The pace of activity in the manufacturing sector has slowed.
The Bank of New Zealand-Business New Zealand's seasonally adjusted performance of manufacturing index declined nearly 3 points to 53.4 in March. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.
New orders led the way and employment recorded its highest level since May last year, offsetting production which slipped back.
BNZ senior economist Craig Ebert said overall the index is still positive and it is encouraging the sector is considering hiring more people.
He said firms need a certain amount of confidence before they take on staff and those signs seem to be emerging in the latest performance manufacturing index.
Mr Ebert said manufacturing activity is bucking the international trend, underpinned by reconstruction efforts in Christchurch, a buoyant food processing sector and a relatively competitive exchange rate with Australia.
Mr Ebert expects activity to keep rising, bolstered by the gathering momentum in rebuilding Christchurch.