Member log in

A tale of three cities: Auckland, Canterbury and Wellington

New Zealand’s population is getting older and more diverse, according to recently released data from Statistics NZ. But a closer look at high-density areas tells a different story for each region.

The latest census shows median age is 38, two years older than at the last census seven years ago. Although the population has increased 5% to 4.24 million, there were fewer children and more people over the age of 65 since the time of the last census in 2006.

Every region in the country saw an increase of population over the age 65 for an overall net increase of 111,400.

Massey University professor Paul Spoonley has received $800,000 from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to study the trends in aging, diversity and migration in regional census numbers released today. 

“The biggest growth has been in the over 80 category,” he says. “We rather indelicately call them the old-old generation, and they are the fastest-growing."

Overall, the country has about 1940 fewer children than seven years ago but the numbers suggest families could be flocking to Auckland. During that time, Canterbury lost 1800 of its population under age 14 and Wellington saw a reduction of 440 children. Auckland’s young population soared, increasing about 7240.

Mr Spoonley says the answer isn't as simple as internal migration when you add in a combination of lowered fertility and immigration to Australia.

"It’s a bit more complicated than that. The past five years have seen significant immigration to Australia. It’s not as straightforward as it seems internally. The people who go to Australia tend to be either in their late teens or 20s or with young families," he says.  

Auckland saw an increase of more than 8% of its total population to reach 1.42 million. Meanwhile Canterbury saw a net rise of just 3%, or 17,600 people, and Wellington a net rise of 5% or nearly 22,400.

Nearly one out of eight people living in New Zealand are Asian, up from about one in 11 in 2006. Nearly two-thirds of Asian people (307,233) live in the Auckland region, where more than 20% are of Asian ethnicity.

Auckland’s foreign-born population has risen 13% to reach nearly 520,000, more than twice Canterbury and Wellington combined. It’s home to about half the country’s total foreign born population of 1,001,787 million.

Canterbury has the fourth-highest percentage of overseas-born residents out of all the regions, with 19.6%, up 1.7 percentage points from the 2006 census. Of Canterbury’s overseas-born residents, 27 percent were born in Asia.

Of the 600,000 in Maori population, Auckland is home to nearly 143,000, more than Wellington and Canterbury combined.

In fact, Canterbury has the third-lowest percentage of Maori in the country (8.1%) after Otago and Tasman.

sflores@nbr.co.nz

More by Stephanie Flores