First, the bad news.

New Zealand's debt mountain is still growing.

The big, scary grand total — $571.04 billion in gross debt, or $115,000 a head — is about 16 per cent higher than it was three years ago when the Business Herald started tallying it.

The good news is that the rate of growth has slowed.

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But despite both major political parties committing to lower public debt, and even a slowing housing market, debt still rises by billions every year. "It's not catastrophic," says independent economist Cameron Bagrie.

"But it is a point of vulnerability. It's high." And unfortunately,

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By the numbers