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Stats NZ counts Kiwi couples in and out of love

Stats NZ counts Kiwi couples in and out of love – Media release

18 May 2018

With 3 billion people expected to watch the Royal Wedding at Windsor this weekend, Stats NZ is trumpeting figures on how Kiwi couples celebrate their love.

"Fewer Kiwis are getting married and more are opting to live with each other without marrying,” population insights senior manager Brooke Theyers said.

With our population on the rise, the general marriage rate has been steadily declining over the past 40 years.
• In 1965 the marriage rate was 38.6 in every 1,000 people eligible to marry.
• In 2017 the rate was 10.9, with a total of 20,685 marriages and civil unions.

In 2013, 354 same-sex couples married in New Zealand, including 147 overseas couples. This rose to a total of 960 same-sex couples in 2017.

In recent years, fewer couples in New Zealand are getting divorced. In 2003 the divorce rate (number of divorces per 1,000 existing marriages) was 12.8, falling to 8.4 in 2017.

The decline in the marriage rate may be because couples prefer to live together but not marry. In the 1996 Census, there were just over 236,000 people in de facto partnerships. This rose to more than 409,000 in the 2013 Census.

For more information on marriage and divorce rate changes, see Marriage and divorce falling out of favour.

See video: Kiwi couples: A whole lotta love

We’re also getting married later in life. Since 1980 the median age for a man getting married increased from about 25 to about 32. For a woman, the median age rose from about 23 to about 31. This could be caused by anything from cost to lifestyle changes.

The most popular day of the week to get married continues to be Saturday. The average number of marriages on a Saturday in 2000–2015 was 249.

When Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday, there were an average of 651 marriages. On a Valentine’s Day that fell on any day of the week there were an average of 217 marriages.


Data is from Marriages, civil unions, and divorces: Year ended December 2017, published 3 May 2018.
On some census forms, de facto partnerships were defined as 'living as married'.


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