WELLINGTON, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Growth in the New Zealand economy slowed in the quarter ending December 2016, while per capita Gross domestic product (GDP) actually shrank, the government statistics agency said Thursday.
GDP rose 0.4 percent in the December quarter, following an increase of 0.8 percent in the September 2016 quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand.
"Growth in service industries was partly offset by weaker activity in primary industries also flowing through into manufacturing," national accounts senior manager Gary Dunnet said in a statement.
"At an industry level, growth was a mixed bag, with only half of our 16 industries rising."
Service industries grew by 0.7 percent, driven mainly by business services; arts, recreation, and other services; and health care and residential care.
Agriculture fell 0.6 percent due to lower milk production.
Coupled with falls in forestry and mining, this resulted in lower manufacturing activity and lower primary exports.
Manufacturing fell 1.6 percent, driven by falls in food, beverage, and tobacco manufacturing, and in transport equipment, machinery and equipment manufacturing.
Exports fell due to lower exports of dairy products, metal products, machinery and equipment, crude oil, and logs and timber.
Household spending growth tapered off, rising 0.4 percent after two consecutive quarters of strong growth, but tourist spending was strong, up 5.1 percent.
GDP per capita fell 0.2 percent, following increases of 0.3 percent in the June and September quarters.
Annual GDP growth for the year ended December 2016 increased to 3.1 percent.
The size of the economy in current prices was 261 billion NZ dollars (183.3 billion U.S. dollars).
Finance Minister Steven Joyce said the economy was navigating "a still challenging international environment."
"While growth has softened in this latest quarter, the continuing trend is consistent ongoing growth ahead of most other developed countries," Joyce said in a statement.
GDP per capita had grown 0.9 percent over the last year, and real gross national disposable income had grown 4.1 percent over the year.
However, opposition lawmakers said the per capita figures showed that many New Zealanders were working harder for less.
"What this shows is that population growth, rather than improving productivity, is propping up the New Zealand economy," finance spokesperson for the main opposition Labour Party Grant Robertson said in a statement.
The Green Party said the figures showed GDP was no longer a good metric for measuring economic prosperity.
"Since the 1980s, New Zealand's GDP has more than doubled, yet so too have our child poverty rates. Similarly, rates of inequality in New Zealand have grown at the fastest levels seen in the developed world despite GDP doubling," Green Party co-leader James Shaw said in a statement.