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Service Industries

Service industries make up a large proportion of the economy, accounting for over two-thirds of GDP. The sector recorded strong growth between 2000 and 2007, with annual growth averaging 4.0%. As the New Zealand economy entered recession in 2008, services growth slowed, but not to the extent of other sectors in the economy. With the services sector expanding at a more rapid rate than other areas of the economy, the sector has increased its share of GDP from 66% in 2004 to 71% in September 2009. Export-related activities such as tourism and primary sector services inputs play an important part in trends in this sector.

Financial Services

New Zealand's banking is dominated by four predominantly Australian-owned banks. The positions of Australian and New Zealand banks were strengthened by additional access to central bank liquidity and government wholesale and retail guarantees from late 2008, helping to maintain their assets and funding sources. While the retail guarantee has been extended by one year until the end of 2011, emergency liquidity provisions have been removed in line with easing credit conditions.

As of November 2009, total assets of the banks registered in New Zealand amounted to $382 billion.


In early 2009, the government established a National Infrastructure Unit to take a national overview of infrastructure priorities by providing cross-government co-ordination, planning and expertise. The Unit operates out of the Treasury and develops its policy advice for the Minister for Infrastructure in conjunction with an Advisory Board which is made up of a mix of private and public sector expertise. One of the key tasks for the Unit was the development of a National Infrastructure Plan.

The Unit is also responsible for promulgating robust and reliable cross-government frameworks for infrastructure project appraisal and capital asset management and for monitoring the implementation and use of these frameworks. As part of this work, the Unit has released Private Public Partnership (PPP) guidelines for use by government agencies and provides ongoing support for agencies and departments involved in PPPs.

On 2 March 2010, the Unit released the National Infrastructure Plan, which outlines the Government's infrastructure priorities, describes the planned investment and provides a snapshot of public and private infrastructure. The Plan lists the Government's infrastructure priorities as broadband, electricity transmission, regulatory reform, roads of national significance and preparations to host the Rugby World Cup in 2011. The Plan also details various key projects in each of these areas. The cost of all key projects outlined in the Plan is within the infrastructure expenditure included in Budget forecasts through to 2014 and is therefore not expected to affect the operating balances currently forecast for these periods.


Transport is a major component of economic activity in New Zealand. The country's transport system owes its characteristics, not only to New Zealand's dependence on external trade and remoteness from many of its trading partners, but also to its rugged terrain, scattered population and the division of the country into two main islands spanning 2,011 kilometres in length. As a result, the establishment of a comprehensive network of roads (around 93,000 kilometres) and railways (3,900 kilometres) linked to ports and airports has involved capital costs that are high in relation to the size of the population. However, the efficiency of the country's internal transport system has played a critical role in New Zealand's economic growth.

Much of this transport infrastructure was initially developed and operated by government-owned monopolies. Today, the transport sector is largely deregulated and legislative barriers to competition have been removed. Many previously government-owned operations are now privately owned.

Roading: Land transport infrastructure and its maintenance are funded primarily from distance-based charges for diesel vehicles, excise duties on petrol and motor vehicle registration charges. In addition, the government has recently appropriated additional funding to accelerate the construction of new highways and the provision of public transport. From 1 July 2008, the government has directed all revenue collected from petrol excise duty to land transport investment. The allocation of funding and the management of state highway works are managed by a Crown Entity, the New Zealand Transport Agency. Construction and maintenance work is contracted to private sector companies.

Tolling schemes for new highways are permitted where this is deemed an appropriate funding arrangement. The capital from these schemes can come from either the public funding body, or from private providers in partnership with the government.

Railways: New Zealand's railway system connects all major population centres and includes rail ferries between the North and South Islands. Until October 1990, the system was maintained and operated by the government's Railways Department. The core rail business was privatised in 1993.

In 2002, the government purchased track access rights for the Auckland railway corridor and transferred the corridor to Auckland local authorities to support regional initiatives to reduce traffic congestion. In 2004, the government repurchased the national rail network from Toll Rail for a nominal sum of $1.00, with both sides agreeing on future investments in network upgrades and rolling stock. The government subsequently committed over $1 billion over several years to upgrade the Auckland and Wellington rail networks to improve passenger rail services.

In mid-2008, the government completed the purchase of Toll Holding's rail business for $690 million, renaming it KiwiRail. On 1 October 2008, the New Zealand Railways Corporation (NZRC) acquired KiwiRail from the Crown. As a result, the government now owns and operates both the network infrastructure and rail services through NZRC. The government has since provided $130 million to KiwiRail for upgrading rolling stock and infrastructure, a $140 million debt facility for working capital and the purchase of new locomotives and, in the 2009 Budget, a further $90 million towards operating costs. The government's objective is for KiwiRail to become a fully commercial provider of rail services over time.

Shipping: Around ninety-nine percent of New Zealand's total international trade by volume (about 44 million tonnes) is carried by sea, with some 30 global and regional shipping lines represented in New Zealand. New Zealand's shipping policy reflects the philosophy that the country's interests are best served by being a ship-using rather than a ship-operating nation. The policy seeks to ensure for New Zealand exporters and shippers unrestricted access to the carrier of their choice and to the benefits of fair competition among carriers.

Coastal shipping provides intra and inter-island links and plays a key role in the distribution of petroleum products and cement. Coastal shipping services are provided by both local and international shipping operators.

Port companies established under the Port Companies Act 1988 operate New Zealand's 13 of New Zealand's 14 commercial ports. These companies operate predominantly at arms' length from their (mainly) local authority owners, although four are partly privatised and listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange. There are also smaller ports at Westport, Greymouth, Wanganui and Taharoa.

The Maritime Transport Act 1994 regulates ship safety, maritime liability and marine environmental protection.

Civil Aviation: New Zealand is one of the most aviation-oriented nations in the world. In a population of just over 4.3 million, there over 9,000 licensed pilots and over 4,000 aircraft. Large aircraft are used for international and domestic freight and passenger transport. Light aircraft, including helicopters, are used extensively in agriculture, forestry and tourism.

New Zealand allows up to 100 percent foreign ownership of domestic airlines and there is no domestic air services licensing. Air New Zealand is the major domestic operator on main trunk and regional routes. Jetstar and Pacific Blue also provide some main trunk services.

New Zealand has around 40 formal air services agreements with foreign governments. The government's international air transport policy is to maximise economic benefit to New Zealand, including trade and tourism, consistent with foreign policy and strategic considerations. Currently, around 30 international airlines, including Air New Zealand, link New Zealand with the rest of the world with both freight and passenger services, some under code-share agreements.

International flights operate from a number of international airports, of which Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are the most significant. Hamilton, Rotorua, Queenstown and Dunedin are secondary airports used for some international flights, mainly trans-Tasman. The three major international airports are autonomous companies. Auckland International Airport is a publicly listed company and Wellington International airport is two-thirds owned by a publicly listed company, while Christchurch International Airport is jointly owned by the Christchurch City Council and the government.

The government owns just over 76% of Air New Zealand, having purchased shares in the company in 2001 following a period of difficult business and financial events. Air New Zealand continues to be a publicly listed company on the New Zealand Stock Exchange. In the nine years of trading since acquisition by the government, Air New Zealand has restructured its operations, which has had the effect of restoring its balance sheet to a sound financial position. The airline has also made profits in each of those financial years and is currently engaged in a fleet replacement programme which is expected to be completed by 2015.

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