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Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2015 (provisional)
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  22 October 2015
Commentary

This information release contains provisional estimates of the resident population of New Zealand's 16 regional council areas (regions), 67 territorial authority areas, and 21 Auckland local board areas at 30 June 2015. Population estimates give the best available measure of the size and age-sex composition of the population usually living in each area, on an annual basis.

Migration pushes New Zealand's population growth to almost 2 percent

New Zealand's population grew by 86,900 (1.9 percent) during the June 2015 year, to reach 4,596,700. This follows an increase of 67,600 (1.5 percent) in the previous June year. The 2015 percentage growth was the highest since 2003 when the population grew by 2.0 percent.

Population growth in the latest year was due to a net international migration gain (more arrivals than departures) of 58,300 and a natural increase (more births than deaths) of 28,700. The net migration gain was the highest ever in a June year and approximately 20,000 higher than in the year to June 2014 (38,300). The natural increase for the year to June 2015 was the lowest since 2003.

Graph, regional population change, year ended 30 June 2015.

Auckland dominates population growth

Auckland continues to be both the largest and fastest-growing region. At 30 June 2015, Auckland accounted for more than one-third (34 percent) of the New Zealand population.

In the June 2015 year:

  • Auckland's population grew by 43,500 (2.9 percent), to reach 1.57 million.
  • Half (50 percent) of New Zealand's population growth was in Auckland.
  • More than two-thirds (67 percent) of Auckland's population growth came from net migration, and the remaining growth (33 percent) was from natural increase.

Increased growth in most regions 

Of New Zealand's 16 regions, 15 experienced population growth during the June 2015 year. In addition to Auckland, both Canterbury (2.1 percent), and Waikato (1.9 percent) had population growth above the national average (1.9 percent). West Coast was the only region to decrease in population (down 0.4 percent).

With the exception of Taranaki, all regions had faster growth in the June 2015 year than in the previous year. Taranaki's increase was only slightly lower than in 2014 (0.9 percent compared with 1.1 percent in the June 2014 year).

All 16 regions had population gains from natural increase and 14 regions also had net migration gains. Net migration was the main contributor to growth in 11 of these regions, and contributed more than three-quarters of the growth in five South Island regions (Tasman, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury, and Otago). Gisborne and West Coast both had small net migration losses in the June 2015 year.

Graph, regional population change, from natural increase and net migration, year ended 30 June 2015.

North Island population reaches 3.5 million

The North Island population grew by 69,100 (2.0 percent) in the June 2015 year, to reach 3.52 million. It was 3.00 million at 30 June 2002.

Population growth in the North Island has largely been concentrated within the four largest territorial authorities (Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, and Wellington). Since 2002, these four areas have collectively accounted for 78 percent of the North Island's population growth. They also accounted for 78 percent of the North Island's growth in the June 2015 year. These four territorial authorities made up 58 percent of the North Island's population at 30 June 2015.

Of the 43 North Island territorial authority areas, three recorded a population decrease in the latest year: Stratford (down 0.4 percent), Opotiki (down 0.3 percent), and Wairoa (down 0.2 percent).

Fastest growing districts are in South Island

New Zealand's three fastest-growing territorial authorities in the June 2015 year were all in the South Island. Selwyn experienced the highest growth (6.5 percent), followed by Queenstown-Lakes (4.9 percent), and Waimakariri (3.6 percent). These three areas also grew the fastest in each of the previous two years.

Overall, the South Island population grew by 17,900 (1.7 percent) in the year to June 2015, slightly more than the increase of 15,700 (1.5 percent) in the previous year. The South Island's total increase was made up of natural increase of 3,800 and net migration of 14,100.

More than three-fifths (62 percent) of the year's South Island growth came from the greater Christchurch area (Waimakariri, Christchurch, and Selwyn). All three areas had sizeable gains from net migration as well as smaller gains from natural increase.

 Graph, fastest-growing territorial authority areas, year ended 30 June 2015.

Of the 23 territorial authority areas in the South Island, only two had population decreases: Buller (down 2.1 percent), and Waimate (down 0.1 percent). 

Map, population change, North Island territorial authority areas, year ended 30 June 2015.

Map, population change, South Island territorial authority areas, year ended 30 June 2015.

Growth across Auckland local boards

Within Auckland, Waitemata was the fastest-growing local board area, increasing by 8,300 (9.7 percent). The next fastest-growing areas were: Waiheke (3.3 percent), Upper Harbour (3.2 percent), Hibiscus and Bays (3.2 percent), and Papakura (3.0 percent).

Great Barrier was the only local board area to have a small population decrease (down 0.1 percent), with the remaining areas all having population growth between 1.7 percent and 3.0 percent.

All 21 local board areas experienced gains from net migration; Great Barrier was the only area not to have a natural increase gain.

Wairoa has highest proportion of children aged 0–14

At 30 June 2015, 25 percent of Wairoa's population was aged 0–14 years, well above the national average (20 percent). Other territorial authority areas with high proportions of children included Kawerau (25 percent), Gisborne, and Waitomo (both 24 percent). Dunedin had the lowest proportion of children (16 percent), followed by Thames-Coromandel (16 percent) and Wellington (17 percent).  

Among territorial authority areas, Thames-Coromandel had the highest proportion aged 65+ (29 percent), while Wellington had the lowest (10 percent). Overall, 15 percent of New Zealand's population at 30 June 2015 was aged 65+.

Graph, Wairoa district population, by age group and sex, at 30 June 2015.Graph, Thames-Coromandel district population, by age group and sex, at 30 June 2015.

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

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