A big marketing drive is on to draw more Chinese people to New Zealand real estate and the businesswoman behind it expects a huge upswing in investment and development, particularly from Canton.
Pauline (Bao Min) Gao of Panmure-headquartered MultiMarketing has teamed up with established Auckland building and construction industry publisher Mark Graham to produce the glossy NZ Property Investment & Building Guide, which explains how Chinese can invest in New Zealand and features many properties.
The first bi-annual magazine was produced in 2013 and the latest is just out, its cover showing Auckland's Wynyard Quarter where hundreds of apartments will soon rise.
It has a prominent explanation of how to immigrate to New Zealand and a New Zealand China Trade Association page showing PM John Key meeting Chinese Premier President Xi Jinping in November.
The magazines marketing New Zealand are produced by Elevate Productions, a joint venture between Gao's MultiMarketing and Straight Up Productions, owned by publishing entrepreneur Graham, who produces the Building Guide and the Design Guide.
Graham said 10,000 copies of the Chinese guide were being printed, but not everyone was pleased about them.
"We've had a mix of reactions, from the very excited to the raised eyebrow," Graham said.
"Obviously those opposed to Chinese investment in New Zealand worry about anything that could be seen to be encouraging this.
"Our attitude is that it is a happening thing and likely to grow, so it's better Chinese are informed before investing. We've had tremendous interest from the trading banks and key retailers and product marketers targeting the Chinese market."
Information is partly sourced from Graham's publication the Building Guide, particularly on regulations for home building in New Zealand, and he says many consumers, "not just recent Chinese immigrants" ,were ignorant about the rules.
Murray Horton of the Campaign Against Foreign Ownership of Aotearoa said the Government and Overseas Investment Office could learn from Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board controls.
"Foreign non-residents or short-term visa holders can invest in Australian real estate only if that investment adds to the housing stock," Horton said. "Non-resident foreign persons cannot buy established dwellings as investment properties or as homes [the board's rules say]."
Gao and Graham's magazines in Mandarin explain New Zealand's economic outlook, particularly for housing construction, advertise properties for sale - particularly new apartments being sold off the plans - explain the Christchurch earthquake rebuild, advertise professional services, including New Zealand-based accountants, property consultants and other experts, explain different types of commercial property and project development, showcase classy retail developments like the much-awarded Mackelvie St retail project and list where to live in Auckland, including highlighting Remuera and Herne Bay as highly desirable areas.
SugarTree, Auckland's biggest new apartment tower now under construction between Union and Nelson Sts, is being marketed in the publication, with one-bedroom units for sale for only $299,000.
Aiming to become the "titan of the New Zealand property industry", Gao said she migrated here as a teenager in 2000, went to Mahurangi College, then graduated from the University of Auckland with a bachelor in commerce, management and international business.
Her father lives in China but invests in Auckland residential property from there, owning places in Remuera and Sandringham, she said.
The magazines point out which residential properties are in prestigious school zones.
Gao said she wanted to bridge the gap between Kiwi and Chinese business people and companies "to build wealth for all parties".
"This is the first comprehensive guide to New Zealand property targeted at Chinese-speaking immigrants to New Zealand and offshore-based property investors," Gao said.
"New Zealand's migrant population, wanting to build prosperity through property, was being hamstrung by the lack of an accessible guide to the process that addressed issues such as building consents and building codes and legal requirements.
"New migrants also need help determining which construction products and services are most reputable in an unfamiliar market."
Gao is also marketing three big new Auckland real estate development projects by Chinese developers and is project managing the construction on the third of these.
The $100 million 260-unit Library Lane scheme at Albany by businessman Sky Cai.
The $20 million 48-unit Parkview Residences boutique scheme adjacent to Basque Park in Eden Terrace by Canton's New Sun Group. Local construction firm Arrow International has been appointed to build this project, Gao said.
New Sun Co's planned $20 million 23-unit commercial/retail centre at 11 Nandina Ave, East Tamaki, where Gao said imported Chinese-made bathroom, wallboard, hardware, tiles, bricks and other building products will be sold. Engineers and other property professionals are the target tenant market for offices on the second level.
The Parkview scheme is marketed as being in a good school area, zoned for Auckland Girls' Grammar School, Mt Albert Grammar School, St Peter's College and Western Springs College.
Gao is also working with businessman and Chinese migrant Sam Yin on a prominent website www.hougarden.com where many New Zealand properties are being marketed.
Having moved to Auckland from China's Shangdong as a youngster, he has been here for 14 years and said he had "taken advantage of the many opportunities offered by a capitalist democracy", buying his first property - a piece of land in Albany where he built a house - in 2008 when he was 26. Now, he is marrying the similar aspirations of other Chinese with New Zealand's housing needs with the online property portal which he says less than three years after its launch is one of the top three sites marketing New Zealand properties in China.
"HouGarden has around 180,000 unique visitors per month at present and racks up over one million page views," he said. "While 49 per cent of visits come from China and 41 per cent from Chinese-speaking New Zealanders, there is growing interest in New Zealand property from Singapore (4%) and Hong Kong (nearly 3%), as well as Malaysia.
"What sets HouGarden (which means backyard in Chinese) apart from its competition is its tailoring to the Chinese psyche. In New Zealand, Kiwis and assimilated Chinese - those who speak English and understand Kiwi culture - just want the facts and the numbers," he said.
"However, Chinese in China are conservative and want to build a connection. They are also buying remotely so they want to know exactly who is involved and to deal with agents, lawyers, immigration consultants and others they can trust.
"With HouGarden we have set out to build a Chinese-language online real estate community to respond to these specific needs - just a group of listings, no matter how comprehensive, is not enough. It works as a kind of LinkedIn for property vendors and buyers."