New figures reveal the most and least productive regions of New Zealand

Bay of Plenty, Tasman/Nelson, Auckland and Wellington were driving economic growth in the months before COVID-19 hit, new data shows.

The high-performing regions were boosted by construction and "owner-occupied property operation", Statistics NZ said on Thursday - the latter being the "economic services that a house-owner gets from living in their house, equivalent to a tenant renting a house". The Bay of Plenty and Tasman/Nelson economies each grew 6.1 percent in the year to March 2020. 

Auckland, which provides 37.9 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), grew 5.9 percent and Wellington 5.8.

"Construction was an important driver of GDP in most regions. We've also seen construction's share of the national economy climbing over recent years," said spokesperson Paul Pascoe.

Since 2015, construction has increased its share of the economy from 5.7 to 6.7 percent. In Canterbury, it's 8.7 percent - making it the second-largest industry there behind manufacturing. In Auckland construction grew 80.2 percent, now making up 6.6 percent of economic output. 

The only regional economy to shrink was the West Coast, down 1.4 percent. 

The highest average GDP per capita was in Taranaki - rising to $76,715. Wellington was next on $74,785. Taranaki, with large mining and agricultural industries, has held the top spot since 2018. Auckland was third on $71,978.

The lowest GDP per capita was in Northland - just $42,711. 

The national average was $64,079, up 3.2 percent on 2019. 

The biggest sector by far is service, making up 65.5 percent of the economy. The largest service industry is professional, scientific, and technical services, at 8 percent of total GDP. Real estate and rental services came in second with 7.2 percent.

Construction contributes about three times more to the New Zealand economy than dairy cattle farming, and services about four times more. 

All the figures are from March 2020, which is when the COVID-19 pandemic started having a devastating effect on economies worldwide, New Zealand included.

The economy shrunk 1 percent in the most recent quarter measured by Statistics NZ, crashing back down to Earth after a monster 13.9 percent rise in the previous three months, the yoyo-ing heavily influenced by COVID-19 restrictions coming on and off. 

The five regions with the highest GDP per capita

  1. Taranaki
  2. Wellington
  3. Auckland
  4. Marlborough
  5. Southland

The five regions with the lowest GDP per capita

  1. Northland
  2. Gisborne
  3. Manawatu-Whanganui
  4. Hawke's Bay
  5. Tasman/Nelson