Natural resources provide base for regional economies.
Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Natural resource industries were the foundation for
economic activity in most regional economies, Economic
Development Minister Steven Joyce said yesterday.
Releasing the 2014 Regional Activity Report, Mr Joyce said
policymakers at all levels needed to be careful about policy
changes that would hurt those sectors and affect jobs and
growth in regional New Zealand.
''Over the last decade, agricultural regions have benefited
from rising commodity prices for dairy products and, more
"However, signs of recovery from the Global Financial Crisis
are obvious across the board, with employment numbers
increasing in all regions over the last year.''
The report highlighted the strength and challenges each
region faced and the opportunities they had to further
contribute to economic growth, he said.
It was a tool to support planning at all levels and the
minister expected it to encourage public debate about how
each region could be more successful.
The report included for the first time the official measure
of regional gross domestic product, more comprehensive
figures on employment incomes and new sections on population
and economic development.
Mr Joyce said the Government was working on a series of more
in-depth studies on the East Coast, Northland,
Manawatu-Wanganui and the Bay of Plenty regions.
''Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than
business growth and investment. For New Zealand to build a
more productive and competitive economy, we need all of our
regions to achieve to their potential.''
Each region had advantages which it could build upon and
diversify from, Mr Joyce said.
The Otago region contributed 4.3% of national GDP, provided
5% of national employment and was home to 4.8% of the
population, the report showed.
From 2007 to 2013, Otago's GDP increased by 25.6%, slightly
above the national movement. However, it was likely economic
growth was unevenly distributed across the region.
In the past 10 years, population growth in Queenstown Lakes
and Central Otago had been among the highest in New Zealand.
Population growth in the rest of the region, including
Dunedin city, which made up half of the region's population,
had been slower.
In the past five years, the region had experienced the
second-highest positive net migration in the country, with a
high proportion of migrants from Southland and Canterbury.
The report said Otago had a significant comparative advantage
(or concentration above the national average) in sheep, beef
cattle and grain farming, with activity primarily
concentrated in Waitaki and Clutha, and a growing
specialisation in dairy farming.
Central Otago had strengths in stone and pip fruit, grape
growing and wine production. International tourism,
concentrated in Queenstown Lakes, generated a high share of
regional GDP and had shown solid growth over the past five
Professional, scientific and technical services experienced a
4% average annual employment growth over the past decade,
while education and training employment grew 2.3% over the
same period, reflecting Dunedin's strong tertiary education
and research role.
The region's people had high levels of education attainment
and skills. The region also enjoyed a below-average
The region's average household income and GDP per capita sat
below the national average.
The report said that was partially driven by the region's
high share of tertiary students and seasonal workers earning
Otago could generate higher returns in its tourist sector
through greater product and market segmentation with the aim
of generating greater tourist expenditure per night.
Improved broadband access was expected to support education
and facilitate business growth, including tourism in rural
New irrigation schemes should increase the capacity for
high-value primary production in rural Otago.
Dunedin could continue to develop high-value niches within
health technologies and biotechnology, food processing,
manufacturing, engineering, ICT and education.