On this page: Annual reports, state of the Waikato economy
Each year Waikato Means Business produces a report which provides a summary of economic development in the Waikato in three main areas.
Looking globally, international forecasts for growth have generally softened in the past 12 months, despite unprecedented monetary stimulus and low oil prices. Global risk factors of relevance to New Zealand include the slowdown in the China economy, global market volatility in oil and agricultural items, and weak global merchandise trade growth.
Despite these, the New Zealand economy continues to grow at a steady rate and is now in its seventh year of expansion as measured by GDP. As with the rest of the world, New Zealand faces downside risks associated with a slowing Chinese economy, dairy prices and issues associated with El Niño (although this has now largely passed and has been less severe than predicted). Local downside risks also relate to property prices, especially in Auckland and the upper North Island and pressures that these are putting on the exchange rate. The reserve bank continues to look toward lower interest rates as its key tool to address persistent low inflation, although the housing market is a countervailing consideration. Upside risks relate to ongoing positive and record level migration levels.
At the regional level, real GDP continues to grow, in par with the rest of New Zealand. Growth areas include healthcare and social services. In contrast the manufacturing and mining sectors show negative growth, while growth in agriculture, forestry and fishing is marginal.
The dairy sector is a major regional economic contributor, making up 52 per cent of export earnings. However, falls in global dairy commodity prices may affect this trend and will affect Waikato farmers and their supply chains. The export earnings from manufacturing also show a declining trend. On the upside, the forestry and logging sectors show significant growth in export earnings. The tourism sector has grown strongly in the region.
Waikato Means Business identifies five major strategic priorities and strong progress has been made in all these areas in relation to the priorities identified in the 2015-16 Implementation Plan.
Highlights include the Government’s commitment to completing the Waikato Expressway by 2020, resource consents being issued for the first stage of the Ruakura freight hub, progress on the Waikato Plan, development of a Waikato Regional Labour Market Strategy, commencement of a five-school pilot of the Secondary Schools Employer Partnership and the development of the Waikato Story’s value propositions. It was decided to not proceed with a regional growth study as analysis showed a full study would not be necessary and specific issues are now the focus of investigation.
In addition to these, the Waikato Means Business Steering Group, in partnership with Te Puni Kōkiri and Waikato Tainui, has allocated resources to the development of a Māori Economic Development Agenda and Action Plan for the Waikato region.
Many other important economic development initiatives have been commenced or completed across the Waikato by businesses, local government and iwi Māori in the past 12 months. Examples include the commencement of the Tokoroa road-rail terminal, the commitment by Ports of Auckland to a freight hub at Horotiu, the opening of Yashili New Zealand Dairy Company Ltd’s infant formula plant in Pokeno, the opening of Tetra Pak’s new headquarters at Waikato Innovation Park in Hamilton, the completion of Allied Faxi Food Co Ltd’s ice cream factory in Kerepehi, the expansion of Fonterra’s Lichfield manufacturing site, the Waikato Plan aligned planning project, Taupō District Council’s online services project, a wide range of Youth Guarantee partnerships between schools, tertiary institutions and employers across the Waikato, the proposed Coromandel Inner Harbour Project, the development of the Hamilton & Waikato Tourism Opportunities Plan and a planned Taupō to Turangi bike trail.
The role of Waikato Means Business is to provide a regional level roadmap to help guide these and other investments in the Waikato. The strategy and the Steering Group see success as being a combination of their wider leadership influence and investment in specific projects, complimenting and supporting the actions of those business, education, Māori, government and non-government agencies who are increasingly investing in the future success of the Waikato.