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Gross Domestic Product: March 2012 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  21 June 2012
Data quality

Period-specific information
This section contains information that has changed since the last release.

General information
This section contains information that does not change between releases.

Period-specific information

Reference period

Information for this release was collected for the period January – March 2012.

Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification 2006 (ANZSIC06)

The production measure of GDP is presented by industry. The industry classification that Statistics NZ uses for GDP is ANZSIC06. For more information about the implementation of ANZSIC06, refer to Introduction to ANZSIC 2006 on the Statistics NZ website (

Gross Domestic Product: December 2011 quarter was the last GDP release to use ANZSIC96. 

General information

Data source

The sources and methods used in compiling quarterly GDP are presented in Quarterly Gross Domestic Product: Sources and Methods (Second edition) . A free electronic version is available on the Statistics NZ website ( or contact the Information Centre (call toll-free 0508 525 525 or email for hard copies.

Incorporation of annual data

The National Accounts: Year ended March 2011 was released on 18 November 2011. This annual data provides benchmarks that set the level of economic activity. Indicators used by quarterly GDP estimate the movements of the series. As annual data is compiled from a larger range of data sources, it is often more complete. Quarterly estimates of industries in GDP and the components of GDP(E) are reconciled to annual estimates to ensure that the most robust picture of economic activity is being shown.

Annual benchmarks are incorporated up to the year ended March 2009 on the production measure of GDP, and up to the year ended March 2011 on the expenditure measure of GDP (GDE). 

More information on National Accounts: Year ended March 2011 can be found on the Statistics NZ website (

The System of National Accounts

The conceptual framework used in compiling New Zealand's national accounts and GDP is based on the System of National Accounts 1993 (SNA93). The SNA93 is jointly published by the United Nations, The Commission of the European Communities, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the World Bank.

The latest international standard for national accounts compilation is the System of National Accounts 2008 (SNA08). So far, Australia is the only country to have adopted SNA08. European countries are targeting 2015 for implementation of the new standard. Statistics New Zealand is likely to introduce SNA08 into the NZ accounts after 2013.

Constructing a chain-volume series

The chain-volume measures of GDP and expenditure on GDP are constructed by:

(a) compiling a Laspeyres volume index of the component in question, using the previous year's prices as weights; then

(b) chaining the sequence of annual movements to produce a continuous time series.

This procedure is used at different levels within the accounts. For example, GDP is compiled by weighting together the individual industry value-added components to produce a Laspeyres volume index for each quarter, and then linking the resulting indexes to produce the GDP time series. Each industry component, such as transport and communication, is also a chained-volume series. At the lowest level, the 'elemental series' are not chained and are either single series in their own right or fixed-weight series comprising a number of components. Chaining is not adopted, either because the detailed information needed for annual weights is not available, or relative price changes are not considered significant.

It is important to note that chain-volume series are not additive (ie the chain-volume series for an aggregate will not equal the sum of the values of its components). For a full explanation, see the report Chain Volume Measures in National Accounts, available on the Statistics NZ website ( This report, published as a discussion document in 1998, contains a detailed discussion of the concepts and procedures used to compile chain-volume series.

In most cases, the industry 'elemental series' estimates that make up the production-based GDP are calculated by extrapolating value added, using indicator series that represent the quantities of output produced. The technique known as double deflation, by which volume value added is calculated as the difference between volume outputs and inputs, is not widely used. Double deflation is currently used for the agriculture and electricity industries on a quarterly basis, and for water transport, business services, cultural and recreational services, and personal and other services on an annual basis.

Revisions resulting from chain-linking

One of the key benefits gained through adopting chain-volume measures in place of fixed-weight series is that the relative weights of the component series are more up-to-date. This reduces the likelihood of introducing biases in the volume measures, which would otherwise become progressively unrepresentative as relative prices change. However, the disadvantage is that the annual reweighting introduces another cause for revision.

Reweighting is part of the annual revisions cycle and is usually timed to coincide with the introduction of other new annual data from the current price GDP accounts. Please refer to the 'Incorporation of annual data' section above.

The current price annual accounts provide the detailed component series needed for weighting the production-based series of GDP. There is usually a two-year time lag before these detailed series are available. The latest year for which up-to-date weights have been used for the production-based series is for the year ended 31 March 2009, and all subsequent quarters use these weights.

Current price data is available on a more timely basis for the components comprising the expenditure-based measure of GDP. As a result, the latest year for which up-to-date weights have been used for the expenditure-based series is for the year ended 31 March 2011, and all subsequent quarters use these weights.

When the weights are updated, this procedure results in revisions to all periods beyond the latest year for which detailed series are available (currently 2008/09 for the production-based measure and 2010/11 for the expenditure-based measure).

Calculating real gross national disposable income

RGNDI is calculated as follows:

chain-volume measure of gross domestic product (production-based measure)
plus a terms of trade effect (trading gain/loss)
equals real gross domestic income
plus real value of total net investment income
equals real gross national income
plus real value of total net transfers
equals real gross national disposable income

where the terms of trade effect is defined as:
current price exports deflated by an imports implicit price index
less chain-volume measure of exports

and the real value of total net investment income equals:
investment income credits
less investment income debits
all deflated by an imports implicit price index

and the real value of total net transfers equals:
transfers credits
less transfers debits
all deflated by an imports implicit price index.

A per capita measure is simply the series in question divided by the projected population of New Zealand. From the March 1991 quarter onwards, the definition used is the 'estimated resident population of New Zealand'. This is defined as New Zealand residents currently in New Zealand plus those temporarily overseas. Overseas tourists visiting New Zealand are excluded from this measure. Before March 1991, the definition used was the 'de facto' population, which excludes New Zealand residents temporarily overseas and includes overseas tourists in New Zealand.

Calculating implicit price deflators

Implicit price deflators are calculated by dividing the seasonally adjusted current price quarterly series by the equivalent chain-volume series. Consequently it provides a broad estimate of price change between the base period and any other period. Significant compositional changes may result in the IPDs being a less precise estimate of price change. This problem is more likely to occur in the gross national expenditure (GNE) and expenditure on GDP aggregates. This is because both measures include the change in inventories item, which is highly subject to compositional changes, including a change in sign.

Revisions policy

Revisions to the previously published series may be made each quarter. The frequency and cause of these revisions are as follows:

  • Quarterly: additional data becoming available for the latest quarters, which is used to replace existing estimates; revisions to quarterly data (eg revisions to the Balance of Payments or Retail Trade Survey), which will be incorporated as soon as possible to maintain consistency between published macro-economic statistics.
  • Annual: introduction of annual data following the release of the latest annual national accounts each year; annual updating of the weights used to link component series to totals and subsequent chaining (see revisions resulting from chain-linking above).
  • Irregular: for example, methodological changes. However, note that as far as possible, revisions of this nature are incorporated to coincide with the annual cycle of revisions outlined above or are discussed in a separate paper ahead of the changes.

In addition, each of the above causes for revision, and/or the addition of a new point in the actual quarterly series, has the potential to alter seasonal factors and therefore may lead to a revision in the seasonally adjusted series.

Interpreting the data

Annual percentage changes

When using annual percentage changes, care should be taken to ensure that the measures used are correctly understood. Annual measures are calculated by summing the actual series for a four-quarter period. Unless otherwise stated, the annual percentage change is the most recent four-quarter period compared with the previous four-quarter period.

Direct and indirect seasonal adjustment

The level at which a series is seasonally adjusted is important, since it has the potential to affect the quality of that seasonally adjusted series. The individual component series of the main economic variables can be seasonally adjusted and then summed to derive totals. This is called an indirect seasonal adjustment. Alternatively, the main economic variables can be seasonally adjusted at the total level, independently of the seasonal adjustment of their components. The adjustment of the total of an aggregate series is called a direct seasonal adjustment. The indirect approach has the advantage of retaining additivity, but this applies only to the current price series. While the indirect approach conceptually also provides additivity for volume series, additivity is lost by chain-linking.

The direct approach will often give better results if the component series show similar seasonal patterns. At the most detailed level, the irregular factor may be large compared with the seasonal factor and therefore may make it difficult to perform a proper seasonal adjustment. In a small country such as New Zealand, irregular events can have a strong impact on particular data. However, if the component series show the same seasonal pattern, aggregation often reduces the impact of the irregular factors in the component series. This is particularly relevant for New Zealand, where many economic series are affected by seasonal fluctuations in the primary industries.

Statistics NZ has analysed both the direct and indirect approaches for the two quarterly GDP aggregates: production and expenditure on GDP. The direct approach has been chosen as the preferred method because the resulting series are smoother and more stable.

The residual between the seasonally adjusted components and the aggregates is referred to as the balancing item. The balancing item will often show significant seasonal variations. This is to be expected, as it captures the undetected seasonality in the component series.

The level at which seasonal adjustment is applied to quarterly GDP series may differ from other Statistics NZ surveys (eg the Economic Survey of Manufacturing and the Wholesale Trade Survey). These may contribute to differences in the aggregate seasonally adjusted series.

Confidentiality and accessing the data

Data collected and information contained in this publication must conform to the provisions of the Statistics Act 1975. This requires that published information maintains the confidentiality of individual respondents.

More information

More information about the quarterly gross domestic product is available on our website.


While all care and diligence has been used in processing, analysing, and extracting data and information in this publication, Statistics NZ gives no warranty it is error-free and will not be liable for any loss or damage suffered by the use directly, or indirectly, of the information in this publication.


Timed statistical releases are delivered using postal and electronic services provided by third parties. Delivery of these releases may be delayed by circumstances outside the control of Statistics NZ. Statistics NZ accepts no responsibility for any such delays.

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