KiwiCon lottery gets better for lucky few


KiwiBuild – or as it should be KiwiCon –  isn’t popular in Wanaka:

The South Island’s much-heralded first foray into KiwiBuild home ownership has been a bit of a fizzer — at least so far.

So few prospective homebuyers have entered the ballot for 10 KiwiBuild house and land packages in the Northlake suburb of Wanaka that the developer has asked to extend the ballot period by 10 days.

The ballot was due to close on Thursday.

KiwiBuild senior media adviser Mark Hanson said yesterday 20 ballot entries had been received.

‘‘Some houses have received no entries and the developer has asked us to extend the ballot to Sunday, November 18, to allow for people who they are working with more time to work through their pre-qualification process.’’ . . 

And Housing Minister Phil Twyford has backed down on penalties for those who flip KiwiBuild properties early:

Documents obtained by Newshub show owners will no longer have to give up all capital gain they make on the house if they sell it within three years. . . 

When Labour announced the policy in 2016, its plan to stop buyers reaping windfall gains was they must not on-sell their home for five years – or else they had to hand all the money they made to the Government.

That’s now changed to if buyers sell within three years, they must give up 30 percent of their profit. . .

There is big money to be made. Based on the last three years, the average price of a home in Papakura has risen from $569,000 to nearly $700,000, meaning house owners could have made $130,000 in the last three years.

That means even after the 30 percent penalty applied by the Government, they’d still pocket more than $90,000.

A $90,000 profit for selling up after three years – that’s very easy money.

But you don’t have to wait three years – you will get to keep 70% of the profit it you sell the very next day.

This is not the first KiwiBuild backdown we’ve seen. Since being in government, Mr Twyford has changed the price caps, the eligibility criteria and now this – a change which has the potential to leave KiwiBuild open for abuse.

With each announcement the KiwiBuild lottery gets better for the lucky few who win.

The government keeps saying KiwiBuild houses aren’t subsidised but if the government isn’t putting money in why would the owners have to hand over any profit if they sell?

At the very least there’s an opportunity cost with money spent on this policy not available for spending on the many areas of much greater need – and that’s people on well below the income level for those who qualify for the KiwiBuild lottery.

You can follow progress on the scheme here – so far only four houses have been sold.



365 days of gratitude


We drove from Wanaka to home via Lake Onslow and the Maniototo today.

Early in the trip we marveled at how nature had painted leaves golden against a blue sky, later on we were in tussock country and passed not a single car until we got to Ranfurly.

Tonight I’m grateful for changing seasons, nature’s beauty and that it’s still possible to enjoy them without crowds of people.

366 days of gratitude


The Upper Clutha A&P Show must have one of the best sites in the country.

It’s just a few blocks from the centre of Wanaka and over the road from the lake.

When we first went only the horses were camped on the neighbouring park.

Gradually pressure from trade exhibitors led to the show expanding across the street the show grounds.

It’s the South Island’s second biggest show. This year it attracted more than 40,000 people with 472 stalls and it covered almost half the park.

The A&P Association has, I think, only two paid staff. The rest of the work is done by volunteers.

Today I’m grateful for the show and the people whose work make it possible.




Wanaka wow


The earth moved


The piano started creaking, there was a rumble and the lights began to swing.

My first thought was Christchurch, but Geonet tells me the earthquake was 30 kilometres west of Wanaka and it was severe:

  • Map showing earthquake location.
Intensity severe
NZST Mon, May 4 2015, 2:29:10 pm
Depth 5 km
Magnitude 6.0
Location 30 km north-west of Wanaka

Bigger is better for QLDC


The group wanting to split Wanaka from the Queenstown Lakes District Council should be careful what it’s wishing for.

QLDC had a nil rates increase this year. Deputy Mayor Lyal Cocks said the split would lead to at least a 6.3% increase in Wanaka rates.

Local government is an increasingly complex and expensive beast.

Duplicating services and overheads and spreading the cost over a much smaller rating base would be stupid.

Bigger isn’t always better but it is in the case of the QLDC.


Puzzling World adds attractions


When Stuart and Jan Landsborough first went to the council with plans to build Puzzling World on the outskirts of Wanaka they were told it would never work.

The council was wrong.

Nearly 40 years and 3 million customers later, Puzzling World is still working and is celebrating the latest addition to its world unique attraction.

Puzzling World’s vision for more amazement and magic in line with its philosophy of ‘puzzling eccentricity’ has materialised in the $2.5million SculptIllusion Gallery, complete with moving, living walls, floating objects and 3D illusions.

Heidi Landsborough and Duncan Spear – daughter and son-in-law respectively of Puzzling World pioneers Stuart and Jan Landsborough — put pen to paper three years ago to draft the latest optical illusion.

Ms Landsborough, Puzzling World’s General Manager, and Mr Spear, who is Operations Manager, said they were “delighted” with how architect Barry Condon of Sarah Scott Architects and Amalgamated Builders of Queenstown (ABL) had translated their vision.

 “This was a very different build, cast in concrete with many components which we changed throughout the process to improve the design or accommodate challenges,” said Mr Spear.

They wanted to bring more light into the building and worked with Mr Condon to design a system of windows to direct sunlight into an area that was previously dark and sunless.

The size of the build also required extensive upgrading to the facility’s amenities including new stormwater and sewerage upgrades and an increase of parking spaces.
Mr Spear said the success of both the SculptIllusion room and the behind the scenes amenities was down to good relationships and good workmanship.

“For us as a family business we really value the relationship we’ve made with ABL. We really felt that they had our best interests at heart, always suggesting and researching different materials and products to improve the build or the budget,” he said.

“From the first tender straight through to completion they’ve been fantastic.”

Amalgamated Builders quantity surveyor for the project, Brett Squire, said challenges were always expected in any construction but said it ranked as one of his favourite projects in his eight years at ABL.

“It was a geometrically complex building and much of the build occurred in the winter in the shadow of a mountain,” he said.

“This meant that aside from a very cold construction site, the ground froze which affected the logic of the build and the way we continued.

“Now it’s great to think when you look at the SculptIllusion gallery that we had a hand to play in the creation of it. It’s a real showpiece and we’re immensely proud of the result.”

He said any issues were overcome by keeping an open and collaborative approach between Mr Condon and Puzzling World, something echoed by Mr Condon.

“A spirit of co-operation prevailed throughout this challenging project,” he said. “We had much positive contribution from the contractors regarding illusion items outside of the scope of their contract and often with a good sense of humour.”

Ms Landsborough said the great working relationship on site had really made the process easier, especially on a project so close to her heart.

“This addition is the final piece to the family’s legacy of providing amusement and puzzlement to Wanaka and the thousands of tourists that visit each year,” she said.

“Although we attract tourists from around the world we remain a set up that’s built on solid and positive relationships, and we really experienced that with ABL and Barry,” she said.

Officially the SculptIllusion Gallery opens in March to coincide with the business’ 40 year anniversary, but Ms Landsborough said it was already open to the public for the school holidays.

“It’s the perfect opportunity for us to look at the public’s reaction and see if we need to make any small adjustments before March,” she said.

The 530sq m illusionary sculpture room is the fifth and largest Illusion Room and was built over eight-and-a-half months by ABL for approximately $2.5 million. The attraction includes a turned-on tap that seems to float in the air, benches that seem to have no stands, a cascading ceiling, columns that become people, a vertical garden and a unique collection of sculptures from local and national artists.

We’ve been to Puzzling World with children and adults, all of whom have loved the experience.

It will be even better now.

The ODT has a story and photos here.

If winter’s here . . .


. . . where has spring gone?

We spent the weekend in Wanaka.

It rained most of Saturday. The cloud lifted during the afternoon to give us a view of the fresh snow about half way down the mountains which frame the lake.

The drive home through the Lindis always provides glorious views, but there’s not usually this much snow in October:

Permission to ask yet again why the clocks go forward for daylight saving in late September?

Homeward Bound


We woke to a mild and sunny day in Gisborne yesterday, flew to Auckland where it was raining then flew on to Queenstown.

The weather improved as we headed south.

We were sitting on the left-hand  right-hand side of the plane and had a birds’-eye views of the Southern Alps and this one of Wanaka with Mount Aspiring in the distance:

Ongoing saga of Easter trading


The Labour Department is reminding retailers they’re not supposed to trade on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Ho hum, here we go again.

The Biannual Warbirds Over Wanaka will attract thousands of people to the town.

They’ll be able to buy whatever’s on sale at the airport, in service stations, tourist shops and dairies but not buy exactly the same things in shops unless they pop over the hill to Queenstown where all shops are allowed to open.

This law is an ass.

Snow good for the holidays


The ski season started late but so did the school holidays and the two week delay has delivered much better snow  on Central Otago ski fields than there was a fortnight earlier.

The Ministry of Education’s decision to move state school    holidays back two weeks this year for the Rugby World Cup    proved to be a blessing in disguise for Queenstown and Wanaka    skifields, which enjoyed their busiest days of the season so    far at the weekend.

Usually, the school holidays would have fallen earlier this      month, when the district’s skifields were battling to open      because of a lack of snow. While the district suffered from      visitor cancellations during the Australian school holidays      over the past fortnight, last week’s heavy snowfalls came      just in time for the New Zealand school break.   

Wanaka was very, very quiet in June and early July.

Good snow for the school holidays will be welcomed not just by the ski fields but by other businesses in the town which benefit from the presence of skiers.

Maybe this time


Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean’s bill on Easter trading laws was drawn from the Member’s Ballot in parliament today.

The Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal (Waitaki Easter Trading) Amendment Bill 2010 seeks to allow all retailers within districts covered by the Waitaki Electorate to trade on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It aims to address the anomaly that occurs within parts of the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago areas, where Queenstown has an exemption to trade over Easter, but other towns do not.

Mrs Dean said she believed her bill had the potential to create a new era for tourism retailers in her electorate.

“I made a commitment to the people that I represent that I would keep working on Easter trading until the law was changed. Today is the first step in that process and I am pleased and proud that we have reached this milestone.  

“I am taking a regional approach with my bill this time as the entire Waitaki Electorate relies heavily on tourism, and is a busy place over the Easter period.

“Despite setbacks in the past, I am now confident that we can successfully achieve Easter trading law changes which will mean that retailers in busy tourist towns, like Wanaka, can open their doors if and when they chose to do so.

“I am not about forcing people to open on Easter Sunday, but rather I want everyone to have the choice.

“I acknowledge that some people may not support my bill on religious grounds, but I believe the time has come to recognize that many people work over Easter in essential services like hospitals, police and the fire service, and they do so without adversely impacting on family life.

“In fact many young people in tourist towns like Wanaka see extra work over Easter as an opportunity to earn extra cash.

“I am hoping that Parliament will send the Waitaki Bill to select committee so that we can have a fresh look and an informed debate around the realities of commerce over Easter, and addressing the anomalies that exist in the present laws.

“I believe people are now ready for change and I am confident that I will get the support that I need to make these progressive changes happen.”

This is Jacqui’s second attempt to address the anomalies  in current law which enable shops in Queenstown to open but prevent  shops selling  the same thing a few kilometres over the hill in Wanaka from opening. The current law also enables some businesses, for example service stations to sell a range of items normally sold in supermarkets or book shops which can’t open.

Easter Sunday isn’t a public holiday and the proposed law change isn’t a threat to religion. The law and what it allow or disallows does not make a day holy.

Nor is the proposed change a threat to employees. They will not be forced tow ork and shops which prefer not to open will be free to stay closed.

The Bill is simply an attempt to get a common sense solution for a small part of the country and it will in effect be legalising what already happens because many Wanaka retailers open illegally and accept the costs as part of their costs.

Rotorua MP Todd McLay’s bill on Easter trading was lost by a handful of votes last year.

Tuesday’s answers


Monday’s questions were:

1. What does Wanaka  mean?

2. Ad lib is an abbreviation of what and what does it mean?

3. Who wrote The Spoilers, Wyatts Hurricane and High Citidel?

4. What two lines follow:

 Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,

5. Name two of the four letters in the alphabet which have all dots in Morse code.

Gravedodger gets the electronic boquet again with three and a half right, another half for close enough for his translation of #2 and a bonus for proof reading.

Bearhunter got two and a near enough for #2.

Paul got 2 1/2 with a bonus for lateral thinking for #1,  entertaining reading for #4 and making me smile with #5.

PDM got 2 (1 right and 1/2s for #2 and #5) plus  a lateral thinking bonus for #3.

The answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Monday’s quiz


1. What does Wanaka  mean?

2. Ad lib is an abbreviation of what and what does it mean?

3. Who wrote The Spoilers, Wyatts Hurricand Hurricane and High Citidel?

4. What two lines follow:

 Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,

5. Name two of the four letters in the alphabet which have all dots and no dashes in Morse code.

Sapphire’s superb


It started life as Toscana, a small restaurant serving delicious food with the added attraction of one of the best views in Wanaka – over the golf course and up the lake.

It changed owners and its name, then it closed.

It has now re-opened as Sapphire – promising fine dining.

It delivered on that promise with delicious food and wine complimented by good service.

If you’re in Wanaka and want a treat, I can recommend Sapphire.

The only good rabbit . . .


. . . is one like this:

It was served at Capriccio in Wanaka and was delicious.

The menu said it was Central Otago rabbit, but not, I think, one of the victims of last weekend’s Easter Bunny shoot.

Not working


News papers won’t be published today but some of their staff will be working on what is a public holiday for everyone and a holy day for some to produce a paper for tomorrow.

Shops in Queenstown and a few other specified “tourist towns” will be able to trade legally today while those in the neighbouring towns such as Wanaka which are at least as attractive to tourists won’t.

The people in Wanaka who will find shops which are closed or trading illegally will also find some businesses operating legally, including some which sell the same things as those which can’t open today.

The thousands of people who have flocked to Wanaka for Warbirds will find businesses not open or open illegally in the town but will be able to buy many of the things these businesses sell from businesses operating at the airport.

Department of Labour inspectors will be working today to fine the businesses which aren’t supposed to be working today.

A law which is inconsistent and illogical is bad law.

The Easter Trading law is all of those and it’s simply not working.

Top Topps


The Topp Twins were busy enough at the show in Wanaka.

Official duties included judging the Glammies, presenting prizes for the Fox Terrior race (won by 14 year old Jed) and leading the Grand Parade before taking to the stage to entertain a large and appreciative crowd.

By the end of the show they’d have been forgiven if they’d been a little tired of smiling and being pleasant. If they were they didn’t show it when I came to a stop beside their car because the track ahead was blocked.

Lynda directed me backwards safely so one of the vehicles blocking the way could move, put a plastic chair over a large tent peg which I might not have seen, ushered me forwards and waved me goodbye with a broad grin.

The Topps are tops.

Summer was there but now I’m here


Wanaka was basking under a cloudless sky and enjoying a lovely 26 degrees when I left at 2 yesterday afternoon.

North Otago skies were cloudy and it was only 16 degrees when I got home 2 1/2 hours later.

It tried to rain overnight and we woke to a cool, misty morning.

Summer was there, but now I’m here in two layers of merino.


Another Easter Trading Bill


Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean is preparing a private member’s bill to enable Wanaka businesses to trade legally on Easter Sunday.

Mrs Dean has gained approval from the National Party caucus to spearhead a Bill directed specifically at the Queenstown Lakes district, which she says will address concerns in Wanaka about Easter trading.

It would apply specifically to the Queenstown Lakes District Council and aim to correct the anomalies in the Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal Act (1990), in which Queenstown was granted a general exemption to trade at Easter but Wanaka was not, she said.

The current legislation is full of anomalies, one of which is that retailers in Queenstown can trade when those over the hill in Wanaka can’t.

Another is that Wanaka’s book store and supermarket can’t open but the town’s petrol station can sell magazines and food.

This will be Jacqui’s second bill on the issue, the first which was aimed at Easter Trading in general wasn’t passed. Rotorua MP Todd McLay tried another bill to address the issue last year but that failed by a few votes.

This isn’t an attack on anyone’s faith. It’s what you believe and do which makes a day holy, not what the law allows.

It’s not an attack on workers or families. Most shops in Wanaka open anyway,

This is just an attempt to allow them to do so legally.

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