New Zealand house building activity grew at its fastest pace in almost 12 years in the first quarter as construction ramped up to rebuild the country's second-biggest city and fill a housing shortage in Auckland.

The volume of residential building work put in place grew a seasonally adjusted 15 per cent in the three months ended March 31, the biggest quarterly increase since September 2002, and accelerating from a 2.3 per cent rise in the December quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand. The value of…