Click on a time period to see CPI price changes over the past 100 years.

The consumers price index (CPI) tracks changes to the prices of goods and services that New Zealand households buy. Over the 100 years, annual inflation has averaged 4.4 percent, but it has varied across the decades. In the visual the scale changes so you can clearly see the price changes for each 20-year slice.

  • Inflation was relatively high during World War I and immediately after, averaging 9.6 percent a year from the June 1914 quarter to the March 1921 quarter.
  • Prices fell 14.0 percent over the four years from the March 1921 quarter to the March 1925 quarter. Prices fell across all groups, except for housing rentals, which continued to rise.
  • Prices then fell 19.5 percent in the five years to the September 1934 quarter, during the Great Depression. Prices fell across all groups, including housing rentals.

  • In the 1940s, prices increased 31.4 percent – an average 2.8 percent a year.
  • Price controls were introduced at the start of World War II, and continued after the War was over.
  • Meat prices jumped 25.7 percent at the end of 1947.
  • Food, clothing, and energy prices rose strongly in 1951 and 1952. Housing prices increased much less.

  • In the 1950s, prices rose more quickly, increasing 61.5 percent – an average of 4.9 percent a year.
  • In the 1960s, prices increased 38.0 percent – an average of 3.3 percent a year.
  • In 1967, New Zealand changed to decimal currency. One pound was the equivalent of $2.
  • In 1973, there was an oil price shock and Britain joined the European Economic Community. Meat and dairy exports were subjected to quota limits.

  • In the 1970s, prices more than tripled – an average of 12.0 percent a year.
  • In 1979, a second oil-price shock hit the economy.
  • In the 1980s, prices nearly tripled – an average of 11.4 percent a year.
  • A wage/price freeze started in 1982, and in the June 1983 quarter the CPI annual percentage increase dropped to single digits for the first time since 1973. The wage/price freeze ended in 1984.
  • The dollar was devalued by 20 percent in July 1984 and then floated in March 1985. Agricultural subsidies were phased out and import controls were lowered.
  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989 took effect in 1990 and a formal annual inflation target of 0 to 2 percent was specified in the Policy Targets Agreement.
  • In October 1986, a goods and services tax (GST) of 10 percent was introduced, influencing an 18.9 percent increase in the CPI for the year to the June 1987 quarter. The previous peak in annual inflation had been 18.4 percent for the year to the March 1980 quarter.In July 1989, GST was increased from 10 percent to 12.5 percent.

  • In the 1990s, prices increased 20.0 percent – an average of 1.8 percent a year.
  • Falling interest rates led briefly to annual deflation in 1999. After the June 1999 quarter, interest rates and residential sections were removed from the CPI.
  • In December 1996, the Policy Targets Agreement band was widened to 0 to 3 percent, and in September 2002 it was changed to 1 to 3 percent.
  • In the first decade of the new millennium, prices increased 30.6 percent – an average of 2.7 percent a year.
  • In 2008, rising petrol prices took inflation briefly above 5 percent.
  • In October 2010, GST increased from 12.5 percent to 15 percent.