New Zealand residential building consents posted their biggest monthly gain in eight months in February, snapping out of a lull that persisted through spring and summer.

Seasonally adjusted dwelling consents rose 14 per cent to 2605 in February, posting its first double-digit growth since June last year, with new housing permits also gaining 14 per cent to 1858, Statistics New Zealand said.

Annual residential permits rose 8.7 per cent to 30,162 in the year through February 28, and new house consents gained 9.1 per cent to 21,326.

New building issuance has softened in recent months as the energy in the Auckland housing market slowed with the imposition of lending curbs and tougher credit criteria.

On an actual basis, residential building consents were 1.6 per cent higher in February from a year earlier at 2418, with new housing permits up 2.9 per cent at 1761.

“While we saw a strong seasonally adjusted increase this February, the actual number of homes consented was up only slightly from last year,” business indicators senior manager Neil Kelly said in a statement.

New Zealand’s property market remains problematic for policymakers, with central government laying much of the blame on local authorities’ planning processes in stifling supply which has led to a bottleneck driving up prices as the nation experiences record inbound net migration.

That’s led to a massive pipeline of building work to meet the housing shortfall, although the building sector is facing capacity constraints, especially in Auckland where the need is most acute.

Friday’s figures show 800 new consents worth $342 million were issued in Auckland in February, compared to 787 permits worth $404m the same month a year earlier.

In the year through February, 9310 new dwelling consents were issued in the country’s biggest city, still below the 13,000 estimated to be needed to keep pace with an expanding population.

Consents in Canterbury continued to taper off as the residential reconstruction effort slows, with 361 new permits issued in February, down from 525 a year earlier.

By Paul McBeth