Businesses in this sector rely on expertise and skills in their labour force for their products or service delivery. They are specialised businesses that sell their expertise. In most cases, equipment and materials are not major inputs. The activities undertaken generally require a high level of knowledge, training and formal (usually tertiary level) qualifications.

These services include scientific research; architecture; engineering; computer systems design; law; accountancy; advertising; market research; management and other consultancy; veterinary science and professional photography.

This sector was particularly impacted by dislocation as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes because many professional services businesses were located within the central-city area. Fortunately, many of these businesses were highly mobile and able to re-establish themselves reasonably quickly, although sometimes in less than ideal conditions.

Christchurch Quick Facts

  • Contributes approximately $1.4 billion to Christchurch GDP (Infometrics’ Estimate year ended June 2014, $2010)
  • Accounts for around eight percent of GDP in Christchurch
  • Around 4,535 business units are based in Christchurch (2014, Statistics New Zealand)
  • Has around 16,230 employees (2014, Statistics New Zealand)

Professional, Scientific and Technical Services Sector Employment Breakdown, 2014
Source: Statistics New Zealand
Sub-sectorEmployee Count% of Total
Scientific Research Services4903%
Architectural, Engineering and Technical Services541033%
Legal and Accounting Services319020%
Advertising Services3602%
Market Research and Statistical Services3202%
Management and Related Consulting Services298018%
Veterinary Services3002%
Other Professional, Scientific and Technical Services1401%
Computer System Design and Related Services306019%

Sector Trends

Exporting of Services

With technology reducing barriers to doing business internationally, this sector is increasingly able to export its services, thanks to New Zealand firms offering labour at competitive wages as well as time-zone advantages. Presently we cannot capture the value of this activity, but anecdotally we are aware of a number of firms exporting architectural, management, engineering and
scientific services offshore.


After the earthquakes many firms were displaced from the CBD and had to relocate to the suburbs. This has added challenges to the sector as it reduces the collaboration between firms and disciplines that was characterised by their presence in the CBD. On a positive note, early indications are that these firms will be anchor tenants in the redeveloped CBD.


The Christchurch rebuild provides an opportunity for this sector to attract talented professionals to the city. Due to the magnitude of the rebuild there will be a need for a highly-skilled workforce of professionals such as engineers, architects, lawyers and accountants. This will result in the up-skilling of local talent and the attraction of new talent to the city. Many of
the firms will be involved in projects that will significantly increase their capacity to compete for offshore work when rebuild workloads taper off.

Agricultural Growth

Agriculture is a key driver of the city’s service sector. This sector is both a beneficiary and enabler in helping the development of land and water resources and commercialisation of IP (intellectual property) that will assist in generating revenue and productivity in the sector.

Software as a Service

Software as a Service is a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over a network, typically the internet. This is becoming an increasingly common delivery model for online businesses, and is changing the face of some industries. Typically customers pay based on the amount they use, rather than a one-off purchase fee. This trend provides a range of growth opportunities in this sector.

Increasingly Complex Use of Data

Data use is revolutionising society and business in the 21st Century. Using data and technology to manage complex problems and combining datasets to solve problems in innovative ways is changing the business landscape. Data use offers improved insight and decision-making. Professional and technical service providers are integral in delivering these solutions and tools to the business community and consumers.

Sector Initiatives


Amplifier is a CDC programme that provides a bespoke service to advance selected high growth-potential businesses. A group of professional service and capital providers provides pro-bono support to the programme. Its purpose is to provide independent advice to businesses to assist them to traverse the business growth issues and challenges they encounter. This may include readiness for obtaining investment capital (both debt and equity). Technology and science-led companies such as software developers are a target group for the programme.

Sector Workforce Plan

The shortage of skilled workers is a key issue for many technology sectors. Many of these people work in businesses providing the professional, scientific and technical services, including communications. CDC has worked with a sector leadership group to develop a workforce plan. A number of activities are being delivered to attract people to consider employment opportunities and develop a career in the sector.