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New Zealand: An Urban/Rural Profile Update


New Zealand: An Urban/Rural Profile Update is a further development that builds on a Statistics New Zealand research report published in 2004, New Zealand: An Urban/Rural Profile. The focus of this update has been to review the experimental classification used in the initial report, using the later 2006 Census information. The profile paints an updated picture of the urban/rural nature of communities in New Zealand.


New Zealand: An Urban/Rural Profile, was produced in 2004 as part of a series of analytical reports based on the 2001 Census. This report was prepared as a research initiative using an experimental urban/rural classification developed using the Statistics New Zealand standard classification and the 2001 Census meshblock patterns. This experimental classification, and subsequent report, was developed as a response to requests for an updated definition of urban/rural areas to more accurately paint the true picture of the urban/rural nature of communities.

The standard classification defines the urban/rural areas based on population size alone and was judged to be inadequate to portray the diversity of the social and economic characteristics of people living in all areas of the urban-rural spectrum. This led to the development of an experimental classification that more accurately depicts the characteristics of places by redefining the urban/rural areas based on the degree of urban influence the area has. This degree of urban influence on the area was determined by using the usual residence and workplace addresses of the employed population in the area.


  • Main urban areas
  • Satellite urban areas
  • Independent urban areas
  • Rural areas with high urban influence
  • Rural areas with moderate urban influence
  • Rural areas with low urban influence
  • Highly rural/remote areas
  • Area outside urban/rural profile.

The 'area outside urban/rural profile' category is a new addition. It is a residual category to capture the number of meshblocks outside the other categories, including all 'water' meshblocks in New Zealand. Most of these were excluded from the analysis in 2004, and their inclusion now is to achieve complete coverage of New Zealand in the updated experimental urban/rural classification.

The naming follows the convention used by Statistics New Zealand for residual categories in geographic classifications.

Further explanation for each of the categories is available here.

Data tables

Updated tables, (time series 1996, 2001 and 2006) have been completed using data from the 2006 Census of Population and Dwellings. Tables also include information from other data sources including Business Demography, Building Consents, New Zealand Income Survey, and Population Estimates and Projections.

The tables can be downloaded in Excel format. If you do not have access to Excel, you may use the Excel file viewer to view, print and export the contents of these files.

Geographic concordance

The urban/rural profile classification has been updated specifically for use in the 2006 tables, and is not an official classification. The urban/rural profile classification was developed to be consistent with the standard Statistics New Zealand classification of urban and rural areas at the broadest level.

For more information, see the excel table: Urban/Rural Profile: Geographic Concordance

Note that the methodology for updating the classification has not changed nor has there been any changes to the original 'profile' report.

Click here to view the 2004 New Zealand: An Urban/Rural Profile report.


Statistics New Zealand would like to acknowledge the role a number of people played in updating the experimental urban/rural classification and data tables.

In particular, thanks to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and Ministry of Education for their valuable input and feedback for this work.

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