Northland's construction industry continued its steady growth with a bumper February month, with the number of consents issued up 64 per cent on last year - and more than twice the number of February 2015.

Recently released Statistics New Zealand figures show 131 dwellings were given consent in February this year, up on the 80 given consent last February. Sixty-one consents were issued in February 2015.

Dwellings include houses, apartments, retirement village units, townhouses and flats.

The bulk of these were in Whangarei, with 74 consents, well up from the 44 issued last February, and 32 in 2015. The Far North recorded 35 consents, up from 14 in February 2016. Kaipara remained unchanged on 22.


The 131 consented dwellings region-wide will be worth $44 million when completed, significantly higher than the $25m value of work consented last February. In February 2015 the value was $20m.

These figures represented the third largest year-on-year increase in the country, behind Manawatu/Whanganui, which increased 88 per cent, and Hawke's Bay, with 73 per cent.

Northland's boom powered ahead despite consent growth slowing for most of the country. The North Island grew 12 per cent, and the South Island had a 19 per cent decline on February last year.

Auckland numbers were almost identical, growing less than 2 per cent.

Whangarei-based builder Rob Littlejohn said building inquiries picked up in the second half of last year and continued flowing in through the usually quieter summer period.

"It ramped up mid way through the year to the end - a lot more inquiries... I'd say it's been quite a continual thing through the summer," Mr Littlejohn said.

In the past 12 months, 100 consents were issued in six separate months. This didn't happen once in the previous year.

Northland issued more building consents in November last year than the whole Wellington region - 133.


Mr Littlejohn said he was pleased with the current demand for building services, but was wary the industry ebbed and flowed.

"All of a sudden the industry dies off again, and then there's an influx again. It seems to always go through these stages."

He said companies said there was demand for workers, apprentices and subcontractors across the region - a fact the construction industry training organisation is crying out for.

Chief executive of the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO) Warwick Quinn said Northland will have around 2500 job openings between now and 2021 in the industry.

He estimated 900 of these - 250 a year - will be for apprentice workers.

He said there were many positive aspects of getting into the industry which were often overlooked by people who saw university as the primary option after school.

"It's a genuine career. You can go down all sorts of different avenues in construction or the trades... It doesn't just end on the site," Mr Quinn said.

"You earn as you learn. You don't have to have that debt with you from day one."

He said trades need to be repositioned in the minds of parents, caregivers and influencers of young people after many years of university being seen as a primary option.

"Look at going into the trades. We've got a lot of work in front of us... It can be quite cyclic but the forecast is looking very strong."