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Author: Guest Columnist

The Seller Buyer Connection

On a daily basis in my job, I find there’s a lot of misconception when it comes to selling houses, real estate salespeople and real estate in general.


By Harcourts Gold New Brighton Licensed Sales Consultant Milena Bartlett


A lot of sellers hire an agent who has sold in the area and operates locally. While this is great, more important is an agent who has a truly consultative approach and will recognise and market the unique features of a property.

I always look at a property and try to identify its unique selling points:

• Does it have a great layout for a family?
• Is it next to a park or reserve
• If so, how can we show that in the photos?
• Is it built for the sun?
• Is it a project or ready to move into – therefore, are we appealing to The Block enthusiasts or time-poor families and busy professionals?

I don’t subscribe to the notion that a house will sell itself. I like to believe the unique selling points incorporated into my marketing plan will ensure the right buyer is identified and captured.

Vendors are our employers, but without the right care and attention given to a potential buyer, we will not have bidders in the auction room or an offer to present.

Buyers need to feel the right information is being supplied in a timely manner, with transparency and willingness to assist with viewings and additional questions. That’s where my background in teaching, retail, and sales of high-end products comes in handy. After all, as they say, ‘people buy from people’.




International learning expertise hits the city

We are heading into a time of great uncertainty, with rapid technological change affecting almost everything in our society in the coming decades, from the work we do to the skills we need, to the way we teach students, and to retraining staff displaced by technology to allow them to successfully adapt.



By Hamish Duff of Recalibrate Ltd


The scale of the changes we are seeing is unprecedented in our history – and they are accelerating. That trend is incredibly difficult to comprehend, but it is happening whether we comprehend it or not.

We are going to be challenged and it is likely that education will not be able to change fast enough. That is a pretty big issue for us to deal with – for teachers, for administration, for the Ministry, for employers and, of course, for students.

The Future of Learning is an event designed to help us to adapt to the future – international and national experts in workplace learning, education and emerging technologies are converging on Christchurch to help guide strategy and actions, such as:

  1. What does the future of workplace learning really look like?
  2. What are the potential changes we will see?
  3. How will technology change the way we learn?
  4. How will that change formal education and qualifications?
  5. How will it change the way we teach new skills to staff?
  6. What are the current leading-edge learning practices?

The Future of Learning is being held on 30 September and 1 October 2019 at the Charles Luney Auditorium, St Margaret’s College, 12 Winchester Street, Christchurch. Tickets are available until the day!

To find out more about the event, go to

Hospitality sector hungry for visitors: Chamber of Commerce

One of the aspects of our rebuilt city that is so exciting for locals and visitors is our amazing array of eateries. We are spoilt for choice, with almost every kind of cuisine and style of eating imaginable. I also love seeing the imagination and innovation that has gone into some of the fit-outs to rival even the most ‘foodie’ of city landscapes overseas.



In a sector that typically operates at a 10-15 percent margin, the pressure of increased compliance costs, climbing overheads such as ongoing rates increases and the recent compulsory minimum wage jump (equating to a 7 percent impact) have all put the financial squeeze on local hospitality business owners.

The large number of new eateries in Canterbury also has the double-edged sword of increased competition, with StatsNZ putting the total number of food and beverage services at 1,638 in 2018. Almost every new space being developed seems to have some sort of hospitality outlet as a cornerstone of its development. While that’s great for consumers, it provides a challenging operating environment for business owners.

If we want to retain the vibrancy of this key sector and draw the volume of people we need, the bottom line is we need reasons to entice people into the central city including regular large-scale events. Promotions such as the locally focused ‘Baby Come Back’ and the wider national activation from Air New Zealand inviting New Zealanders to ‘Explore Something New in Christchurch’ can only go so far in terms of increasing domestic and international visitation and spending – we need a calendar of big events and local activations to provide a tangible reason for visiting our city more than once.

Ed Sheeran’s concert in Dunedin over the 2018 Easter break resulted in an addition of almost $38m to Dunedin’s economy. While this was one of the city’s biggest weekends in terms of economic impact, it just shows the heights we could scale to. Christchurch recently hosted music legend Phil Collins, which drew over 25,000 fans, including 15,000 from out of the city, generating over 24,700 visitor nights and injecting $5.8m into the local economy.

But it’s not just about the music. There are also huge opportunities in terms of playing host to key international sporting events. The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 was the first major international event to be held in Christchurch since the earthquakes, with the opening event, opening match and a further two pool matches giving us the opportunity to once again shine on the international stage.

The event was the most popular Cricket World Cup and one of the most watched sporting events in history based on a combination of attendance, television audience and, most significantly, digital media – it was the third largest international sporting event ever in terms of digital reach and was also broadcast to an estimated television audience of 1.56 billion people according to the Cricket World Cup 2015 Ltd PWC final report.

Large events do wonders for the economy – not to mention the positive positioning of Christchurch as a city of exploration and opportunity providing residents, including our young people, with interesting and engaging activities. This should be an easy win; we already have the hospitality and accommodation providers ready to go, they are just being underutilised. I look forward to 2020 being the year that really makes the most of this huge opportunity.



By Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson



Affordability and the culture trap: Linetype Architectural

When it comes to houses, there are certain ergonomic features that make a space function, but it’s hard to argue for a need when spaces get larger than necessity dictates. However, strip a design back to necessity and we might be disappointed with what we are presented.




Therefore, it’s important to recognise we have cultural values overlying some basic needs that tell us when a space is adequate or not. I suspect that growing up in a colony, where land was once cheap and stretching one’s legs caused no harm, has bequeathed a luxurious expectation of space that is hard to extinguish. Of the prince and the pauper, the pauper seemed to have it good, but when life is going in the other direction, it causes much more angst.

This kind of lifestyle has gone unchallenged for several generations but is increasingly coming under scrutiny: climate change; urban sprawl; affordability. If I’m honest, I struggle with an internal conflict that recognises these factors but still wants a generosity of space.

Perhaps it is just a matter of me, and New Zealand culture, naturally growing up from that colonist mentality. Commute distances will cause us to value the density of cities and that value will supersede the one of space. The trouble is that the process doesn’t happen uniformly. Plus it happens slowly, and time is not on our side. The temptation may always be there to look to your neighbour with twice as much space. If you are building, challenge yourself. Big is not better, enough is enough.



By Linetype Architectural Architect Ben Brady



Now is the time to get involved

It’s shaping up to be an exciting local body election in Christchurch. There are a number of contenders for the mayoralty race, which is producing some lively debate. We hope that this will also translate to more people having their say at the polling booths.



In 2016, just 38 percent of people eligible to vote in Christchurch did so. This reflects a general downward trend in voter turnout for local government elections. Throughout the country, voter turnout for local elections was only a little higher at 42 percent.

Compare this to parliamentary elections in 2017, where turnout was almost 75 percent. So why is there less interest and engagement in local body elections? Given the potential impact on our lives in terms of provision of services and shaping public policy, it could be argued that local government has a much more direct impact.

My guess is that a lack of interest is fuelled by the unknown factor. People just don’t know who is running or what they stand for. Local candidates don’t have the same campaign budget as our national governing parties – but they do have presence. So I would encourage candidates to voice their views and for residents to get behind the process by asking the tough questions of their candidates.

As an Employers’ Chamber, we are interested in hearing about what candidates will do to support local businesses and enable economic growth in the region. In particular, what candidates will set out to achieve at a practical, tangible level, beyond just big picture aspirations.

Asset management is one of the issues that has been around for a while now and it’s one that we keep returning to – so this will be top of our question list for candidates. Clutching on to the old ways of doing things will only get us so far; we need to look at new innovative ways of doing things differently, such as bringing partners on board for strategic collaborations.

The current council has also done well to put the central city in the spotlight. As the heart of our region, we need to ensure that our future council understands the gravity of getting it right. So what do candidates think should be done to further promote economic activity in the CBD?

The vision in the Long Term Plan was Christchurch as a place of opportunity for all – a place that is open to new ideas, new people and new ways of doing things; a place where anything is possible. But where is the tangible plan to align this with reality?

It also comes down to communication. People need to know what’s happening – or not happening – and why. The local community needs confidence to know that we are being kept in the loop and the certainty that our rates and taxes are being spent wisely and well.

We are so fortunate to have a strong democratic process that we owe it to ourselves to make the most of it. Have a say. Voice your opinion. Ask the tough questions. And above all, vote. Our local government should represent our community, but that won’t happen if we don’t involve ourselves in the process. Now is the time that you can make a difference.


By Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson

Is Affordable Architecture an Oxymoron?



Look at the cookie cutter houses in some of the new subdivisions and you may not have found architectural inspiration, but there is reason behind some of the repetition of form. A particular roof pitch and a 600mm eave mean that there will be no cladding above the windows. A certain floor plan will mean the ratio of wall area to house area is low. These tried and tested recipes, along with building code minimums, produce affordability. Mess with it and you might mess with the budget.

So, what do you do when you want more in terms of aesthetics and lifestyle? At the other end is the architectural approach, where high ideas and custom craftmanship with the best materials create buildings that are almost sculpture first, home second. But who can afford that? If one is trying to stick to a modest budget, it is important to get one’s priorities straight in order to spend money in the right areas.

You might keep the floor plan small with perhaps smaller bedrooms and a good size open plan living area. Timber, although expensive, brings warmth to a surrounding, but it could be limited to the areas you will experience, say the entry to the house and outdoor living, rather than a wholesale approach. Being careful with the simplicity of form, but utilising good proportion makes the design buildable. A sensitivity to this balance of cost versus architecture is what a good designer will be able to guide you through to achieve exciting, affordable outcomes.


Ben Brady
By Linetype Architectural Director & Designer Ben Brady


Salted Butterscotch and Jazz Apple Crumble Recipe

I’ve partnered with the team at JAZZ Apples to create an incredibly simple oaty butterscotch and apple crumble.


Serves 4-6 | By Gretchen Houston


New season JAZZ Apples are grown in sun-drenched Nelson and Hawkes Bay orchards creating a tangy-sweet flavour that cuts through the caramel for a not-too-sweet (but rich) dessert. I’ve cheated and used store bought caramel but you could equally make your own using brown sugar and butter.




Topping ingredients:
1⁄2 cup flour
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
100g cold butter, cubed
1⁄2 cup rolled oats
Filling ingredients:
6 JAZZ Apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2⁄3 cup caramel (I used Highlander caramel)
Pinch of sea salt
30g butter, chopped




1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. For the topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.

3. Add the butter cubes and rub into dry ingredients to resemble breadcrumbs.

4. Stir in the oats, then set aside in a fridge while you cut the apples.

5. Toss the chopped apples well with the caramel sauce and salt.

6. Split the mixture between 4-6 ramekins, top each with a knob of butter then sprinkle the oaty topping evenly all over each.

7. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the apples are bubbling and the crumble is golden brown.

8. Serve with lots of ice cream.


Keto Peanut Butter Blondies: Two Ways!

Every time I go keto, I always want a sweet fix at some point. Over the years I’ve really tried it all! But this delicious recipe ticks so many of the boxes. I feel like it’s pretty hard to get it wrong when you’re combining peanut butter and chocolate. Or peanut butter and jam – but that’s my personal opinion.

By Elora Harre – The Shrinking Violet




1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp coconut cream
1/2 cup Erythritol (I get mine from Nourish & Thrive)
130g smooth peanut butter (I use Pics)
2 eggs at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
130g almond flour (again, I get mine from Nourish & Thrive)
Pinch of salt
3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup 70% dark chocolate chips (I use 70% dark chocolate chips from Nourish & Thrive)
OR 1/4 cup mixed berries, frozen
OR 2 tbsp Barkers Spreadable Fruit (It’s refined sugar free!)



  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a square brownie tin with baking paper. Set aside.

  2. Add coconut oil, coconut cream, erythritol and peanut butter to a large bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. I used my new KitchenAid with the paddle attachment.

  3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each until completely incorporated. Add vanilla.

  4. Add the almond flour, salt and baking powder and mix again until completely incorporated. Here you will either mix in your chocolate chips, or set the mixture aside and prepare your “jam.” Alternatively if you are using the Barkers Spreadable Fruit, you can now pour your mixture into the prepared pan and dollop this on top of your blondie mix, using the back of a spoon to swirl it into the top of your blondie.

  5. If making the jam, place the berries in a bowl and microwave for a minute. Using a fork, squish the berries until they form a paste with their juice. If they have too much liquid, simply pour some off. Spread these across the top of your blondie mixture.

  6. Once you’ve decided which option to go for (they’re ALL amazing!), place your blondie into the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes, until the centre is just set. This varies a lot from oven to oven, so when you make them the first time, start checking from 15 minutes onwards. They will continue to cook slightly once removed from the oven.

  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Cut into 16 pieces and store in an airtight container. These also freeze really well!


Ivan Iafeta

Ivan Iafeta: The Influencers

We will all have noticed that it’s dark later in the mornings and earlier in the evenings now that autumn is taking hold and the winter months are on the way.


Ivan Iafeta
Regenerate Christchurch CEO

While this can be a positive thing for winter sports enthusiasts and those who like to spend time at the numerous ski areas on Christchurch’s doorstep, it represents the beginning of what we know will be a challenging period for some businesses in the central city.

A lot has been said about the increased activity that has been visible over summer and I share that enthusiasm. I will always be a champion for Christchurch and the commitment our private and public sectors have made to its regeneration. But we, as a community, cannot sit back and think the job is done.

We are already seeing signs that some businesses in the central city have struggled – even during the busier summer season – with a small number of closures recently in the retail and hospitality sectors.
Pre-earthquake, these may have been seen as demonstrations of the risk associated with individual commercial ventures. But, in the current environment, they represent a broader challenge – for which there is no single remedy.

A component of our work this year is identifying opportunities for Christchurch to maximise the return on investment in anchor projects and other private sector developments. For example, what unintended consequences of current planning regulations could easily be addressed to leverage the investment over and above the immediate benefits of a new amenity?


If you have any ideas, email me at


Nick Doig

Nick Doig: The Influencers

CBD retail has enjoyed a positive start to 2019, with a very definite lift in interest from retailers eyeing Christchurch.


Nick Doig
Director of Retail Leasing
Colliers International, Christchurch

It’s been a waiting game up until now, with many of the larger players wanting to see the shape of the new CBD. But they’re clearly encouraged by what’s happening. Among recent retailers to sign in the city centre are Mi Piaci and Vodafone in Cashel Mall who will join Moochi and Nespresso in the new Guthrey Centre development; and Decjuba, Oobe and KFC in Colombo Street.

Progress on Riverside Retail & Farmers Market is well advanced with Ben & Jerry’s one of the latest signings. They will join homegrown brands Sergios Menswear, Alchemy and Cosmic. In total, there will be 30 independent food outlets, 40 fresh produce stalls and 15 retail boutiques. Due to open in September, this will be a fantastic boost to the western end of Cashel Mall.

Other exciting developments to come onstream towards the end of 2019 include Spark House at 2 Cathedral Square that incorporates dramatic retail space at ground level with a designated rooftop bar/restaurant. Work is already well advanced with completion due in October.

Directly opposite, work has recently begun on world renowned architect Shigeru Ban’s Braided Rivers project for Aotea Gifts, which will be an architectural gem on the Christchurch landscape. Both sites enjoy high profile on the corner of Cathedral Square, Colombo and Herford Streets.

Hopefully a sign of good things to come with the much needed revitalisation of Cathedral Square.