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The adult population of the Auckland region has become more qualified over time, and is more qualified than New Zealand as a whole. Improvements in educational attainment have been seen across the whole region.

Mapping educational attainment

Examining how the distribution of the two ends of the educational attainment scale change over time will indicate where areas of the Auckland region have shown higher or lower levels of educational attainment. The top three maps of figure 10.1 show the proportion of the Auckland region's residents with no qualification, and the bottom three show the proportion with a tertiary qualification (bachelor's degree or higher) at the time of the 1996, 2001, and 2006 Censuses. The darker areas indicate higher percentages.

Figure 10.1

Percentage of adult population with no qualifications

Note: More information about interpreting the maps is in the Interpreting the maps chapter.

pdf icon. Downloadable version of figure 10.1 (PDF, 4.9MB)
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Educational attainment over time

In general, people living in the Auckland region have become more qualified. Across the region, the proportion of adults with no qualification decreased from 34 percent to 20 percent between 1996 and 2006. The top maps in figure 10.1 show this decline was evident in virtually all areas of the Auckland region.

In 1996 there were over 25 area units that had more than 60 percent of adults with no qualification. Most of these areas were in Manukau city, with three in eastern parts of Auckland city and two in Papakura district. In 2006, no areas had more than 60 percent without a qualification.

At the other end of the scale, the proportion of adults with a tertiary qualification increased for the region as a whole, from 12 percent to 20 percent between 1996 and 2006. The bottom maps in figure 10.1 highlight that, while this increase was seen in the majority of area units, the proportion of adults with a tertiary qualification has intensified particularly in Auckland city.

Comparison with New Zealand

Educational attainment also improved across New Zealand from 1996 to 2006. Table 10.1 shows that in both the Auckland region and across New Zealand, the proportion of adults with no qualification fell between 1996 and 2006, while the proportion of adults with a tertiary qualification rose.

Table 10.1

Highest Qualification for Adults
Auckland region and New Zealand
1996 and 2006
1996 2006
No qualification
Auckland region 34.3 20.3
New Zealand 38.1 25.0
Tertiary qualification
Auckland region 11.8 19.9
New Zealand 9.5 15.8

Source: Census of Population and Dwellings

In 1996 and 2006, adults in the Auckland region had a higher level of educational attainment than adults across New Zealand as a whole. In addition, the improvement in educational attainment between 1996 and 2006 was slightly more pronounced in the Auckland region than across New Zealand.

In part, higher educational levels in the Auckland region reflect the larger number of international migrants settling in Auckland. They tend to be highly qualified as a result of the migration selection process.

Educational attainment by birthplace

Overseas-born residents in the Auckland region are more highly qualified than New Zealand-born residents. Comparing the highest qualifications of these two groups in 2006 shows that a much higher proportion of overseas-born than New Zealand-born adults had a postgraduate qualification (8 percent and 4 percent, respectively). Postgraduate qualifications include postgraduate diploma or certificate, bachelor's degree with honours, master's degree, and doctorate.


There are implications of increasing educational attainment in the Auckland region:

It is important to make sure that the Auckland region remains an attractive place to work and live for skilled overseas migrants. This is particularly relevant in the future, as countries compete for skilled labour. Auckland will need to provide a full range of incentives, including employment opportunities, competitive salaries, and favourable work environments (Auckland Regional Council, 2008).
These incentives also apply to New Zealand-born residents in the Auckland region. Retaining these people will also be key, in order to take advantage of the increase in educational attainment across the region.

Related chapters

  • Income
  • Labour force
  • Population mobility

Further information

This page is part of Mapping Trends in the Auckland Region, available on

Notes and sources


The educational attainment data are based on the census usually resident population count from the 1991, 1996, 2001, and 2006 Censuses.

More information about this variable can be found on the Qualification – highest, secondary school and post-school page, available on

Data sources

The maps display data at area unit level. Area units are non-administrative areas that are in between meshblocks and territorial authorities. They generally coincide with suburbs (in urban areas) and rural neighbourhoods. The Auckland region is made up of 399 area units, while there are 1,927 area units throughout New Zealand. Digital boundary files, used for constructing the maps, can be downloaded from Digital Boundaries, available on

The Auckland region is one of 16 regions, which are aggregations of area units governed by regional councils. More information about the geographical hierarchy of areas and the maps is in the Interpreting the maps chapter.


Auckland Regional Council (2008). Employment in the Auckland region 2006 Auckland Regional Council, 2006 Census series.

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