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The story of the century - dramatic changes in housing and population

The size of New Zealand’s households has halved – but it’s taken over a century to do it, according to new analysis from Statistics New Zealand.

A century of censuses: Long-term trends from the Census of Population and Dwellings to 2013 shows that at the most recent census in 2013, there were on average 2.7 people in each occupied dwelling – nearly half the number from 1886, when 5.2 people was the average.

The analysis also shows that the number of dwellings has increased by around seven times in the past hundred years – from 238,066 to over 1.5 million – while in the same period, the general population has approximately quadrupled.

Statistics NZ researcher Rosemary Goodyear says there are several reasons why fewer people are living under the same roof. “Households have changed. Our families are smaller, and – partly because of our ageing population – there are more couple-only and one-person households.”

In 2013, New Zealand also had its lowest home ownership rate since the 1950s. The rate peaked in the 1986 and 1991 Censuses.

A century of censuses shows how New Zealand’s population has increasingly shifted towards the North Island. “In the 1860s, almost two-thirds of the settler population lived in the South Island. At the beginning of the 20th century the balance shifted in favour of the North Island, and by 2013 three-quarters of New Zealand’s population lived in the North Island,” Dr Goodyear said.

“One of the other marked changes in the past century has been the change in the size of the Māori population, which has increased by over 1,000 percent – from approximately 50,000 in 1911, to nearly 600,000 in 2013. The total population increased by only 300 percent in this same period,” Dr Goodyear said.

A century of censuses looks at the long-term trends from the New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings. This first set of indicators shows how New Zealand has changed dramatically since the 19th and 20th centuries, both in the size and diversity of the population, and the types of homes we live in. In the lead-up to the 2018 Census, additional indicators will be added.

Also released today is the final set of NZ.Stat tables to be produced from the 2013 Census. These tables give detailed breakdowns on the topic of cigarette smoking.

Tags: statistics new zealand - population