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Much maligned Northland, often described as an economic laggard, is the top performing region for the second quarter in a row.
It is also the top-performing regional economy on a year-on-year basis for the first time in 10 years.
ANZ’s latest quarterly survey of regional economies shows Northland posted a 3.4% growth rate, nearly twice that of runner-up Bay of Plenty with 3.8%.
ANZ says the Northland increase was reflected in retail sales, employment, section sales and online job advertising. The annual increase was also boosted by house prices, rural real estate sales, dwelling approvals, commercial consents and regional traffic flows.
The economies of Nelson-Marlborough and Canterbury have both risen for 12 consecutive quarters, with the Bay of Plenty next best with nine consecutive quarterly increases.
Rural-aligned regions recorded a 1.0% increase in activity, while the three main metropolitan regions undershot this with a 0.4% increase.
Regions to show negative growth were Gisborne (down 0.7%), Southland (down 0.3%) and Taranaki (down 0.2%).
The nationwide measure of economic activity increased 0.7%, with the North Island economy increasing 0.7%, slightly ahead of a 0.6% increase measured in the South Island.
Annual growth figures
Northland is also the top region in year-on-year growth with four consecutive and robust quarterly increases contributing to a pace-setting 7.4%.
Canterbury was displaced into second place with 4.9%, its lowest rate of increase in two years.
Auckland, by far the biggest region, rose 4.3% annually and 0.4% in the March quarter.
Year-on-year economic growth has accelerated to three-year highs in Wellington and Otago, and two-and-a-half-year highs in Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu-Whanganui.
At the national level, year-on-year economic growth eased from 4.2% in December to 4.1% in March. The economy of the South Island expanded 4.3%, while the North Island economy increased 4.1%.