Tuesday, July 28, 2015

BNZ House - About Bloody Time!

The former BNZ House in Christchurch's Cathedral Square has FINALLY been sold and will be demolished.
The new owner is Nexus Point Ltd, a company owned by Chch property investor Surja Yang and an individual offshore investor registered as a company in the British Virgin Islands.
Yang confirmed the $5m.sale had been finalised and would be settled by the end of this month. He says he will then apply for demolition consent, but has no plans yet for the 3000 sq.m. property: "I like the site – it's a prime site for Christchurch. I'm open for any tenants, or someone who would like to do a hotel or offices. I'll build to suit."
Built in 1961, the building's previous owner was Cristo Ltd, a family group of Christchurch investors. After it was damaged in the EQs and the BNZ bank moved out, Cristo drew up designs to rebuild it in similar style for new tenants. They later decided to sell, spending the insurance proceeds instead on an $84m Auckland office tower.
The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) took over the building's demolition and asbestos removal in 2012, and handed it back to Cristo when they considered it safe. The two parties then became embroiled in a dispute over the property. The 13-storey building became an eyesore after sitting partly demolished and derelict for three years.
Other would-be buyers eventually gave up...

Yang's background: He owns a half-share of the Victoria St building featuring King of Snake Restaurant. He is also developing a new 4-storey Durham St office building, and has planned a 9-storey luxury apartment building next door on Armagh St.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Japan Back In The Zoo Club

The Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) has regained its membership in the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), after it ordered its members to stop getting dolphins from the brutal Taiji hunt.
WAZA represents more than 50 national aquarium and zoo associations worldwide, and requires members to stick to certain animal welfare standards. It suspended JAZA in April over acquisitions of dolphins from Taiji, where every year fishermen herd animals into a cove and butcher them. They save a handful of the animals to sell to aquariums.
"Soup, anyone?"
When the Japanese body met late May, a majority of its 89 member zoos and 63 aquariums voted in favour of staying in WAZA, by ending the purchase of Taiji dolphins.
If the JAZA members had voted no, they'd have been expelled immediately. That would have ended access to the WAZA database, creating big difficulties importing rare animals from zoos and aquariums overseas.
JAZA said the suspension has also prompted the group to seek alternative sources of live dolphins.
"Got my fork. When's lunch?"
So, typical of the Japanese mind-set about marine mammals, JAZA will still get the dolphins another way...while greedily retaining access to a very valuable database!
The slaughter at Taiji gained global notoriety after the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove (2009) showed the water running red with blood. Only a small number of dolphins caught at Taiji are sold to aquariums. The vast majority are butchered and sold for their meat.
The battle for Taiji continues...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Honesty Not The Best Policy?

For a New Plymouth woman, honesty doesn't always pay!
Louise Jackson noticed a mystery $429 deposit in her ANZ account recently. She rang the bank to sort it out. How hard can that be? VERY, it seems!
ANZ staff told her they could not simply reverse the transaction - they can do a trace, but that would cost Louise $15.
When she said she didn't want to pay the fee (and fair enough: why should she? SHE didn't make the mistake!), the ANZ staff member suggested she call the bank that the dosh came from, to see if it could do anything. Crazy, huh?
Now, at this point, some folk would say
"To hell with it! Finders keepers!" but Louise persevered and contacted TSB Bank, where the transaction originated...only to be told that without an account number or name to reference against, it could do nothing either. (No company name or account number showed up on Louise's online statement, just a three-letter reference code.)
Surely all that was needed was a teeny bit of effort, to compare dates and amounts, and narrow down the possible source that way...? A half-decent computer programme could do it in the blink of a bank charge hike.
But it appears banks don't like to work FOR their customers any more. However, under the spotlight of public scrutiny, they do start to squirm!
ANZ Bank spokesman Stefan Herrick acknowledges the bank does charge a small fee to trace transactions, but staff can waive it under certain circumstances: "In this case the customer shouldn't have been asked to pay a fee for doing the right thing. We applaud her honesty, and thank her for doing what she could to ensure the money went back to its rightful owner."
And surprise-surprise, the ANZ is now tracing the source of the mystery money "as a matter of priority." Quite frankly, too little too late - a weak response from both ANZ and TSB...