Wellington building consents were weak last month, with 81 new dwellings approved at a total of $25 million, down from 99 homes at $29m for the same period last year.
Nationwide, building consents rose by about a quarter in the year to February. They were boosted by new apartments and retirement village units being approved for construction.
According to the latest Statistics New Zealand data, 1493 homes gained consent in February. This was up 24 per cent from 1204 properties the same time a year earlier. The total value of construction consented nationwide was $454m last month, up from $353m.
There were 142 new apartments consented last month including 98 retirement village units. The bulk of the apartments, 130, were in Auckland.
ANZ senior economist Mark Smith said that seasonally adjusted, February consents were up 1.9 per cent from January but down 3.6 per cent if apartments were excluded.
"While monthly figures are volatile the trend is still pointing up, with the floor area of residential issuance up 2.8 per cent in the three months to February. The recovery is off historically weak levels, with dwelling consent numbers around 25 per cent below historical averages as a proportion of the housing stock, as compared to 41 per cent below averages back in February 2012."
With 350 new homes approved in February, Canterbury had the second-largest lift after Auckland.
Earthquake-related building consents slumped to $35m including 55 houses and $9m of non-residential properties, the lowest since April 2012.
"Since 4 September 2010, almost 3900 earthquake-related consents have been identified in Canterbury, totalling $888m," Statistics New Zealand statistician Geoff Bascand said in a report.
"This includes 714 new dwellings, of which 150 were relocatable units. Also included are alterations and additions for residential buildings, non-residential buildings, and non-building construction. Demolitions and seismic strengthening work are excluded."
ASB Institutional economist Christina Leung said that earthquake rebuilding in Canterbury and demand in Auckland were driving the rise in consents.
"Given the delay between consents and construction, the housing market was expected to be tight for most of this year, she said.
The value of non-residential consents nationwide fell a quarter to $285m, 18 per cent of which were office buildings and another 17 per cent were education buildings. Storage, industrial and factory buildings made up 13 per cent.