Each weekday The Front Page keeps you up to date with the biggest news in New Zealand. Today it's problems with KiwiBuild and Auckland house prices starting to fall, the cost of food is up, vitamin C gets serious investigation as a cancer cure, and a coma patient is woken up by Radio Sport. Hosted by Frances Cook.

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Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr is warning the Government's flagship KiwiBuild policy could "crowd out" the private sector.

But Finance Minister Grant Robertson disagrees, saying Orr's forecast was "certainly challengeable".


This morning, the Reserve Bank published a discussion document. It says KiwiBuild could contribute 100,000 affordable houses over 10 years, but it's unlikely that will be achieved without crowding out a "significant amount of other residential construction activity".

Speaking to MPs at the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, Orr said half to three-quarters of total house building in New Zealand would be crowded out by KiwiBuild.

He says if KiwiBuild built 100 houses, between 50 and 75 elsewhere aren't being built. So it's only 50 to 25 extra houses going into the New Zealand market.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson didn't seem to agree with the data though.

He says the Government has had "other advice" but wouldn't say what level of crowding out the Government was expecting.

Robertson says the aim of KiwiBuild is to promote building affordable housing, and if they're shifting development to be more affordable, that's good.

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Auckland house sale prices have hit their lowest levels in three years

Real Estate Institute data shows prices fell $20,000 between the end of December and the end of January, down 2.4 per cent from a median $820,000 to $800,000.


REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell says agents recorded falls in house sales in Franklin, Rodney, North Shore and Papakura districts during January.

Price rises were still recorded in Auckland City, Manukau City and Waitakere City which had median price increases ranging from 1.5 per cent to 9.5 per cent.

Norwell says they'll be watching closely to see if the overall dip for Auckland was part of the usual Christmas/New Year slowdown or whether this is the start of something wider.

Prices for New Zealand excluding Auckland increased by 10.1 per cent.

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Banking giant UBS has warned that Australia's falling house prices could be about to plummet even lower still.

The alarming claim was made following the release of the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics home loan figures, which revealed the number of new mortgages taken out across the country plunged by nearly 20 per cent last year — the lowest point since the global financial crisis.

The bank's economics team says that's a big clue houses are about to get even cheaper.

The team claim the Australian Reserve Bank will be pushed into slashing rates as a result of falling home loans, which economists believe may have been caused by investor disinterest, stricter lending practices and speculation about the banking royal commission.

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Takeaway costs have driven up food prices for January.

Prices are up 0.8 per cent compared to a year earlier, driven by higher meat, grocery and takeaway costs.

Higher costs for restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food made the biggest contribution to the increase in Stats NZ's food price index.

The increases were partially offset by a drop in fruit prices, and non-alcoholic drinks.

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The arrival of Chemist Warehouse seems to be causing tough times for other pharmacies.

The Herald understands small pharmacies located near and around Chemist Warehouse stores in Auckland have been severely impacted by the Australian retail giant's booming trade.

Chemist Warehouse entered the New Zealand market at the end of 2017. It hasn't been shy on sharing its expansion plans and has an aggressive strategy to open 70 stores throughout all major cities spread across the country.

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Family members of a young mum brutally murdered by her stalker have told the killer they hope he never has a day of peace again.

Rohit Deepak Singh, 42, was found guilty of the murder of Arishma Singh last November in the High Court at Auckland.

Today he was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum period of imprisonment of 19 years.

The 24-year-old mum was killed during the early hours of November 12, 2017, after her ex-boyfriend lay in wait at her Manurewa house with a large kitchen knife.

Arishma's parents, Rakesh and Aradhana Singh, discovered their daughter's body when they returned to their home.

Arishma's mother was overcome with tears in court, as her statement was read out.

She said she hated Singh for his cowardly act, that he was a despicable person, who shattered Arishma's dreams and hopes.

At trial, Crown prosecutors told the court Rohit Singh was obsessed and infatuated with Arishma, refusing to accept that she didn't want to be with him.

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Drugs, guns and stolen property including war medals, were recovered by police during a raid on a Thames property.

A 33-year-old man is now set to appear in the Thames District Court today facing a variety of charges.

Waikato Eastern Area Criminal Investigations Manager Detective Senior Sergeant Steve Ambler, says methamphetamine and a significant amount of cannabis was located.

A priceless 100-year-old artefact was also recovered, after going missing in a local burglary last month.

Police found other stolen property from the Thames areas, including a quad bike, a lawn mower, builders tools including nail guns, air compressors, and two wooden planter boxes recently stolen from outside the Ngātea Pub.

They also found World War I medals and old coins.

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Could vitamin C be the key to getting rid of cancer and other infections?

Overseas research suggests it could - and it's prompting discussion in New Zealand about fast-tracking clinical use of the supplement.

University of Otago researcher Professor Margreet Vissers says high-dose vitamin C infusions in intensive care units abroad has led to lower death rates, shorter stays in intensive care and most importantly flushing out infections and cancers.

Vissers says a simple explanation is that when a person is sick the body uses up a lot more vitamin C than when they are well. If vitamin C intake isn't increased through diet then the body becomes exhausted and vulnerable to further sickness.

A clinical trial in Christchurch, led by Vissers, kickstarted local research about a year ago and is already showing promising results.

Vissers says at this stage it's not a cancer cure, but could assist current therapies and prolong patient lifespan.

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New Zealand comedian and mental health advocate Mike King has been named the Kiwibank 2019 New Zealander of the Year.

The award celebrates people who use their passion to make New Zealand a better place for the people who live here, something King has been recognised for.

Chief judge Cameron Bennet says King is a wonderfully complex and compelling Kiwi.

He says King's work in mental health showed he was determined to tackle one of the most serious issues affecting our society.

"His passion and total commitment challenges us to think again about how we address some of the most serious social issues of our time."

King, the host of Newstalk ZB's The Nutters Club programme, was commended for drawing from his own experiences and bringing the serious issues of depression, alcohol and drug use, and suicide to public attention.

Working alongside mental health professionals, King has provided the driving force behind many national initiatives to shift the way we think about mental health.

King became emotional at the awards ceremony as he thanked his wife.

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The award comes as King continues pushing for greater accountability over mental health.

He's called Waikato DHB "clowns" for seeking a new coroner to conduct "further inquries" into the death of Nicky Stevens.

Stevens took his own life while on unescorted leave from a mental health centre at Waikato Hospital in 2015.

In December Coroner Bain ruled Stevens' death could have been avoided had the advice of his parents been followed, to not allow their son outside unsupervised.

However, the DHB recently raised concerns with the Solicitor-General about the inquest process.

King expressed his disapproval on Facebook, writing, "This is an absolute disgrace!".

"Waikato DHB interim chief executive Derek Wright and board chairwoman Sally Webb should be forced to resign effective immediately!"

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A well-known Kiwi handcyclist who was in a critical condition after being struck by a car shocked a Radio Sport host today by ringing up by saying thanks for getting him out of a coma.

Ian Walker became a paraplegic after crashing into a truck while out cycling about 10 years ago. He recovered and took up handcycling, later completing the New York Marathon twice, in 2014 and 2017.

However last month he was placed in a coma in Christchurch hospital after being hit by a 4WD while on a training run on the outskirts of the city. Doctors didn't expect Walker to survive.

Walker rang into Radio Sport Mornings to thank host Jason Pine for playing a part in him getting out of an induced coma.

He says he started to respond when the Radio Sport programme was turned on, and host Jason Pine mentioned English Premier League side Liverpool.

"They tried talking to me...and then they actually played a bit of Radio Sport on with you about Liverpool's trials and tribulations a couple of weeks ago. And apparently you made mention of the word Liverpool and I didn't sit straight up but I clenched my mouth, pumped my fist and then I started waking up an hour later. So a lot of it goes down to you Mr Pine," he said.

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That's the Front Page for today, Thursday February 14, making sure you're across the biggest news of the day. For more on these stories, check out The New Zealand Herald, or tune in to Newstalk ZB.

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple podcasts here, iHeartRadio here, and Stitcher here.

If you like to stay up to date on social media, you can find host Frances Cook on Facebook here, Instagram here and Twitter here.