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Survey Finds That Almost 400,000 Kiwis Are Not Reading

New Survey Finds That Almost 400,000 Kiwis Are Not Reading

A new survey into New Zealanders’ reading habits confirms not only are we a nation that loves to read – we devour an average of 20.6 books a year – but also a nation that loves to read our own stories. Almost 50% of Kiwi adult survey respondents read at least one book by a New Zealand author in the past 12 months. The majority of us read for relaxation and enjoyment, and our favourite fiction genres are crime, thriller and adventure stories.

But not all the findings were positive. The survey also reveals that 394,000 Kiwi adults did not read (or even start to read) a book in the last 12 months. 31% say they don’t have time to read, 24% say they don’t enjoy reading, and 16% say they feel it is easier to watch movies based on a book.

“It is brilliant to see that so many Kiwis love to read. However, it is very alarming that almost half a million people in Aoteaora did not read a book in the past 12 months. The increasing demands of society and work mean more than ever New Zealanders need to understand and apply information across a range of sources in order to function effectively at work and everyday life. Reading is the critical foundation for all types of literacy,” says Book Council Chief Executive Jo Cribb.

New Zealand Book Council Patron Albert Wendt ONZ CNZM says that “getting reading on the national agenda is a crucial step in breaking the poverty cycle in New Zealand. There are already some excellent initiatives out there such as the Book Council’s Writers in Schools and Writers in Communities programmes, but more needs to be done. Encouraging reading, particularly reading for pleasure, is critical to ensure all New Zealanders can be part of our nation’s prosperity.”

The Book Reading in New Zealand survey was conducted by Horizon Research for the New Zealand Book Council. It is available at The Book Council will use the insights from this research to enhance its existing strategies for increasing the number of lifelong readers, and for encouraging greater consumption of New Zealand fiction. It will also share the findings with the wider industry, including publishers, booksellers and media.



Stephanie Soper
Marketing Communications Manager
New Zealand Book Council

04 909 7716



As New Zealand’s only national agency dedicated to reading, we seek to build a nation of readers leading to social, cultural and economic well-being.

The benefits of reading are well documented. OECD research shows that reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s future success. It’s even a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background.


Poet, novelist, short-story writer, playwright and painter, Albert Wendt CNZM is emeritus professor of English at the University of Auckland, specialising in New Zealand and Pacific literatures and creative writing.

Wendt has been an influential figure in the developments that have shaped New Zealand and Pacific literature since the 1970s and was made Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2001 for his services to literature. In November 2012, he won the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement.


Before joining the Book Council in May 2017, Jo was the Chief Executive of the Ministry for Women until September 2016. Formerly the Deputy Children's Commissioner, author of the Government's Green Paper on Vulnerable Children, director of a number of NGOs, she has a Doctorate in Public Policy and works internationally on advancing development in the Pacific as a director of Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA). In 2016 she was a finalist in the New Zealand Women of Influence Awards and in 2014 was one of three recipients of a Westpac Leaders Fellowship. She recently presented Close the Gender Pay Gap at TEDx Wellington.


The report summarises the results of a survey of book reading in New Zealand. The survey was conducted by Horizon Research for the New Zealand Book Council to discover reading and book buying habits of New Zealanders. It is envisaged that the survey will be repeated in order to understand trends in sales and readership of New Zealand book buying and reading.

The full tables of data collected during this survey can be found on the New Zealand Book Council website:


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