Horowhenua surges ahead of regional neighbours and the nation

Published on 28 August 2017

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The Infometrics Quarterly Economic update has the District’s economic growth at 4% - the District’s fastest growth rate in more than a decade and well above the New Zealand growth rate of 2.8%.

The District is now the 11th fastest growing Local Government Territorial Authority.

Horowhenua Economic Development Board Chair Cameron Lewis says the news is fantastic.

“We have turned a corner. The numbers are looking good. However, the most important thing in the report is that it says the growth is broad based across many sectors,” he says.

In the year to the end of June, house prices in the District increased 21.9% (eighth highest percent increase by value in New Zealand) compared to 6.7% nationally and 10.1% in the wider region. The average house price is now $264,217 compared to the regional average price of $259,477, with 832 houses sold in the year, 1 down on the year prior.

Mr Lewis says the Horowhenua housing market has nearly returned to where it was pre the Global Financial Market crash.

“Our market has rebalanced and a significant change appears to be occurring. We appear to be aligning with the Wellington housing market, as opposed to the Manawatu/Whanganui market.”

The Informetrics report highlights dairy as a major reason for growth – The dairy payout in the District for the year was up $38m on the year prior to $105M.

In all, 76 people migrated to Levin from overseas in the year to the end of June. HDC Economic Development Manager Shanon Grainger says while that may not seem like a lot of people, it actually is remarkable turnaround given the fact that the District has been losing people overseas rather than gaining for the past 30 years or so.

 “We’ve reversed the trend, and expect growth to remain strong for the next few decades. The latest economic growth study shows the District will grow by more than 10,000 people, more than 5100 new homes built and more than 5800 jobs created.”

Mr Grainger says that the growth is due to a range of factors including broader levels of domestic and international migration, positive housing affordability, and strong job growth, however also acknowledges that the pending Roads of National Significance O2NL Project and the completion of the Kapiti Expressway is paying dividends.

Visitor spend increased from $78M to $93M for the year. The electronic card spending grew 9.6% compared with 3.5% nationally. And, traffic flows increased 4.8% in the year compared to a NZ average of 3.3%.

“With Levin now being the first major town at the beginning of the Expressway – more motorists are taking the opportunity to fuel up and do supermarket shopping in the town before heading south or north,” he says.

Mr Lewis says the report is a mixed bag – while there is much to celebrate, we still have high unemployment levels.

The unemployment rate in the District is now under 7% at 6.7% which is well down on the 8% recorded in 2016 and the previous peak of 10.1%.

Mr Lewis says the actual number of job seekers is up. However, I’m confident with continued growth and training that unemployment numbers should continue to drop towards the national average over the next few years.”

Regarding construction, 57 residential building consents were issued in June 2017 quarter compared with 54 for the same period in 2016. The value of non-residential consents issued came in at $16M which was down 9.6% down on the year prior and the total value is well below the 2009 high of $22M.

Mr Grainger says several projects are coming through that will change this – if all goes to plan, the 2017/18 year will be the first time we have exceeded the 2009 high.