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Population changes being factored into Sus. Dev.

3 July 2003 Media Statement

Population changes being factored into government Sustainable development plans

A new report released today looks at how population changes will affect New Zealand’s future economic, social and environmental development.

Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton, Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey, Labour Minister Margaret Wilson, Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel and Environment and Urban Affairs Minister Marian Hobbs jointly developed the Population and Sustainable Development 2003 report in line with the government’s Sustainable Development Programme of Action that was released at the beginning of the year.

The report discusses the impact of the likely future size of our population on issues such as:
- the changing nature of work and the workforce;
- immigration policies in a global context;
- our changing age and ethnic mix; and
- the importance of thriving communities and regions.

Steve Maharey launched the report this morning at the Population Association of New Zealand conference in Christchurch. He said its purpose is to increase understanding of what population changes mean for sustainable development.

“New Zealand’s population has changed dramatically over the past century and will continue to do so. As a nation we are now older, more ethnically diverse and more mobile than ever before.

“These population changes represent a considerable societal shift, especially given the relatively short period over which they’ve occurred. They also present challenges for policy makers seeking to develop New Zealand as a more prosperous, inclusive and socially progressive nation,” Steve Maharey said.

Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton said sustainable economic development requires a broad long-term perspective of New Zealand’s future.

“There are significant economic development issues created by changes in population. These include a workforce with an older average age, overall population decline and the changing ethnic group proportions of New Zealanders.

“We need to ensure that we are creating a strong economic future for young Maori and pacific island people who are making up an increasingly large proportion of our working population. If Maori and Pacific Island people do not succeed economically then New Zealand cannot succeed, and this is a challenge to all of us.

“The 2001 census shows Maori and Pacific people make up 18.6% of the working age population (15-64 years). This is projected to rise to about 30% in 2051,” Jim Anderton said.

The Ministers said the Government was now looking forward to some broad based discussion of issues raised by the report and their likely impact.

The Government is also publishing a companion guide to the report to help policy advisers and service planners to incorporate population issues into policy advice and planning. Population and Sustainable Development will be updated every three years.

Copies of Population and Sustainable Development 2003 are available at,, and

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