Business Immigration NZ

A Changing New Zealand (Statistics and Demographics)


The population is growing, but slowly

Based on the current trends of an annual net migration gain of 5,000 and below-replacement fertility, New Zealand's population will be unlikely to reach the five million mark in the next 30 years.

  • In 1984 New Zealand's estimated population was 3,260,300.
  • In 2001 it had increased to 3,846,100.
  • By 2021 the population is projected to reach 4,375,000 (based on current trends).

Large differences in regional growth

  • Today more New Zealanders live in urban areas. In 1901, 54 percent of the population lived in rural areas. By 2001 this had declined to 14 percent (532,740 people).
  • New Zealanders are a geographically mobile population. On average, 1 in 2 New Zealanders change their address at least once every five years.
    On current trends, 10 of New Zealand's 16 regions are expected to grow in population size.
  • The Auckland region dominates growth. Currently 1 in 3 New Zealanders live in Auckland. The majority of immigrants choose to live in the Auckland region. In 2000, 56 percent of new settlers arriving intended to live in the Auckland region.

The median age is increasing

  • In 1901 the median age of the population was 23 years.
  • By 1991 the median age was 31 years.
  • In 2001 it was 35 years.
  • By 2021 it is projected to be 40 years.

The proportion of older people is increasing

  • The proportion of older people (people aged 65 years and over) is increasing. In 1951 they made up 9 percent of the population. By 2001 this had increased to 12 percent and by the year 2051 it is projected that they will comprise 26 percent of the population.
  • The number of older people has more than doubled since 1951, increasing from 177,459 to 450,426 in 2001.
  • In the next 50 years it is projected that the number of older people will more than double again to reach 1,181,000 by 2051.
  • Life expectancy (at birth) has increased and is now 76 years for males and 81 years for females. This is in the mid-range for OECD countries.

New Zealand is becoming more ethnically diverse.

  • The population count of people of European ethnicity has declined from 83 percent of the total in 1991 to 80 percent in 2001.
  • The 2001 Census counted more people of Asian ethnicity than of Pacific peoples ethnicity.Numbers of people of Asian ethnicity have more than doubled between 1991 and 2001.
  • Two-thirds of people of Asian ethnicity live in the Auckland region and 1 in 8 live in the Wellington region.
  • Two-thirds of people of Pacific peoples ethnicity live in the Auckland region.

More New Zealand residents are born overseas

  • Almost 1 in 5 New Zealand residents were born overseas (2001 Census).
  • While the number of New Zealand residents who were born in Europe has shown a small decline since 1996, there have been large increases from Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
  • More people are multilingual
  • The number of multilingual people in New Zealand increased by 20 percent from the 1996 Census to 562,113 or nearly 1 in 6.
  • Excluding children under five years of age, 1 in 50 people do not speak English.

Families are changing

  • The last 25 years have seen the percentage of two-parent families decrease by almost one-third, from 62 percent of all families in 1976 to 42 percent in 2001.
  • There has been a corresponding rise in couples without children from 29 percent of all families to 39 percent over the same period.
  • The percentage of one-parent families has more than doubled from 9 percent of all families in 1976 to 19 percent in 2001.

Employment patterns change

  • The labour force grew 20 percent between December 1985 and December 2001 to reach nearly 2 million.
  • Part-time employment grew by 62 percent. In 1985 part-time employees made up 16.6 percent of total employed. In 2001 that proportion had risen to 22.7 percent.
  • Employment within industry has changed considerably. In 1985 numbers employed in manufacturing and numbers employed in community social and personal services were not dissimilar. The latter category of employment is now nearly double the former.
  • The number of women in the labour force increased by almost one-third between 1984 and 2001. In comparison the number of men in the labour force increased by 5.4 percent.
  • The Auckland region employs 35 percent of all workers.

International trade is changing

  • Japan was our main export destination in 1988, accounting for 18 percent of merchandise trade revenue in that year. This dropped to 13 percent in 2001.
  • Australia is now our number one export destination, accounting for 18 percent of the value of New Zealand's exports.
  • The United States of America has also increased its share of New Zealand exports and is now the second largest export destination, accounting for 15 percent of our exports.
  • The United Kingdom ranks fourth in terms of export destinations but has dropped from 7 percent in 1988 to 5 percent in 2001.
  • The value of merchandise exports to all countries has increased by 141 percent between 1988 and 2001. Exports to many Asian countries have increased at a faster rate.