Premium rises of ‘around $1000′ for some AMI and State house insurance policyholders



Homeowners who have house insurance with AMI and State will see rises in their premiums if they have homes at higher risk of damage from natural disasters like earthquakes, such as homes in Wellington.

State and AMI house insurance policyholders with homes at heightened risk from earthquakes, landslips and floods have been told to brace for a rise in premiums.

The move follows Tower’s decision earlier this year to start individually pricing earthquake risk on homes instead of sharing the risk evenly across all its policyholders.

IAG, the Australian sharemarket-listed company which owns State and AMI said the average rise in premiums for people with homes in areas exposed to heightened risk of earthquake or flood was $91.

But “a handful” of customers could expect increases or decreases of around $1000, the insurer said.

AMI and State policyholders would individually learn what their premium rise or fall will be when their annual renewal notices come through, some as soon as next week.

Three-quarters of AMI and State policyholders would see their premium rise, averaging $91 a year.

The remaining quarter of State and AMI policyholders would see their premium fall, on average by $54 a year.

Overall that means IAG will collect a larger total premium haul on its AMI and State house insurance portfolio as a result of the changes, but the company blamed that on an increase in weather-related claims.

When Tower made the change to individual risk-based pricing for natural disaster cover, its chief executive Richard Harding predicted IAG and Suncorp (which owns Vero) would follow suit.

Harding said 2.5 percent of its policyholders would face hikes of more than $250, while 1 percent would see a hike greater than $2000.While some policyholders at AMI and State will see premiums hiked, IAG has decided not to do the same for policyholders with NZI, a business it owns which sells house insurance through insurance brokers, but that could change.

The areas where some State and AMI policyholders would see rises include parts of Whakatāne District, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Greater Wellington, Marlborough, the West Coast, Kaikōura, Waimakariri District and Dunedin.

While they are going to pay more, house insurance policyholders in other parts of the country, including the rapidly-growing Auckland market would see their premiums fall.

Other areas where premium drops are expected are parts of the upper North Island, Taranaki, Selwyn District, North and Central Otago and Southland.

Customers in other parts of the country were expected to see average decreases in their total premium of $54, said Kevin Hughes, executive general manager consumer at IAG.

“We know New Zealand has many natural hazards, including earthquakes and floods, with different risks in different regions. In the past, the price people pay for home insurance hasn’t fully reflected these differences in risk. This is now changing,” Hughes said.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen how New Zealand’s environmental risks have evolved, and we’re taking these risks more into account. While we can’t ignore these changes, we can continue to be there for our customers when misfortune strikes. This means our prices must change.”

“Generally, a home in a location which is a high-risk area for earthquakes or floods will cost more to insure than a like-for-like home in a lower risk location.”

IAG suggested customers consider reducing their insurance cover by lifting their excess levels, or even buying more policies from the company.

“We know that, for some of our customers, this will be a challenge and we’re committed to working with them through this,” said Hughes.

Note: This article is from Stuff,  see

Twelve New Zealand Films to showcase in the 9th New Zealand Film Festival in China

NZFF China 2018

Twelve New Zealand films will screen at the 2018 New Zealand Film Festival in China being held in Beijing, Ordos and Chengdu, and should be seen by up to 10,000 people in 48 screenings in China over the next four weeks.

The twelve films, including eight features and four short films, have won Official Selection for this year’s New Zealand Film Festival in China (NZFF China). The 2018 NZFF China will have its opening Reception and first Premiere Night screening of PORK PIE in Beijing on 17 April during the Beijing International Film Festival and will run in that city from 19 to 20 April.

The NZFF China then travels to Ordos City in the Inner Mongolia Province with a Premiere Screening of PORK PIE on 18 April where it will run from 26-29 April, and then Chengdu in Sichuan Province, where there will be a Premiere screening of THE CHANGE OVER and 3 MILE LIMIT on 21 April from 3 to 6 May.

The Official Selection was made by the China Film Bureau in conjunction with the New Zealand Organizer, the Pacific Culture and Arts Exchange Centre Chaired by Jim He. Established as a biennial event in 2002, this will be the 9th NZFF China. Previous NZFF China events have been broadcast extensively on the CCTV-movie channel reaching a China-wide audience.

Michael Stephens, Wellington film and entertainment lawyer and honorary adviser to the Festival said, “This year we are looking forward to showcasing a diversity of New Zealand films across a wide range of genres and featuring a number of our emerging talented Maori and Pacifica filmmakers. I congratulate all the directors, producers and cast and crew involved. Without exception, they have produced great and engaging films on often very limited budgets. Their selection for the New Zealand Film Festival in China confirms the growing reputation of our independent filmmakers and the New Zealand film industry in China.”

NZFF China Festival Organiser Jim He said, “The Festival provides additional exposure for these films, many of which have won selection to other International festivals.

“More importantly, the Festival helps boost New Zealand’s profile in the largest growing international market for the New Zealand’s film and digital entertainment sector.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved in making this Festival possible including the Filmmakers and their Distributors, Sponsors and the great assistance of the NZ Film Commission Staff involved.”

The Festival is coordinated by the Pacific Culture and Arts Exchange in conjunction with support from the Film Bureau of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio Film and Television of China and the China Film Archive.



The feature films:

The short films:

  • UTU PIHIKETE: Director, Craig Hutchison & Producers, Craig Hutchison & April Phillips

Body Corporate Budgets and Levies – what you need to know

Stephens LAlan Henwood-002awyers Director Alan Henwood has wide experience of the Unit Titles Act 2010 and in this article outlines what you need to know about setting Body Corporate budgets and levies.
A recent series of High Court cases has accentuated the need for care in preparing budgets and raising levies.

There are four designated funds that the Unit Titles Act 2010 contemplates that levies can be raised for:

  1. the operating account,
  2. the long-term maintenance fund,
  3. contingency funds, and
  4. capital improvements.

These recent court cases have clarified that those four funds are the only ‘funds’ for which levies can be raised.  They have also determined that the operating account can only be used for annually recurring expenses and the long-term maintenance fund can only be used for costs identified in the long-term maintenance plan. And while you can operate the various funds through a single bank account, it is not sufficient to have just separately coded or identified the funds: the funds or categories must have been individually established by resolution.

So, what happens if you have a major one–off repair project such as seismic strengthening or recladding?  According to the High Court, you cannot use the operating account (its purpose is annually recurring expenditure), nor can you use the long-term maintenance fund or funds in the long-term maintenance fund.  You also cannot use a capital improvement fund as there is a long-established distinction in law between repair and improvement.  You must establish a contingency fund for the works, inapt as that sounds.

Many body corporates prepare a single annual budget which includes operating expenses, long-term maintenance fund contributions and project expenses, and raise a composite levy.  It seems that this is permissible but when it comes to receipt of levies and actual expenditure, the necessary funds must exist to which transactions are credited/debited.  Where there is a major project our recommendation is that, for transparency, there is a separate budget and separate levies.

Many body corporates also allow for operating contingencies as a budget item. However, the proportion of levies raised for contingencies still needs to be credited to a contingency fund, not the operating account. And if there is no contingency fund the law is anyway that an unbudgeted expense must not make the body corporate insolvent or exceed 10% of the operating account budget.

Associated with challenges to levies, there have also been challenges to process. The courts are requiring clear evidence that due process has been followed.  Minutes that simply state that a resolution has been passed (or the word of the chairperson) are not being accepted. Evidence in minutes of eligible voters, proxies, postal votes, a quorum and votes for and against resolutions are becoming the evidential standard.

This is not making administration of body corporates any easier.  But there is good news.  Provided that a body corporate is acting within its powers, the courts are making it clear that where there is majority support for a proposal, they will not subject it to pedantic analysis.  Challenges to individual expenses and claims that there were better (read ‘cheaper’) ways to carry out a project are being routinely rejected.  A point of judicial exasperation appears to have been reached, with some judges going so far as to suggest that owners who want to challenge everything should possibly think about whether community living is for them.

The message is actually quite simple.  Get your processes right and the courts will support you.  Who knows, the disaffected minority (and there is a saying that “every body corporate has one”) may even come to realise that there is no point in challenging majority decisions.  Then again, pigs may fly……..

Alan Henwood, Stephens Lawyers
DDI:     04 915 9589
M:        029 924 3402




Korean Film Festival returns


The Consulate of the Republic of Korea in Auckland and Korean Cinerama Trust will open the are Korean Film Festival in Auckland this week, with additional screenings in Hamilton. The festival will open with a special screening of Netflix title Okja on Thursday 19 October.

Starring an international cast including Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Giancarlo Esposito and An Seo Hyun, Okja was an Official Selection of the 70th Cannes Film Festival.

Okja tells the story of a young Korean girl Mija (An Seo Hyun) who for 10 years has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja — a massive animal and an even bigger friend at her home in the mountains of South Korea.

Deftly blending genres, humour, poignancy and drama, Director Bong (Snowpiercer, The Host) begins with the gentlest of premises, the bond between man and animal and ultimately creates a distinct and layered vision of the world that addresses the animal inside us all.

Chair of the Korean Cinerama Trust, Michael Stephens, said, “It is particularly pleasing also to know Okja has a New Zealand connection, with the Sound Design Post production work for Okja undertaken by Wellington based Sound Designer Dave Whitehead, who has worked previously with Director Bong and on other Korean films.”

Following the Auckland premiere screening of Okja, 6 more free Korean titles will be offered in Aucklanders until Sunday (22 October) including one of Bong Joon Ho’s earlier films, The Host. The kids’ programme on Sunday includes Nori Roller Coaster Boy, the first TV show made under the Korea-NZ co-pro treaty. John MacKay’s POW partnered with Korea’s XrisP and did much of the post, including the English language dub.

Korean Consul General, Ms Chang-soon Cha, said: “This year’s festival features a collection of contemporary Korean movies including a number of heart-warming family movies and animations. I believe in the power of the movie, especially in this multicultural society. It connects people and helps people understand different cultures, and it ultimately binds us in harmony.”

Tickets for Auckland screenings are free, allocated on a first-in best-dressed basis. Two free screenings will be offered in Hamilton at Lido Cinema next week. The Festival presented a special screening of Okja in Wellington on 1 October at the Roxy Cinema.

The full list of festival titles is:

19 Oct (Thurs. 6:30pm) Okja, M
20 Oct (Fri. 6 pm) My Brilliant Life, M
20 Oct (Fri. 8:45 pm) The Host, R13
21 Oct (Sat. 4 pm) How to Steal a Dog, PG
21 Oct (Sat. 6:30 pm) All About My Wife, M
22 Oct (Sun. 2 pm) Nori Roller Coaster Boy & The Little Penguin Pororo’s Racing Adventure, G

25 Oct (Wed. 6:15pm) The Host, R13
26 Oct (Thurs. 6:15pm) The Thieves, R16

Theatrical Market Statistics 2016

MPAA_Cover_2016-230x300The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has released its 2016 Theatrical Market Statistics. The report finds that, in 2016, the global box office for all films released in each country around the world reached $38.6 billion, up one percent from 2015.

The domestic (U.S. & Canada) box office was $11.4 billion, which grew two percent, while the international box office was $27.2 billion in U.S. dollars, the same as 2015, despite the increased strength of the U.S. dollar and slower growth in China. The international box office now comprises 71 percent of the global box office.

The number of cinema screens increased by eight percent worldwide in 2016 to nearly 164,000, due in large part to continued double-digit growth in the Asia-Pacific region (+18%).

The number of digital screens (+17%) and Premium Large Format screens (+11%) also saw double-digit growth globally. The number of digital screens in the United States has now increased to 98 percent of all U.S. screens. Ninety-five percent of the world’s cinema screens are now digital.

The highest grossing U.S. & Canada box office films in 2016 were as follows:

  1. Finding Dory (Disney): $486.3
  2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Disney): $408.2
  3. Captain America: Civil War (Disney): $408.1
  4. The Secret Life of Pets (Universal): $368.4
  5. The Jungle Book (Disney): $364.0

In 2016, the U.S. & Canada box office was $11.4 billion, up two percent from $11.1 billion in 2015. Tickets sold (1.32 billion) held steady compared to 2015. Three of the top five grossing films in 2016 attracted majority-female audiences. Finding Dory drew the largest proportion of females, with 55 percent of its box office coming from women. The Jungle Book drew the most ethnically diverse audience, followed by Finding Dory and Captain America: Civil War.

The total number of films released theatrically was 718, which was an increase of one percent from 2015. MPAA members, which are the major studios, released 139 films, down five percent in 2016 compared to 2015. Independents continued to release the most films domestically with 579 films, up three percent from 2015.

For further information, see:


Stephens Lawyers congratulates Mark Litwak, 2017 Southern California Super Lawyer

Litwak2Our good friend Mark Litwak, film and entertainment attorney based in Los Angeles, has once again been recognised on the Southern Californian Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in Southern California for 2017.

This is the eighth time Mark has earned this distinction.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a rigorous process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area.

For more information, see:

Why you need a Will – what you need to know


Stephens92454_024 Lawyer’s Senior Associate Claire Maddocks shares her knowledge on why you need a Will and the issues you need to be aware of.

When we talk to people about their will, they often say:

  • “I’m not old enough to need a will”
  • “I don’t have anything”
  • “It all goes to my family”.

However, if you’re are adult and have assets, then yes you need a will.  Having assets, doesn’t necessarily mean owning your own home. If you die and have assets exceeding $15,000 in total, then a formal grant of administration from the High Court is required before they can be dealt with or bills paid.

While we might not like to think about what will happen to our belongings when we die, making a will ensures that your wishes will be carried out, including:

  • Who you want to be in charge of dealing with your assets – i.e. ‘executors & trustees’
  • Who will receive or benefit from your assets – i.e. ‘beneficiaries’
  • Any specific instructions regarding organ donation, your funeral, and cremation or burial
  • Any specific gifts of personal items or money that you would like to make?

Very specific rules apply to the administration of Estates.  If you die without a will and are ‘intestate’ then the Administration Act states who can and cannot apply for administration and who is to benefit from your Estate. This may not be the people you intended to appoint or wished to benefit.

For example, if you are married and have children but are intestate (you don’t have a will) when you die, the Administration Act 1969 says:

  • Your spouse is ‘first in line’ to apply for administration of your estate;
  • Your spouse is entitled to receive your personal chattels (i.e. anything that can be moved including vehicles, boats, aircraft. horses, equipment for them, furniture, household effects, clothing, jewellery and watches), a payment of $155,000.00 (with interest – which accrues from date of death until time funds are actually paid out) and 1/3 of anything that remains after that;
  • Your children receive the remaining 2/3 share of your assets after allowing for the above.

The Act also covers what happens if you are unmarried, have no surviving children or other descendants but have siblings or grandparents, or aunts and uncles surviving you.   If you have no surviving family members at all, your assets pass to the State.
You may have a will but the named executors may have died before you, you named your spouse but have since formally dissolved your marriage, or perhaps the person named does not wish to apply and has renounced their right to deal with your estate.  Back we go again to the Administration Act to see who is next in line to apply for administration.

The Act also specifies the people that you have a ‘moral’ obligation to provide for under your will. We will advise you further regarding these obligations if need be.

 What do you need to do?

Provide information to us including: assets and liabilities, your family position, who you want to appoint to handle your estate and who you wish to benefit on your death.  A will can then be drafted for your consideration.

  • Any jointly owned assets pass to the surviving owner.
  • Any assets which belong to a family trust (even if you are a Trustee of the Trust) are dealt with in accordance with the terms of the Trust Deed, not your will.


  • Getting married revokes any will you may have, unless you make in in contemplation of marrying that same person;
  • Formal dissolution of marriage does not revoke your will, but your will is read as if that person had died before you so any entitlement they may have had lapses.

Don’t just sign your will and forget about it. Your will needs to be reviewed from time to time to make sure that it continues to meet your wishes and family circumstances and is appropriate.

Claire Maddocks, Stephens Lawyers
DDI: 04 915 9586


Retirement Villages – what you need to know

92454_024We’re often approached by clients who
are thinking about moving into a retirement
village or who have parents who are
considering making such a move.

Stephens Lawyer’s Senior Associate Claire
Maddocksshares her knowledge on the subject
and the issues you need to be aware of.

When reviewing client’s Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney or Family Trusts Claire’s frequently told, “I’d never live in a retirement home/village”. However, as people are living longer, they are not always able to manage the upkeep on the family home or find their home far too big for their needs, it can make sense to consider moving to a smaller, lower maintenance property or a retirement village.

Traditional ‘retirement homes’ are fast being replaced by retirement villages offering a variety of levels of care on site. You will have seen advertisements for ‘lifestyle’ villages run by retirement village operators such as Ryman Healthcare, Summerset, Metlifecare, and others.

Depending on which village you are looking at, facilities and care levels will differ. Options for accommodation include serviced apartments with shared communal spaces i.e. swimming pool/garden, independent townhouses or apartments, rest home care or hospital care.

If you are considering moving to a village, take the time to visit several different villages to see what they offer and what will suit your needs best.

Rather than receiving a ‘title’ to your chosen residence at a village, you enter into an Occupation Right Agreement which sets out the terms of your purchase, village rules that apply, contributions for services at the village and what happens if you need to move from say an independent apartment to rest home care.

Buying into a retirement village is a lifestyle choice as opposed to an investment. There are significant costs involved at the time of purchase and, when you leave your chosen residence at the village, your residence reverts to the village operator.

You need to be aware of those costs and balance them against the lifestyle associated with living in a retirement village. While living in a retirement village doesn’t suit everyone, many regard the trade-off as being worthwhile.

We recommend that you discuss any proposed purchase at a retirement village with us to ensure it meets your requirements and you fully understand what you are buying, and whether it best suits your circumstances.

For further information, see ‘Planning for living in a retirement village – a check list:


Claire Maddocks, Stephens Lawyers

DDI: 04 915 9586



The Outlook for Someday film challenge

Lukas Wolfgram,  winner of the 'Stephens Lawyers Media Empowerment Award' with Outlook for Someday 2016 Awards Presenters, Ms Frankie Adams & Ms Kati Wolfe, & Michael Stephens

Lukas Wolfgram, winner of the ‘Stephens Lawyers Media Empowerment Award’ with Outlook for Someday 2016 Awards Presenters, Ms Frankie Adams & Ms Kati Wolfe, & Michael Stephens

Stephens Lawyers principal Michael Stephens had the pleasure of attending the The Someday Awards red-carpet ceremony on 8 December 2016 at the Aotea Centre in Auckland. This year’s Someday Challenge attracted 115 entries from which 39 were shortlisted, and 20 of which received awards.

Two strongly personal family tribute films scooped 2016’s top honours in The Outlook for Someday film challenge.

The Body Shop Standout Winner, ‘Dog Island Motu Piu’, a film by 15-year-old Sarah Ridsdale celebrates her uncle’s role in creating a haven for New Zealand’s native flora and fauna that is also an eco-tourism destination. In ‘Dog Island Motu Piu’ two young tuatara hear from their grandfather about how Peter Ridsdale, who died in June this year, founded the Dog Island Motu Piu Charitable Trust to preserve and promote the sustainability of the island. The 5-minute film has also won the Department of Conservation Big Picture Award.’

The winner of the online vote for the New Zealand On Air Audience Favourite ‘Our Superheroes’ is another heartfelt tribute to the memory of a beloved family member. In ‘Our Superheroes’ 12-year-old Luka Wolfgram shares his family’s journey alongside his younger brother Kosta who endured cancer leading to his death in March this year. The 5-minute documentary, which also features other child cancer heroes, has attracted international media attention and thousands of online views, prompting donations to child cancer charities.

Robyn Kiddle, Chief Executive of the Child Cancer Foundation, said: “Luka has captured with such honesty and love an experience that no child, parent or sibling should have to go through.

“I know ‘Our Superheroes’ hit home for many of our families and the Child Cancer Foundation team. We are so proud of him for having the bravery to share this tribute to his little brother Kosta.”

Luka’s film has also won the Stephens Lawyers Media Empowerment Award.

Michael Stephens, Managing Director of Stephens Lawyers, said: “Luka has done an amazing job of bravely sharing a very poignant story. For a 12-year-old film-maker he is to be congratulated. We are proud to be part of supporting him and all the film-makers involved in The Outlook for Someday.”

For more information on this year’s winning films can be found here:



ScreenSafe, an initiative of the NZ Techos’ Guild, is a sector-wide health and safety programme to support safe workplaces for all screen sector participants and create a culture where everyone is empowered to contribute to safe work practices.

It follows the introduction of new health and safety legislation and has received funding from the New Zealand Film Commission, NZ On Air, SPADA, industry guilds and organisations.

The ScreenSafe website includes the new Health and Safety Guidelines, updated from the former Code of Practice to meet the requirements of the Health and Safety Work Act 2015, which came into effect on 4 April.

Stephens Lawyers commends ScreenSafe’s Chair David Strong for leading this initiative.

Mr Strong said with the new Act’s focus on managing risk and increasing responsibilities, the core message for the sector was that everyone is now responsible.

“It’s up to everyone, no matter the scale of production, from those running the show to those working on it, to support a safe and healthy production. With the ScreenSafe website, we have one central and free location for everyone to learn and understand our obligations under the Act.”

A presentation for the screen sector is being held in Wellington on Wednesday 20 April at 6.30pm at the St James Theatre’s Hospitality Suite on the 1st Floor.

For more information please contact:
Michael Stephens or Alan Henwood at Stephens Lawyers