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Births and Deaths: Year ended June 2012
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  16 August 2012

Live births down in the June 2012 year

There were 61,031 live births registered in New Zealand in the year ended June 2012, down 1,628 from the June 2011 year. This is the lowest number of births since 2006, when 58,250 births were registered.

In part, annual fluctuations in births 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. 

The highest number of births ever recorded in any June year was 66,112, in 1962. At that time, New Zealand's population was just 2.5 million, compared with 4.4 million in 2012.

Births in Canterbury decreasing

Fewer births were registered in the Canterbury region in the June 2012 year – down 586 (8 percent) compared with the June 2011 year. This follows a decrease of around 4 percent between 2010 and 2011.

Within Canterbury, births in Christchurch city dropped by 217 between the years ended June 2010 and 2011 and by 485 between 2011 and 2012. The largest decreases occurred in the eastern wards. These areas include residential suburbs significantly affected by the Canterbury earthquakes and subsequent population loss. Births in the most eastern ward (Burwood-Pegasus) dropped by 26 percent between the year ended June 2010 and 2012. In contrast, the north-western suburb of Fendalton-Waimairi had a small increase (2 percent).

 Births in Christchurch city by ward

 Christchurch wards

 Year ending June

Percentage change


































 Banks Peninsula





 Christchurch city    





Fertility rates for regions are produced for the census years 1996, 2001, and 2006.

You can find these rates on the Births page.

Fewer babies for women in most age groups

Compared with the June 2011 year, fewer babies were born to women in most age groups in the year ended June 2012. The largest decreases were to women aged:

  • 35–39 years (down 498)
  • 25–29 years (down 328)
  • under 20 years (down 286) 
  • 20–24 years (down 268)
  • 30–34 years (down 248).

A small decrease in births to women aged 40–44 years (down 18) was offset by an increase for women aged 45 and over (up 18). 

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).

Women aged 30–34 years had the highest fertility rate (121 births per 1,000 women aged 30–34 years) in 2012. The 2012 rate suggests that for every 1,000 women aged 30–34 years, there were three fewer births than in 2011. The rate for women aged 25–29 years (104 per 1,000) also dropped by three births 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).

Graph, Age-specific fertility rates, 1962–2012.

Total fertility rate lower

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 2012 year was 2.05 births per woman – down from 2.10 births in 2011. Annual fluctuations in the total fertility rate do not necessarily indicate changes in family size, but rather changes in the timing of births.

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 over the following two decades.

Graph, Total fertility rate, 1921–2012.  

Number of deaths rises again

The number of deaths registered during the June 2012 year was 29,846, up 2 percent from 29,325 in 2011.

The increase in the number of deaths is not unexpected. The number of deaths is gradually increasing due to population growth in the older age groups, although this is partly offset by longer life expectancy. Statistics NZ's population projections (median projection) indicate that the number of deaths will continue to increase, passing 40,000 in 2033 and 50,000 in 2046. 

Much of the increase in the number of deaths between 2011 and 2012 was due to population growth in the older age groups. The standardised death rate (see Definitions section) decreased from 3.80 in 2011 to 3.73 in 2012. This slight decrease suggests that when deaths numbers are adjusted for changes in the size, age, and sex of the population, a smaller proportion of people died in 2012 than in 2011.

Regional deaths

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

During the June 2012 year, the Auckland region had the largest increase in the number of deaths (up 365 to 7,715). Although the Auckland region is home to approximately one-third of New Zealand's population, it only accounted for around one-quarter of New Zealand's deaths. This is due to the region's relatively young age structure. The median age of the Auckland region's population is 34 years, compared with 37 years for the national population. 

There was a decrease in the number of deaths in Canterbury, compared with the June 2011 year. Deaths in Canterbury dropped to 4,324 in 2012 compared with 4,506 in 2011. The 2011 figure for Canterbury includes fatalities that occurred as both a direct and indirect result of the 22 February 2011 earthquake. However, the 2012 figure was still higher than in 2010 (4,161).

Infant mortality rate down to 4.7 deaths per 1,000 live births

During the June 2012 year, the number of infant deaths (under one year of age) registered in New Zealand was 284. In 2012, the infant mortality rate (infant deaths per 1,000 live births) was 4.7 per 1,000, down from 5.7 in 2002.

The infant mortality rate has dropped over the last 60 years. The decline in the rate has been smaller in the last decade than in previous decades. The rate had declined from 29.1 (in 1952), to 17.0 (in 1972), and to 8.2 (in 1992). 

Graph, Infant mortality rate, 1952–2012.

Changes to the births and deaths release

The Births and Deaths information release will become an annual release on 19 February 2013, with the release of data for the year ended December 2012. Data for the year ended March, June, and September will continue to be released on Infoshare, but information and media releases will no longer be published for those years. 

For more detailed data, see the Excel tables in the 'Downloads' box.

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