This release contains estimates of the total population of regional council areas, territorial authority areas (cities and districts), and main and secondary urban areas in New Zealand, at 30 June 2009. Estimates by age-sex for regional council areas, territorial authority areas and area units ('suburbs') will be available on the Statistics NZ website (via Table Builder) on 18 December 2009.
Population estimates give the best available measure of the size and age-sex structure of the population usually living in an area. Estimates are based on the latest census data and on births, deaths, and migration since the census. National population estimates are published quarterly and subnational population estimates are published annually.
The estimates in this release are provisional. They incorporate provisional estimates of the number of births and deaths that occurred in the June 2009 year. Final estimates will be available by 30 November 2009. In addition, population estimates after 30 June 2006 will be revised following results from the 2011 Census of Population and Dwellings.
National population change
New Zealand's estimated resident population was 4,315,800 at 30 June 2009, an increase of 46,900 (1.1 percent) over the June 2008 figure. The population growth recorded in the June 2009 year was slightly lower than the average annual increase of 48,100 (1.2 percent) recorded during the 10 years ended June 2009.
The population growth for the June 2009 year resulted from a natural increase (excess of births over deaths) of 34,400 people, and a net permanent and long-term migration gain of 12,500 people. The level of net permanent and long-term migration in the June 2009 year (12,500) was higher than in the June 2008 year (4,700), due to an increase in permanent and long-term arrivals (up 4 percent) and a decrease in permanent and long-term departures (down 6 percent).
North and South Islands
The population of the North Island continued to grow at a slightly faster rate than that of the South Island. In the June 2009 year, natural increase was the dominant component in the North Island's population growth, accounting for about four-fifths of total growth. In contrast, natural increase and net migration made similar contributions to population growth in the South Island.
An estimated 3,287,600 people lived in the North Island at 30 June 2009, an increase of 36,900 (1.1 percent) from 30 June 2008. The estimated resident population of the South Island grew by 10,100 (1.0 percent) in the June 2009 year to reach 1,027,500. At 30 June 2009, 76 out of every 100 New Zealand residents lived in the North Island.
All New Zealand's 16 regions recorded population increases during the June 2009 year. Auckland was New Zealand's fastest-growing region, with population growth of 1.5 percent. Canterbury (up 1.2 percent) also had a growth rate above the national average of 1.1 percent. The largest numerical increases in population were in Auckland (21,700), Canterbury (6,400), Wellington (4,800), and Waikato (4,400).
In the June 2009 year, all 16 regions had gains from natural increase (excess of births over deaths) and 11 regions had gains from net migration (international and internal migration combined). There were two regions that received more than half their population growth through net migration (Marlborough and Otago). Five regions had losses, with the largest net migration loss being in Hawke's Bay (400 people).
Auckland, with an estimated resident population of 1,436,400 at 30 June 2009, was home to about one-third of New Zealand residents. The four northernmost regions (Northland, Auckland, Waikato, and Bay of Plenty) contained just over half (53 percent) New Zealand's population. Canterbury, with an estimated resident population of 559,200, was home to 54 percent of South Island residents.
Territorial authority areas
In the June 2009 year, 65 of the 73 territorial authority areas had population increases, and 20 had growth rates at or above the 1.1 percent national average. The highest rates of growth were in Selwyn district (2.8 percent) and Queenstown-Lakes district (2.6 percent).
There were contrasting changes among the territorial authority areas. Those that grew at the fastest rate during the June 2008 year (including Selwyn, Queenstown-Lakes, and Waimakariri districts), grew at a slower rate in the 2009 year. However, the rate of population growth increased for most territorial authority areas. In addition, a number of areas had a small population increase in the June 2009 year compared with a population decrease in the June 2008 year. Among these were Otorohanga, South Waikato, South Taranaki, and Gore districts, all of which recorded a small population increase for the first time in over a decade.
There were eight territorial authority areas – all located in the North Island – that had a decrease in population in both the 2008 and 2009 June years. For almost all these areas, the rate of decrease eased in the June 2009 year. The largest rates of population decrease in the June 2009 year were in Kawerau district (0.6 percent) and Wairoa district (0.8 percent).
At 30 June 2009, the estimated resident population of the 16 main urban areas was 3,122,500 (72 percent of New Zealand's population). A further 252,200 people lived in secondary urban areas (6 percent of New Zealand's population). The main and secondary urban populations increased by 37,000 (1.2 percent) and 1,100 (0.5 percent), respectively, during the June 2009 year.
The four largest urban areas – Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Christchurch – were home to 53 percent of New Zealand residents at 30 June 2009. The population of Wellington and Christchurch urban areas remained very close in size, at 386,000 and 386,100, respectively. In the June 2009 year, Tauranga remained the fastest-growing main urban area (up 1.6 percent), followed by Auckland and Hamilton (both up 1.5 percent).
Ten of the 14 secondary urban areas recorded positive growth rates during the June 2009 year, ranging from 0.1 percent (Timaru and Gore) to 1.9 percent (Pukekohe). Four secondary urban areas had small population decreases, ranging from 0.1 percent (Oamaru) to 0.3 percent (Tokoroa).
The criteria for defining urban and rural areas are currently being considered as part of the Review of the New Zealand Standard Geographic Classification. For information about this review, or to provide feedback, contact email@example.com.
Geographic distribution of the population
At 30 June 2009, New Zealand had a population density of 16 people per square kilometre. It is important to note, however, that this national average masks considerable variation in the geographic distribution of the population.
New Zealand's population is highly urbanised. At 30 June 2009, 72 of every 100 New Zealand residents lived in one of New Zealand's 16 main urban areas. Of these 16 main urban areas, 13 are near the coast with only 3 being located inland (Hamilton, Rotorua, and Palmerston North).
At the regional level, Auckland region's population density (240 people per square kilometre) is more than double that of any other region. At 30 June 2009, the Auckland region accounted for about one-third of New Zealand's estimated resident population but only 2 percent of New Zealand's land area. In contrast, the West Coast region, with a population density of 1 person per square kilometre, at 30 June 2009, had the lowest population density of the 16 regions. Located in the South Island and bounded in the east by the Southern Alps, the West Coast region includes the urban areas of Westport, Greymouth, and Hokitika, but also large expanses of forested area.
The geographic distribution of New Zealand's population is illustrated in the following map. To achieve precision, the map was produced using area unit population estimates at 30 June 2008. Area unit population estimates at 30 June 2009 will be freely available on Statistics NZ's website on 18 December 2009.
For technical information contact:
Alan Ambury or Esther Hogenhout
Christchurch 03 964 8700
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Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2010 will be released in October 2010.