What the Census shows

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The recent Census shows our population is growing, becoming more diverse and ageing. This information is valuable to the building industry as these factors play a large part in how and where people want to live.

Figure 1: Number of usual residents in households by ethnicity. (Source: 2013 Census, Stats NZ.)

THE RESULTS FROM the 2018 Census show that New Zealand’s population grew by over 450,000 people between 2013 and 2018. The 2018 Census usually resident population count was 4,699,755 – up 457,707 from the 2013 Census.

Biggest growth in over 50 years

The recent intercensal increase – 10.8% between 2013 and 2018 – has been the largest percentage intercensal increase since 1961–66. On average, the population grew by about 2.1% a year since the 2013 Census – significantly higher than the annual average growth between 2006 and 2013 of 0.7%.

The higher growth rate is consistent with higher net migration (259,000 in the 5 years ended 30 June 2018 compared with 59,000 in the 7 years ended 30 June 2013).

Biggest growth in upper North Island

All regions except the West Coast had an increase in population. However, the population has become increasingly concentrated in the upper North Island.

While Auckland had the largest increase between 2013 and 2018 (over 156,000 people), regions around Auckland are growing at a faster rate, with Northland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato leading the way.

One in seven people aged over 65

Our population has been gradually ageing. In 2006, 12% of the population was aged 65 and over, but by 2018, people in that age group made up just over 15% of the population.

Around one in five people were aged under 15 at the time of the 2018 Census. Note that the inclusion of people from administrative data sources in 2018 has led to a more complete count for some age groups, particularly 25–29.

More than a quarter of us born overseas

The 2018 Census showed 27.4% of people counted were not born in New Zealand, up from 25.2% in 2013. While 316,134 people have been here less than 5 years, most born overseas had been here for 5 years or more.

New migrants are found throughout New Zealand, although in recent years, migrants have tended to settle in larger numbers in Auckland and in the other main urbanised regions, including Wellington and Canterbury. In 2013, around six out of 10 people in Auckland were born in New Zealand, compared with around nine out of 10 people in Southland and Gisborne.

Population increasingly diverse

New Zealand’s population continues to diversify. According to the 2018 Census, 3,297,864 people – or 70.2% of the population – identified with at least one European ethnicity. The next largest ethnic group, Māori (775,836), represented 16.5% of the population in 2018, up from 14.9% in 2013. The Asian ethnic group (707,598) remained the third largest, with 15.1% of the population identifying with at least one Asian ethnicity, up from 11.8% in 2013. The largest Asian ethnic groups were Chinese not further defined (231,387), Indian not further defined (221,916) and Filipino (72,612).

Results from the 2013 Census – 2018 Census results are not available yet – showed that over one in five people identifying with at least one Asian ethnicity were born in New Zealand. For Pacific people in 2013, almost two-thirds had been born in New Zealand (62%).

There were also differences in the age structure of ethnic populations, although the median age of all level one ethnic groups has increased since 2006. In 2018, people with European ethnicity had a median age of 41.4 compared with 23.4 for Pacific people. By level one, we mean where ethnicities have been grouped as European and Asian.

Population structure affects housing

Understanding the diversity of our population is important in terms of population structure and ethnicity, as this has an impact on requirements for housing and how housing is used.

For example, households with Pacific people tend to have larger families and are more likely to live in households with extended family. In 2013, almost a quarter of women with Pacific ethnicity aged 15 years and over had four or more children compared with 13% of the total female population aged 15 and over.

The following section looks at information about households from the 2013 Census, as 2018 household data is not yet available.

Household structures vary by ethnicity

In 2013, almost one in four Pacific people (23.7%) lived in a household with two or more families compared with around one in six people with Asian ethnicity and one in eight Māori.

In 2013, around four out of 10 people with European ethnicity lived in one or two-person households, compared with just two out of 10 Māori and one out of 10 Pacific peoples (Figure 1). This is largely because of the age differences in the population, as older people are more likely to be in one or two-person households.

In 2013, around 18% of people with Pacific ethnicity lived in a household that had eight or more usual residents. However, in 2018, less than a third of occupied private dwellings in New Zealand had four or more bedrooms.

Understanding cultural and social needs for a diversity of family structures is important when designing and planning housing. For example, flexible housing that could be adapted to different household configurations could be one housing solution.

Figure 1: Number of usual residents in households by ethnicity. (Source: 2013 Census, Stats NZ.)

1.66 million occupied private dwellings

In 2018, the Census recorded 1,664,313 occupied private dwellings – up by 102,354 (6.6%) since 2013. This increase compares with a 10.8% increase in the total usual resident population.

Auckland had the largest numerical increase with 26,745 additional occupied private dwellings between 2013 and 2018, an increase of 5.7%.

Between 2013 and 2018, Canterbury had the highest annual average percentage change in the number of private occupied dwellings as a result of rebuilding after the earthquakes.

In recent years, building consents nationally have increased, particularly in Auckland. At the year ended August 2019, 14,000 new homes were consented there.

Implications of the rising population

This growth in population has implications for planning, resources and infrastructure such as schools and health funding.

In recent years, there has been concern around whether the supply of housing has been keeping up with population growth in fast-growing areas. This is particularly so in Auckland, which includes New Zealand’s largest urban area.

Need solutions for overcrowding

Even before this latest population growth, household crowding had become more concentrated in Auckland, particularly South Auckland. In 2013, almost half of all people living in crowded households were in Auckland, although it was only home to around a third of New Zealand’s population.

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Are we building the right houses?

This rise in population, combined with our diverse population, presents challenges. We need to think how we can best house this population in ways that meet the needs of the very old and the very young, as well as provide the ability to support diversity of cultures.

For example, are we building housing that supports multi-generational families and facilitates community connections as well as providing access to jobs and education? As more Census data is released, we will be able to build a more comprehensive picture of New Zealand’s changing population.

Census dataset information

We combined data from the Census forms with administrative data to create the 2018 Census dataset, which meets Stats NZ’s quality criteria for population structure information.

We added real data about real people to the dataset where confident they should be counted but they hadn’t completed a Census form. We also used data from the 2013 Census and administrative sources and statistical imputation methods to fill in some missing characteristics of people.

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For more

For further information about the 2018 Census, including tables, visit www.stats.govt.nz.

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More articles about these topics

Articles are correct at the time of publication but may have since become outdated.

Figure 1: Number of usual residents in households by ethnicity. (Source: 2013 Census, Stats NZ.)