A more-than doubling of the number and value of new houses is expected to give the Hawke's Bay economy a further boost.

Statistics NZ figures for May show there were 74 consents granted for new dwellings compared with 35 in April and 32 in May last year.

The value of the consents was $29 million compared with $16m in April and almost triple the $11m recorded in May last year.

Tremain Real Estate managing director Simon Tremain said the high number was no blip - there were plenty more consents to come, including developments he has an interest in which plan 65 houses in Napier and 60 in Hastings.


He said because of the rising cost of existing homes a new house was becoming increasingly attractive.

"A lot of people would rather have a new home but they would buy a home based on location or based on price and the cost of a new home is getting comparatively close," he said.

Demand for sections was high "with massive queues of people lining up for sites".

"I know builders are struggling to find land to build on."

Infometrics senior economist Benje Patterson said building activity gave a widespread boost to the economy.

"It is not only your builders and tradespeople that are getting work, but they are leading on a lot of suppliers," he said.

"It is not only the owners of those businesses but the workers that are benefiting, not to mention the fact that some of the money going into the back pocket is going to circulate through the local economy at the supermarket or at the pub. It does spread it quite widely."

He attributed the increased building activity to price increases in existing houses - currently 20 per cent annually - but said another factor was the broad-based growth Hawke's Bay was experiencing greater than the national growth, as measured by indicators such as traffic flows, retail spending, accommodation guest nights and new car and commercial vehicle registrations.

The local economy had also absorbed many migrants, with the March quarter recording international migration up 6.3 per cent compared with the national average of 5 per cent.

Although housing prices had grown Hawke's Bay was "relatively affordable" when compared with some centres, Mr Patterson said.

"There are still a few people out of work getting job-seeker support but at the end of the day there are signs of growth throughout the local economy."

Hawke's Bay's wide exposure to the parts of the primary sector consistently doing well, while escaping much of the dairy industry's woes because of low exposure, was "the engine behind the scenes".

Half of Hastings' consents were in Havelock North, with the balance spread through Whakatu (4), Flaxmere, Northwood, Haumoana, Pakowhai, Omahu, Eskdale, Raureka and Akina. Napier City Council was unable to supply a breakdown.