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President Trump, North Korea and a Real Estate Perspective

John Polkinghorne
nz coast and the big T

International geopolitics is not our forte, but after President Trump met with North Korea last week, he was good enough to make the link to something we do know about: property.

Here’s Trump talking to journalists, recounting his conversations with Kim-Jong Un:

“[North Korea] have great beaches. You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean, right?  I said, “Boy, look at the view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo behind?” And I explained, I said, “You know, instead of doing that, you could have the best hotels in the world right there.” Think of it from a real estate perspective.

The President of the United States is a stream-of-consciousness type of chap, so it would be easy to read too much into an impromptu comment that he made during a brief summit with one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

With that said, let’s read too much into that impromptu comment!

1. North Korea has great beaches. New Zealand isn’t too shabby on that front either. We have the 9th-longest coastline in the world, apparently.

2. Sentence two is a bit harder to interpret. Option A: we promote our beaches to the world by exploding cannons off them (maybe the Navy could help?). Option B: exploding cannons may have a negative impact on property prices, so maybe we should shift the Navy out of Devonport.

3. Either way, we should probably put condos behind the beaches.

4. Americans use the word ‘condo’ to mean attached housing that is individually titled and can be owner-occupied, and ‘apartment’ to mean housing that is not individually titled and usually has a single owner for the entire building. In New Zealand, we don’t make that distinction and just call everything ‘apartments’.

5. Beachside (or oceanside) hotels are certainly good fun. We’ve got a few dotted around this wide land of ours. No doubt we’d have more, if not for planning restrictions which make them near-impossible to build. Perhaps a benevolent dictator could help to get these initiatives through?

6. New Zealanders don’t like to talk ourselves up too much, so we’d never claim to have “the best hotels in the world”, but there does seem to be growing agreement that our tourism sector needs to focus on quality over quantity. So let’s get a few 5-star hotels built and bring in higher-spending tourists.

7. Back to North Korea: the average citizen doesn’t have much spending money, so it’s a fair bet that the buyers or visitors to these “great beaches” and “the best hotels in the world” will be international.

8. And hey, that’s good timing: tourism is booming globally, and grew 7% in 2017.

9. Plus, making North Korea more open to flows of people and investment is likely to help the cause of peace.

10. Of course, it’s slightly ironic that Trump is wanting North Korea to open up while simultaneously increasing the trade barriers in the US. Based on the link above, that probably puts the US a step closer to war with Canada. And it’s bad economics – tariffs don’t help anyone in the long run.

11. Bringing it back to New Zealand: we’re very lucky to be down here, well away from the sillier moments in world politics, and in a country that has rather few trade barriers. And we continue to work on new free trade agreements. Those new condos must be right around the corner!

If we turn our minds to the points above, we’re sure we can make New Zealand great again!

RCG on Tour Associate wins Dulux DIAlogue Design Scholarship



Andy Florkowski from RCG has been announced as the New Zealand winner of the 2018 design tour, Dulux DIAlogue on Tour.

The tour, a joint initiative of Dulux, the Designers Institute of New Zealand (DINZ) and Design Institute of Australia (DIA), provides five lucky winners with an exciting and inspirational design tour to Tokyo and Los Angeles in late August 2018.

Providing an opportunity for design professionals to revitalise, reinvigorate and reinspire their career, the tour will see Florkowski meeting and sharing ideas and insights, with some of the world’s best designers in Japan and America.

Florkowski said he was humbled and excited to be able to represent Dulux and the New Zealand design community.

‘I nearly didn’t put a submission forward because I knew the calibre of entries would be incredibly high and there would be a lot of competition – I’m glad I did! It’s humbling to be selected as an ambassador for Dulux and DINZ. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity which I will not only embrace, I will also champion New Zealand and our design community as best I can.’ he explains.

When asked what he was most excited to experience in Japan and LA, Florkowski said he’d like to see how Japan merges the old with the new.

‘For me, the people and narrative are as intriguing as the spaces themselves. I am looking forward to visiting Tokyo; the Japanese have always harmoniously integrated old-world tradition in a considered and contemporary way. I feel there are adjacencies with New Zealand’s own cultural integration and identity, and I look forward to seeing where this thinking leads me,’ he adds.

Davina Harper, Dulux Design & Colour Specialist said ‘Andy’s submission not only provided an insight into what he has achieved to date professionally, but also how much New Zealand design is a passion of his.

“Andy showed a real passion for the traditions and history of New Zealand and how these can be reflected through architecture and design. We’re very excited for him to represent us and can’t wait to hear from him on his return,” she explains.  

Cathy Veninga, CEO of The Designers Institute of New Zealand said the tour is a unique opportunity for the designers to be inspired not only by the amazing locations they visit but also by each other.

‘DIAlogue on Tour is a very special opportunity for the winning designers to not only enrich their own understanding of design within another culture, but also with their colleagues on tour. As they get to know each other, they will draw out of each other design conversations of incredible depth,’ she explains.

The judging process asked designers to consider questions that addressed their contribution to design practice and thinking; personal design philosophy; and what inspires them too. The judges were impressed by the high calibre of entrants.

Veninga said of the Kiwi winner ‘Andy Florkowski as the NZ ambassador will bring three guiding principles to the Tour – Aroha, respect and openness; Pono, being present and sincere; and Tika, being honest.’

Last year’s Dulux DIAlogue on Tour winners, which included Kiwi interior designer Rufus Knight, described their experience as ‘an opportunity like none that I had ever experienced before’ and ‘completely inspiring – every meeting and excursion, every day,” Veninga concludes.

DIAlogue on Tour is a joint initiative of Dulux, the Designers Institute of New Zealand (DINZ) and Design Institute of Australia (DIA).

Andy will join the Australian winners of the Dulux DIAlogue on Tour - Amanda Henderson, Daniel Dalla Riva, Cushla McFadden and Sarah-Jane Pyke.

In the Press

Local Media Highlights from the past week...

Our buildings are crap because the building code is

KiwiBuild is the perfect opportunity to drag up our pathetic building standards, argues the head of the NZ Green Building Council.

We all have a home. It might not be the place that you hunker down each night, but we all have a place we know of as home.

(Source: SpinOff)

Comment: Trump's trade war makes no sense

President Donald Trump is starting a trade war against China at the same that he's starting one against the countries the US needs help with against China. And he's doing this while also trying to undo sanctions on a Chinese company that bipartisan majorities in Congress think might be a real national security threat.

(Source: NZ Herald)

David Hargreaves argues that the Government's difficulty getting traction with Kiwibuild points to a need for industry-wide overhaul of house building

With every new Kiwibuild announcement issued by Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford it's becoming clearer and clearer that this country needs a massive overhaul in how houses are built.

(Source: Interest)

A third of New Zealand jobs to be automated away by 2036

Rural New Zealand is going to get hit hard by a wave of automation predicted to wipe away as many as 31 per cent of existing jobs by 2036.

Cities will fare better, a new report on the future of work forecasts, but that could force country dwellers to migrate to already crammed cities like Auckland and Wellington in search of work.

(Source: Stuff)

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