Saturday, November 16, 2013

Intersections in Real Time

This week, the NZ Herald discovered a new formula for clocking public interest. No, I'm not talking about the NZ Herald's birthday, tinted as it was through granny spectacles. Nup, there were far too many sports people listed as heroes to consider that seriously.

It was the joint venture between Jared Savage and Keith Ng which shed light on Members of Parliament property holdings not covered by Rod Donald's Pecuniary Interests law. The formula could be expressed thusly: Journo + Geek + Serious Question = Intelligent Hits.

We learn, for example, that National Party Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie runs a tidy little farming empire in the Manawatu. This may or may not explain Federated Farmers' yo-yoing position over the Horizons Regional Council's One Plan.

But as far as I see it, this begs a larger question that I have pondered over for some time. Who owns New Zealand? We know who owns the National Parks, even as co-governance emerges from the mist. But who owns Queen Street in Auckland, or Cuba Street in Wellington, or the main street in your areas of interest?

The current housing crisis babble is just that. The bank economists are jawboning their corner, same as everyone else. No-one really knows what they're talking about. Whether its overseas buyers in the market, or people making hay under the new LVR rules, or which family has inherited the biggest capital gains in the last 150 years, no-one knows. No-one's counting.

Housing NZ is still NZ's largest landlord, followed by Wellington City Council. But who are the top 1000 private landlords? Which landlord has the highest proportion of sub-standard housing? Which church has the largest property holdings? Is there an index of land covenants listed from reasonable to unreasonable?

A convenient example of this interesting point appears in today's DomPost, with the local shopping centre going on the block, as the ailing sole director is forced into a mortgagee sale.

Good luck with that there. Now is not a good time to be in real retail. It's all online, sunshine. Or the Todd family bringing the Albany-sized retail box shops to its airport property a few blocks over. Ah well, at least he didn't blow a crater into the ground and take others with him, like Hubbard or Ross or Lombard, etc.

If a census is good enough for the people, it's good enough for property too. Correlate that undiscovered country, Herald, and I might believe you're not as beholden to the real estate pimps as you appear.

To mangle the words of John "Blind Trust" Key, if the landed gentry have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear.