New Zealand consents to build new homes rose for a third straight month in August, driven by rebuilding activity in Christchurch.

Consents rose 1.9 per cent in August, seasonally adjusted, from the previous month and were up 1.8 per cent compared to August 2011, according to Statistics New Zealand.

The building consents add to evidence the rebuild of Christchurch after its series of earthquakes is starting to stoke economic activity.

Compared to the same month last year, the total number of new dwellings consented rose by 121 to 629 in the South Island while those in the North Island dropped 116 to 884.


Consents in Canterbury deemed to be earthquake related were valued at $47 million last month, of which $24 million were residential. That's down from $59 million in July but still one of the largest months this year.

Including apartments, consents for new dwellings rose 0.3 per cent to 1,513 from the same month last year. Excluding apartments, the gain was 3.2 per cent to 1,373. Apartments fell to 140 from 179.

Total residential consents rose 13 per cent to $548 million in August from a year earlier. Non-residential consents rose 24 per cent to $343 million.

The value of all building work for the year ended August 31 rose 10 per cent to $9.47 billion.

ASB economist Christina Leung said residential consents continued to recover at a modest pace over August.

"Encouragingly, the increase was broad-based across both Canterbury and the rest of New Zealand.

This suggests a recovery in underlying house-building demand is taking place, with post-earthquake rebuilding in Canterbury providing an added boost."

Beyond the Canterbury rebuild, construction activity looked to be recovering in the rest of the country, she commented.

"Recent housing market data had pointed to housing supply constraints in some regions, and this is likely to be encouraging more house-building."

Leung said there were "tentative signs of a gradual recovery" in non-residential consents.

"We expect a continued improvement in non-residential consent issuance for private sector buildings over the coming year as rebuilding activity gathers further momentum."