The region is an agricultural powerhouse and a key contributor to New Zealand's dairy industry. It has strengths in manufacturing and is well supported by strong science, research and professional services sectors.
The Waikato is the dairy production powerhouse of New Zealand, producing more than 25% of New Zealand’s milk supply. Our land is highly productive and fertile, and our expertise in pasture-based management systems is world renowned.
While dairying and agricultural bio-technology are the key drivers of the Waikato’s economy, our agriculture sector is diverse and multifaceted. Thoroughbred horse breeding and training, forestry, aquaculture (particularly mussel farming) and other livestock farming are important contributors to agriculture in the Waikato. Many of New Zealand’s leading agri-science research facilities are based here, with the electric fence and aerial top dressing two of the innovations to come from the region.
Manufacturing is a diverse, innovative and vitally important part of Waikato’s economy – it is our second-largest contributor to regional GDP after the agriculture sector and employs almost 25,000 people.
Manufacturing is one of the main ways that we add value to our agricultural products with the Waikato strongly focused on high-value dairy and meat product manufacturing. Food product manufacturing contributes over 60% of Waikato’s exports, signifying the high quality of our food products and the strong demand for them from overseas.
There is a strong construction pipeline in the Waikato with building consents, roading infrastructure developments and housing projects on the rise. This is partially driven by our relatively high population growth rate of 1.7% per annum over the last 10 years compared to the national growth rate of 1.3%. The investment in the construction sector increases demand for construction-related occupations and apprenticeship programmes.
The Waikato is superbly located to nurture a strong logistics sector for New Zealand. The Waikato is centrally located at the heart of the upper North Island and is part of the golden triangle of Tauranga and Auckland – of which over 3 million people reside. Primary and manufacturing exports are sent to markets through major sea ports at Tauranga and Auckland, each about 90 minutes away by road. Logistics is expected to grow significantly in the Waikato due to the development of Ports of Auckland’s new inland port at Horotiu (first facility opened in May 2019) and a venture between Tainui Group Holdings and Port of Tauranga to establish the Ruakura Inland Port by late 2021.
From Waikato to the world. New Zealand’s first international internet connection was established in 1989 from The University of Waikato. Today, more than 50 information technology companies are based here serving international and national customers in software programming, support and decision-making tools. We are home to many innovation hubs and collaborative tech associations, and we are proud to have been identified as the fastest-growing tech region in the country in 2017 and 2018.
Our region is proud to be home to many leading education providers across all educational levels. Tertiary institutes include the world-ranked University of Waikato, Waikato Institute of Technology and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. With our region experiencing strong population growth, the education sector will continue to grow and also with offerings for international students.
Healthcare is the second largest employer in the Waikato, employing 1 in 11 workers. We have 6 public hospitals, the largest of which is the Waikato Hospital in Hamilton. Due to an ageing population, increased societal focus on health and longer lifespans, the role of the healthcare sector is expected to continue to grow.