NZ regions in growth mode, survey shows

Last updated 15:00 19/02/2013

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Gisborne and Hawke's Bay boomed in the last three months of 2012, leading the way in a widespread lift in regional economic activity, according to a bank survey.

ANZ Bank's regional trends survey showed that for the first time in eight years, all 14 regions expanded in the December quarter.

The New Zealand average for the quarter was 1.8 per cent.

But Gisborne's rate of activity was more than double that at 3.9 per cent for the quarter, with a 19 per cent lift in residential building permits after a soft September quarter.

There were fewer house sales in Gisborne, but at higher prices. New car registrations in the region were up 24 per cent in the past three months. Consumer confidence in Gisborne also jumped to a three year high.

Hawke's Bay was close behind Gisborne at 3 per cent. Hawke's Bay posted the strongest increase in hotel and motel guest nights in the December quarter, up 16 per cent to a 13-month high. Commercial building consents also improved.

However, Hawke's Bay's unemployment rate rose to an 18-year high of 9.2 per cent.

Wellington grew, but was close to the bottom of the pack at 1.1 per cent, nudging ahead of Nelson/ Marlborough in last place.

Wellington has been hit with government belt-tightening and latest official figures showed regional unemployment at 7.9 per cent, the highest rate since 1994.

Consumer confidence improved in most regions. Wellington topped the survey, followed by Auckland and Hawke's Bay/Gisborne. Confidence also improved significantly in Canterbury.

Official figures from Statistics NZ showed a near-stagnant economy in the September quarter, growing just 0.2 per cent. December quarter figures are due out late next month.

For the past year, the ANZ survey showed Canterbury racing away, with growth of 7.5 per cent, twice as fast as Nelson/Marlborough on 3.5 per cent.

All regions were in the black for the year, for the first time in two years.

The average rise in activity was 2.5 per cent, the best since before the Canterbury earthquake in 2010

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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