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Regions around Auckland lead population growth

23 September 2019

Northland is the fastest growing region in New Zealand, with the population increasing by 18.1 percent over five years to 179,076, according to 2018 Census figures, Stats NZ said today.

Northland’s growth is followed by the Bay of Plenty, up 15.2 percent to 308,499, and Waikato, up 13.5 percent to 458,202. The West Coast was the only region to decline in population (down 1.8 percent since 2013 to 31,575).

“While Auckland had the largest population 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,” census general manager Kathy Connolly said. “The 2018 Census counts reflect trends shown in the Subnational population estimates: At 30 June 2018 (provisional) and will be used to update these estimates in March 2020.”

The census found that New Zealand’s census usually resident population count in March 2018 was 4,699,755, an increase of 10.8 percent since the 2013 Census. A third of New Zealanders (1,571,718) live in the Auckland region, with the population there increasing by 11.0 percent in the five years since the 2013 Census.

“Auckland’s population is almost three times that of the country’s next most populous region, Canterbury, which has a population of just under 600,000,” Ms Connolly said.

“The census counts indicated that 60.9 percent of New Zealand's population growth since 2013 was in the four northernmost regions, and these regions account for over half (53.6 percent) of New Zealand's population.”

As with the 2006 and 2013 Censuses, the 2018 Census found that three-quarters of the population lived in the North Island. Although the South Island had 100,137 more people than in 2013 (a 10.0 percent increase), the North Island population increased by 357,504 (11.0 percent).

Territorial authorities and Auckland local board areas

Despite growth being stronger in the northern regions, the territorial authority areas experiencing the highest rates of population growth since the 2013 Census were Queenstown-Lakes (up 38.7 percent to 39,153) and Selwyn (up 35.8 percent to 60,561).

“The North Island territorial authorities experiencing the strongest population growth rates were those bordering Auckland, with Kaipara to the north increasing by 20.6 percent and Waikato to the south by 19.3 percent. Hamilton city and Tauranga city also experienced large population increases,” Ms Connolly said.

A similar pattern could be seen in the Auckland local board areas. All Auckland local board areas grew, with the exception of the small Great Barrier area. The fastest growth was in the south (Papakura up 26.3 percent) and north (Rodney up 21.0 percent) of Auckland.

About the 2018 Census dataset

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 we were 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.

The independent External Data Quality Panel has endorsed the statistical approaches used by Stats NZ to mitigate non-response.

The census usually resident population of an area is a count of all people who usually live in that area and were present in New Zealand on census night. These census counts are the basis for, but are different to, population estimates and projections. From March 2020, Stats NZ’s population estimates and projections will be updated to incorporate 2018 Census and 2018 post-enumeration survey results. Expected updates for population statistics 2019–20 includes more information about population measures.

See our population at a glance

Our graphic New Zealand as a village of a 100 people presents an overview of New Zealand’s population in 2018. It describes our population as if the country were a village of 100 people.

The Government Statistician authorises all statistics and data we publish.

For more information about these statistics:
• Visit 2018 Census population and dwelling counts


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