Foreign Imports

A few issues around foreign imports have my attention at the moment.

One is that I am after a new car. I’ve been bidding on cars on auction in Japan, and if successful, it will be sent to New Zealand by boat.

Another is the news that the Tourism industry in New Zealand expects international visitor spending to increase by 48 per cent to $11.1 billion by 2020, with an increase in international visitor numbers to grow from 2.9 million in 2014 to 3.75 million by 2021.

To cope with the expected demand over the next 10 years, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise says we need another 26 hotels.

The numbers for Tourism speak for themselves. But with the unexpected upsurge particularly from China, we are beginning to get swamped, with a corresponding strain on infrastructure. Already, questions are being raised at ground level about how many tourists we can handle, want to, and what the quality of that tourism should be.

Meanwhile in Queenstown, Film Otago Southland head Kevin Jennings (KJ) was recently on Radio New Zealand saying that it’s becoming extremely difficult to find hotel rooms for visiting crews because of tourism demand, and with the cost of accommodation rising because rooms are at a premium, production budgets are blowing out so much that productions are going elsewhere.

In addition to Queenstown, KJ mentioned that Auckland struggles with crew accommodation from time to time. And as many who work in the international production sector in Auckland are aware, the region continues to miss out on international productions while Auckland flounders around from proposed site to proposed site while trying to convince councillors of the value of film and TV and the need to help fund a modern, purpose-built studio precinct. On top of that, with the debilitating effect of the non-competitive film & TV incentives of 2012/13 resulting in many highly experienced crew giving up on the industry or fleeing offshore, there are often crew shortages in key areas.

Domestic production isn’t abating, even with the static funding the industry suffers from—the issue is making it on the funding available when costs have been escalating year on year. Adding to the increase in production activity is NZ content being made with funding from elsewhere and going straight offshore, stimulated by the government incentives.

It’s those incentives that are driving international production here, too. Unless we become significantly uncompetitive against other countries—which could happen—the interest in shooting here will only continue.

It seems at least to me that if everything continues to conspire positively as is happening now, we can expect the amount of production being done in New Zealand to increase.

The New Zealand tourism industry running around intoxicated with its success and still pushing for quantity over quality is only going to exacerbate the woes for productions in New Zealand, domestic and international. A good indicator that a bit of planning could be necessary on our part.

Perhaps it’s time for someone to develop a national film and television strategy that also takes into account the interrelated nature of how we in the New Zealand film and television production sector operate within the overall New Zealand business environment. An overarching strategy should help us head off issues and develop plans that will ensure the New Zealand production sector has a good future as we head toward what looks like a busier one for many of us.

The imported car thing? A bit of a red herring, really. But for information’s sake, in 2015 the Motor Trade Association identified 143,642 used imported vehicle sales. In 2016, I am hoping to add one to the total.

Tui Ruwhiu
Executive Director