A barometer of manufacturing is continuing to point to a pick-up in employment and expansion in the sector generally.
The BNZ-Business New Zealand performance of manufacturing index (PMI) for March was 53.4. While that is down from 56 in February and 55.1 in January, any reading above 50 indicates the sector is expanding.
"It was particularly pleasing to see employment show a second consecutive increase after spending eight of the previous nine months in decline," said Business NZ's executive director for manufacturing Catherine Beard.
BNZ economist Craig Ebert said continued strength in the PMI's new orders component indicated increased production ahead.
"The reservation we would have about the latest PMI is that food processing is clearly the strongest part of it," Ebert said.
"To the extent this reflects higher than normal meat processing for this time of year, as farmers respond to drought, then we should be wary of a hangover in this component of the PMI over the coming months," he said.
Ebert also pointed to corroborating signs of strength in manufacturers' responses to the NZIER's quarterly survey of business opinion on Tuesday despite a high, and rising, exchange rate.
Its readings for reported output and employment were above the long-term averages for those indicators.
Exports were in line with the long-term average.