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Economy

Why More Countries Are Banning Foreigners From Buying Real Estate

Canada has become the most recent country to impose restrictions on non-residents buying real estate, arguing that wealthy investors from other countries are pricing out would-be local homeowners. But is singling out foreigners the best way to face a troubled housing market?

PARIS — It’s easy to forget that soon after the outbreak of COVID-19, many real estate experts were forecasting that housing prices could face a once-in-generation drop. The logic was that a shrinking pandemic economy would combine with people moving out of cities to push costs down in a lasting way.

Ultimately, in most places, the opposite has happened. Home prices in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany, Australia and New Zealand rose between 25% and 50% since the outbreak of COVID-19.

This explosion was driven by a number of factors, including low interest rates, supply chain issues in construction and shortages in available properties caused in part by investors buying up large swathes of housing stock.

Yet some see another culprit deserving of particular attention: foreign buyers.

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Jacinda Ardern, Surprise Farewell: The Unique Legacy Of New Zealand's Global Leader

It's rare that the Prime Minister of New Zealand becomes a globally recognized leader. But Ardern, who was the youngest female elected head of government in history, deserved all the positive attention.

Well, no one saw that coming. For those in New Zealand relieved that Christmas is over because it means politics resumes, this week held the promise of a cabinet reshuffle, the possible unveiling of some meaty new policy and, if we were really lucky, the announcement of the date of this year’s general election.

We got the last of these (it will be on October 14). What we also got, however, was the announcement that in three weeks’ time one of the most popular – and powerful – prime ministers in recent New Zealand history will be stepping down.

It isn’t difficult to divine why Jacinda Ardern has reached her decision. As she herself put it:

"I believe that leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have but also one of the more challenging. You cannot and should not do it unless you have a full tank plus a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges."

She has had more than her fair share of such challenges: a domestic terror attack in Christchurch, a major natural disaster at Whakaari-White Island, a global pandemic and, most recently, a cost-of-living crisis.

On top of that, of course, she has had to chart a way through the usual slate of policy issues that have bedevilled governments for decades in this country, including the cost of housing, child poverty, inequality and the climate crisis. Clearly, the Ardern tank is empty.

But it isn’t just about the policy. Along with other women politicians, Ardern faces a constant barrage of online and in-person abuse – from anti-vaxxers, misogynists and sundry others who simply don’t like her.

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This Happened—November 27: Helen Clark Shatters A Glass Ceiling

Helen Clark became the first elected female Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1999.

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Risks Of Reinfection And Long COVID: The Pandemic Is Not Over

Too many people no longer follow basic protocol: mask wearing, physical distancing and avoiding crowded events. The consequences are an increase in both daily case numbers and long COVID.

The latest Omicron variant BA.5 is fast becoming dominant worldwide, including in New Zealand and Australia. As it continues to surge, reinfection will become increasingly common and this in turn means more people will develop long COVID.

The two most concerning aspects of long COVID are its high prevalence (up to 30% of those infected) and a link between reinfection and a higher risk of harmful outcomes.

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Economy
Lila Paulou and McKenna Johnson

Food Shortages Around The World, Product By Product

The war in Ukraine and the climate crisis have been devastating for food production. Here's a look at some of the traditional foods from around the world that might be hard to find on supermarket shelves.

The consequences of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia have been far-reaching. A Russian blockade of the Black Sea has meant Ukraine, known as “Europe’s breadbasket,” has been unable to export much of its huge harvests of wheat, barley and sunflower oil.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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So even those thousands of miles from the battlefields have been hit by the soaring prices of basic necessities.

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Ideas
Richard Shaw

Overcoming My Pākehā Family's Historical Amnesia

New Zealand politics professor Richard Shaw comes to terms with how his family's silences finds roots in the historical amnesia surrounding the acquisition of lands by Irish settlers in Taranaki, a region in the south west of the Aotearoa's North Island.

The day my great-grandfather Andrew Gilhooly was buried at Taranaki’s Ōkato cemetery in early February 1922, Jas Higgins played the Last Post. Neither man had seen active service in the “great war” with which that ritual is most closely associated. Rather, both had served in the New Zealand wars, an earlier series of conflicts fought across the mid-to-late 19th century as part of the colonisation of Aotearoa New Zealand.

In New Zealand and Australia it’s a mark of honour to have ancestors who fought on the Dardanelles or at the Somme or Passchendaele. A national origin myth has been constructed around the Anzacs, replete with a day of remembrance, outsized monuments, and a rich tradition of rituals that are rehearsed annually “lest we forget”.

Nothing like the same emotional (or financial) investment is made in remembering the wars that took place at home. Our own colonial violence, in Taranaki and at Ōrākau, Pukehinahina/Gate Pā and elsewhere, has been relegated to the margins of the national consciousness. It’s an ongoing process of selective historical amnesia that we’re only slowly beginning to address – not so much lest we forget, as best we forget.

This might explain why I grew up knowing next to nothing about my maternal great-grandfather. Yes, there were plenty of stories about his wife (roundly condemned as having been a “difficult” woman) and six children (farmers, priestly prodigies and musical spinsters). However, other than the bare facts that he was born into a poor farming family in County Limerick in Ireland and had served in the New Zealand Armed Constabulary (AC), about Andrew there was only silence.

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Weird

Why These 7 Eternal Flames Around The World Keep On Burning

The president of Turkmenistan announced plans this year to extinguish the country's famous "Gates of Hell" gas crater. But it's by no means the only one of its kind. We rounded up the eternal flames still burning in all corners of the globe.

On Jan. 8, Turkmenistan’s leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, known for his authoritarian tendencies, announced on television that he had set his sights on the Darvaza Gas Crater, also known as the “Gates of Hell”, a mysterious vat of flames that has been spewing fire for over 50 years in the Karakum Desert.

The burning crater is one of the central Asian country’s few tourist attractions, yet President Berdymukhamedov has ordered it extinguished once and for all, saying the methane-belching pit was bad for the environment and locals’ health, while also representing a lost opportunity for the impoverished nation to capture marketable gas.

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Society
Anne-Sophie Goninet

Why The Right To Die Is Expanding Around The World

Euthanasia and assisted suicide laws are still the exception, but lawmakers from New Zealand to Peru to Switzerland and beyond are gradually giving more space for people to choose to get help to end their lives — sometimes with new and innovative technological methods.

The announcement last month that a “suicide capsule” device would be commercialized in Switzerland, not surprisingly, caused quite a stir. The machine called Sarcophagus, or “Sarco” for short, consists of a 3D-printed pod mounted on a stand, which releases nitrogen and gradually reduces the oxygen level from 21% to 1%, causing the person inside to lose consciousness without pain or a sense of panic, and then die of hypoxia and hypocapnia (oxygen and carbon dioxide deprivation).

While active euthanasia is illegal in Switzerland, assisted suicide is allowed under certain conditions and under the supervision of a physician, who has first to review the patient’s capacity for discernment — a condition that Sarco aims to eliminate. “We want to remove any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow the individual to control the method themselves,” Australian doctor Philip Nitschke, the machine’s creator, told news platform SwissInfo. Some argue that this is against the country’s medical ethical rules while others expressed concerns about safety.

But Nitschke says he found the solution: an online AI-based test, which will give a code to the patient to use the device if he passes.

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

COVID & Fertility, Airplanes 5G Warning, R2D2 Moon

👋 ഹലോ!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Kim Jong-un offers to reopen hotline with Seoul, a 96-year-old Nazi war crime suspect flees and a Turkish man gets so drunk he joins a search party for himself. From France, we also take a look, and listen, to the surprisingly loud noises of the countryside.

[*halēā - Malayalam, India & Malaysia]

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Society
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

The World's Toughest Anti-Smoking Laws

New Zealand is proposing to effectively ban cigarette sales in the future, the culmination of decades of increasingly tough laws aimed at tobacco use around the world, from Kyoto to California to Costa Rica.

New Zealand has announced what may be history's toughest anti-smoking law, saying it will not allow young people to buy cigarettes for life. Over the coming years, it amounts to a de facto prohibition-to-be, reports the New Zealand Herald.

Health activists are hailing the radical measure as the best way to begin to end the millions of deaths each year from smoking-related illnesses. The New Zealand legislation would be the culmination of worldwide efforts, both national and local laws, to limit tobacco use — from rules on cigarette packaging , bans on tobacco advertising and restrictions on smoking in public places.

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Coronavirus
Alexander Gillespie

New Zealand's COVID Exceptionalism Risks Unraveling

As New Zealand grapples to bring a Delta outbreak under control and to accelerate the vaccination rollout, social cohesion is vital for a successful elimination strategy.

Political consensus on elimination has endured so far. Unlike the anti-mask and anti-vaccination movements elsewhere, most New Zealanders continue to back the prime minister's decision to place the country under the strictest lockdown.

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Coronavirus
Anne Sophie Goninet

What COVID-19 Means For Worldwide Push To Legalize Marijuana

New Zealand's referendum last month to legalize recreational marijuana use was the first time a country put the controversial topic to a popular vote. Initial results point to a narrow defeat of the measure, which would still leave Uruguay and Canada as the only countries to fully legalize cannabis at a national level.

Still, in normal times, such a vote would have made worldwide headlines. But with COVID-19 dominating the news, it's mostly wafted under the radar.

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