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New Zealand's Population Nears 4 Million

New Zealand's Population Nears 4 Million

New Zealand's estimated resident population at 31 December 2002 was 3,975,600 – just 24,400 short of the four million mark, according to the latest population estimates released by Statistics New Zealand. This represents an increase of 63,400 or 1.6 percent compared with an increase of 38,200 in the December 2001 year. If current growth patterns continue, the four million population mark will be reached within the next few months.

Three-fifths of the population growth during the December 2002 year was due to a net migration gain, and the remaining two-fifths to natural increase (excess of births over deaths). Permanent and long-term arrivals exceeded departures by 38,200 during the December 2002 year. This compares with a net inflow of 9,700 during the December 2001 year, and a net outflow of 11,300 during the December 2000 year. Over the same period, natural increase fell from 30,500 in the December 2000 year, to 28,000 in 2001, and further to 25,200 in the December 2002 year.

During the December 2002 quarter, the New Zealand population grew by 19,700 or 0.5 percent.

This resulted from a natural increase of 7,400, and a net inflow of 12,300 through permanent and long-term migration. The population increase for the December 2001 quarter was slightly lower at 18,900, due to a smaller gain from net migration (11,200). Changes in the population age structure are continuing. The median age of New Zealand's resident population has increased by three years since 1992. Half of New Zealanders are now over 35 years of age, compared with a median age of 32 years in 1992.

Children under 15 years numbered 882,200 at 31 December 2002 and made up 22.2 percent of all New Zealanders, down from 23.1 percent in 1992. The population aged 65 years and over grew by 7,800 or 1.7 percent during the December 2002 year, to reach 471,900. They now make up 11.9 percent of all New Zealanders, up from 11.3 percent in 1992. Boosted by a net migration gain during the December 2002 year, the working age population (15–64 years) increased by 2.1 percent, from 2,568,400 to 2,621,600 at 31 December 2002. They accounted for 65.9 percent of all New Zealanders in 2002, up from 65.6 percent in 1992. The movement of the 'baby boomers' into the older working ages means that the labour force is taking on an older profile. The number of New Zealanders aged 45–64 years increased by a third between 1992 and 2002, from 679,500 to 897,100.

All quarterly and annual population estimates for 1991–2001 have been revised and are available on the Statistics New Zealand website (

To watch New Zealand's population move closer to the four million mark, visit the Population Clock on the Statistics New Zealand website (

Brian Pink Government Statistician

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