Impact of last year's drought affects Waikato's GDP

NARELLE HENSON
Last updated 11:40 29/03/2014

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Waikato's Gross Domestic Product took a hit after last year's drought, according to the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand.

Regional GDP figures show the Waikato sitting at around $17.9 billion. That's down from $18.1b the year before.

Statistics New Zealand statistician Ainsley Smith said the movement in the numbers was "a dairy story".

"The drought was a big story in 2013.

"That had a big impact on dairy farming. That was a big driver of the decrease."

However he said the Waikato wasn't the only region to suffer the effects of the drought.

"It was one of eight of the fifteen regions that we publish that declined," he said.

That included the Manawatu, Taranaki, Hawkes' Bay, Gisborne in the North Island, and Marlborough, the West Coast and Southland in the South Island.

Waikato's contribution to New Zealand's $211.6b GDP was 8.5 per cent. That was slightly down from the take in 2012 of 8.7 per cent. But despite the drop, Waikato held fourth position in the regional stakes. Canterbury came third at $27.8b, Wellington second at $28.5b and Auckland took out top spot with $74.7b.

Waikato Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sandra Perry said that was standard for the Waikato region. She also said the impact of the drought was the biggest factor in where the numbers sat for this year. However, she said GDP per capita was interesting.

"GDP per capita is on a downward trend. That's interesting.

But it's still positive . . .we are quite healthy when you look at some of the others [regions]."

Waikato's GDP per capita is at $42,968.

She said the impact of the current dry spell could be "a wee bit of a concern".

"Long-term it could hinder us.

"At the moment we are quite secure with the farming sector supporting manufacturing. The ramifications haven't really hit us."

Agriculture still contributed the most to GDP last year, at just over $2b, making up 12.5 per cent of the region's GDP.

Manufacturing followed at $1.9b while forestry, fishing, mining, electricity, gas, water and waste services contributed around $1.6b to the local economy.

Waikato continues to lead in agriculture, making up a fifth of the nation's agricultural industry, while Canterbury contributes 17.5 per cent, and Southland 10 per cent.

Over the period from 2007 to 2013, Waikato's economy increased by 22.1 per cent, slightly behind the national growth of 24.5 per cent. In the same period agriculture grew by 77 per cent, manufacturing dropped by 11 per cent and forestry, fishing, mining, electricity, gas, water and waste services grew by just over a third.

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