By Kelvin Davidson, Senior Property Economist
After a large boom in the past 4-5 years, Dunedin’s property market has lost momentum since April, with property values really only treading water. Time on the market has lengthened lately and the increased presence for investors may be leading to some harder bargains being driven when it comes to buyer offers. It seems unlikely that Dunedin values are about to fall sharply, but the reduction in affordability over the past five years may mean that future growth is held back.
Dunedin’s property market has been on a long upswing – average values have risen by 81% in the past five years (a rise of almost $245,000) – but it’s noticeable that there’s been a loss of momentum since COVID hit. Indeed, as the first chart shows, having broken through $550,000 in April, Dunedin’s average value has basically stood still for the past five months. Similarly, although sales volumes have rebounded from the COVID-induced lull in April, the rise has been smaller than other main centres.
What’s going on and what might the future hold? First, it shouldn’t be a major surprise that Dunedin would see a slowdown at some stage. After all, the large rises in property values since 2015 have seen a decline in housing affordability, especially on the value to income ratio, but also when assessed by mortgage payments as a percentage of average household income (see the second chart). Even despite the falls in interest rates in recent years, mortgage payments currently absorb 32% of average income in Dunedin, up from 27% five years ago. The key point is that reduced housing affordability tends to act as a long term restraint on the property market.
“We are pleased with the outcome as it should be Whakatōhea, not the Tribunal, that decides the merits of the settlement offer,” says Graeme Riesterer, Chair of Whakatōhea Pre Settlement Claims Trust.
Riesterer says that Whakatōhea had already achieved the win-win situation for the Iwi with the Crown agreeing that the North Eastern Bay of Plenty District Inquiry could continue after the conclusion of the Whakatōhea settlement, a first in the history of Treaty Settlements.
The Trust continues to invite input from its whānau and looks forward to meeting with them at the next round of hui starting 2nd of November 2020, to share progress made on both the Settlement package and the Post Settlement Governance Entity. The aim is to initial a Deed of Settlement and run the ratification process early in 2021.
It is far from a staple on most Kiwi dinner tables, but AgResearch scientists are aiming to unlock the potential of seaweed as a go-to food with proven health benefits. And they have enlisted the services a of a world-class chef to help them do it.
The scientists are joining counterparts in Singapore in a project funded by New Zealand government, in the amount of $3.3 million, alongside parallel funding from the Government of Singapore. The New Zealand funding is from the Catalyst Fund:Strategic – New Zealand-Singapore Future Foods Research Programme.
The research, focused on the Undaria pinnatifida species of seaweed abundant in waters around New Zealand and Singapore, also involves partners the University of Otago, University of Auckland, A*STAR, AgriSea NZ, Ideas 2 Plateand AMiLi.
“People around the world have been eating seaweed for centuries, includingMāori,” says AgResearch senior scientist Dr Linda Samuelsson.
“But despite it being easily grown and rich in important nutrients, it is not a staple in most peoples’ diets. Partly that is because it isn’t to many people’s taste, but also because many of these important nutrients are locked inside the seaweed and aren’t readily absorbed by our bodies when we eat it.”
“What we are aiming to do with this research is develop ways to cook or process the seaweed so that we have flavours and textures that appeal to people, but we also want to look at the health aspect. Seaweed proteins are typically less digestible than animal proteins, so we will be looking at in what form the seaweed can better deliver the nutrients to the person eating it. We’ll also be looking at how the seaweed proteins interact with peoples’ gut microbiome (the collection of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract).”
Development chef Dale Bowie, whose career has included working at Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin three-star restaurant The Fat Duck in the UK, brings his culinary knowledge, recipes and ideas to the seaweed project. Dale says: “I look forward to the possibility of creating amazing products and flavours from seaweed”.
Project partner AgriSea NZ is a family-owned seaweed business making a range of products for farmers and growers, and general manager Tane Bradley says they are excited about taking part: “Recently AgriSea has focused on increasing the value of seaweed to New Zealand's economy while recognising the huge role seaweeds play ecologically”.
Undaria pinnatifida is listed as one of the 100 most invasive species worldwide, and past eradication programmes in NZ have failed. The proposed research could also potentially encourage an interest in wild harvest of the seaweed from infested coastlines, allowing for re-establishment of native seaweed species.
The first year of this three-year research project will focus on unlocking the nutritional value of seaweed, and towards the end of the second year the scientists expect to have developed a flavourful and nutritious seaweed prototype food.
*AgResearch is a New Zealand crown research institute. It works with a wide range of partners in science, education and agri-business to deliver the well-rounded, authoritative research that supports agriculture in New Zealand, and its exports to the world.