Canterbury tops NZ for economic confidence

Canterbury’s regional confidence increased in the September quarter, topping the nationwide table...
Canterbury’s regional confidence increased in the September quarter, topping the nationwide table. Photo: File image
Canterbury households are the most optimistic in the country about their region’s economic prospects for the next 12 months.

The latest Westpac McDermott Miller regional economic confidence report recorded overall regional confidence had dipped across New Zealand as the country re-entered a nationwide lockdown during the September quarter.

But Canterbury’s regional confidence increased in the September quarter, topping the nationwide table.

Confidence lifted 20 points, with a net 25 per cent of households feeling positive about the region’s upcoming economic prospects.

Michael Gordon. Photo: Supplied
Michael Gordon. Photo: Supplied
Regional economic confidence reflects the difference between the percentage of survey respondents expecting economic conditions in their region to improve and those expecting prospects to worsen over the next 12 months.

Westpac acting chief economist Michael Gordon said there was “real strength” in the region’s economy, with agriculture and manufacturing performing strongly and the housing market and construction activity strengthening.

“We expect this broad economic strength to remain until year end and well into 2022,” he said.

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce chief executive Leeann Watson said it was a positive outcome to see, but acknowledged the significant lift in points is only “a snapshot in time”.

“It will be interesting to see if this carries on as a trend over a longer period,” she said.

She said the region’s business community was “connected and collaborative” through adversity.

“The need to respond and adapt quickly to a very different world has also created a very unique culture of innovation with a greater emphasis on encouraging and supporting new ideas and ways of working,” she said.

“Our focus is very much on looking forward and how we position our city for the future.”

Leeann Watson. Photo: Supplied
Leeann Watson. Photo: Supplied
Watson said the key to upholding the confidence would be getting the region down to alert level 1 as soon as possible.

“We know that many businesses can’t operate at full capacity at alert level 2 – and for some, it is not financially viable to open, which will impact the livelihoods of our community, which is why we continue to advocate strongly for a move to alert level 1,” she said.

The chamber was a part of the '90forCanterbury' programme, a business-led campaign to help get 90 per cent of Cantabrians to have at least one vaccination by Labour Weekend.

Gordon said given the extended lockdown, Aucklanders were the most pessimistic in the country.

Across the country, confidence fell in six regions (Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki/Manawatu-Whanganui, Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast and Otago), rose in four regions (Northland, Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay, Canterbury and Southland), and remained unchanged in Wellington.

Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury president David Clark said he thought Canterbury topped the regions because of dairy prices.

However, he was concerned about the region’s future.

“We have a fundamental lack of people in productive sectors such as the dairy industry and seasonal stuff,” he said.

“Our key migrant workers are thinking of leaving New Zealand for Australia or Canada.”

Economic confidence:
  • Canterbury: 25 per cent (September quarter) / 5 per cent (June quarter).
  • Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay: 18 per cent / 15 per cent.
  • Southland: 15 per cent / 13 per cent.
  • Wellington: 11 per cent / 11 per cent.
  • Taranaki/Manawatu-Wanganui: 11 per cent / 13 per cent.
  • Nelson/Marlborough/West Coast: 8 per cent / 11 per  cent.
  • Waikato: 7 per cent / 21 per cent.
  • Northland: 4 per cent / -6 per cent.
  • Bay of Plenty: 1 per cent / 9 per cent.
  • Otago: -2 per cent / 10 per cent.
  • Auckland: -7 per cent / 10 per cent.



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