Building activity is at a record high, topping $19 billion for 2016 after five straight years of strong growth, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“This is the longest and strongest growth phase in building activity in New Zealand history. It involves record levels of investment in homes, commercial buildings and infrastructure. The total value of consents in 2016, at $19b, is the highest ever and 30 per cent more than the previous peak last decade, in inflation adjusted terms,” Dr Smith says.

“I am particularly encouraged by the ongoing strong growth in residential building activity, that has increased 19 per cent nationally and 27 per cent in Auckland over the past year. This is the fifth straight year of strong growth. You cannot grow a sector as large or as complex as building at more than about 20 per cent compound per year without incurring problems with quality.

“The number of homes being built in 2016 - 29,970 nationally and 9930 in Auckland - is more than double that of five years ago and is the highest since 2004. This growth gives me confidence we will have the number of homes increasing in line with population growth by the end of the year.

“This ongoing strong growth shows the Government’s programme to increase housing supply is working. We have aggressively increased land supply with Special Housing Areas in the short-term, changes to Auckland’s planning in the medium term, and the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity and Resource Management Act reforms in the long term.

“We have complemented this with the Crown Land Programme and a record level of direct Government projects to build homes, such as Hobsonville. We’ve also provided record levels of assistance for first-home buyers with the KiwiSaver HomeStart scheme, which has helped more than 20,000 people into their first home with about $500 million in KiwiSaver withdrawals for a deposit.

“This Government is step by step, development by development, getting on and addressing New Zealand’s housing challenges.”

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