New Zealand residential building consents rose in March, largely boosted by multi-unit projects such as apartments.

Seasonally adjusted consents for all dwellings increased 14.7 per cent on the month in March to 3,025 while seasonally adjusted permits for houses were up 0.1 per cent to 1,769, Stats New Zealand said.

In the year ended March 31, permits for new dwellings rose 2.5 to 31,392, led by a 27.5 per cent gain in apartment consents to 3,406 and a 14.8 per cent gain in townhouses, flats and units to 5,287. Retirement units fell 5.1 per cent versus the prior year to 1,817 while new housing permits shrank 2.6 per cent to 20,882 the 12-month period.

"About three-quarters of the new apartments consented in March were in Auckland, boosted by three large projects," construction statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said.


"National new-home numbers continue to fluctuate month to month due to apartments and other large projects."

New Zealand's residential construction pipeline has been bolstered by a shortfall of housing in the country's biggest city, where a lack of building in the wake of the local finance sector collapse was exacerbated by strong population growth.

In the 12 months to March, the annual floor area consented for residential buildings eased 0.5 per cent to 5.5 million square metres, while the value of new dwellings permitted climbed 8.8 per cent on the year to $11.73 billion.

The floor space of non-residential building consents rose 9.3 per cent to 3 million square meters in the year to March while the value gained 2.6 per cent to $6.6b.