New survey measures construction industry sentiments

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Sean cropped 2
Sean Ellison presenting at the RICS/ITA hosted presentation.

A new quarterly sentiment survey has delivered some interesting findings about New Zealand’s construction industry.

The Asia Pacific Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey is conducted by RICS (the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and was introduced in the third quarter of 2018. It covers 12 countries in Asia Pacific and four countries in the Middle East, tracking changes in conditions in construction and infrastructure sectors.

Sean Ellison, a senior economist with RICS, covered the findings at a presentation jointly hosted by the ITA and RICS, with attendees from Callaghan Innovation, MBIE, NZIER and BRANZ.

His presentation focused on the results from the first two quarterly surveys and, specifically, New Zealand respondents’ sentiments.

To allow for comparisons, the findings were broken down into the North and South Islands with Auckland and Christchurch being the respective dominant cities. The survey also places New Zealand in the context of the Asia-Pacific region to see how issues such as the availability of skills may have an impact here.

Some key viewpoints emerged about the state of the construction and infrastructure industry in New Zealand:
• North Island demand remains strong.
• There are significant differences between activity in the North and South Islands.
• New business is on the rise in the North Island.
• Profit margins have contracted in the South Island.
• Costs are expected to increase rapidly over the next 12 months.
• South Island respondents report a lack of demand and financial constraints.
• North Island firms are affected by shortages (skills, labour, materials) and regulation.
• Skills’ shortages are significantly affecting New Zealand, with all related jobs.
• The skills’ shortage is most keenly felt in the North Island.

After Sean’s presentation, there was a robust discussion about the findings, including the impact of the Christchurch rebuild on the results.

Sean indicated that the survey is in its introductory phase and welcomed suggestions for improving data collection from a range of companies including small to medium size employers, who make up a large part of the New Zealand sector. He also invited expressions of interest for research projects that could utilise the survey data.

The data is made available to local and international government policy organisations such as the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

“I’m expecting that there will be some interesting follow-up projects based on what has been raised today,” said Sean.

RICS New Zealand Country Manager, Michelle Manley said the report provides a good benchmark for how the construction and infrastructure sectors in the region are performing, compared to the rest of the Asia Pacific region.

“It was great for RICS to be able to present the findings in partnership with the ITA.

“We hope that some of the insights from this research will help with achieving the ITA’s ambition of industry transformation,” she said.

Read the RICS reports.  

If you would like to discuss the results with Sean or view the dataset please contact him at

Sean Ellison head and shoulders


Sean Ellison is Senior Economist Asia Pacific for RICS (the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). He is responsible for the economics team’s research into the Asia Pacific property sector. Sean manages the RICS regional surveys and proprietary data, including the APAC and MENA Construction and Infrastructure Survey and the Global Commercial Property Monitor. Before joining RICS, Sean was a strategist in the Hong Kong and Singapore financial services industries.