Tokoroa family want a huge gold-plated water-tank… apparently !

A family on a rural property in Tokoroa (North Island rural area) have had some bust-up with their neighbours.

Nick Ward and his homies (well, family), bought their place a year ago and have a water easement in writing, but after a little bit of not-so-neighbourly social argy-bargy lately, their  neighbour Jill Bish has turned their water supply off completely.

(I am guessing that their land was only recently subdivided off from the neighbours much larger lot and that as a condition of that, undoubtedly highly profitable subdivision, it was a condition that the new owners of the smaller plot be granted the aforementioned water easement).

Now they’re reported in news media as ‘having to get a loan so they can spend $14,000 on a rain water-tank’.

Something really fishy going on here. A “1,000 gallon” water-tank can be purchased for around $1,000 and $400 will buy you any amount of piping and connectors. OK so $1,400 and that should cover delivery as well and probably even buy in a tanker delivery of water just to get you started until the next rains kick in.

So where the fraggle-rock do they get a price of $14,000 for a water-tank ? Are they insisting on a 20,000 gallon minimum sized tank ? Gold plated taps ? Triple carburettor overthrusters ?

As has been stated in the article, if they did the paperwork of court processes they could almost certainly get their water turned back on again by order of the court. Of course court cases are notorious for costing squillions of dollars and taking between 1 and 10 years to go through the system.

Wherever possible, every rural and city house should have at least a small watertank for emergency water supplies anyway. But hey, let’s ditch the gold plating and lose one of the zeroes off that $14,000 price please.

(Clarification primarily for non-Australasians… traditionally it was VERY common for rural houses, farms, bush hunting huts and holiday baches to be dependant on rain-water collected from the building’s roof and stored in tank(s). Although less common nowadays, rainwater tanks are still fairly common, at least as a supplemental extra water source, in many rural places throughout Australia and New Zealand. Generally tanks can be quite small in higher rainfall areas, such as the Northern parts of North Island NZ whereas tanks are likely to be larger or in multiples in drier places, such as much of Australia.  In Some parts of Australia, as part of government water conservation efforts, even some city houses have small rainwater storage tanks. Tanks also aid in preventing localised flooding as when occasional deluges of rain fall suddenly, a substantial amount can be diverted to storage tanks. )

Here’s a link to the original article on Stuff’s website

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/106974738/water-easement-stoush-sees-waikato-family-left-high-and-dry

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This is **NOT** the solution to the housing crisis

Well if this article, from the STUFF website isn’t the biggest pile of horse-shit I’ve read all week, I don’t know what is.

Being promoted as a game-changer, they say the $200,000 price for a 2 bedroom very small house, has been kept that low by the innovative technique of simply renting the land.

The scheme as promoted means folks sign to buy the house, and with the details as given the repayments come to $215 a week for 30 years.

The land is also rented, at $115 a week for 30 years (not mentioned are that council rates, including water, sewerage and drainage) and insurances, which would likely be about $50 a week EACH, so there’s another $100 a week… but we’ll forget about those just for the time being.

Now I readily admit that I did not do mathematics up to 7th form level, but when I went to school, 215 + 115 = 330.

An online mortgage calculator tells me that on a 30 year mortgage, repayments at $330 per week, at about the same interest rate as used in the article, would allow for a purchase price, for house and land, of $300,000 .

Well that puts one clearly in the same pricing territory as already exists, for the cheapest homes in. the cheapest suburbs of Christchurch, and would allow even a wider range of options elsewhere, in smaller cities like Dunedin and Timaru and in most provincial towns and many of the smaller provincial cities elsewhere throughout NZ’s North and South Islands.

Leasing the land underneath a house seems to be the worst of all worlds and is NEVER a good idea. Leases can and DO get broken at virtually the drop of a hat.

A family I know of was caught in this exact situation. Under a home ownership assistance scheme in the 1960’s, they had signed a 99 year lease for their section. Upon their leasehold land they had initially built a small house (which as the decades went by, and their family grew, they extended). It was written into the lease that at any time in the future, they could buy out the land freehold for the  flat rate fixed sum of NZ 500 pounds (this being pre 1967 decimal currency).

The lease rate itself was “peppercorn” ie a very small amount. (In the example given in the STUFF article the lease payments ($115) amount to more than half the amount of the house-mortgage itself ($215), so a substantial  financial impost in itself).

Then one day a letter comes in the mail saying their lease has been unilaterally revoked. They have “x” months to pack up their household, and pick up their house, and move it. Or, alternatively they could buy the section, but the new price would NOT be $1,000 (the decimal equivalent of 500 NZ pounds) but would be $20,000 . Note that in the mid/late 1980’s when this happened, that was pretty much the full price for a land section in Christchurch’s cheaper areas. The family managed to keep the land and thereby keep their home but had to get another mortgage.

(I heard about this later, when visiting the widow, as I had been friends with the late husband. If anyone wants to verify this story then I’ll let you pull the records from the title deeds office, relating to Manurere Street in the Christchurch outer Western suburb of Hei Hei.  I’m sure that many other folks in that same area must also have been affected similarly ).

So any folks signing even long term leases, when offered, should be aware that rules and laws either allow already, or can be easily changed, so that lease agreements can be unilaterally cancelled by the landlord, pretty much at the drop of a hat, and that any provisions about land prices as part of that deal, can be written off just as easily.
.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/property/106924629/housing-crisis-could-be-alleviated-with-house-and-leasehold-land-packages

“Gentrification” a fancy term for kicking poor working class folks out on their ear

Well no matter what you call it, no matter how you cut the cloth, “gentrification” is simply kicking out the poorer folks and re-populating the area with richer folks. This has effectively happened by stealth a lot in inner city Christchurch since the 2010/2011 Earthquakes.

Old scummy housing has been replaced by none at all, or by brand new and very expensive housing.

Old scummy shops and commercial premises (that previously had cheap rents) have been replaced with brand new and very expensive rental places (or land left empty), and the government passed a new, special building condition that even if folks owned there own 100 year old shop on a tiny plot of freehold land in the parts of the CBD that the govt didn’t seize; suddenly a new condition was imposed that all new rebuilds of commercial premises had to be in 7,500 m2 units, thereby forcing even that small handful of folks owning tiny, commercial zoned freehold land plots, to sell them on to a handful of old money mega-landlords or big corporations like Westpac etc.

I am sure that history books will look back on the redevelopment of Christchurch, especially the CBD, as one of the biggest and worst examples of “disaster capitalism”, gentrification and disposition of previous residents and tenants, that the Western World has ever seen.

here is a link to an article on theconversation.com . It is referring to New York boroughs, but is relevant here as well

https://theconversation.com/sustainable-cities-need-more-than-parks-cafes-and-a-riverwalk-88760?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=facebookbutton

How to make $ 1.3 million a year tax free

It was recently reported in the mainstream media how a wealthy elite are creaming it in the money stakes, all the while paying no tax at all on their un-earned gains. The system works like this.

Buy a house in Auckland. Sell it after a couple of years. It’s that easy. Job done. But it’s NOT a job is it ? And only the wealthier members of society can even join this elite club.

If a hard working person went to work, (unless you’re in the building trades with LBP certification) you could expect to be paid the current minimum wage of $16.50 per hour, gross before tax, (total $ 34,320 annually which equals $ 26,523 after tax and student loan repayments).

The income tax rate for workers is 17.5%, even for those on the lowest wage (There may be some tapering for the first few thousand, but let’s just keep the maths simple).

So workers, the people who are the backbone of New Zealand, those doing the actual work and paying the actual income tax are expected, indeed it is demanded of them, that they pay 17.5% tax, and pretty much everyone does this (even if they’re not really that happy about it).

Now taxing capital gains on the, so called “family home” is such a political hot potato that New Zealand governments have completely ignored this elephant-in-the-room. 62% of Kiwis own a home (a disgraceful drop from the previous figure of about 80%) so that’s 62% of potentially disgruntled voters, if the government DID bring in a capital gains tax on the “family home”.

But when Auckland house prices have got to the stage that a “family home” can generate totally un-taxed nett profits of $1.3 Million dollars for each year of home ownership, then surely to goodness, something has to change.

To get just $26,500 a worker has to devote an entire year to their employer, and has, “un-happily” paid about $8,000 PAYE income tax.

Taxing house sales couldn’t be easier and would have 100% compliance. All sales go through a government title deeds office, they know exactly how much it sold for last time, and how much it is selling for this time. Tax the difference, Job Done.

For friggs sake alive just bung on a 17.5% tax. (In fact let’s round it up to 20%, it’s all just windfall profit anyway). All that extra money the government rakes in can go to helping solve the housing crisis, fixing pot-holes in roads, making artificial legs for crippled children, re-planting trees on degraded land, an upgraded commuter rail system for Auckland or a commuter rail system of any kind for Christchurch, whatever.

I don’t care exactly what they spend that money on, but it would be a huge pool of money, paid by people that haven’t actually “earned” it anyway, and hell they’re still raking in bucketloads of profit on their property sale anyway.

Even if at the rate I suggested of 20%, an Auckland house that was bought for $500,000 five years ago and sold for $1 million today, so would be taxed on the $500,000 increase in resale price. So diddums, my heart bleeds for them, NOT, because instead of walking away with half a million dollars nett in tax free profit, they would *ONLY* have made $400,000 profit on the sale. Even if they had spent $25,000 “doing the place up”, they’d still be $375,000 ahead.

Meanwhile our poor hard done by worker, only received $132,615 (nett) during that same 5 year period, and most of that they probably had to spend on rent, and travel costs getting to and from their job.

And if the imposition of a broad-based capital gains tax on the “family home” did help to “cool” the housing market then that is a good thing.   Instead of people having to pay 40% to 80% of their nett income on rent or mortgage payments, think how much better society would be, for everyone, if house purchase prices were lower. With lower prices to “buy-in” to houses, EVERYONE benefits. If rents and mortgages tended to run at only 10% or 20% of a person’s income, or less even.

Without having to pay such a crippling percentage of their income for rent or mortgage, then folks could afford food without the ever increasing new-normal of the working poor having to line up for food-parcels. There would be less cold damp houses in Winter because families could afford the heating necessary to make a healthier and more  comfortable environment. With more disposable income left over weekly, there’s greater opportunity for parents to pay for after school activities for children or for the adults’ self-improvement. Donations to charities, and memberships and funding for local hobbyist clubs which  all add to the diaspora of our society, would all benefit. All this and more can be ours, simply by having a system which means lower rent and mortgage costs.

 

Here is a link to the story about Media personality Mike Hosking and his partner Kate Hawkesby’s latest house sale profit.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/106811474/properties-give-their-owners-a-taxfree-windfall–is-that-fair

“Mass Shooting Fears” … here’s another viewpoint

People could be forgiven for a-headin’ for the hills, or at least for scrunching down in bed and pulling the doona over their head, upon reading the recent headline “Mass shooting fears after huge weapons arsenal, found at Sydney home”. The article was originally from the Sydney Morning Herald and re-printed on NZ’s Stuff website.

One of the several photos, shows a bunch of stuff scattered over a patch of lawn. But most of the “huge arsenal” listed in the accompanying text, and with some items visible in the photos, seem to be comprised of items which can be purchased and owned legitimately, without need of licences or permits.

A collection of various hunting, camping and collector’s knives and decorative swords. (Most of the knives seemed to have been in presentation boxes as collector’s items (only having been removed b police). A number of unidentified roll-tubes might possibly hold collector’s swords still in their original packaging).

They also found three crossbows and what’s described as “arrows” (not clearly visible in any of the photos). Well although the exact rules differ slightly from state to state throughout Australia, in general bow-and-arrow sets can be owned without any permit necessary, but crossbows do require an appropriate permit from your state authority. I do recall though that in the state of Western Australia, legacy ownership provisions apply for people that already possessed crossbows before the requirement for a crossbow permit came in, sometime in the 1980’s.Note that the shorter form of “arrow” that gets fired from a crossbow, is usually referred to as a “bolt”.

Handcuffs were also found. No worries about that either, all good fun for consenting adults in the privacy of their own bedroom perhaps 🙂

They found one Norinco SKS semi-auto rifle. Now this is a civilian version of a MSSA (military style semi-automatic) and these used to be available to any firearms licence holder in Queensland or Tasmania (up until they changed the laws in the 1990’s). The Norinco SKS were available in the other states also, but required a special higher category of firearms licence. Some people, such those hunting large pest animals from helicopter in the far North of Australia, would have been appropriate for this particular rifle. They are still available, to those with a genuine need for them, but are subject to a special licence for MSSA category firearms.

The article also says a total of five rifles were found, but elsewhere says a bag containing rifles and handguns was found, so is a little unclear. However  5 or 10 firearms in total is not an excessive number for someone who is actively involved in competition shooting or a professional pest animal shooter for example.

Anyway under Sydney, NSW state law, it is possible to legally possess all those items, subject to having the appropriate permits or licences for the firearms and crossbows.

Also found was bullet resisting clothing items, (vests and helmets). The helmets and face-masks look to me like what folks wear for paintball games. One of the vests bears the letters “SWAT” but it’s more likely an imitation collector’s piece and extremely unlikely to be a real one stolen from a USA police force’s armoury !

Now this is a curly one as under Australian law the government can deem any clothing items they want, to be “PROHIBITED WEAPONS” And when saying it out loud, you have got to pronounce the word “wea_pons” with a nasally “shit-arse” tone in your voice 🙂

Exactly what the criteria are for banning protective clothing items I do not know and the governments,  State and Federal, have never to my knowledge,  made that clear.

Currently still acceptable to the government and legal to own without need of special permits, are motorcycle jackets and trousers which contain (“bullet-proof”) Kevlar reinforcing which can help reduce the chance of major injuries espcially spinal injuries. Motorcycle helmets, boots, shin-pads and protective gloves containing Kevlar are also available.

Curiously the guy has not been charged with anything at all, initially at least, but the report says police took him to hospital, saying they will examine all the items found and will charge him later, maybe.

Me wonders what they’re takin’ the guy to hospital for ? Hopefully not just a sly way to deny him his rights to legal advice etc. (Back in the old days, back in the USS, back in the USS, back in the USSR (so-to-speak, or sing)  Russia did this actual thing, and very often, too apparently).

Anyway, going by what little information is available in this one story, I am wondering if this guy is just a slightly zany, compulsive collector, with a collection of mostly decorative (and probably quite blunt) knives and swords, and with a few old guns he had left over from his days of being an outback roo-shooter ?

Still, maybe more details will emerge later, maybe the 64 year old man, really was just waiting for his opportunity to get kitted out,  tool up, and then go postal on somebody, or, Heaven forbid,  a bunch of somebodies at the local mall.

For the time being though, I’m reserving my judgement and thinking that maybe the headline might be just a right beat-up about nothing more than a lonely old man and his lifetime collection of stuff.

Curiously not even the suburb’s name is mentioned anywhere in the article, it’s simply stated as “Sydney’s West”. Well that basically accounts for about half of Sydney area. I can understand them not naming the actual street, but to not even name the suburb seems unusually vague. That’s weird eh ? I wonder why ?

Here’s a link to that story as reprinted on NZ’s Stuff website.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/australia/106760967/mass-shooting-fears-after-huge-weapons-arsenal-found-at-sydney-home

“Free Speech” but only a few get to have it …UPDATED

Mike Hosking is a well known media personality in NZ. He gets paid to spend most of his time espousing right-wing views. In the article linked here from the Auckland Herald newspaper’s NZHerald website, he sinks the boot into Chelsea Manning as being a criminal making a profit from public speaking, as a convicted criminal.

Although that could indeed be argued, at this point in time, (a full exhoneration is likely to come in time). Strictly speaking Otto Frank (father of the famous literary heroine Anne Frank) was also a criminal, because instead of handing himself over to the Gestapo to be sent to the death camps, he “illegally” hid out in an attic room with his family in Holland during World War 2.

Later he published Anne’s diary and he probably made a bit of money from it. Sometimes people are “criminals” because the laws (or illegal administrative practices), of that place and time, are fundamentally WRONG and it takes brave people to put their necks on the chopping block and stand up for inalienable human rights. Wikileaks, using data supplied by Manning, made public the illegal and improper acts of the USA government and military.

Even at her trial, the prosecution could not show any actual real harm which her data theft had caused. That said, in NZ, Chelsea Manning is speaking ONLY in Wellington and Auckland and the cheapest seats are well over $100 each, so I won’t be going ! However a radio station reported that she hadn’t even applied for a visa to enter NZ yet, so she might not be coming here at all anyway !

Just a few weeks ago some hard-right wingers (Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern) wanted to come here and preach to their converted, but a series of decisions from various authorities effectively shut them out of the country and denied them the opportunity to speak their bullshit here. I would barely have wanted to hear what they had to say, even for free, but I think it was appalling that they were effectively prevented from having free speech in New Zealand, no matter how obnoxious and hate-filled their free speech would have been.

I certainly hope that some New Zealanders, even just a select few, actually *DO* get to hear what Chelsea Manning has to say. I expect what she says to be pleasant and mindful, and including suggestions on ways we can improve our society, military and political structures, so that we can all enjoy a safer and more positive experience, as we live on this planet sharing resources with our fellow humans and flora and fauna.

UPDATED 31 August 2018. Chelsea Manning has been granted “special direction” from NZ authorities so that a visa can be granted.  (The actual Visa is  expected to be granted in due course).   HOWEVER there is talk that the AUSTRALIAN government may prohibit her from entering Australia (and there were numerous speaking engagements planned there). Perhaps some of those cashed-up Aussies will fly across The Ditch to hear her in Auckland or Wellington. Not sure how many the NZ planned venues could hold. The Wellington venue has a maximum capacity of about 800 people, but I do not know if they have access to all of that capacity or if some of it is pre-booked or configured in such a way as to be un-usable to Ms Manning’s organisers.

I have just checked online and several Australian venues are still seemingly offering tickets to her Australian shows (due to start this Sunday, 2 September 2018). The cheapest tickets are in Sydney at the Opera House, less than A$ 49.  Melbourne and Brisbane and priced at A$ 80-something each.  Whereas Auckland’s cheapest are $59 and Wellington’s cheapest are $114.  Yeah mate, the closest session to me, and then still requiring air flights and overnight accomodation, is the most expensive of the lot. Sorry, but would bring the total up to several hundred NZ dollars. (Updated- the website for Wellington bookings, now also displays a “C Reserve” option for $63. I think that option was only added later. Perhaps an opportunity for more folks to attend.)

UPDATED 1 September 2018. So they have announced they’ve given up even trying to get Chelsea Manning into Australia for Sydney’s session on Sunday 2 September. What I want to know is, with *ANY* public speaking enagagement, why did the management company ONLY apply for the visa a week or two out from the engagement.

Surely they should have applied for the visa a month or more ago, in part, to allow time for various kind of appeals process. I do not know, but I suspect that although she is allowed to travel to New Zealand, I wouldn’t be surprised if she cancels her travel plans here as well, and just appears on a TV screen instead. You can call it a fancy name (“Skype”, “virtual” whatever), but NOT being in person and just being on a TV screen is utter shite, compared to a live, on-the-premises attendance in person. Might as well just sit on the sofa at home and watch Youtubes.

Really, this is a golden opportunity, which I suspect is about to be pissed away down the toilet here. She could announce several EXTRA Auckland and Wellington talks, and encourage Aussies to fly over here to hear her. Make it seem all radical and alternative like. It’s all in the presentation, make a negative seem like a positive.

UPDATED 2 September …and the main “Think Inc” website seems to be just the same, with no extra info added that I can see. Is that 2 or 3 days since any updates ? I would expect the organisers to be a bit more on-the-ball with updates,  especially as they have been super tardy to begin with and these events are likely to be quite a cash-cow for them. I would have expected better. No updated information yet on whether Chelsea will even bother turning up for the talks in New Zealand, or if the organisers will just be playing a video/Skype/Youtube of her. Also how would a significant change, such as just appearances on a TV screen affect the people that paid over $200 per seat for the VIP meet-and-greet experiences ? (whether in Australia or New Zealand).  Also, instead of just sitting back at home in the US-of-A chillin’, why don’t they (at time of writing this, she “could” still make the Sydney show) fly her out to Auckland already. If a special visa suddenly comes through from Australia on time, Sydney and Melbourne are just 3 hours away ? (Whereas the USA is something like 12 or 16 hours out, and far fewer scheduled flights. )  I do not claim to know all the facts and background, but it seems to me the organisers have already given up on the Australia leg of her tour and I fear New Zealand, as the poorer country cousin, will be consigned to the dustbin as an afterthought.

UPDATED 3 September. Well The official website from her promoters still seems to be without any actual updated information. The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper website reports that the talk went ahead with Ms Chelsea Manning appearing on a video-screen. Good on the Sydney Opera House organisation for offering folks refunds if requested. Several newspaper websites and ABC (Australia) have articles this morning, but they are all just re-hashes of the same thing. They give ZERO information about whether Chelsea can even be bothered to turn up for her scheduled talks here in New Zealand, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the organisers decide (or perhaps they have already decided ?) just to save the money on airfares and hotels and display her image on a big TV screen for the Wellington and Auckland speeches also. Who knows, I hope not. Especially for those people that paid between $200 and nearly $300 for a “VIP Meet-and-Greet experience”. For that kind of money a VIP Meet and Greet experience should include a dinner as well. I think a chance to chat, over a meal with Chelsea Manning, would be a fantastic experience. People point out that jailed convicted terrorist Nelson Mandela, had spent 27 years in jail, yet was released to a hero’s welcome and later became President of his country. His criminal conviction would also have prohibited him from entering Australia and New Zealand but he was granted Visa exemptions as required. Yeah I reckon a natter over dinner-time with Nelson would’ve been a fun and eye-opening experience also.

UPDATED 4 September 2018. The organisers, Thinkinc, have now updated the website, confirming that Chelsea will NOT be appearing in person at the Melbourne and Brisbane shows, but will appear on-screen only. However the article clearly describes that she will be appearing “via satellite from Auckland”, so it would seem that they are going to make use of the NZ visa granted, and will appear at Wellington and Auckland. Given that she’ll be in NZ for longer, then it’s a pity if they cannot also organise personal appearance shows in Christchurch and Dunedin also, for South Islanders.

 

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12115380

 

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/30/australia/chelsea-manning-australia-visa-intl/index.html

 

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/a-convicted-terrorist-and-a-convicted-spy-walk-into-the-opera-house-and-get-a-standing-ovation-20180902-p501ak.html

Christchurch full of ever-more cafes opening… as more and more go broke

So since the bad Earthquakes, now only 5,500 people live in the Christchurch CBD, instead of the 8,500 that used to (I think those are the figures I read somewhere just recently).

This article from Press newspaper’s Stuff website reckons there are 2,000 cafes, restaurants and food establishments in Christchurch (that number seems too high, is it a simple misprint, perhaps meant to be 200 ?).  If a population of 5,500 people COULD sustain 2,000 cafes and food outlets, then I would be VERY surprised (and yes I realise that a small number of people who live in the outer suburbs, travel in to work in the city centre again nowadays).

(Stuff) ” …Some operators have attributed difficult trading to competition from new premises opening as part of the rebuild, with everyone chasing a share of a customer base which is not growing fast enough.

The region had more than 2000 hospitality businesses in 2017, up 6.4 per cent on the previous year. …”

It seems to me that there is something fundamentally wrong with society, that the generally used barometer of societal health is how many cafes, bars, and la-de-da expensive restaurants are opening in an area. Meanwhile issues like poverty caused by low wages and a shortage of “truly affordable” housing (to rent or buy) are simply ignored. (Disappointingly, the Labour-Greens co-alition government, are still just shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic, with respect to housing).

Plus what actual “work” are Cantabrians, and for that matter, all Kiwis, going to actually do ? Is the ONLY employment to be in cafes, restaurants and bars ? Is 100 % of the working population to be employed selling coffees and wines to each other ?

Just last week we heard about bus companies refusing to offer enough wages to attract staff, and are instead trying to get permission to import unqualified people from overseas, who will work for the minimum wage and a special visa.

UPDATED 3 September 2018 …and more venues are going bust. Christchurch’s leading investigative reporter, Martin Van Beynen has just had another story published which details recent developments in Christchurch’s difficult restaurant and hospitality sector. The link to that story is below, at the bottom.

Here is a link to the original story.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/105892586/quake-survivor-the-villas-closes-as-downtown-christchurch-looks-for-its-mojo

https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/106769414/chefs-christchurch-restaurant-empire-in-liquidation