Hawke's Bay residents have reason to toast the region's "five-star economy" this summer, with new research confirming they have one of the nation's best.
ASB bank's latest Regional Economic Scoreboard has awarded Hawke's Bay a five-star status for it performance over the September quarter, on the back of good job growth and retail sales.
"The Bay has been on a solid economic run," ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny said.
"This quarter's fourth placing follows last quarter's third. The Bay's labour market has been particularly strong, with 6.5 per cent jobs growth over the quarter. No doubt this jobs growth reflects the fact that the region's key industries such as horticulture, forestry and livestock (lamb) are firing on all cylinders."
Further research from Infometrics' Quarterly Economic Monitor tells the same story, noting solid provisional regional GDP, increased value of pip fruit exports, a buoyant primary sector supporting strong consumer spending, unprecedented tourism spend and falling unemployment.
"Our region is doing well - in fact, it's doing really well," Business Hawke's Bay chief executive Carolyn Neville said.
Regional GDP rose to $6.31 billion for the year to September 2018.
"Strong pip fruit performance and good pricing for meat and the wine industry and the flow on effects from these sectors have contributed to a really good regional economic performance.
"There is an undeniable feeling that Hawke's Bay is doing well, and on some measures better than New Zealand as a whole, and this data supports that."
Provisional GDP growth rose an estimated 3.1 per cent, compared with 2.9 per cent nationally.
Electronic card spending on retail purchases also rose more than the national rate - up 6.4 per cent compared to 4.8 per cent nationally, while the region's car sales continued to motor forward with a 3 per cent rise, compared to the national rate, which remained in reverse, falling by minus 1.7 per cent.
Neville added tourism spend was $645m, up 5.3 per cent on the prior year.
"As Hawke's Bay gears up for another bumper tourist season with record cruise ship visits, and a bountiful harvest leading to expected strong primary sector performance, the past year has been one of growth and confidence across a range of key measures.
"Provisional regional GDP for the 12 months to September 2018 was up 3.1 per cent on the prior year and higher than the national average of 2.9 per cent. Annual GDP growth in Hawke's Bay peaked at 4.1 per cent in 2016.
"Net inward migration slowing, but streets ahead of 10-year average - 435 people migrated to Hawke's Bay on a permanent or long-term basis this year.
"Nationally and regionally migration is slowing, with Hawke's Bay migrant numbers halving in the past year.
"Hawke's Bay is an attractive place to live with a lifestyle that's hard to beat. Transport connections have never been better with more than 25 return daily flights to major centres. Our recent migration numbers tell a markedly different story compared to the 10-year average, which shows nearly 100 people a year leaving the region."
Unemployment was also at a 10-year low.
"Strong economic performance has led to job growth, and with that a reduction in the unemployment rate. Initiatives under Matariki, Hawke's Bay's regional economic development and social inclusion strategies and action plan (HBREDS) are focused on job creation and getting more people into work.
"Project 1000, an HBREDS initiative to support the creation of 1000 new jobs for Hawke's Bay job-seekers across all industry sectors with an emphasis on the booming horticulture sector, has created 700 jobs to date.
"The number of working Jobseeker Support recipients decreased by 1 per cent, compared to a national increase of 2.2 per cent."
On a 12-month basis, the number of residential consents were up 2.4 per cent, compared to a 5.4 per cent increase nationally, while the value of non-residential consents went up 12.2 per cent to $138m for the year ended September 30, compared to 4.9 per cent growth nationally.
The rise in the region's house prices also outstripped the national rise - up 9.7 per cent for the 12 months to September, compared to the national rise of 8.4 per cent.