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Overview of families

The number of families in New Zealand has increased 6.5 percent since the 2006 Census. New Zealand had 1,136,397 families in 2013, compared with 1,067,502 in 2006.

What is a family?

The Statistics New Zealand definition of a family is two or more people living in the same household, who are either a couple with or without children, or one parent and their children. A child in a family is someone of any age who lives with their parent(s) and who does not have a partner or children of their own living in the same household.

This definition of family excludes parents and children who live in different households. Therefore, family data included in this report relates to families within households in private dwellings. A household can contain more than one family.

The family type 'one parent with children' includes many families in which the children are in shared care and alternate between living with one parent and the other in separate dwellings. In the census, the usual residence of children in shared care is the place where they spend most nights. If they spend equal amounts of time at different residences, their usual residence is where they were on census night.

'Couple with children' still most common family type

New Zealand's most common type of family in 2013 was a couple with children (41.3 percent). However, the proportion decreased between 2001 and 2013. The trend has been decreasing since 1991, when these families made up 48.0 percent of all families in New Zealand.

'Couple without children' was the second most common family type (40.9 percent). The proportion of this family type increased between 2001 and 2013, and has done so since 1991, when these families made up 34.8 percent of all families in New Zealand.

The proportions of the family types couple with children and couple without children are now very similar. In 1991, almost half of all families were couples with children, and just over one-third were couples without children.

In 2013, 934,593 couples lived in the family types couple with children or couple without children. Of 8,328 same-sex couples, 3,672 were male couples and 4,656 were female couples.

For the third type of family, one parent with children, the proportions were similar in 2013 (17.8 percent) and 2006 (18.1 percent). This is a slight decrease from 2001, when the proportion was 18.9 percent.

Graph, Family type, 2001, 2006, and 2013 Censuses.

Auckland region has highest percentage of couples with children

In 2013, the Auckland region had the highest percentage of 'couple with children' families, at 46.5 percent. Wellington (42.0 percent) and Canterbury (40.5 percent) had the next-highest percentages.

The Marlborough region had the lowest percentage of couples with children (33.9 percent).

Of the territorial authority areas (cities and districts), Selwyn district had the highest percentage of couples with children, at 49.7 percent. The lowest was in Thames-Coromandel district (27.5 percent).

In three Auckland local board areas, at least half of the families were couples with children. These were:

  • Upper Harbour – 52.5 percent
  • Howick – 52.0 percent
  • Puketapapa – 50.0 percent.

Over half of families in Marlborough region are couples without children

Marlborough was the only region with over half (53.2 percent) of its families being couples without children. Around two-thirds of the people in this family type in Marlborough were aged 55 years and over.

The regions with the next-highest percentages of couples without children were:

  • West Coast – 49.2 percent
  • Otago – 48.7 percent.

The region with the lowest proportion of couples without children was Gisborne (35.0 percent).

Graph, Couple without children families, by regional council area, 2013 Census.

The territorial authority areas (cities and districts) with the highest percentages of couples without children were:

  • Central Otago district – 58.5 percent
  • Thames-Coromandel district – 57.8 percent
  • Kaikoura district – 55.8 percent.

Porirua city had the lowest proportion of couples without children, at 32.0 percent.

One-parent families highest in Gisborne region

In 2013, the Gisborne region had the highest percentage of one-parent families, at 27.8 percent.

The regions with the next-highest percentages of one-parent families were:

  • Hawke's Bay – 21.0 percent
  • Northland – 20.9 percent.

Tasman region had the lowest proportion of one-parent families, at just 12.7 percent.

Of the territorial authority areas, Kawerau district had the highest percentage of one-parent families, at almost one-third (32.3 percent). The next-highest were:

  • Gisborne district – 27.8 percent
  • Wairoa district – 26.3 percent
  • Opotiki district – 25.9 percent.

The lowest proportions of one-parent families in the territorial authority areas were:

  • Queenstown-Lakes district – 8.0 percent
  • Southland district – 7.9 percent
  • Selwyn district – 7.9 percent.

 

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