Oil and dairy boost figures

16:00, Mar 28 2014

Oil and gas, with a little help from dairy, made Taranaki the country's most productive region per person in 2013.

Figures released by Statistics New Zealand showed Taranaki's per capita gross domestic product was $74,341, in the year ended March 2013.

That was $16,000 more than the next highest of $57,941 made in Wellington, while Southland took third with a per capita GDP of $52,701.

"The high average figure for Taranaki is largely due to the contribution of oil and gas operations and to a lesser extent dairy farming," Statistics New Zealand regional economic statistics manager Peter Gardiner said.

GDP is a measure of the activity of an economy and is not always an indication of higher wages or salaries in a particular area.

However last year the average weekly earnings in Taranaki were $918, the highest of any province outside the main centres.

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New Plymouth National MP Jonathan Young said Taranaki's substantial lead in GDP per capita figures showed what mature industries in agriculture and petroleum production and their support industries could do for an economy.

"It shows that as well as having a great place to live, we can have a high quality of life as well," Mr Young said.

"The challenge is to ensure sustainability of these industries through maintaining strong environmental monitoring.

"It's also important to ensure young people from Taranaki can gain access to these industries, so these sorts of results aren't just big business results, but reflect higher wages throughout the population."

Venture Taranaki chief executive Stuart Trundle said Taranaki's position at the forefront of national GDP per capita reflected the importance of the cornerstone oil and gas and dairying industries.

"Though it further reinforces the need to continue to pursue opportunities to diversify our economic base, and Venture Taranaki will keep working across all sectors to do this," he said.

"It is critical that our region's contribution to the national economy is acknowledged through reinvestment in local infrastructure such as improving State Highway 3 north of Taranaki, as this is a significant constraint on maximising our contribution to the national economy."

Though Taranaki's contribution is substantial relative to its population, its $8.2 billion in GDP is just 3.9 per cent of the national GDP of $211.6b.

Auckland's contribution to national GDP in the year ended March 2013 was 35.3 per cent, Wellington contributed 13.5 per cent with Canterbury narrowly behind at 13.2 per cent.

The smallest contribution was from the West Coast at 0.7 per cent of total GDP.

Gisborne had the lowest GDP per capita at $34,472, while the national average was $47,532.

Taranaki Daily News