The Tairāwhiti economy remains subdued following the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle, high interest rates and the cost of living, according to recent economic data.
Infometrics’ Quarterly Economic Monitor for June 2023 said the fallout from the cyclone had resulted in job losses in Tairāwhiti, notably in the primary sector.
GDP in Tairāwhiti was provisionally up 1.2 per cent for the year to June, although lower than the national average of 3.1 per cent.
While the number of people in employment in Gisborne rose slightly, it was at a much more restrained pace and the slowest regional increase nationally.
Trust Tairāwhiti acting chief executive Richard Searle said the restrained economic activity was not surprising, particularly with the downturn in forestry.
“There’s also been movement in the manufacturing sector with Cedenco refocusing its Gisborne-based operations, while Rua Bioscience has moved some of its operations offshore to Australia.
The ANZ Commodity Price Index shows meat prices are down 14 per cent per annum, and forestry prices are down 12 per cent – the lowest since 1986.
The downturn in the log export market to China was impacting volumes and it is unclear how long this will continue.
The Trust is supporting local initiatives in response to the forestry downturn, including solutions for alternative slash uses and local wood processing opportunities.
Electronic card consumer spending in the region increased by 6.7 per cent in the year to June, although this was considerably less than the national average of 11.8 per cent.
Softer spending growth indicates household budgets being more squeezed due to inflation and increasing interest rates.
Non-residential building consents to the value of $51.1m were issued in Tairāwhiti during the year to June 2023. This was down by just over 39 per cent compared to the previous year however the decrease is primarily due to the completion of significant Government funded projects such as the Kiwi Pools.
Infometrics data showed tourism expenditure in the region increased five per cent in the year to June 2023, compared to the national increase of 31.7 per cent.
Regional Tourism Manager Holly Hatzilamprou said consumer perceptions since the cyclone had impacted domestic visitor numbers, particularly while closures to roads or state highways were ongoing.
With a regional marketing campaign launching ahead of summer and a busy cruise season set to bring approximately 12,000 international visitors, visitor numbers were expected to increase.
Infometrics Quarterly Economic Monitor Tairāwhiti June 2023