Statistics New Zealand released its labour market data on late Tuesday evening. The unemployment rate rose to 5.7% in the first quarter from 5.4% in the fourth quarter, missing expectations for a rise to 5.5%. The fourth quarter's figure was revised up from 5.3%.
Employment increased 1.2% in the first quarter, exceeding expectations for a 0.7% gain, after a 0.9% rise in the fourth quarter.
The participation rate increased to 69.0% in the first quarter from 68.4% in the fourth quarter.
"The total labour force increased by 38,000 people in the March 2016 quarter. This resulted in more New Zealanders in unemployment and employment than three months ago," labour market and household senior manager Jason Attewell said.