The Tairawhiti economy remains constrained, with more challenging conditions limiting economic activity.

Primary sector activity remained upbeat, with commodity prices for meats and horticulture still holding at higher levels. Average horticulture commodity prices were up 13% from pre-pandemic levels in the December quarter, with meats prices up around 6%. However, forestry prices were only up 2% over the same period. However, primary sector activity is being stretched by higher costs, which are expected to rise in 2022.

Spending activity saw a boost in Tairāwhiti at the end of 2021, as some of the pent-up demand from the Delta lockdown was released. Marketview data shows a 3.1% increase in consumer spending, taking annual spending growth to 6.6%pa in the 2021 calendar year. The increase in spending has helped support further jobs growth, with a 2.8%pa rise in average filled jobs for Tairāwhiti residents. Recent drivers of jobs growth include retail activity and, unsurprisingly, construction. However, fewer summer recreation events saw the arts and recreation sector shrink compared to last summer. Jobseeker Supportrecipient numbers are also continuing to trend lower, having dropped 4.7% on average across 2021 in Tairāwhiti.

Construction activity remains high in Tairāwhiti, with a 72% increase in residential consents issued over the 2021 calendar year. The last three quarters have seen above 40 consents per quarter, considerably above the 10-year average of 26 per quarter. Annual consents in 2021 stood at 169 and are continuing to rise closer to the 202 annual peak achieved in 2008.

However, capacity pressures are limiting the speed of additional construction, with building costs rising fastest across provincial North Island centres. Building costs rose nearly 19%pa in the December 2021 quarter in provincial North Island areas, compared to 16% nationally.


Infometrics Quarterly Economic Monitor Tairāwhiti September 2022