The number of building consents issued in April dropped 7.6 per cent from a month earlier - a disappointing result for those hoping a building boom will be the answer to housing affordability woes.
A later than usual Easter may have been behind the size of drop - which followed a 1.2 per cent fall in March after a 15 per cent rise in February - according to Statistics NZ.
Looking through the variance for public holidays, it appeared that consent issuance had levelled off rather than declined, said Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod.
"After picking up through 2015 and early 2016, monthly consent issuance appears to have reached a plateau. The question is whether issuance will remain around these levels?"
In the year ended April 2017, 30,371 new homes were consented - up 8.3 per cent from the previous 12 months, and the most for an April year since 2004, Statistics NZ said.
The annual total includes 10,226 new homes in Auckland - up 9.3 per cent from the previous year, and the most for an April year since 2005.
In Auckland, overall consent issuance had levelled off since 2016 after a steady rise from 2011, Ranchhod said.
However, the composition of consents had changed.
"While the number of standalone dwelling consents has eased, there's a trend increase in multi-unit consents (such as apartment and townhouses). This potentially reflects increased activity from developers now that the Unitary Plan has cleared its legal hurdles. We expect this trend to continue over the coming months."
But overall the number of new dwellings consented in Auckland over the past year, still remained lower than what was needed to keep up with surging population growth in the region, he said.
"We continue to expect that consent issuance, and ultimately home building, will continue to rise over the coming year," he said. "However, the pickup in consents may be gradual.
Building costs and interest rates are rising, construction firms are already highlighting difficulties sourcing labour, and house price growth has slowed (again, particularly in Auckland)."