Kōrero: Industrial sectors

Whārangi 4. Tertiary sector

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Retail sector

The tertiary sector has widely varying input needs, but many tertiary industries rely heavily on imports from overseas. In 2008 most of New Zealand’s total import costs of $47.5 billion were made up of goods bought from overseas for reselling to the consumer, through the retail sector. These imports included food, clothing, plastics, motor vehicles and machinery.

Domestic inputs

Many other tertiary industries bought much of their inputs locally from the secondary sector in 2008, although some also imported a great deal.

The building industry used a range of inputs from manufacturing industries, in particular building materials from the wood processing industry, and products from concrete and cement, ceramics, glass, basic metals and fabricated metal product industries – some imported. The building industry also used services from the transport industry, and from business services, such as design, architecture, consultant engineering, accounting and legal services.

Throughout the 20th century a great deal of capital equipment was invested in the electricity industry in New Zealand, such as hydro dams, turbines and transmission lines. The communications industry also depends on capital equipment such as network cabling.

Imported inputs

In 2008 the transport industry used large inputs of petroleum and other fuels, most imported by the petroleum refining industry. The transport industry relied directly on imported cars and other vehicles.

Kiwi curriculum


New Zealand is one of the leading exporters of education according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. International education, either by teaching overseas students in New Zealand schools and other institutions, or sending New Zealand teachers and teaching resources overseas, earned $2.4 billion in 2008. These export earnings increased five times between 1998 and 2008, making this tertiary sector industry one of New Zealand’s top five export earners.


Inputs of wages and equipment

Most tertiary industries employed large numbers of people. The service industries accounted for more than $50 billion of the $70 billion national wage bill in 2008. This included the wages of most retail and sales staff, doctors, nurses, teachers, builders, accountants and lawyers. Within this group, the health industry topped the list with a wage bill of over $6 billion, followed by the retail trade and the education industry at just over $5 billion each. Other service industries with large wage bills were other business services ($4.8 billion), central government administration and defence ($4.3 billion), and the building and construction industry ($4.5 billion). In the early 2000s the electricity industry required very little labour.

As the transport and communications industries have become more dependent on large-scale distribution networks, and equipment such as cabling, airports and planes, they have employed relatively fewer people for their size. The proportion of total wages they paid halved from 40% in 1952 to 20% in 2008. At the same time the proportion of physical capital rose from 15% to 25%, due to the development of large distribution networks, and related equipment such as telecommunications networks or aircraft.


Local sales in the transport and communications industries increased from 50% of total sales in 1952 to nearly 65% in 2008, as the industries became increasingly important service providers to other local industries.

Exported outputs

A total of $7.5 billion in export sales was earned by the retail, accommodation, transport, cultural and personal services industries in 2008, industries which together provided most of the earnings from overseas tourism. Exports also increased from the wholesale and retail trade, transport and communications, and other service sectors, mainly due to tourism and, from the early 2000s, education exports.

Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Ganesh Nana, 'Industrial sectors - Tertiary sector', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/industrial-sectors/page-4 (accessed 14 June 2024)

He kōrero nā Ganesh Nana, i tāngia i te 11 Mar 2010