A visit to NZ's premiere (and only) coloured glass making company
Two Taranaki men (John Croucher and John Leggott) started out as glass blowers in the 70’s and now produce the world’s highest quality coloured glass for glass blowing and glass sculptors the world over.
The crystal-ball-like art piece in my hand is totally made of glass, inside and out, including spiders, flowers and bees, and is worth about $USD 10,000. This factory is in Morningside in Kingsland, Auckland and is one of three such manufacturers in the world supplying this unique market. Most of their product heads to the USA, but this company has a worldwide reputation for the highest of quality product.
It was fascinating to see the process and how glass is made from sand, with oxides and the like added, mixed and then at 1400 degrees C, turned into molten glass. They would blow the glass occasionally and then break it to look for any imperfections. The bottom left photo shows the glass with perfect translucence.
Their whole plant has been designed and built by them and they are developing robotic techniques in case the craftsmanship of this industry dissipates. I have to say – one of the more fascinating visits to a business I’ve made. The “blender” (bottom right photo) is made by a good Hawera firm – Croucher and Crowder.
Steady job growth lowers unemployment
New Zealand's unemployment rate has fallen to 5.4%, the lowest rate since March 2009. The latest Household Labour Force Survey shows this drop is in effect of steady job growth, with an increase of 18,000 people employed in the September quarter, and 72,000 over the last year.
“It’s very encouraging to see the increasing confidence of companies around the country as they build their businesses and hire more people,” Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Steven Joyce says.
“It’s also good news for Kiwis that real wages are steadily increasing faster than inflation. The Quarterly Employment Survey shows average hourly earnings up 2.3 per cent for the year compared to an inflation rate of 1 per cent over the same period.”
The construction industry has grown considerably over the past year, with 33,500 more jobs across the country.
“The New Zealand employment story is one of steady recovery from the very tough days of the Global Financial Crisis,” Mr Joyce says.
Couples without children increasingly common
The number of couples without children has been on the rise since 1991, according to Statistics New Zealand.
StatsNZ released its census information on families and households this week, revealing there are 1.1 million families across the country, of which just over 40% do not include children. This figure is up from 35 % in 1991.
The region with the highest figure was Marlborough, where over half (53.2%) were couples without children, reflecting the older age structure of people in these families in this region.
Other key figures include:
Since 2006, the rise in the number of couples without children was almost double that of couples with children.
One-parent families make up around 18 percent of families, similar to in 2006.
Of the 1.5 million households in New Zealand, two-thirds contain one family, and just over 3 percent have two or more families.
In one-third of one-parent families with dependent children, the parent is employed full-time.
9,500 grandparents are in a parental role to their grandchildren (ie the parents are not part of the same household).
Around 1 in 4 households were one-person households, with the West Coast region having the highest proportion, at 30.7 percent.
The average New Zealand household size remains at 2.7 people.
The Taranaki Future's Bach was relocated to the foreshore today, where it will be completed and auctioned off at the end of the month. The public are now able to take a closer look at the house that 15 Taranaki secondary students have been working on for months. The Skills Squad's 'Build a Bach' project will be back in 2015 here in New Plymouth and Stratford.
I stopped by Te Henui Walkway to check on progress of the Vickers to City upgrade.
Trees have been removed and sewer and stormwater relocation is underway. Soon piling will begin for the new bridge!
On Saturday I attended the Taranaki English Language Partners 10th anniversary dinner. I spoke to around 200 people from various cultures on my experiences with languages on trips to Mongolia and Cambodia.
Everyone loved the story I shared from my trip to Mongolia, where in order to send a text you had to throw your phone about 50 feet into the air where it connected with the signal. I made up a bit on how they first discovered that. A great night.
I received a few comments from Green Party supporters on my tweet last Saturday which said “Gardening - Pulling out every green living thing (weeds) and leaving every dead thing (bark).” They said 'we knew you were never a greenie'. One asked if it was a reflection of our mining policy. A good weekend laugh I thought!