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National Population Estimates: June 2010 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  13 August 2010


This release contains estimates of the total population of New Zealand at 30 June 2010. Tables are included at the end of this release with estimated resident population and population change, estimated resident population by broad age group and sex, and by five-year age group and sex. Estimates by single-year of age are available via Infoshare on the Statistics New Zealand website (Demography Age Estimates in the 'Population' category).

Population estimates give the best available measure of the size and age-sex structure of the population usually living in an area. Estimates are based on the latest census data and on births, deaths, and migration since the census. National population estimates are published quarterly and subnational population estimates are published annually.

The estimates in this release are provisional. They incorporate provisional estimates of the number of births and deaths that occurred in the June 2010 quarter. Final estimates will be released in November 2010. In addition, population estimates after 30 June 2006 will be revised following results from the 2011 Census of Population and Dwellings.

In this release, a special topic analyses components of population change between 1970 and 2010. Previous releases have included special topics on the median age of the population aged 65 years and over, trends in the number of children (aged 0–14 years), 1969–2009, trends in the working-age population, 1979–2009, and an international comparison: percentage of population aged 65+.

Estimated resident population

The estimated resident population of New Zealand was 4,367,700 at 30 June 2010, comprising 2,144,700 males and 2,223,100 females. At 30 June 2010, there were 96 males for every 100 females. The estimated resident population for the mean year ended 30 June 2010 was 4,345,500.

Graph, estimated resident population at June 2010

Annual population change

In the June 2010 year, the estimated resident population grew by 51,900 (1.2 percent), compared with 46,900 (1.1 percent) in the previous June year. The population growth in the June 2010 year was comparable to the average annual increase of 51,000 (1.2 percent) recorded during the 10-year period to June 2010. 

Graph, annual population change at June 2010

The population growth for the June 2010 year resulted from a natural increase (excess of births over deaths) of 35,400 and a net permanent and long-term (PLT) migration gain of 16,500. The level of net PLT migration was the highest for a June year since 2004 (22,000), largely because of a drop in PLT departures.

Historically, natural increase has been the dominant component of population growth. Over the last 40 years, natural increase has accounted for four-fifths of New Zealand's total population growth. During the June 2010 year, natural increase accounted for around two-thirds of population growth.

Quarterly population change

During the June 2010 quarter, New Zealand's estimated resident population grew by 6,000 (0.1 percent). This growth resulted from a natural increase of 8,500 and a net PLT migration loss of 2,600. In comparison, natural increase was lower (8,200) for the June 2009 quarter, while net migration was higher (1,900), resulting in quarterly population growth of 10,100 (0.2 percent).

Median age

New Zealand has an ageing population because of a shift to sustained low fertility and low mortality rates. This shift is also observed in other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. At 30 June 2010, half of New Zealand's population was over 36.7 years, compared with a median age of 34.3 years a decade earlier. The median age for males is now 35.5 years, while for females it is 37.6 years. The lower median age for males largely reflects their lower life expectancy of 78.4 years, compared with 82.4 years for females (New Zealand abridged life table, 2007–09). Latest national population projections (2009 base–2061 update) indicate that the median age will be 43.5 years in 2061 (series 5).

Graph, median age by sex at June 2010

Components of population change, 1970–2010 

The two components of population change are natural increase and net migration. Between 1970 and 2010, the majority of New Zealand's population growth came from natural increase. From a high of 39,800 in the June 1972 year, annual natural increase fell to a low of 24,400 in 1982 and then rose to 33,000 in the June 1992 year before falling back to around 30,000 during 1993–2001. In the June 2002 year natural increase fell to 26,500, before rising to over 35,000 in the 2008 and 2010 June years. In the year ended 30 June 2010 natural increase accounted for about two-thirds of population growth. The longer-term trend has been for natural increase to contribute closer to four-fifths of population growth.

 Graph, components of population change at June 2010

Net migration's contribution to annual population change beween 1970 and 2010 fluctuated significantly, ranging from a net loss of 37,100 in 1979 to a net gain of 42,500 in the June 2003 year. Annual net migration gain contributed strongly to population growth during 1973–75, 1994–97, and 2002–04, accounting for more than one-third of the total population increase in these June years. Conversely, significant annual net migration losses were recorded in the 1977–80 and 1986 June years, which largely offset the population gains from natural increase in these years. In the June 2010 year, net migration (16,500) was at its highest level since the June 2004 year (22,000).

Changes in age composition

The age composition of New Zealand's population has changed over the past decade. In the 10 years ended 30 June 2010, the number of children (aged 0–14 years) grew to 894,500, an average annual increase of 1,600 (0.2 percent). For the year ended 30 June 2010, the increase of 3,300 (0.4 percent) in the number of children was double the average annual increase for the decade. At 30 June 2010, children accounted for 20 percent of the New Zealand population, down from 23 percent at 30 June 2000.

At 30 June 2010, the population aged 15–39 years remained the largest population group, accounting for 34 percent of the total population, down from 36 percent a decade earlier. This age group reached 1,496,600, up by 12,000 (0.8 percent) compared with the June 2009 figure. In the 10 years ended June 2010, the average annual increase for this age group was lower, at 9,600 (0.7 percent).

Graph, average annual population change at June 2010

The population aged 40–64 also remained a large proportion of the population, increasing from 29 percent to 32 percent in the decade ended 30 June 2010. This age group increased by 20,200 (1.5 percent) in the year ended 30 June 2010, to reach 1,407,500. The increase was below the average annual increase of 28,300 (2.3 percent) for the 10 years ended June 2010.  

The proportion of the population aged 65–79 years was 9.6 percent at 30 June 2010, up from 9.0 percent in 2000. During the June 2010 year, the population aged 65–79 years increased by 2.9 percent (11,600) to reach 418,300. In the 10 years ended June 2010, this age group grew at an average annual rate of 1.9 percent (7,300).

In the 10 years ended June 2010, there was also an increase in the proportion of the population aged 80 years and over (80+), from 2.8 percent to 3.5 percent. The 80+ population reached 150,800 at 30 June 2010, an average annual increase of 3.4 percent (4,300) over the decade. The size and growth rate of this age group varied significantly by sex. The average annual growth rate for males for the decade was 4.9 percent, compared with 2.6 percent for females. In the year ended 30 June 2010, the male population in the 80+ age group increased by 4.5 percent (2,500), to reach 58,700, while the female population increased by 2.6 percent (2,300) to 92,000.

Population clock

Statistics NZ's online population clock gives a real-time approximation of the estimated resident population of New Zealand. The population clock uses the latest quarterly estimated resident population, and estimates for the expected number of births, deaths, and net migration during the following quarter. The settings for each component (births, deaths, and net migration) are derived by converting the quarterly estimated totals into a 'per minute' figure, making allowance for the number of days per quarter. The population clock can be viewed on the Statistics NZ website:

Different population measures

Users of population statistics need to be aware that there are three main population measures produced by Statistics NZ: the census night population count, the census usually resident population count, and the estimated resident population. The population counts published from the census are not comparable with the estimated resident population. The estimated resident population includes adjustments for net census undercount and for New Zealand residents temporarily overseas on census night. For more information see the 'Technical notes' section of this release.

For technical information contact: 
Esther Hogenhout or Alan Ambury
Christchurch 03 964 8700

Next releases...

Subnational Population Estimates: at 30 June 2010 will be released on 26 October 2010.

National Population Estimates: September 2010 quarter will be released on 15 November 2010.

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