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Auckland’s Untold Growth Story: The Elephant in the Room

Auckland leads the country in population growth and this trend is predicted to continue, according to property, architecture and research company RCG. In the March 2018 issue of Constructive Thinking, RCG Associate Director John Polkinghorne explores Auckland’s growth between 1891 and 2013, and compares it to growth across the rest of New Zealand.

This research is based on the New Zealand Local Population Database (NZLPD), which was compiled by John Polkinghorne using historic Statistics New Zealand census data.

“Contrary to popular belief, Auckland’s strong population growth is not a recent phenomenon – in fact, Auckland has added more people than the rest of New Zealand combined for the last 40 years”.

Auckland grew faster than the rest of the country in percentage terms in the 1950s and 1960s, and by the 1970s it was outgrowing the rest of the country in absolute terms, i.e. in terms of the actual number of people added. This trend has persisted ever since.

The NZLPD shows that Auckland’s population grew by around 650,000 from 1976 to 2013, compared to 575,000 for the rest of New Zealand.

Auckland is also a key destination for migrants: 80% of the ‘net’ migration to New Zealand in 1991-2017 went to Auckland.

John Polkinghorne says: “although Auckland is playing catch up on decades of underinvestment in infrastructure, the opportunity is for it to become truly worldclass : a highly productive economy, excellent quality of life for its residents, and housing and transport options that meet their diverse needs. As our country’s gateway to the world, this would be a city that all Aucklanders and all New Zealanders could be proud of.”

New Zealand’s Trend Towards Urbanisation

The March 2018 issue of Constructive Thinking also comments on New Zealand’s trend towards urbanisation over the last century.

Although Auckland has become the most prominent city, many other New Zealand towns and cities have also grown. RCG Managing Director, John Long, notes: “During the 20th century, cities became the growth engine for New Zealand, and for most developed countries. Cities have dominated NZ’s population growth ever since 1906”.

Coming just after 2018 census day, RCG’s Constructive Thinking is a timely reminder of the importance of census data, and the role the census has in telling the story of Aotearoa New Zealand and the people who live here.

About the New Zealand Local Population Database

Auckland’s strong growth and New Zealand’s urbanisation are just two of the insights from the NZLPD. RCG will highlight other findings in future issues of Constructive Thinking.

The New Zealand Local Population Database (NZLPD) brings together more than 120 years of census data on population change across the country, making this information easier to access than ever before.

The NZLPD covers the entirety of New Zealand, including all 67 territorial authorities (local council areas) and 16 regions (regional council areas), as well as more than 260 towns and cities.

The NZLPD was compiled by John Polkinghorne of RCG and includes data from the 1891-2013 censuses, undertaken by Statistics New Zealand and its predecessors. NZLPD data tables are freely available at https://www.rcg.co.nz/insight/nzlpd, along with further notes on the methodology used to create them.

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