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Determining Wellington Region’s Population Growth

News Release
15 April 2005

Migration A Key Factor In Determining Wellington Region’s Population Growth

Migration will play a key role in determining the Wellington Region’s population growth over the coming decades according to information released in Regional Demographic Trends.

Regional economic development agency Positively Wellington Business (PWB) produced the publication that draws on research commissioned by the Wellington Regional Strategy. Regional Demographic Trends projects population growth of 0.4% p.a. and a population increase for the region of 30,000 by 2021. Further work in the area of migration flows to the Wellington region has resulted in the latest demographic projections released by Statistics New Zealand suggesting more bullish population growth of 0.5% p.a. increasing the population by 45, 600 between 2001 and 2021.

“Migration and population growth will vitally influence the demand for goods, services and infrastructure in the region,” says PWB’s Chief Executive Philip Lewin. “While population growth does not necessarily equate to economic growth, it will certainly affect the makeup of our regional economy.”

“Strong swings over time in inward and outward migration have reflected the relative attractiveness and availability of jobs in the Wellington region compared to other regions. Sustained net inward migration could make a significant difference to our population growth and is something that the Wellington Regional Strategy will be able to influence, “ says Mr Lewin.

Regional Demographic Trends suggests that within New Zealand the Wellington Region is seen as an increasingly desirable place to live, with net internal migration trending upwards. Internal migration refers to people moving from one part of New Zealand to another. The Wellington Region’s net internal migration increased from –7,287 between 1976 and 1981 to +5,919 between 1996 and 2001. Almost all of the Wellington Region’s internal net migration gain was from people in the 15 – 34 year-old age bracket. However, the external net migration loss was concentrated in the 20 – 29 year –old age bracket. External migration refers to people moving from one country to another.

“What this shows us is that while the Wellington Region is a hip place to be if you’re a young New Zealander, large numbers still emigrate overseas,” says Mr Lewin.

Other key findings reported in Regional Demographic Trends include:
- Population growth will not be uniformly distributed around the region under current ‘status quo’ trends. Wellington City and Kapiti Coast are likely to receive significant growth pressures, while static populations or even decline is possible for the other parts of the region.
- Population aging is a powerful force at work within the Wellington region and elsewhere in the developed world. By 2021 the ‘baby boomer’ generation will almost have reached the current retirement age. These trends will influence a range of preferences and service demands, and affect housing and transport patterns.
- Population ageing and changing household formation patterns are linked to decreasing average numbers of persons per household. This trend is likely throughout the Wellington region, creating higher demand for housing that is suitable for fewer persons (i.e. more 1 and 2 bedroom dwellings).
- Most parts of the Wellington region will become more ethnically diverse. Porirua and Hutt City are projected to show strong growth in people with Pacific Island and Maori ethnicity, while Wellington City is likely to have a significantly higher Asian population.

Regional Demographic Trends is based on the report ‘Wellington Study Area: Demographic Trends, Indicative Population and Household Type Projection Scenarios 1981 to 2051’ by Monitoring and Evaluation Research Associates Limited. The Wellington Regional Strategy commissioned this research to gauge the effect of population growth on the region’s future. Further review and evaluation work is under way to better understand migration dynamics as it appears current modelling assumptions may tend to understate growth facing the Wellington Region from this source.

The Wellington Regional Strategy is a joint project of the councils of the Greater Wellington Region in partnership with Positively Wellington Business. Its goal is to build an internationally competitive Wellington Region by developing and implementing a vision and an integrated framework for sustainable growth.


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