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Births and Deaths: Year ended June 2011
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  16 August 2011

Live births

There were 62,660 live births registered in New Zealand in the June 2011 year, down 1,460 (2 percent) from the June 2010 year.

The highest number of births ever recorded in any June year was 66,110, in 1962. At that time, New Zealand's population was just 2.5 million, compared with 4.4 million in 2011. 

Throughout the 1960s the number of births only dipped below 60,000 once, in 1966, when 59,700 births were registered. Following another temporary peak in 1972 (64,510) the number of births dropped to 49,680 in 1982. The next 10 years saw a relatively steady increase to 60,430 in 1992.

Graph, Live births, 1962 to 2011.  

Nearly 600,000 (598,520) births were registered in the 10 years to June 2011, with the numbers fluctuating from a low of 53,970 (in 2002) to 64,140 (in 2008). Annual fluctuations in births, in part, reflect changes in the size and age of the population, the age at which women have children, and the number of children they have. In turn, the number of births influences the future size and age of the population.

Fertility rates and mother's age

Age-specific fertility rates measure the number of live births 1,000 women in a particular age-group have in a given period (usually a year).

In the June 2011 year, women aged 30–34 years had the highest fertility rate (124 births per 1,000 women aged 30–34 years), followed by those aged 25–29 years (107 per 1,000) and 20–24 years (74 per 1,000).

Compared with the high fertility seen in the early 1960s, women in all age groups now have fewer babies. In 1962, women aged 20–24 years had the highest fertility rate (265 per 1,000), followed by those aged 25–29 years (259 per 1,000), and 30–34 years (152 per 1,000). (Age-specific fertility rates before 1981 are based on December years.)

 Graph, Age-specific fertility rates, 1962 to 2011.

Fertility rates for women aged 40–44 years dropped from around 20 births per 1,000 in the early 1960s to around 4 per 1,000 in the mid-1980s, before increasing to 15 births per 1,000 in 2011. Among women aged 40–44 years who registered a baby in the June 2011 year, 41 percent were aged 40 years and 28 percent were aged 41 years.

Median age of mother

The median age (half are younger and half older than this age) of New Zealand women giving birth is now 30 years, compared with 26 years in the early 1960s. The median age dropped to just under 25 years in the early 1970s. Although there has been a significant increase in the median age since the 1970s, it has been relatively stable at around 30 years in the past decade.

While there has been a small decrease in the median age since the June 2006 year (down from 30.4 to 29.9 years), this is not necessarily indicative of a reversal in the trend towards older childbearing, but reflects changes in age structure within the childbearing age group. The median age of women aged 15–39 years is now about one year younger than in 2001. (Median age of mother before 1981 is based on December years.)

 Graph, Median age of mother, 1962 to 2011.

The median age of women giving birth to their first child (based on children in the current relationship only) was 28 years in the year ended June 2011. This has been relatively stable over the last decade.

Total fertility rate

The total fertility rate summarises the age-specific fertility rates into a single number indicator of fertility. It indicates, on average, the number of babies a woman would have in her lifetime if the age-specific fertility rates in a given period stayed the same throughout her life.

The total fertility rate for the June 2011 year was 2.10 births per woman – down from 2.16 in the June 2010 year. Annual fluctuations in the total fertility rate do not necessarily indicate changes in family size, but rather changes in the timing of births.

 Graph, Total fertility rate, 1981 to 2011.

New Zealand's total fertility rate has been relatively stable over the last three decades, averaging 2.02 births per woman. During this period, the total fertility rate varied from 1.90 births per woman (in 2002 and 2003) to 2.18 (in 1991 and 2008). In contrast, fertility rates increased dramatically from the mid-1940s, peaking at 4.31 births per woman in 1961. New Zealand then experienced decreasing fertility, with the total fertility rate dropping to 4.05 (in 1963), to 3.00 (in 1972), and to 2.12 (in 1979). (Total fertility rates before 1981 are based on December years.)

 Graph, Total fertility rate, 1921 to 2011.  


Māori births

In the June 2011 year, 18,120 babies had Māori ethnicity and 14,120 live births were registered to Māori women.

Māori women tend to have higher fertility rates in the younger age groups compared with the total population. In the year ended June 2011, Māori women aged 20–24 years and 25–29 years had the highest fertility rates (around 150 per 1,000 women). The median age of Māori women giving birth was 26 years in the June 2011 year, compared with 30 years for the total population.

The total fertility rate for Māori women in the June 2011 year was 2.78 births per woman, above the rate for the total population (2.10 births per woman). 

Fertility rates for Māori women are available from Statistics NZ's Infoshare database (, under Population on the Browse page.

Regional live births

The Auckland region had the highest number of births in the June 2011 year (22,800), accounting for 36 percent of all live births registered in New Zealand. This was followed by the Canterbury (7,090), Wellington (6,720), and Waikato (6,090) regions. Together, these four regions accounted for just over two-thirds of all live births registered in the June 2011 year, which is consistent with their share of New Zealand's population.

Fertility rates for regions are produced for the census years 1996, 2001, and 2006. You can find these rates on the Births page on the Statistics NZ website.


The number of deaths registered during the June 2011 year was 29,320, up 480 from 28,840 in 2010. Much of the annual increase was due to an increase in deaths among those aged 90 years and over (up 450). Seventeen percent of the deceased in the June 2011 year were aged 90 years and over, compared with 12 percent in the June 2001 year.

Nationally, 400 fewer deaths were registered between July and December 2010, but 890 more were registered between January and June 2011, compared with the same periods in the previous year.

The number of deaths is gradually increasing due to population growth in the older age groups, partly offset by longer life expectancy. Deaths increased from 20,000 in the June 1957 year to 24,960 in the June 1973 year – an increase of nearly 5,000 in 16 years. Deaths increased over the next 38 years to 29,320 in the June 2011 year. Statistics NZ's mid-range population projections (series 5) indicate deaths will continue to increase, surpassing 40,000 in 2029 and 50,000 in 2042.

 Graph, Deaths, 1953 to 2011.

Regional deaths

Regional figures are based on the usual residence of the deceased, not the place of death. Statistics New Zealand does not compile statistics on place of death.

During the June 2011 year, the Auckland region had the highest number of deaths (7,350), down slightly from 7,434 in the June 2010 year. Although the Auckland region is home to approximately one-third of New Zealand's population, it only accounted for one-quarter of New Zealand's deaths. This is due to the region's relatively young age structure. Only 10 percent of the Auckland region's population is aged 65 years and over, compared with 13 percent for the national population.

More deaths were recorded in the Canterbury region in the June 2011 year (4,510) up from 4,160 in the June 2010 year. Part of the increase in deaths in Canterbury can be directly attributed to the earthquake on 22 February 2011. However, more deaths were also registered throughout the rest of the year – up 30 in the September 2010 quarter, up 80 in the December 2010 quarter, up 200 in the March 2011 quarter, and up 40 in the June 2011 quarter. There were more deaths among those aged 65 years and over (up 200) compared with the June 2010 year, including 120 more deaths among those aged 90 years and over.

Canterbury has a higher proportion of elderly people than New Zealand as a whole. Nearly 15 percent of Canterbury's population is aged 65 years and over, compared with 13 percent for the national population. Therefore, while Cantabrians make up 13 percent of New Zealand's population, they accounted for 15 percent of deaths in the June 2011 year.

Death rates

The crude death rate (deaths per 1,000 mean estimated resident population) is influenced by the age structure of the population, and therefore does not provide a true measure of the trends in mortality. For example, the crude death rate for the Māori population (4.2 per 1,000) was much lower than for the total population (6.7 per 1,000) in the June 2011 year. This lower rate is due to the much younger age structure of the Māori population.

Age-standardised death rates provide an alternative summary of the mortality trends of populations with very different age structures. The standardised death rate for the Māori population (6.3 deaths per 1,000 mean estimated population) was much higher than for the total population (3.8 per 1,000) in the June 2011 year. Standardised death rates for both the Māori and total populations have dropped, down from 8.0 and 4.8 per 1,000, respectively, in the June 2002 year. (Standardised death rates are not available for the June years before 2002.) 

Standardised death rates can only be used to compare mortality trends for populations that have been standardised against the same standard population. Life tables give a more accurate and detailed description of the mortality trends across populations and time.

Life expectancy

According to the abridged period life table for 2008–10, a newborn girl can be expected to live, on average, 82.7 years, and a newborn boy 78.8 years. This represents longevity gains of 0.3 years for females and 0.4 males since 2007–09.

Abridged period life tables are produced annually for the total population only. Complete life tables are produced for the Māori, non-Māori, and total populations every five years. Complete life tables present mortality measures for each single year of age, while abridged life tables present mortality measures for age groups. The latest complete life tables, in New Zealand Life Tables: 2005–07, show that Māori life expectancy was 75.1 years for females and 70.4 years for males in 2005–07, compared with 82.2 years and 78.0 years, respectively, for the total population.

Infant mortality and stillbirths

During the June 2011 year, the number of infant deaths (under one year of age) registered in New Zealand was 310.

The infant mortality rate (infant deaths per 1,000 live births) has dropped over the last 40 years. In the June 2011 year, the infant mortality rate was 4.9 per 1,000, down from 5.5 in the June 2001 year.

The decline in the infant mortality rate has been smaller in the last decade than in previous decades. The rate declined from 22.2 (in 1961), to 16.5 (in 1971), to 11.8 (in 1981), to 7.5 (in 1991). The Māori infant mortality rate was 6.8 per 1,000 in the June 2011 year, down from 43.4 (in 1961), and 7.9 (in 2001).

 Graph, Infant mortality rate, 1953 to 2011.

There were 400 stillbirths in the June 2011 year. This corresponds to 6.4 stillbirths per 1,000 births (live births and stillbirths combined). 

New Zealand's natural increase

Natural increase represents the excess of births over deaths. Births outnumbered deaths by 33,330 in the June 2011 year, down from 35,280 in the June 2010 year. The 2009-base mid-range national population projections (series 5) show that natural increase is likely to decline over the next 50 years, dropping to 5,500 in 2061.

 Graph, Natural increase, 1962 to 2011.

Final figures and revised demographic rates

The vital statistics and infant mortality rates for the June 2011 year included in this information release, and contained in the appended tables, are final. Fertility rates and other death rates for the June 2011 year are provisional.

Vitals articles

Statistics NZ occasionally produces articles that provide extra analysis on selected vitals topics. These can be found on the Vitals articles page of the Statistics NZ website ( The most recent articles related to births are:

Nov 2010

Late Birth Registrations examines the characteristics of births registered 'late' (more than two years after the baby was born) for the period July 2004–December 2009, and provides some historical background on late registration in New Zealand.

Sep 2009 

Measuring Fertility describes a range of fertility measures and discusses the limitations of these measures.

For technical information contact: 
Anne Howard
Christchurch 03 964 8700

Next release ...

Births and Deaths: Year ended September 2011 will be released on 17 November 2011.

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