The rising price of food and petrol is making life "harder and harder" for some Tauranga residents, the Salvation Army says.
Statistics New Zealand reported annual inflation for the September quarter was the highest since 2008 at 4.9 per cent. The consumer price index rose 2.2 per cent, the biggest quarterly rise in more than a decade.
The main drivers were housing-related costs such as the construction of new houses and local authority rates, Stats NZ said.
Rising prices of vegetables and petrol were also contributors.
Salvation Army Tauranga community ministries manager Davina Plummer said prices for basics like food had been going "up and up" for several years.
"It makes it hard on families trying to put meals on the table, [and] for individuals who are just on one income to afford rent."
Petrol was also a "massive" cost people struggled with.
"For the people we work with, they really only get to focus on the basics of food, petrol and their home."
Things like dental care and sports had become "nice-to-haves", which should not be the case, she said.
Price increases affected people differently with some having to take on multiple jobs and others having higher petrol costs to travel further for work.
"Life is just becoming harder and harder."
Local Government New Zealand president Stuart Crosby said he had "no doubt" council rating requirements were a contributing factor to inflation, as were electricity, gas and food.
People could manage "modest rates" of inflation but it became challenging when it spiked, he said.
Crosby, a Bay of Plenty regional councillor and former Tauranga mayor, said rating requirements had gone up "well above what would be the norm".
During the first Covid outbreak, councils were under "tremendous" pressure not to put the rates up and many did not, he said.
"That had a flow-on effect to the year we've just started now.
"Nobody likes paying more rates. They do look for value for their rates."
The Fresh Market Gate Pa and home delivery service mygreengrocer.co.nz owner David Stewart said produce prices were dictated by season, and people shopped accordingly.
"Sometimes in winter when the weather has been difficult, yes the prices were firm. But they go up and they go down."
Tomatoes were $15 per kilo a month ago and now they were $9 per kilo, he said.
"I don't think in general they've added to inflation."
Stewart said there were cost rises "right across the board" because of Covid-19 and freight costs increasing.
Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Shirley McCombe said demand for the service continued to grow.
"Rents are particularly tough and because of the shortage of housing, clients will accept a house they cannot afford because they are terrified they won't have a home for their children."
Food and utility costs were also a focus for clients, she said.
Classic Builders director Peter Cooney said construction prices were escalating at a rate that was "getting quite scary".
"It's certainly pushing the price of houses up.
"Land is going up at dramatic rates as well so everything bodes poorly for the poor old first-home owner."
"Often when you see escalation go up like this, it's going to drive interest rates up."
"It puts a lot of pressure on those people who have already purchased or are about to purchase – housing becomes out of their reach," he said.
"It also puts a lot of strain and pressure on those who are trying to finance mortgages where they've got low-interest rates but those interest rates are looking to climb up.
"The question is going to be how far are they going to climb."
What is inflation?
Inflation is the general increase in prices of the goods and services we buy, Kiwibank chief economist Jarrod Kerr says.
"Rapid inflation is like a tax on savings.
"Inflation does not impact us equally. Lower-income households get hit harder by rising inflation."