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National Population Estimates: June 2012 quarter
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  14 August 2012

This information release contains provisional estimates of the resident population of New Zealand at 30 June 2012. National population estimates give the best available measure of the size and age-sex structure of the population usually living in New Zealand.

Population grows 0.6 percent

In the June 2012 year, the estimated resident population grew by 28,000 (0.6 percent), to reach 4,433,100. This compares with an increase of 37,400 (0.9 percent) in the previous June year.

Population growth in June 2012 was due to a natural increase (excess of births over deaths) of 31,100, offset by a net international migration loss of 3,200. Compared with the previous June year, both natural increase and net international migration have fallen (by 2,400 and 7,100, respectively).

A decade ago, New Zealand's estimated resident population was 3.9 million. Since then the population has grown about 0.5 million, which is approximately equivalent to the population of the Wellington region. Our population is expected to continue growing. Latest national population projections (median assumption) indicate that in 2036 there will be 5.4 million people in New Zealand.

Graph, Annual population change, 1992 to 2012.   Graph, Median age, by sex, 1992 to 2012.   

Median age reaches 37.0 years

At 30 June 2012, half of New Zealand's population was over 37.0 years, compared with 31.7 years in 1992. New Zealand's population is ageing, due to sustained low fertility and low mortality rates. Latest national population projections (median assumption) indicate that by 2061 the median age of the New Zealand population could exceed 44.0 years.

Over the last two decades, the median age has increased more for females (up 5.8 years) than for males (up 4.7 years). The median age is now 38.2 years for females and 35.7 years for males. The lower median age for males largely reflects their lower life expectancy. On average, males can expect to live 79.1 years, compared with 82.8 years for females (see New Zealand abridged life table, 2009–11).

Population aged 15–39 years remains the largest group

The age structure of New Zealand’s population has changed over the last decade. At 30 June 2012: 

  • Children (aged 0–14 years) accounted for 20 percent (892,300) of the population, down from 22 percent in 2002.
  • The younger working-age population (aged 15–39 years) remained the largest population group (1,497,100), accounting for 34 percent of the population, down from 36 percent in 2002. 
  • The older working-age population (aged 40–64 years) made up 32 percent (1,432,400) of the population, up from 30 percent in 2002.
  • The population aged 65 years and over (aged 65+) accounted for 14 percent (611,400) of the population, up from 12 percent in 2002.
Graph, Population by broad age group, 1992 to 2012. Graph, Population aged 65 plus, by sex, 1992 to 2012.  

Population aged 65+ rises above 610,000

Our population continues to age, with 14 percent of the total population now aged 65 and over (65+) at 30 June 2012. Between the June 1992 and 2012 years, the 65+ population has increased more than 50 percent, from 399,600 to 611,400.  

Among the 65+ population, females outnumber males by 50,100, although the proportion of males is increasing. In June 1992, there were 1.4 females for every male in the population aged 65+. Twenty years later, there are 1.2 females for every male. This is due to male longevity increasing faster than female longevity (see life expectancy).

By 2061, it is expected that 26 percent (1.5 million) of the population will be aged 65+. See the latest national population projections (median assumption) for more details.

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

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