WELLINGTON, March 3 (Xinhua) -- The value of building activity rose 3.5 percent in the December 2016 quarter as New Zealand struggled to overcome its housing crisis in the biggest city of Auckland.
Most of the rise was in Auckland - home to a third of the population - where residential building work rose 4.5 percent from the previous quarter and non-residential work rose 17 percent, according to Statistics New Zealand.
"In Auckland, the actual value of building work was almost 2 billion NZ dollars (1.41 billion U.S. dollars) in the December 2016 quarter, including 1 billion NZ dollars (704 million U.S. dollars) worth of work on new homes," business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said in a statement Friday.
Nationally, the volume of building activity rose 1.9 percent in the December quarter from the previous quarter, with residential building work up 1.1 percent - the smallest rise in six quarters - and non-residential building up 3 percent.
The trend for all building volume had been generally rising for five years and the current level was 73 percent higher than the most-recent low point in the September 2011 quarter.
Opposition lawmakers said the increase in building activity was failing to keep pace with the demand.
The figures showed 2,500 houses were built in Auckland in the last quarter, when around 4,000 were needed to keep up with population growth, housing spokesperson for the main opposition Labour Party Phil Twyford said in a statement.
"At this rate, Auckland's massive housing shortage is growing, not shrinking. The city is already around 35,000 houses short and that's growing by 500 a month," said Twyford.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has repeatedly stated that surging house prices in Auckland pose a risk to the country's financial stability.