Consents for building new homes have fallen sharply in September, snapping strong gains in the previous two months.
Official figures show the number of permits issued fell a seasonally adjusted 17% in the month compared with the same period a year ago.
When consents for apartment numbers are stripped out, consents fell 14%.
However Statistics New Zealand says the trend for new home approvals has risen since March, and September's large decrease reflects strong gains in July and August.
ASB Bank economist Jane Turner says the figures are disappointing. She says she would have expected to see more of an underlying pickup in building demand throughout most of the country.
Ms Turner says the building industry is expected to pick up when the rebuilding of Christchurch gathers pace.
The value of consents issued for residential buildings fell 12% to $398 million in September, compared with a year ago, while the value of non-residential buildings fell 13% to $320 million.
For the year, the value of all buildings fell 11% to $8.51 billion, with residential buildings making up around 57% of the total.