently ran a series of walking tours around the central city as part of Explore Christchurch, a campaign to encourage locals to come and see what’s going on in town.
With around 300 people joining us across the eight tours, the level of interest surpassed our expectations. At first glance, Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, the Avon River Precinct, Rauora Park and the South Frame all sound like isolated projects. On the tours we were able to show how linking homes to parks and shops, restaurants and other attractions makes the central city an increasingly pleasant place to be.
The same goes for the links between Te Pae, hotels, shops, cafés and the river. The feedback we’ve received on the tours suggests that for many people it was the first time the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan made sense.
Ōtākaro is delivering a whole host of new places for people within the four avenues and it was great to see people enjoying the gardens and paved walkways alongside the major developments forming the new central city.
So, if you went on a tour, do us a favour and take someone you know for a look around. Show them the homes being built alongside Rauora Park, point out the riverside Promenade that is now being finished.
Or join us for another Ōtākaro tour on 13 October as part of the walking festival and we’ll see if we can make a tour guide out of you.
The Christchurch City Council recently announced the development of an action plan to increase the pace of regeneration in Christchurch’s city centre.
The stimulus was an assessment by Regenerate Christchurch of progress in the central city and five key recommendations regarding leadership, growth, people, activation and implementation. The council’s action plan was also informed by ChristchurchNZ’s most recent economic update.
Significant progress has been made in rebuilding the central city – largely driven by private sector investment and development. What is clear in the report on our analysis, which is available on our website, is that further increasing central city regeneration will require a range of measures.
As construction-led activity begins to tail off, without more workers, residents, shoppers and visitors in the central city, Christchurch will be economically vulnerable. So, what can we, as a city, do?
The council’s action plan is being designed to align activity planned by public sector agencies with private sector-led activities. We also need to collectively, as a city, focus on making ‘best for city’ decisions and compete harder to attract people here.
The city has an opportunity to absorb growth in a way that no other major city in New Zealand can. We can also offer facilities, infrastructure and lifestyle that other cities cannot.
Having the space to support the growth of New Zealand’s businesses and the national economy, is a very powerful value proposition for Christchurch, one that we must collectively pursue and promote on behalf of our city.
One of the repeated issues that we see in NZ business is the ongoing difficulty in attracting skilled labour. In the construction sector, an area often in the news lately, we are faced with a continual shortage of trained and experienced engineers, architects, planners etc.
If left unchecked, this can impact productivity, quality and the delivery of effective design solutions, ultimately leading to undesirable project outcomes and contributing to the failure of some firms. Providing structured training to enable staff development is essential to ensuring the NZ workforce stays apace with ongoing technical and technological advancements, but with the true power of a business being staff, we can also empower teams by encouraging community support initiatives, for the mutual benefit of staff, the company and the community.
It was a pleasure then to see our young engineers showing our next generation of engineers the basics of structural frames at Engineering Week. The August showcase brought together engineering companies at the University of Canterbury campus to highlight the wide range of engineering careers available here in Canterbury. Of special note was the wide diversity of interested school students suggesting future careers in STEM subjects are now seen more favourably than in the past.
Our previous involvement with Habitat for Humanity is another example of allowing our staff to support essential aid programmes in the community, while developing skills and experience; the benefit here being the opportunity to attract staff who are actively seeking these opportunities and thereby feeding like-minded engaged individuals into our empowered teams.
Following the release of the Independent Ministerial Advisor’s report in June which found that things weren’t up to scratch at the Earthquake Commission, it is great to see some positive changes being made in progressing claims and communication with claimants.
Most of these changes have been really practical and directly addressed some of the issues at EQC. As a result, 46 percent of the claims that were on the books in May have been resolved – and some of these were really tricky ones that had been awaiting resolution for a long time.
All claimants now have got a case manager who is their main point of contact. This means that they don’t have to start their story over and over again when they call EQC to talk to someone about their claim. Staff numbers have been increased to meet demand – unlike the previous Government which reduced staff numbers at the start of last year even though the number of claims kept rising. These staff members are also experts, which ensures that they are well equipped to handle the workload and can work effectively.
It’s been heartening to receive feedback that shows as a consequence of some of these changes, people are having a more positive experience with EQC. We know we still have more to do but we’re working hard to ensure that we get these claims sorted so that people can get on with their lives.
One of the key parts to making Christchurch’s downtown a great place to live, work and play is ensuring strong investment from private developers in residential development within the four avenues.
Without great projects catering to all sections of the property market, we won’t deliver on the bold ambition to see 20,000 people living in our central city. That’s why I was so pleased to see the council outline their downtown housing development plan, ‘Project 8011’, designed to reduce the risks of investment, provide increased advice and support to developers and accelerate the delivery of housing in the central city.
Central to its success will be ensuring it is focused on working with and facilitating the private sector to deliver the developments we need. The CBD rebuild has been spearheaded by private developers, who have delivered high quality retail, office and hospitality offerings. We know that when properly enabled, the private sector is the best chance we have of ensuring success for Project 8011.
We will see a raft of promotional activities soon to activate our central city. This is vital to the success of the fantastic developments we have seen so far. We are also entering another exciting period of openings, with the next few months welcoming Turanga, the Hoyts cinema complex, the central city Farmers’ Market and the Ballantynes extension.
These great projects will attract more people into the central city. We can’t afford to lose momentum in visitation to the CBD while we wait for these game-changing city assets to come online.
Most Cantabrians won’t know that they live in a city that boasts the country’s second largest tech sector, contributing around $2.4 billion of GDP and exporting $1.1 billion annually.
Next time you’re driving through central city, you might look out for the EPIC Innovation Campus on Manchester Street where more than 250 ICT / high-tech employees are housed. Over on Ash Street you’ll find 150 entrepreneurs and innovators are working away at BizDojo on technologies as diverse as VR through to Geospatial apps.
Over at UC, you’ll find the father and son team of Professors Phil and Anthony Butler whose MARS x-ray scanner could revolutionise the diagnosis of diseases such as cancer and save lives globally. They recently scanned their very first human whose images were viewed more than 30 million times on Twitter and covered by the NY Times.
Driving and nurturing a dynamic startup, entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem is critical for Christchurch and Canterbury and is one of the primary goals of Christchurch’s newest partnership between Ministry of Awesome and Ara Institute of Canterbury.
From 15 October, both organisations are joining forces to establish a jointly powered startup and innovation hub that will form the cornerstone of Christchurch’s innovation ecosystem. This hub will fuel Christchurch’s global positioning as a world class startup, innovation, and tech city. The door is wide open for startups, entrepreneurs, and innovators to reach out and be part of this newly formed community.
As a recent arrival on the regeneration scene, the most common question I have been asked is naturally – why did you want the job as Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive?
As an engineer I have worked in New Zealand, Australia, UK and Asia in a variety of project and business leadership roles. I have had the opportunity to be involved in the likes of Transmission Gully in Wellington and City Rail Link in Auckland, the A$12b Melbourne Metro Rail Project and the Channel Tunnel in England. They are city-shaping projects that improve lives and that’s what has brought me to Christchurch.
The scale and variety of work going on here is unparalleled and the outcome will be as well. It’s an opportunity that professionally and personally was too hard to let pass by. There’s still a lot to do, but as someone who has seen a lot of big projects start and finish, I can assure you Christchurch is about to turn a significant corner.
All of Ōtākaro’s roadworks and the Avon River Precinct promenade will be done by the end of the year, meaning a dramatic reduction in the number of fences and cones around the CBD. At the same time construction has started on the Metro Sports Facility and is progressing well on Te Pae. The welcome mat is also out for the return of central city residents with townhouses and apartments in the One Central development now for sale. It’s a place I’m excited to now call home.
When we released our vision for Cathedral Square two months ago, we highlighted the significant investment already being made in the area by the private and public sectors.
Since then, that investment has become even more evident.
Nexus Point’s Spark building on the south side of the Square is now out of the ground and the adjacent site of Redson Corporation’s new Aotea Gifts building is being prepared. On the north side of the Square, the Convention Centre is really starting to take shape and the new central library (Tūranga) is due to open in October. There is also site maintenance underway around the Anglican Cathedral.
Another development since we released our vision has been the announcement that Justin Murray is the independent Chair of the joint venture company that will oversee the reinstatement of the Cathedral. We said in June that, coupled with the Cathedral’s reinstatement, the regeneration of the square would need to be delivered in stages as funding and other developments allow; but returning it to its original purpose as a gathering place for local people and visitors must be front and centre.
ChristchurchNZ’s Explore Christchurch campaign to help stimulate economic activity in the central business district during the winter months, which is traditionally a quieter time for the city, is an excellent example of how we can make that happen – and not just in Cathedral Square. It also highlights that there is a role for all of us to play in the regeneration of our city.
Whether you are a small or large organisation, change begins with leadership. Your brand reflects your organisation. How is your business perceived? How do you want to be perceived? Do you stand out in a competitive world?
Returning to Christchurch after working in Sydney, it is very apparent that these are key questions in business today. Our new world is upon us and I am excited to be part of this change.
I’ve been leading marketing teams in Sydney for the past seven years and was able to experience first-hand what life is like in a fiercely competitive market.
We’re at such an exciting time in Christchurch right now. The rate of change has never been faster, innovation is redefining how we do things and we are at a point where one generation of business leaders is ready to hand the ropes over to the next.
We see businesses wanting to understand how they can evolve their messaging to bring what they have to the rest of the people in Christchurch, to New Zealand and the world. For many, it begins with understanding the internal brand of your business. How is your brand perceived by your customers and how do you bring everyone in your business along on this new journey, no matter the size of the business?
In a sea of marketing campaigns, how do you stand out when, let’s be fair, we’ve never had more choice when it comes to, well, anything?