New Zealand's monthly residential building consents rose to a 13-year high in August with more apartments and retirement village units in Auckland driving gains.

Some 3,166 new houses, apartments, townhouses, retirement village units and flats were consented in August, up 12 per cent from a year earlier, Statistics New Zealand said in a statement. Of that total, 2,025 houses were consented, up 0.5 per cent from August 2016, while consents for apartments rose 65 per cent to 384 and consents for townhouses, flats and units dropped 10 per cent to 462. Retirement village unit consents more than tripled to 295 in the month.

New Zealand's property market has cooled in recent months as stricter lending criteria take the heat out of an environment where demand had outstripped supply and pushed up values. In Auckland, the country's largest city, the lack of housing supply has been most acute as record migration drives demand.

Auckland accounted for 1,184 of the new homes consented in the month, including 346 of the 384 apartments consented along with 124 of the 295 retirement village units.

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"Auckland's building consent statistics are quite volatile because of the high proportion of apartments. Looking at the longer-term picture, Auckland has consented an average of more than 850 new homes a month over the past year," construction statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said. The agency said 10,265 new homes were consented in Auckland region in the August 2017 year, compared with the record 12,937 new homes consented in the June 2004 year.

In seasonally adjusted terms, dwelling consents rose 10 per cent in the month after rising 1.7 per cent in July.

Including alterations, $2.1 billion of building work was consented in August, Stats NZ said. That included $1.4b of residential building permits and $706 million for non-residential buildings.

Stats NZ also noted that from September, it is changing the way it calculates seasonally adjusted building consents to include an adjustment for Easter, which moves between March and April. It will also change the way it treats outliers for non-residential building consents having previously excluded consents worth $50m or more, and will now only exclude consents worth $100m or more.