The statisticians have plucked a few of the lice out of households' lousy record for saving.

The national accounts for the year ended March 2013 include historical revisions which attribute more consumption to visitors, including international students, rather than New Zealand households.

The effect is to increase net exports, thereby reducing the current account deficit, and to reduce household consumption, making the household saving track less negative.

Households spent $837 million more than their disposable income in the year to March 2013, making for a negative saving rate of 0.7 per cent.


That followed three post-recession years in which the saving rate was in the black - though only just.

The saving rate was 0.2 per cent in the March 2010 year, 1 per cent in 2011 and 0.4 per cent in 2012.

Before that, household savings were negative every year since 1995 apart from 2000, but less so than previously thought by up to $200 million a year.

The current account deficit in the year to March 2013 has been revised to $8.4 billion or 3.9 per cent of gross domestic product, from $9.5 billion and 4.5 per cent previously.

Statistics NZ said the revisions reflected improvements to its international visitor survey and new research into spending by international students.

The increases were partly offset by upwards revisions to imports to reflect estimates of online purchases of items such as books from overseas sources.