New Zealand's economic growth is expected to hit 2.9 percent in the year to the end of March and grow by another 3.6 percent by March next year, according to an aggregate of economic agency forecasts released Monday. The rebuild of the earthquake-battered Canterbury region was a key driver of economic recovery, which was broadening across other investment, exports and household spending, said the Consensus Forecasts report from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research. However, the growth would ease to 2.8 percent in March 2016 and 2 percent in March 2017, said the report. Exports were expected to dip slightly in the March 2014 year because of the severe drought during the southern summer at the start of 2013, but they would rebound strongly, growing at an average pace of 3.1 percent a year for the next three years. The New Zealand dollar would gradually ease from its current highs, but remain at historically high levels. Consumer price inflation would edge up from an annual average rate of 1.5 percent in December 2013, to 2.4 percent by March 2016, pushing up interest rates. However, the labor market would improve, with the unemployment rate falling from the current historically high level of 6 percent, towards the past decade average of 5 percent, and wages would grow at a 3-percent average rate over the next three years. The government's operating balance would be in deficit in the year ending March, but in surplus in March 2015 and continue improving thereafter, said the report.