New Zealand Economy – Annual inflation at 1.1 percent as education prices fall

Source: Statistics New Zealand

The consumers price index (CPI) rose 0.5 percent in the March 2018 quarter, Stats NZ said today. The annual inflation rate was 1.1 percent, down from 1.6 percent in the year ended December 2017.

Government-influenced price changes affected the annual figure, with higher cigarette and tobacco prices being countered by cheaper tertiary education.

The annual tobacco tax increase on 1 January 2018 lifted quarterly inflation, with prices up 10 percent.

“The average price for packet of 25 cigarettes was $35.14 in March, compared with $31.68 last December,” prices senior manager Paul Pascoe said.

Higher prices for accommodation services and petrol also contributed to the quarterly CPI rise, but they were slightly offset by seasonal falls for international airfares.

Tertiary education policy takes effect

Prices for tertiary education fell 16 percent in the March 2018 quarter.

This is the first time this series has fallen since 2003; it was due to the introduction of the Government’s fee-free first year policy.

The policy applies for all New Zealand secondary students finishing school from 2017 onwards, and adults who previously studied for less than half a full-time year of tertiary education or industry training.

Housing-related costs lead annual inflation

Housing and household utility prices increased 3.1 percent in the March 2018 year, led by construction and rents.

Construction prices increased 4.7 percent in the year, and 0.4 percent in the quarter. This was the smallest quarterly rise since the March 2011 quarter.

“Rising building prices in Auckland and Wellington have begun to slow. Both were up 0.3 percent in the latest quarter,” Mr Pascoe said. “For Auckland, this is the smallest rise since December 2012.”

Construction in Canterbury fell 1.1 percent in the March quarter as the market continued to cool.

Housing rentals increased 2.1 percent in the March 2018 year. Regionally, Wellington rents increased 4.2 percent, while Auckland increased 2.5 percent and Canterbury rents decreased 1.5 percent.

PercentCPI actual rentals for housing, by region, quarterly change, March 2018 quarterNew ZealandAucklandWellingtonRest of North IslandCanterbury00.511.52Stats NZAuckland● Percent change: 0.5

“Wellington rents were up 1.8 percent in the March 2018 quarter, while nationally they rose just 0.6 percent,” Mr Pascoe said.

“The average quarterly rent rise reflects many tenants not having an increase, as well as those facing higher costs.”

Nationally, around 80 percent of properties surveyed had no price change in the March 2018 quarter.

Video summary of consumers price index for the March 2018 quarter

Video, 2:32min

Read the transcript of this video (Word, 67 KB)

Read the transcript of this video (PDF, 256 KB)

New Zealand Economy – Petrol prices up, but mixed moves in regions

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Rising crude oil prices, and a falling exchange rate, contributed to pushing petrol prices up in the second half of 2017.

“The average price for a litre of 91 octane reached $2.00 in March 2018,” prices senior manager Paul Pascoe said. “This is the highest level since the December 2014 quarter.”

Average petrol prices in the CPI take into account loyalty card and supermarket discounts, and therefore differ from those seen at the petrol station.

For several quarters, petrol prices have moved in different ways in different parts of the country, rather than rising or falling consistently at a national level. Since 2013, Wellington and the South Island have typically had larger increases and smaller decreases than the rest of the country.

The regional pattern changed in the year ended March 2018. Auckland prices either fell less or increased more than Wellington and Canterbury in three of the past four quarters.
  • In the March 2018 quarter, Auckland petrol prices rose 3.9 percent, while Wellington and Canterbury rose 0.8 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
  • In the year ended March 2018, Auckland petrol prices increased 6.5 percent, Wellington increased 1.7 percent, and Canterbury 1.3 percent.
  • From March 2013 to March 2018, Auckland prices decreased 5.0 percent, Wellington prices decreased 3.8 percent, and Canterbury prices decreased 3.1 percent.

Statistics New Zealand – Food price index: March 2018

Food price index: March 2018

The food price index (FPI) measures the rate of price change of a fixed basket of food, goods, and services purchased by households.

Key facts

Monthly change

Food prices rose 1.0 percent in March 2018. After seasonal adjustment, food prices rose 0.5 percent.

In March 2018 compared with February 2018:

  • Fruit and vegetable prices rose 5.8 percent (up 7.0 percent after seasonal adjustment).
  • Meat, poultry, and fish prices rose 1.2 percent.
  • Grocery food prices were flat at 0.0 percent (no change after seasonal adjustment).
  • Non-alcoholic beverage prices were flat at 0.0 percent.
  • Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices rose 0.1 percent.
PercentFood price index, monthly changeMar-15May-15Jul-15Sep-15Nov-15Jan-16Mar-16May-16Jul-16Sep-16Nov-16Jan-17Mar-17May-17Jul-17Sep-17Nov-17Jan-18Mar-18-2-10123Stats NZAug-16● Percentage change: 1.3
SubgroupIndex points contributionMonthly index points contribution to FPI, by subgroupFruit & vegetablesMeat, poultry, & fishGrocery foodNon-alcoholic beveragesRestaurant meals & ready-to-eat food-10123456789Stats NZFruit & vegetables● Index points: 8

Annual change

Food prices increased 1.4 percent in the year to March 2018.

In March 2018 compared with March 2017:

  • Fruit and vegetable prices increased 4.2 percent.
  • Meat, poultry, and fish prices increased 1.2 percent.
  • Grocery food prices decreased 0.1 percent.
  • Non-alcoholic beverage prices increased 0.6 percent.
  • Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food prices increased 2.4 percent.
PercentFood price index, annual changeMar-15May-15Jul-15Sep-15Nov-15Jan-16Mar-16May-16Jul-16Sep-16Nov-16Jan-17Mar-17May-17Jul-17Sep-17Nov-17Jan-18Mar-18-2-101234Stats NZ
SubgroupIndex points contributionAnnual index points contribution to FPI, by subgroupFruit & vegetablesMeat, poultry, & fishGrocery foodNon-alcoholic beveragesRestaurant meals & ready-to-eat food0123456-17Stats NZ

Notice

On 13 April 2018, Stats NZ republished Household expenditure statistics: Year ended June 2016 data to correct an error.

Expenditure data from the Household Economic Survey: 2015/16 (HES) was used to calculate the relative importance (ie expenditure weights) of food items, as published in the food price index (FPI) from October 2017 to February 2018.

Stats NZ has recalculated expenditure weights using corrected HES data and applied the new weights within this release. We will not be revising previously published data for FPI, as overall food price indexes were unaffected.

See Corrections to Household statistics: Year ended June 2016 and Housing cost statistics: Year ended June 2017 for further information.

See Consumers price index review: 2017 for the updated expenditure weights.

New Zealand Economy – Corrections to Household expenditure statistics

:start Source: Statistics New Zealand

Corrections to Household expenditure statistics: Year ended June 2016 and Household income and housing-cost statistics: Year ended June 2017

Household expenditure statistics: Year ended June 2016 and Household income and housing-costs statistics: Year ended June 2017 were both corrected on 13 April 2018.

Stats NZ has republished the data to correct an error. Household expenditure statistics: Year ended June 2016 was first published on 2 December 2016. Household income and housing-costs statistics: Year ended June 2017 was first published on 19 October 2017, and corrected on 8 December 2017.

See Household expenditure statistics: Year ended June 2016 and Household income and housing costs statistics: Year ended June 2017 for the corrected data.

Stats NZ is an open and transparent organisation and corrects errors as soon as practicable. We have rigorous processes to check data before publication.

We review any error to reduce and mitigate future risks. The lessons learned from this error will be used to guide future development of HES and other surveys. This is particularly important in light of Stats NZ’s future role in producing independent reports on measures of child poverty.

Stats NZ regrets the error and apologises for any inconvenience caused.

What is the impact on key Stats NZ statistics?

Prices

Household economic survey (HES) expenditure data for 2015/16 informed the 2017 consumers price index (CPI) review. Specifically, the data was used to calculate the relative importance (ie expenditure weights) of the majority of items in the basket of goods and services, as published in Consumers price index: December 2017 quarter on 25 January 2018.

Stats NZ has re-calculated CPI expenditure weights using corrected HES data. See Consumers price index review: 2017 for the updated expenditure weights.

Stats NZ has confirmed the updated expenditure weights do not affect the published ‘CPI all groups’ or group-level index numbers for the December 2017 quarter. However, there was an impact across a selected subgroup and class-level indexes. Stats NZ will not revise previously published data for the CPI or food price index (FPI).

Stats NZ will correct affected index numbers in the Food price index: March 2018and Consumers price index: March 2018 quarter releases, set for publication on 16 and 19 April 2018, respectively.

The 2015/16 HES expenditure corrections will also impact the suite of household living-costs price indexes (HLPI). Stats NZ is undertaking work to determine the magnitude of this impact. The next HLPI release is set for publication on 3 May 2018.

National accounts

HES expenditure data is used to inform the measurement of household consumption expenditure (HCE) within the set of national accounts. The corrected 2015/16 HES expenditure data will impact HCE statistics from the 2014 March year onwards. This impact will be explored in this year’s update to annual benchmarks, set for publication in late 2018.

What is the impact on the wider data system?

HES income and housing-costs data underpins the Ministry of Social Development’s Household Incomes in New Zealand report. The most recent report uses 2015/16 HES data. The next report, planned for release in mid-2018, will use 2016/17 HES data.

How did the error occur?

The HES is a sample survey that uses several steps to rate up, or weight, the data from the sampled households to represent the population of New Zealand. The error that was discovered related to the first step of this process for the 2015/16 and 2016/17 HES datasets.

New Zealand Economy – Vegetable prices bolt in March

:start Source: Statistics New Zealand

Tomato, lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli prices rose sharply in March 2018, boosting vegetable prices 9.5 percent in the month after adjusting for typically seasonal changes, Stats NZ said today.

“Vegetable crops have been affected by a run of storms in recent weeks – lower supply due to bad weather usually means higher prices,” consumer prices manager Matthew Haigh said.

“In February, we saw rising prices for lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower, due to a combination of humid weather and cyclone Gita. As expected, that wet weather has affected vegetable prices in March too.”

Tomatoes rose more than 60 percent in March to $4.65 a kilo. In March last year, tomatoes were 83 cents cheaper at $3.82 a kilo.

Lettuce prices were up 20 percent in March to $2.94 per 500 gram head, while cauliflower rose 85 percent to $8.35 a kilo.

Cabbage prices rose by more than $1.00 a kilo in March to $3.18 a kilo (up 50 percent). Broccoli also increased more than $1.00 a kilo to $8.35 a kilo (up 20 per cent).

However, as usual for the time of year, apple prices fell – down 16 percent to $2.70 a kilo. Fruit prices rose 0.2 percent in March.

Overall, food prices rose 1.0 percent in March. This rise was mainly driven by the lift in vegetable prices, up 11 percent. Meat prices rose 1.2 percent in the month. There was no change in grocery and non-alcoholic beverage prices in March and little change in restaurant and takeaways prices (up 0.1 percent).

Video summary of March 2018 vegetable prices

Video, 1:04min

Read the transcript of this video (Word, 67 KB)

Read the transcript of this video (PDF, 107 KB)

New Zealand Tertiary Sector – New Zealand’s first graduates in Global Humanitarian Engineering in UC’s autumn graduation ceremonies

:start Source: University of Canterbury

New Zealand’s first Global Humanitarian Engineering graduates has received their diplomas today at one of the University of Canterbury’s autumn graduation ceremonies.

Helping solve the world’s big issues, such as food and water shortages, power supply, climate change, and ageing populations, is part of the engineering experience that Laura Myers, 22, from Auckland, and Quinn Hornblow, 24, from Upper Moutere, Nelson, gained while completing their Bachelor of Engineering with Honours studies.

Laura Myers crossed the stage today [Wednesday morning] to become the first person to receive a Diploma in Global Humanitarian Engineering (DipGlobalHumanEng) from UC. She specialised in Mechanical Engineering, graduating last year with a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours degree with First Class Honours – BE(Hons)(Mech.)(First Class).

“I am immensely proud to complete such an accreditation that empowered me to become an engineer focused on the needs of people,” Laura says of the DipGlobalHumanEng.

Laura travelled to India as part of the Diploma in January this year.

“It was exciting to observe innovative engineering solutions that existed within the small village I visited. The trip was fascinating, especially after taking a UC paper in the history of India as part of my Diploma,” she says.

In the same graduation ceremony, Quinn Hornblow received his BE(Hons) degree with Second Class Honours (Division One), in Natural Resources Engineering, as well as his DipGlobalHumanEng.

While studying Natural Resources Engineering, Quinn took on the Diploma, which allowed him to shape his studies around international human welfare efforts. Quinn was able to put his skills into action with a study trip to Nepal during his second year.

“We joined a group of Australian students for a series of in-country workshops and language lessons then got the chance to travel to some pretty remote villages to learn about their way of life,” he says.

“It was such an eye-opening experience to see first-hand how foreign aid influences these places. It has given me an appreciation for the importance of community consultation, not just overseas but on local projects here in New Zealand too.”

Quinn hopes that his future career will create a positive change in New Zealand’s interactions with global environmental issues.

A unique social science engineering degree

Combining Engineering and Arts subjects, the University of Canterbury’s unique Diploma in Global Humanitarian Engineering (DipGlobalHumanEng) can be completed in parallel with a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours degree, and is the only one of its type in Australasia.

The diploma combines Arts courses in the humanities and social sciences with service-based practical engineering fieldwork. Students work on community-identified engineering issues and projects, often in disadvantaged communities, such as assisting in disaster relief areas.

The University of Canterbury has a well-established reputation for getting involved with humanitarian activities through groups such as the Student Volunteer Army (SVA) and Engineers Without Borders New Zealand (EWBNZ).  Students from UC have worked on humanitarian projects providing much-needed facilities in Tonga, the Philippines and elsewhere.

April 2018 Graduation Ceremonies

Wednesday, 18 April

10am – College of Engineering;

2pm – College of Education, Health & Human Development, College of Business & Law

Friday, 20 April

10am – College of Arts, College of Science

New Zealand Construction Sector – Annual consents for townhouses, flats, and apartments move up

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Building consents for new townhouses, flats, and units were at a 23-year high, and apartments rose significantly in the year ended February 2018, Stats NZ said today. Meanwhile, consents for stand-alone houses were down slightly.

“Growth in the last 12 months has been driven by multi-unit dwellings, such as apartments and townhouses,” construction statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said.

Apartment numbers rose 29 percent to 3,166, compared with the February 2017 year. In addition, 5,077 townhouses, flats, and units were consented, up 12 percent over the same period.

In contrast, new stand-alone house numbers were down 1.3 percent to 21,052 in the latest year, although they still accounted for two-thirds of all new homes.

In the year ended February 2018, the total number of new homes consented rose 3.6 percent, compared with the February 2017 year.

“New homes data is volatile month to month, so we recommend using annual figures to see underlying changes,” Ms McKenzie said.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the number of new homes consented rose 5.7 percent in the February 2018 month, following no change in January 2018 and a 9.6 percent fall in December 2017.

Video summary of Building consents issued: February 2018

Video, 0:39min

New Zealand Economy – Imports rise + Sheep meat and forestry lead exports rise

Source: Statistics New Zealand

Imports rose in February 2018 to a new high for a February month, Stats NZ said today. This rise was driven by machinery imports, despite a fall in the value of car imports.

“The delay in final unloading of four vehicle carriers at New Zealand ports had an impact on the total value of vehicle imports in February,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “The discovery of stink bugs on these vessels meant that around 8,000 cars could not enter New Zealand as scheduled.

“The goods on these vehicle carriers would normally have been included in February’s import statistics, but will now be included in the statistics of the month when the respective shipments are unloaded.”

MPI targets vehicles and machinery from Japan has information about measures to reduce the risk of further stink bug arrivals.

Imports of passenger motor cars fell $126 million (33 percent) from February 2017 to $257 million – the lowest monthly value since March 2013.

Despite the fall in vehicle imports, total imports were up $187 million (4.6 percent) from February 2017 to reach $4.2 billion, a new high for a February month, although the rise in percentage terms was lower than in recent months.

The rise in total imports was led by mechanical and electrical machinery and equipment (such as harvesting machinery and mobile phones), and palm kernel.

Sheep meat and forestry lead exports rise

Exports rose $446 million (11 percent) to $4.5 billion, led by increases in sheep meat and forestry products.

The total value of sheep meat exports rose $77 million (21 percent) to $447 million, as a result of higher prices for lamb and mutton compared with the same month of the previous year. The average unit price of lamb exports rose 18 percent from a year earlier; the unit price of mutton exports rose 23 percent in the same period.

Forestry products rose $62 million (19 percent) to $382 million, led by a rise in untreated logs to China (up $38 million).

Milk powder, butter, and cheese, New Zealand’s biggest export commodity group, rose $55 million (5.3 percent). This rise contrasts with much stronger rises earlier in the export season, and reflects a fall in export prices for milk powder in the month.

Milk powder values were little changed in the month (up 0.3 percent), as the quantity exported rose 10 percent. Butter export values continued to rise when compared with the same month of the previous year – up $38 million (28 percent). The unit price of butter exports has fallen 14 percent from the recent peak in November 2017, but was 30 percent higher than in February 2017.

The monthly trade balance in February 2018 was a surplus of $217 million (4.9 percent of exports).

New Zealand Tech – Spark switches on long-range ‘internet of things’ network across New Zealand

Source: Spark

New Zealand organisations wanting to jump on board the internet of things (IoT) now have a new network to plug into.

Spark announced today that its long-range, low-power network is now available for commercial use in 60% of the places New Zealanders live and work.*

This means businesses and local councils can use the network to connect to things like vehicles, waterways, machinery and carparks. Sensors on these objects are able to send information over the network to the people managing the objects. Commands can also be sent back to sensors, telling them when to kick in or the kind of information to report on. For example, the volume of rubbish in a public bin, or water pH in a stream.

Michael Stribling, Spark’s General Manager IoT Solutions, said, “Our IoT capability is really gathering pace, and now we’ve got this critical mass of coverage we’re able to make the network commercially available. This is a real milestone for Spark as we help New Zealand organisations win big in IoT.

“While we currently have 60% of rural and urban New Zealand covered, we’ll be working to extend that to 70% by July this year. We’re also looking to partner with organisations to extend coverage into areas where they need it.”

The network uses LoRaWAN™ technology, which carries small amounts of data over long distances, using less power than cellular networks. This makes it ideal for connecting objects far from power sources. For example, to monitor an outdoor carpark or an employee working in a remote area.

Compared to cellular connectivity, Spark’s new long-range network is an affordable IoT option. It works with a wide range of low-cost sensor technologies that are significantly cheaper on average than sensors for cellular networks.

The cost to use the network is based on the number of sensors connected, and the number of messages those sensors send each month. For example, a dairy farm in the Manawatu wanting an hourly update on the location and body temperature of its cows will pay up to $1.79 per cow each month for connectivity. Designed for scale, the cost per connection decreases as the number of sensors increases.

 Cities to get smarter with LoRaWAN™
Spark has been testing LoRaWAN™ technology on trial sites for well over a year, with partners from a range of industries, including agriculture, marine and smart buildings. Now that the network has been switched on, councils are looking at how it can enable them to operate and maintain key infrastructure in smarter ways.

NB Smartcities NZ, a local NZ company offering smart city services, will look to utilise the new network for its smart outdoor lighting technology, amongst other solutions. This technology is now available to towns and cities throughout the country.

Councils will be able to use the smart lighting technology to manage streetlights remotely, applying bespoke dimming profiles, monitoring maintenance and turning them on or off as needed. This will enable them to respond faster to community requests, events and changes in daylight to keep streets safer for people, save power and reduce carbon emissions.

Claus Oustrup, Director NB Smartcities NZ said, “The new Spark network offers real options to our council customers to leverage a range of smart city applications in addition to smart light technology. As we continue to develop leading-edge technology in the IoT space we are really excited about the options and solutions we can bring to market through this new Spark network.

“For many councils, having real-time data, asset information and being in control of these devices can increase customer service response times and create real benefits for communities. For example, street lighting can account for as many as 50% of call centre complaints. By having adaptable street lighting managed with real-time systems, these complaints can be quickly addressed, and their volume decreased,” said Oustrup.

“Previously there’s been no appropriate public network available for this kind of technology. To incorporate smart lighting, councils have seen it necessary to build networks, but this approach can involve ongoing liabilities. Further on, proprietary networks may not enable the full potential lowest cost when it comes to IoT capability and developments.”

Stribling said the new network will enable more IoT technologies from overseas, like smart street lighting, to be adopted here in New Zealand. It will also give New Zealand developers of IoT technologies the chance to launch their products here before taking them overseas.

“We’ve worked with the International LoRa Alliance to agree on Asia-Pacific standards so that products developed on LoRaWAN™ in New Zealand will work the same way on LoRaWAN™ networks in other countries.

“It’s Spark’s vision to help New Zealand businesses find their edge here in New Zealand and overseas. Connected technologies play a big role in bridging the geographical barriers we face as a country. It’s critical for us that the networks we provide enable New Zealand businesses to reach the world,” Stribling said.

Notes:

  • Spark is delivering two public, standards-based IoT networks—CAT-M1 and LoRaWAN™—to cater to different use-cases. Both come with mature global ecosystems. It continues to monitor use cases for NB-IoT technology.
  • *Spark LoRaWAN™ coverage:
  • There is currently coverage in Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Rotorua, Palmerston North, Shannon, Wellington, Nelson, Blenheim, Christchurch, Dunedin. Sites in Hastings and Invercargill will go live in the next few weeks.
  • NB Smartcities NZ is a local arm of NB Smartcities, working in partnership with kiwi firm McKay, offering agnostic smart city hardware, turnkey solutions including full IoT asset management solutions, and optional service management packages. The street lighting technology being used in New Zealand is a system developed internationally, with local system engineering, implementation and a service network in place.
  • Levno

Palmerston North-based agriculture company Levno has signed up as Spark’s first customer and will be working with the IoT network provider to extend coverage beyond Spark’s planned areas. Levno will use the LoRaWAN™ network to support its fuel tank monitoring sensors.

  • What the new network looks like
    Sites consist of a box (gateway) and antenna. Most of these are installed on Spark 4G cell sites, although the LoRaWAN™ network operates totally separate to 4G and other cellular networks. A small number of boxes are installed on third-party sites.
  • LoRaWAN™ partners
  • Spark has partnered with Actility for its ThingPark Wireless platform. The Actility platform enables customers to monitor, control and capture information from IoT sensors in a simple and secure way.
  • Spark has partnered with Kordia to deliver the physical network build and to maintain it.
  • Kerlink have supplied the gateways.
  • For more information please visit www.sparkdigital.co.nz/solutions/iot

Auckland economy hits $100 billion

Statistics New Zealand

Auckland’s nominal GDP has passed $100 billion for the first time, Stats NZ said today.

Provisional figures released today show Auckland’s regional economy increased in value from $95.3 billion to $101.4 billion between March 2016 and March 2017 (an increase of 6.3 percent).

The increase was driven by strong rises in the rental, hiring, and real estate services; construction; and finance and insurance services industries. However, the 2017 increase is smaller than last year’s increase, when Auckland’s regional economy rose 7.8 percent.

Auckland’s top 18 industries are each valued at more than $1 billion. It is by far the largest regional economy in New Zealand – the next-largest is Wellington, which is valued at $35.6 billion. Auckland’s share of the national economy is 37.5 percent.

New Zealand’s regional economies 2017 visually presents the key measures of the 15 regional economies.