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A spike in building consents for more than 400 apartments nationwide underpinned a 1.5% gain in overall building consent numbers for April, which otherwise would have been down 5.2%.
In April, 2082 new dwellings were consented, including 432 apartments, the third time in six months new apartment numbers have been beyond 400, according to Statistics New Zealand data released yesterday.
Of the 432 apartments, 35%, or 156, were retirement village units.
While Auckland, Canterbury and Waikato's total 1512 consents accounted for 72% of the country's total, consents south of Christchurch were flat at 87 and made up barely 4% of the total.
Dunedin consents from April last year fell from 61 to 26, Queenstown/Lakes rose from 35 to 43, Central Otago gained from 11 to 13 and Waitaki went from four to five.
ASB economist Christina Leung said beyond the monthly volatility, and otherwise 5.2% decline, the trend remained one of stronger house-building demand.
''In particular, there was a further surge in dwelling consents issued in Auckland,'' she said.
Westpac senior economist Michael Gordon said while the underlying data was weaker, it was within the range of expectations, given the potential negative effect of the long Easter to Anzac Day break.
''We expect that the strong upward trend in home building activity will reassert itself in the May numbers,'' Mr Gordon said.
Ms Leung estimated Auckland dwelling consents increased 18.4% in April on a seasonally-adjusted basis, while Auckland consents totalled 6795 for the year to April.
However, the Auckland tally to date was still below the 9000 houses ASB estimated would need to be built in each of the next couple of years to keep up with population growth.
Despite the small Canterbury dwelling consent decline of 3.2% in April, the trend indicated the earthquake rebuild remained on track, Ms Leung said.
Earthquake-related consents totalled $74 million in April, of which $63 million was for residential building work, with $11 million for commercial building work, she said.
Top three areas for April building consents.
-Auckland, 697, including 241 apartments.
Canterbury, 554, including 40 apartments.
Waikato, 261, including 69 apartments.
(Dunedin, Queenstown/Lakes, Central Otago, Waitaki, 87)
April - total $1.1 billion of building work consented; $739 million residential and $401 million commercial.
Source: Statistics NZ