The Auckland region's population is growing and may reach two million by 2031. International migration is a bigger contributor to the region's population growth than it is for the rest of New Zealand. However, since the period 1996–2001 more people have moved from the Auckland region to other parts of New Zealand than in the other direction, but this is a new phenomenon.
Population growth of the Auckland region
The total population of the Auckland region has been increasing steadily. Figure 2.1 shows the historical census population from 1991 to 2006, and three population projection scenarios (low, medium, and high) out to 2031. The medium-variant scenario shows that the population is projected to continue growing, to reach 1.93 million by 2031. The high-variant scenario shows the region's population growing to over two million by 2031.
Note: The high-variant projections use high fertility, low mortality, and high net migration assumptions. More information about the assumptions used is on the
Subnational Population Projections
page, on www.stats.govt.nz.
Sources of growth
The components of population change are natural increase (births minus deaths), net internal migration, and net international migration. Figure 2.2 shows each of the components of population change, contrasting Auckland with the rest of New Zealand.
Note: Natural increase is defined as live births minus deaths. Net internal migration is in-migrants minus out-migrants. Each point describes the total over the five-year period.
Natural increase in the Auckland region has gradually risen, from 56,200 to 65,600 between 1991 and 2006. Over the same period, net internal migration fell, with a net loss of 18,100 people between 2001 and 2006, as seen in figure 2.2. While this is a net loss, this figure is small in comparison with the overall population growth.
Population growth in the Auckland region between 1991 and 2006 was driven by high net levels of international migration (which includes New Zealand residents returning from overseas), much more so than for the remainder of New Zealand. For the rest of New Zealand, natural increase was the main contributor to population change.
While the components of the Auckland region's population change may be different from the rest of New Zealand, the pattern of negative net internal migration from Auckland, and positive net international migration, is a feature it shares with other cities in the world. London has had a persistent net inflow of international migrants and net outflow of internal migrants over the past two decades (Hatton and Tani, 2005). Sydney has displayed similar trends since the 1970s (Parr and Culpin, 2005).
Population flow through Auckland region
Even though the Auckland region has a net outflow of people moving to the rest of New Zealand, there is a relatively high number of people from other parts of New Zealand moving in and out of the region. Gross migration refers to in-migrants (people who moved from another part of New Zealand to Auckland region), and out-migrants (people who moved from the Auckland region to another part of New Zealand).
Figure 2.3 shows the net internal migration, along with the number of in-migrants and out-migrants, between 1976 and 2006. Historically, net internal migration in the Auckland region has gradually been declining, except for a brief period between 1991 and 1996.
Note: In-migrants are people who moved from another part of New Zealand into the Auckland region. Out-migrants are people who moved from the Auckland region to another part of New Zealand. Net internal migration is in-migrants minus out-migrants. More information about regional migration patterns is in
Trends in migration between regions
, on www.stats.govt.nz.
The graph shows that gross migration flows have been large over time, with more than 50,000 people moving in or out of the Auckland region every five-year period since 1976. Between 2001 and 2006, 64,700 people moved from other parts of New Zealand into the Auckland region. Out-migrants numbered 82,700 for the same period.
There are a number of implications of population change for the Auckland region:
- The population of the Auckland region will continue to grow, bringing changes in population density and increases in demand for services.
- The large inflow of international migrants combined with a net outflow of New Zealand residents will lead to a higher proportion of people living in the region who were born overseas. In 2006, 37 percent of people living in the Auckland region were born overseas, compared with 23 percent for the New Zealand population. The proportion of overseas-born people is likely to continue rising, which also implies increasing ethnic diversity.
- International migration will impact on the size of birth cohorts and population ageing (McDermott, 2008). Differences in age structure, fertility, and mortality will affect the population structure of the areas where migrants choose to settle.
- The flows in and out of the Auckland region show a large amount of internal migration. This pattern is likely to continue, as Auckland remains an important source region and destination for people in New Zealand. Many people from other parts of New Zealand live in the Auckland region at some point, showing that the region is highly integrated with the rest of the country.
This page is part of Mapping Trends in the Auckland Region, available on www.stats.govt.nz.
Notes and sources
Population change is made up of three components: natural increase (the excess of live births over deaths), internal migration (the movement of people within the boundaries of a nation), and international migration (the movement of people to and from New Zealand). The data used in these calculations includes census data, subnational net migration estimates, and births and deaths data.
The historical data are based on the census usually resident population count from the 1991, 1996, 2001, and 2006 Censuses.
The projected data comes from the 2006-base population projections released in December 2007. Projections are based on assumptions about future fertility, mortality, and migration. There are three alternative series produced (low, medium, and high) using different assumptions. The population projections have as a base the estimated resident population at 30 June 2006, and extend to 2031. More information about population projections is on the Subnational Population Projections page, available on www.stats.govt.nz.
Hatton, T J (2005). Immigration and inter-regional mobility in the UK, 1982–2000, Economic Journal, 115 (November), 342–358.
Parr, A & Culpin, A (2005). Sydney at the millennium, People and Place, 13(1) 31–40.
McDermott, P (2008). Auckland's Population, briefing paper prepared for the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance, Cityscope Consultants, March 2008.
Auckland Regional Council (2007a). Growth of Auckland region – Dynamics of Population Change 2001–2006 Auckland Regional Council, 2006 Census series.
Auckland Regional Council (2007b). Immigration and Ethnicity in the Auckland region 2006 Auckland Regional Council, 2006 Census series.